June 12th, 2005 holds a special spot in the hearts of those that love the Land of the Extreme. Leading up to this date, interest in ECW had started to peak, and WWE took notice, especially after the success of The Rise and Fall of ECW DVD. So, they decided to capitalise on the popularity by holding a reunion show for the promotion they now own.
The date was set, June 12th, 2005. The location? Hammerstein Ballroom in the Manhattan Centre in New York City, a venue the original ECW held numerous shows. The hype had begun, the excitement was building, the card was being built. The biggest storyline going into the show, however, was WWE vs ECW.
WWE had brought together all those who opposed ECW and all it stood for. Superstars from both Raw and SmackDown voiced their disdain for the Extreme promotion, all led by Eric Bischoff. Behind the scenes, Tommy Dreamer began contacting ECW alumni that weren’t signed to WWE to appear on the show. The build up to the show introduced the Extreme Rules Match, exposing new fans to the hardcore style of ECW.
As the weeks went by, more ECW wrestlers invaded the weekly shows until ECW One Night Stand. One Night Stand airs to much fanfare, with The Voice of the Extreme Joey Styles calling the action alongside Mick Foley. Due to the success of the first One Night Stand, WWE announced they would hold a second reunion show to me held on June 11th, 2006. Along with One Night Stand, WWE brought ECW back as a third brand.
Unlike the previous year, One Night Stand 2006 would feature WWE wrestlers facing off against ECW Originals, and 2 WWE Championships being defended as Rey Mysterio defended his World Championship against Sabu and John Cena defending his WWE Championship against Rob Van Dam, who announced a month in advance that he would be cashing in his Money in the Bank briefcase at the event.
On June 13th, 2006, ECW would start airing as a weekly show. On the first episode, Rob Van Dam would be awarded the ECW World Championship due to his winning the WWE Championship from John Cena. Paul Heyman would serve as the On Air Representative until ECWs only brand exclusive PPV December to Dismember.
December to Dismember would prove to be dismal, as it was the only ECW exclusive show to air. For the reminder of its time on TV, ECW started getting watered down, with less Extreme Rules and more regular WWE style matches, unless otherwise stated.
In August 2007, Armando Estrada became the new General Manager, a position he’d hold until June 2008, when Teddy Long took over. On October 16th 2007, ECW and SmackDown would start a “talent exchange,” in which, ECW Extremists & Vixens (to differentiate ECW and its hardcore ways from WWE and its “sports entertainment”), and SmackDown Superstars and Diva’s could freely move between the two shows without losing their place on their original brand.
The same agreement between Raw and ECW would begin September 8th, 2008. These agreements would quietly end around the same time as the 2009 WWE Draft. On February 2nd, 2010, Vince McMahon announced that ECW would be coming to an end on February 16th, just 2 weeks later.
What started out as a ratings success, turned to an abysmal failure, especially in the eyes of fans of the original promotion, claiming it became too watered down. Following the end of ECW, it’s roster had been sent to both Raw and SmackDown, and the show had been replaced with “reality” show NXT, which would go on to replace FCW as WWEs development territory.
Following the launch of the WWE Network, ECW has regained its popularity, with the promotions content now being easily accessible to a whole new audience. Other promotions and individuals have tried their hand at reunion shows, to lesser popularity, showing WWE went the wrong way about a great idea.