Paul Heyman on Shane Douglas and the birth of Extreme

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August 27, 2014

WWECLASSICS.COM: What were the next steps for Gordon to grow his company?

HEYMAN: In June 1993, [Gordon’s] Eastern Championship Wrestling started running at Viking Hall – a bingo hall in South Philly. It was rebranded the ECW Arena and Tod Gordon joined the National Wrestling Alliance, so it was called NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling. Anybody could join the NWA. It was like buying a membership to a community pool.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Who were the lifeguards?

HEYMAN: Nobody! All the promoters drowned! Nobody had television. The only television outlet for the NWA was NWA-Eastern Championship Wrestling, which ran Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. on Philadelphia Sports Channel. Tod had that timeslot before he joined the NWA. He had that slot anyway. The NWA needed ECW more than ECW needed the NWA.

WWECLASSICS.COM: What was your role when you joined ECW?

HEYMAN: I came in to help as a favor to Eddie Gilbert. But the only reason I came in was because I agreed to work with the younger talent in developing them to do interviews. Eddie Gilbert self-destructed in September 1993 and Tod Gordon was left in a lurch. He had this major show coming up with all of these big names on it and had to turn to somebody to run the show. On Sept. 18, 1993, I stepped in and took over for Eddie. The only deal I had with Tod was to cut all of the big names and create our own stars. Any big name that stayed did so under the guise of creating those new stars.

Watch The Public Enemy's debut at ECW UltraClash 1993

WWECLASSICS.COM: From the beginning, was it your philosophy to use big name stars for a specific purpose, other than just to put on a marquee?

HEYMAN: Why would I promote people who were between WWE and WCW or WCW and WWE? Why would I have brought people in for one-nighters and beat a local star, when I could create The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Tazz, Sabu and The Public Enemy? We built the stars of the promotion at the expense of the guys we were paying the inflated one-night fee. We changed the paradigm. It was the most simplistic of all concepts, but one that was never implemented before.

WWECLASSICS.COM: What was the next step in building your vision for ECW?

HEYMAN: We were the only non-WWE, WCW, AWA promotion building its own stars. We were riding this wave of momentum. Admittedly, my sights were not set on anything regional. The name “Eastern” did not brand our product. I wanted a global branding for our unique form of sports-entertainment. The only way to describe the vision we were implementing was the word “Extreme.” I didn’t like “Hardcore,” because it was limiting. I didn’t like “Eastern,” because it was regional. “Extreme” is a global branding word. And I could keep the letters! Tod and I decided to turn the Eastern Championship Wrestling Title into the Extreme World Heavyweight Championship. I knew we had one shot to stake our claim in this hyper-competitive environment. The NWA was the past and it was time to scream from the mountaintops, “We are the future.”

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