The forgotten stars of ECW

Joel Gertner

"I don’t believe that the wrestling business owes anything to anybody," Paul Heyman proclaimed to WWE Classics. "But Joel Gertner dropped out of his senior year at Cornell University, a prestigious Ivy League school, to pursue his dream of being in the wrestling business. If for no other reason besides that, we owed this kid a break."

For a kid from Brooklyn, N.Y., working in wrestling was all Joel Gertner ever wanted to do, and when given the opportunity to join ECW in 1996, he jumped at the chance.

"Joel Gertner earned his spot," Heyman explained. "He started out as the baritone voiced announcer who graduated into being a phenomenally creative villainous ring announcer with the best timing of any villain in ECW."

The self-professed "Quintessential Studmuffin" wore a sport coat and bowtie with no shirt. A leopard-patterned neck brace also became part of his uniform when The Eliminators nailed Gertner with their finishing maneuver at Barely Legal, ECW's first pay-per-view. Naturally, he continued to wear the bowtie over his neck brace. 

"When D-Von Dudley would lose a match, or Shane Douglas would get beat, Joel would announce them as the winner anyway," Heyman recalled. "It was such an easy way to be hated, and yet, the audience went crazy for it. Joel played it to such perfection, and it ended up being the launching pad for him with The Dudley Boyz."

Eventually, Gertner distanced himself from The Dudleys and became beloved by the ECW faithful for his innuendo-laden limericks that would begin each television broadcast. But Heyman has fond memories of Gertner's earlier work.

"I would challenge anyone to find an act that drew more legitimate animosity from the fans than Joel Gertner with The Dudley Boyz in the late 1990's ECW."