Long before the era of PG wrestling that the WWE currently uses, pro wrestling was something that couldn’t exactly be described as family friendly. Not only did the Attitude Era of the (then) WWF push the boundaries of sex and violence when it came to what was acceptable television, but Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was actually pioneering the same concepts in bingo halls and dimly lit arenas years prior.
ECW was Paul Heyman’s creation, and he wanted a wrestling promotion that felt real. The violence and language were cranked up to 11, and bloodthirsty fans ate it up. Although ECW would never achieve the mainstream success that the WWF and WCW both obtained, it still carved out a small but fiercely loyal fanbase. When it eventually folded (and even before that), many ECW wrestlers made the jump to the Big Two. But while guys like Steve Austin, Rob Van Dam, and The Dudley Boyz all had successful runs in the WWE, there are a number of other ECW legends that failed to ever make a mark outside the ECW Arena.
12. Tommy Dreamer
If anyone in ECW could be described as a “company man,” it has to be Tommy Dreamer. He spent eight years with the company between 1993 and 2001, winning their World and Tag Team titles. He feuded with almost every one of ECW’s biggest stars and is considered by many wrestling fans to be the “heart and soul” of the ECW spirit.
When ECW eventually closed down and was purchased by the WWE, Dreamer came along to represent ECW in the WWE’s brand split, which included Raw, SmackDown, and ECW. After a brief stupid gimmick change that had him be “just a regular guy,” he brought back the “Innovator of Violence” persona and won the WWE Hardcore title a massive 14 times. Unfortunately, no one really considers that a real title (it was created as a gag gift for Mankind, after all). He was never considered a main eventer and never won a “real” championship in the WWE. He’s now (mostly) retired and continues to work backstage for the WWE.