The 5 best ECW pay-per-views you’ll see on WWE Network

Barely Legal 1997

As The Monday Night War between WWE and WCW picked up steam in 1997, Paul Heyman’s revolutionary ECW made its pay-per-view debut — a huge milestone that legitimized the promotion.  Barely Legal almost didn’t happen because pay-per-view distributors thought “extreme” meant that we were like the UFC, which was not regulated and pretty brutal in 1997. After sending tapes of our TV show to the distributors, one of the two agreed to carry the event, but it had a 9 p.m. start time as opposed to WWE’s and WCW’s 8 p.m. start time. Nevertheless, the world was introduced to the cult-like ECW Arena crowd in South Philadelphia and the unique style of ECW.

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There were so many memorable moments that it’s no surprise ECW became a company nobody could ignore following this event. After a year-long rivalry with no physicality, Tazz and Sabu finally faced off in a grudge match that highlighted exactly what ECW brought to the (soon-to-be-broken) table. The ECW World Heavyweight Championship was also elevated in terms of legitimacy, as future WWE Hall of Famer and former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk captured the title by defeating Raven. He earned the title opportunity by winning a brutal and bloody and barbed wire-wrought Three-Way Dance against The Sandman and Stevie Richards that same night.

The evening also saw a young competitor named Rob Van Dam take the place of an injured Chris Candido in a bout against Lance Storm. No one knew much about RVD before the bout, but in the immediate aftermath, “Mr. Monday Night” became one of the featured faces of the promotion.

For me personally, this was my first time doing play-by-play on live television and the first time in pay-per-view history that an announcer worked solo, without a color commentator. The historical significance of Barely Legal 1997 and the ability to relive the emotion of that night is worth subscribing to WWE Network alone.