Courtesy og IGN.com
By Jon Robinson
Paul Heyman Interview
ECW, Bischoff, and cell phones.
January 04, 2005 - Extreme Championship Wrestling might have started in a bingo hall, but the style, storylines, and suplexes through tables innovated the entire sport of professional wrestling, instituting the "attitude" that continued into Monday nights for years.
The wrestling was so good, in fact, that the man in charge, Paul Heyman thinks they would have eventually dethroned the WWE as the #1 organization in the business if they could've toughed it out through the financial hardships.
In a new DVD, "The Rise and Fall of ECW", the entire saga of ECW is revealed through the athletes and personalities who made it such a hit with fans.
IGN Sports caught up with the man who oversaw it all to get his thoughts on the DVD, working with Eric Bischoff, and what might have been.
IGN Sports: Cell phones sure have changed since the days when you used to use yours to smack Jim Cornett upside the head.
Paul Heyman: They sure have. [laughs]
IGN Sports: Then again, so has wrestling. Did you realize that you were going to transform the entire sport of wrestling from a bingo hall?
Paul Heyman: That was always our goal, to transform it from a bingo hall while at the same time expand ourselves. We were determined to shakeup the industry, that was our goal, that was what we were doing.
IGN Sports: Were you surprised at the honest portrayal ECW was given in the DVD?
Paul Heyman: At first, I wasn't happy that they were working on the DVD. I didn't think that they were going to do ECW justice. But then the other guys who are on it, the other guys who I work with started calling me and telling me I had to see it because it was turning into this great thing that was actually paying homage to us and everything we did. It was an honest portrayal. I finally sat down and watched what they had already put together and I was absolutely, positively blown away by it.
IGN Sports: They have a documentary on one disc and a collection of matches on the other. Did you have any say in what matches were selected for the second disc?
Paul Heyman: No, and to be honest, I'm not even all that crazy about some of the matches they picked. There were a lot more matches that were far more indicative of the style that ECW employed. I just think the three-hour history portion of who we were and what we did, what we were about, was one of the best…far better than any Behind the Music or True Hollywood Story. This is the most accurate look into the behind the scenes dealings within professional wrestling that I've ever seen.
IGN Sports: With everything you guys did, from the burning tables and canes to the language and storylines, was there ever any thought of going to HBO or Showtime and seeing if you could get even more extreme?
Paul Heyman: We were actually negotiating to do Showtime until WWE went to Spike TV and they got the exclusive agreement with Viacom. Showtime is a Viacom property, so we were off of that negotiation. We did have some negotiations with HBO as well, we were actually talking to them back in 1995, but an executive way-way high up vetoed it. We talked to them again toward the end and they were interested, but it was like "Come back and talk to us in three months." And we didn't have three months left as a company.
IGN Sports: I could just imagine what New Jack would've said on Showtime.
Paul Heyman: It would have been revolutionary, I assure you.
IGN Sports: One thing that was cool about the DVD is how it made ECW look like almost a Mom and Pop wrestling shop with Bubba doing the books, Tommy Dreamer carrying the merchandise, and even Stevie Richards answering the phone.
Paul Heyman: Yeah, it was never a matter of just learning the wrestling business, it was also a matter of teaching these guys something else to go along with it because if not, once you get hurt wrestling, and it unfortunately happens to everybody, then what are you going to do? But at least if they had another trade, whether it was promoting or answering phones or writing press releases or designing t-shirts, at least then you have something you can fall back on. At least then you can have something else to give the industry that you love so much, you'd give your life for.