The forgotten stars of ECW

Tommy Cairo

Entering to Queen's famous "We Will Rock You" anthem, Tommy Cairo joined Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1993 as one of the most popular grapplers in the local area. That year, he won a Battle Royal to become NWA Pennsylvania Heavyweight Champion, a title he held for nearly three months. In ECW, he became an ally of The Sandman by forming a tandem to battle Jason, known as "The Sexiest Man Alive," but the pairing soon crumbled when Cairo became involved with The Sandman's wife.

"I don't know if Tommy Cairo finds this interesting or not," Paul Heyman wondered to WWE Classics. "But the fact that he'll go down in history as The Sandman's foil is quite ironic because going into their storyline, Tommy Cairo was one of the hottest wrestlers in the northeast independent scene. One would think a rivalry between Cairo and The Sandman would be designed to spotlight Tommy Cairo, but The Sandman was our star on the rise."

Less than two weeks after widely discussed caning of an American citizen in Singapore in 1994, Cairo and The Sandman faced off in a "Singapore Caning Match." The two brawlers had several more matches involving the canes throughout the year, including their most famous — a "Dueling Canes Match" at the first Heat Wave event in 1994. The man who would come to be nicknamed "Pay Your Bills!" was also the catalyst of the famous rivalry between The Sandman and Tommy Dreamer, but it was Cairo's matches with The Hardcore Icon that revolutionized Extreme Rules wrestling.

"It was a turning point in ECW regarding just how far we were going to take our very non-PG rated content," Heyman said. "How's that for a diplomatic way to phrase that?"