ECW began life in 1992 as a small regional promotion called Eastern Championship Wrestling. In 1993, Paul Heyman was brought in as booker. The following year, ECW was rechristened Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Over the next few years, ECW would revolutionise pro-wrestling. Adopting a hardcore style and presenting realistic characters and hard-hitting storylines, ECW couldn’t have been more different from the cartoonish, mainstream WWE and WCW.
The promotion would eventually close it’s doors in early 2001. WWE later purchased ECW’s assets and it’s video tape library. In the summer of 2006, WWE revived ECW. This version of ECW was discontinued on February 16, 2010. The following week, WWE debuted NXT which replaced ECW as the company’s third brand.
ECW had three championships which made up their Triple Crown: ECW World Heavyweight, ECW Television and ECW World Tag Team Championship. During ECW’s legendary and tumultuous history, only four wrestlers ever held all three of the company’s prestigious titles. This feature breaks down all four wrestlers to have won ECW’s Triple Crown.
It may come as surprise to many that Mikey Whipwreck is one of the most honoured wrestlers in ECW history. He was also the first wrestler to win ECW’s Triple Crown. Whipwreck won the ECW Television Title when he was just 20 years old. He defeated The Pitbull on the May 17, 1994 episode of Eastern Championship Wrestling. His title win came just three months after his pro-wrestling debut.
Whipwreck would drop the belt in August but weeks later would claim more gold. He was drafted in as a substitute to replace Terry Funk and partner Cactus Jack in a tournament to claim new NWA Tag Team Champions on August 27, 1994. The rookie and Jack won the vacant belts, which were rechristened the ECW Tag Team Championship after Shane Douglas and ECW infamously withdrew from the NWA that same night.
The following year, Whipwreck would score a major upset when he claimed the ECW World Championship from The Sandman on the October 31, 1995 episode of Hardcore TV. That title victory ensured Whipwreck’s name was forever etched in history.
The 22-year-old became the youngest ECW World Champion of all time and earned the distinction of becoming the first wrestler to win all three of the company’s championships.
The ‘Homicidal, Genocidal, Suicidal, Death-defying’ Sabu debuted in ECW in October 1993 and would be synonymous with the group over the next decade. He made an instant impact in ECW when he captured the ECW Heavyweight Championship (a precursor to the World title) at NWA Bloodfest on October 2, 1993. Sabu added the TV Championship to his resume at November to Remember six weeks later.
In the latter half of 1994, Sabu formed a team with Taz as part of Paul Heyman’s Dangerous Alliance faction. Together, they captured the Tag Team Championship on February 4, 1995. Their reign however, lasted a mere three weeks. He would form a more long-term and successful tag team with Rob Van Dam the following year and the pair would capture two Tag Team Championships together.
Sabu completed the Triple Crown when he captured the ECW World Title from Terry Funk in a brutal Barbed Wire bout at Born to be Wired on August 9, 1997.
Taz dominated ECW during the latter part of the 1990s. His stiff, suplex heavy matches were often the highlight of the company’s supercards. He first captured gold when he partnered Kevin Sullivan to win the Tag Team straps on the December 14 episode of Hardcore TV. The pair defeated Tommy Dreamer and Shane Douglas (who was substituting for Dreamer’s regular partner, Johnny Gunn).
Taz and Sullivan would enjoy a further reign as Tag Team Champions before ‘The Human Suplex Machine’ moved into the singles division. He captured the TV Championship for the first time on the March 15, 1994 episode of Hardcore TV. Taz dethroned Sabu, which was a precursor to their legendary 1997 feud.
After cutting through the competition, Taz finally claimed the big one at Guilty as Charged 1999. He captured the World title in a memorable bout with Shane Douglas. Taz held the belt for eight months before dropping the strap to Mike Awesome in a three-way elimination battle also featuring Masato Tanaka.
Several months later, ‘The Human Suplex Machine’ debuted in WWE in a classic destruction of Kurt Angle at Royal Rumble 2000. Taz was the final wrestler to win the Triple Crown during ECW’s original incarnation.
Rob Van Dam
Rob Van Dam was one of ECW’s biggest stars during his 1996-2001 tenure in the company. However, it wasn’t until WWE revived ECW as a brand in June 2006, that RVD finally claimed the ECW Triple Crown. RVD defeated John Cena for the WWE Championship at ECW One Night Stand on June 11, 2006. ‘The Whole Dam Show’ was then awarded the ECW World title two nights later on the debut episode of ECW on Sci-Fi.
The ECW World Championship completed RVD’s Triple Crown. During the original incarnation of ECW, RVD won the Tag Team Championship on two occasions with his long-time buddy and rival, Sabu. However, ‘Mr Monday Night’ is most famous for his two year reign as TV Champion. That celebrated title run kicked off on the April 8, Hardcore TV taping. RVD defeated Bam Bam Bigelow in an exhilarating match-up.
RVD defended the belt virtually every night. During his reign as champion, the TV Championship supplanted the World Title as the most important title in ECW. ‘Mr Pay-Per-View’ was forced to relinquish the gold due to injury on March 4, 2000. RVD’s planned World Title match with Mike Awesome had to be shelved. By the time RVD returned to ECW during the summer of 2000, the company was in irreversible decline.
Therefore, RVD was forced to wait another six years before finally claiming the ECW World Championship and completing the Triple Crown.
You can watch all of these ECW title wins exclusively on the WWE Network.