Extreme invasion: ECW takes over Raw in 1997

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February 18, 2013

On Feb. 24, 1997, a group of misfits from Philadelphia showed up in the WWE locker room before that night’s Raw taping. Tommy Dreamer, Sabu and nearly a dozen more competitors from Extreme Championship Wrestling had been invited by Mr. McMahon to compete in sanctioned matches on that evening’s broadcast. It was a historic night for sports-entertainment, but the mood backstage was tense to say the least.

“We all showed up in matching tracksuits that said ECW on them,” Tommy Dreamer told WWEClassics.com. “We looked like a team and I remember Vince was really impressed with that, but the locker room wasn’t very welcoming to us. We were taking away from their television time and I’m sure guys weren’t happy with it.”

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The tenuous relationship between the two companies began in June 1995, when WWE came to Philadelphia with the King of the Ring pay-per-view. At that time, ECW had built up a fiercely loyal following in their hardcore home of Philadelphia. During the tournament final between Mabel and Savio Vega, a distinct chant of “E-C-Dub!” echoed throughout the famed Spectrum arena. It was then that Mr. McMahon began to take notice of the small promotion that would revolutionize sports-entertainment.

“Paul [Heyman] said we were working on a deal with WWE to get us national exposure, but not a lot of people know about it,” Dreamer revealed. “I think it was Paul, Vince and Bruce Prichard — the head of talent relations at the time. That was it.”

More than one year later at In Your House: Mind Games, Savio Vega was once again the victim of an ECW involvement. During the event’s opening contest, Heyman, Dreamer and The Sandman appeared at ringside, all with the ECW logo emblazoned on their clothing. As Vega brawled with a young Texan called Justin “Hawk” Bradshaw, Sandman spat beer in the face of Savio. (WATCH)

“We didn't know what we were getting into,” The Innovator of Violence explained. “We all met up in the parking lot. We had The Eliminators in the crowd as backup in case we got into a fight. I found out later that Savio Vega was the only one who knew. Bradshaw didn’t even know about it. He was ready to fight and Savio cut him off.”

After a brief scuffle and mass confusion, the hardcore renegades were escorted from the premises.

“I remember Jerry Brisco, he was mad as can be, daring us to hop over the rail. He had rage in his eyes,” Dreamer recalled. “Supposedly there was a lot of chaos and commotion with the WWE guys who wanted to fight. We were really escorted out by police. Once we got thrown out, we were gone.”

The following night on Raw, Tazz jumped the guardrail with a bright orange sign that read “SABU FEARS TAZZ” and injured a photographer who got in his way.

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Tommy Dreamer Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Jerry Lawler Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Rob Van Dam Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Sabu Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Paul Heyman Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles The Sandman Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles The Dudley Boyz Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles

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