Guilty as Charged: Remembering the final ECW pay-per-view

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January 11, 2013

Two years later, the organization was on its last legs. Guilty as Charged 2001 was the second consecutive ECW pay-per-view to be held at New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom, located across the street from Madison Square Garden in a building called the Manhattan Center. Upstairs from the Hammerstein Ballroom is a much smaller room called the Grand Ballroom, which held the first episodes of Raw. But the larger room was becoming something of a second home to ECW outside of Philadelphia’s ECW Arena.

“The Hammerstein Ballroom was magical,” ECW icon Tommy Dreamer said. “We always had a great relationship with New York. We had the Lost Battalion Hall and the Elks Lodge in Queens, but Hammerstein was a big step for us.”

ECW’s new home in The Big Apple meant a lot to Heyman, a New York native.

“It was a major league venue, in the heart of Midtown Manhattan,” the ECW owner said. “And yet, it had the same feel to me as the ECW Arena during the height of the promotion. It was intimate enough to maintain our aura, and large enough to turn a tremendous profit and fund the company. Had ECW continued operations, the Hammerstein was going to become our base.”

In the later days of ECW, veterans kept the company going while also paving the way for new stars. At the 2001 event, Tommy Dreamer battled CW Anderson in an “I Quit” Match. Anderson had joined ECW in 1999, and instantly earned Dreamer’s respect.

“[He] was a great competitor,” Dreamer said. “That ‘I Quit’ Match was one of my favorite matches. It was brutal, it was different and I was beyond pleased with that match. The world got to see what a great talent CW Anderson was.”

Another man who debuted in ECW in 1999 was a young, intense competitor named Rhyno. “A kid from Detroit,” as he referred to himself in a conversation with WWE Classics, Rhyno became an instant sensation by becoming an antagonist to the top stars in The Land of Extreme.

“Paul knew immediately that Rhyno had something,” Styles said. “He handed Rhyno the ball, and Rhyno scored like a fullback that nobody could stop.” (MORE RHYNO)

Rhyno was ready for the opportunity. “Paul knew maybe I wasn’t a main-event guy then,” The Man Beast admitted. “But I could give the crowd a main-event match.”

Heyman also recognized that Rhyno was a student of the game who was eager to learn.

“To be honest with you, you learn how to be a performer by driving in cars with other wrestlers on the road, not in the ring.” Rhyno told WWE Classics. “That’s where you really learn the wrestling business, doing five-, six-, 10-hour drives.”

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