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

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January 11, 2013

Rhyno’s first big rivalry was with ECW’s Hardcore Icon, The Sandman.

“I loved wrestling Sandman,” Rhyno said. “He really wanted to wrestle me because he saw my potential. He knew I wanted to go out there and work hard. That’s the rivalry that really put me on the map.” (MORE SANDMAN)

The battle became personal at Hardcore Heaven on Mother’s Day in 2000 when Rhyno delivered a piledriver to Sandman’s wife from the ring apron through a table on the floor. The following month, The Man Beast won the ECW World Television Championship, and there was no stopping him.

In the scheduled main event of Guilty as Charged 2001, The Sandman won the ECW World Championship for a record fifth time when he defeated Justin Credible and defending champion Steve Corino in a Tables, Ladders, Chairs & Canes Elimination Match. (WATCH) Immediately after Sandman’s victory, Rhyno, who was still ECW World TV Champion, entered the ring and defeated The Sandman for the ECW World Title in a brief, impromptu matchup. The usually unflappable New York City fans were stunned, but excited by the potential of this dangerous new champion. (WATCH)

“Had he been champion for longer, Rhyno would be held at the same level as Tazz, Shane Douglas, Raven and Sandman as one of the greatest ECW Champions,” Styles declared. “But at the end, there wasn’t a roster left in ECW for Rhyno to beat to rise to that level. You’re only as good as your competition. Unfortunately, Rhyno just came to ECW a little late.”

If ECW continued, the new champion would have had his work cut out for him in title defenses against the organization’s most awe-inspiring hero.

“We were setting up Rhyno being challenged by Rob Van Dam in 2001 for the ECW World Heavyweight Championship,” Heyman explained. “RVD never received a World Title Match during his entire tenure in the original ECW. It was time to pull the trigger on what would have undoubtedly been our greatest-drawing match ever.”

But ECW never got that shot.

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