Paul Heyman on Shane Douglas and the birth of Extreme

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August 27, 2014

WWECLASSICS.COM: In the past, you’ve made the analogy that ECW needed to be the wrestling equivalent of Nirvana to the dated notion of hair bands, but what exactly did the NWA represent? What were you trying to get away from?

HEYMAN: It was an organization whose letters lived past its time. The NWA was dead. There was no NWA anymore. The NWA had been a powerful string of promoters who recognized one touring World Heavyweight Champion, who made appearances all over the country and all over the world for all different promoters who had television outlets and local stars. There were no more local stars. There were no more television outlets. Therefore, there was no more NWA. The major television outlet for the NWA had been SuperStation TBS, but when the Turner organization decided to brand their product World Championship Wrestling – which had been the name of the TV program, but not the name of the promotion – that was the death of the NWA.

WWECLASSICS.COM: How far in advance of announcing it did you decide on the “Extreme” name?

HEYMAN: I was looking for an accurate description of our product from the day I took over in September 1993, and decided on the name “Extreme” sometime around March or April of ’94.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Why did this all come to a crescendo at the ECW show on August 27, 1994?

HEYMAN: As all of this was happening, there was all of this petty bickering going on, involving the NWA-affiliated promotion in New Jersey. The time came to crown Shane Douglas as our “Franchise player” and our Extreme World Heavyweight Champion. With the New Jersey promotion kicking and screaming around every turn regarding the way we were going to crown a champion, the decision was made on our end to do everything in one fell swoop: smack down the NWA promotion in New Jersey because of the games they were playing with us; throw down the past – both physically and metaphorically – by having Shane Douglas toss the NWA Title to the mat; and most importantly, brand ECW under the name of “Extreme” and launch ourselves into the position to claim that there was WWE, WCW and now there’s ECW.

Watch Shane's legendary speech that shocked the world

WWECLASSICS: Who, other than you, Shane and Tod Gordon knew what was going to go down that night?

HEYMAN: Nobody. I first pitched it to Tod, then I pitched it to Shane Douglas. Shane had the blessing to abandon the mission, even in mid-stream during the speech.

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