Although its doors were open for less time than WCW, TNA and even Ring of Honor, the legacy of ECW during its nine-year run still lives on today. The reason why is, in part, because of the incredible cast of characters that performed in the hardcore promotion.
Hundreds of extremists passed through the group's doors, but this is a list of the Top 50 during the promotion's golden years (1992 - 2001). Please note - this does NOT include the ECW relaunch in 2006 under the WWE umbrella. No judgment on that particular group... it just wasn't the same product.
The following ranking includes tag teams, managers, announcers - anyone whom left a lasting impact on ECW. Please note: this rank is based on what they accomplished while in the Bingo Hall - not before or after it.
Ready? Here we go...
911 debuted in the promotion's early days as a heater of sorts for Paul Heyman and Sabu. While never becoming an accomplished wrestler, he still transformed into a legend of sorts, chokeslamming everyone from promoters to Santa Claus.
The Full-Blooded Italians
What started as a comedy gimmick with the decidedly non-full-blooded Italian J.T. Smith spawned a stable that included, at times, Tommy Rich, Tracy Smothers and Little Guido. Different incarnations of The Full-Blooded Italians held the ECW Tag Team Titles twice.
During a brief ECW run as The Killdozer, Brian Lee waged a very violent war with Tommy Dreamer as an offshoot to Dreamer's feud with Raven. One memorable match saw Lee being tossed off of a scaffold and through a series of stacked tables below.
The Pitbulls competed during ECW's hottest period of tag team competition and even managed to capture the ECW Tag Team Championship. Later, both Pitbulls would go on to capture the ECW TV Title.
Kimona Wanalaya became a prominent character when it was revealed that Beulah McGillicutty was having an affair with her. Later, her striptease on the stage at the ECW Arena (a distraction while the ring ropes were being repaired) became an iconic moment for the promotion.
Balls Mahoney joined ECW in 1997 and stayed until the promotion ended. During that time, The Chair Swingin' Freak teamed Axl Rotten, Little Spike Dudley and others, capturing the ECW Tag Team Title more than once.
The Blue Meanie
The Blue Meanie became one of ECW's most marketable acts through his work in the blue World order. He also was a long-term character, initially wrestling from 1995-98 and then returning in 2000.
Beulah McGillicutty became a long-running part of the Tommy Dreamer-Raven feud, introduced as "the fat girl from camp that Dreamer rejected and Raven embraced". She eventually switched allegiances to Dreamer (and married him in real life.)
Stevie Richards literally wrestled in the opening match of the first Eastern Championship Wrestling show. He gained fame as Raven's flunky and later led the blue World order, where as Big Stevie Cool he wrestled in the semi-main event at the inaugural ECW pay-per-view.
If I can be serious for a moment.... Lance Storm made quite the mark during his run between 1997 and 2000, forming ECW Tag Team Championship teams with both Chris Candido and Justin Credible.
After leaving WCW, Woman resurfaced in ECW in 1993. There, she managed Kevin Sullivan and The Tasmaniac to the ECW Tag Team Titles and also managed The Sandman and Too Cold Scorpio.
It was in ECW that Chris Benoit was given the nickname "The Crippler" due to injuries he inflicted to Rocco Rock (storyline) and Sabu (legitimate). The gimmick was intended to package him as a top heel, and his run as ECW Tag Team Champion and member of the original Triple Threat added to that status.
Superstar Steve Austin's brief ECW run in 1995 was done mostly to kill time while he was rehabbing an injury. But between his innovative promos and matches with Mikey Whipwreck and The Sandman, Austin was one of the first mainstream defections to come from a big two wrestling company.
Masato Tanaka came to ECW in 1998 from the somewhat-similar FMW in Japan. He teamed with Balls Mahoney to capture the tag team titles and later returned to the company and defeated Mike Awesome for the ECW World Championship
Steve Corino came to ECW in 1998 as a heel manager but quickly transformed into an antagonistic heel, feuding with Dusty Rhodes and others. The King Of Old School captured the ECW World Heavyweight Title and held it for two months before leaving the promotion.
Jerry Lynn became an ECW Legend because of his feud with Rob Van Dam, which culminated in several pay-per-view matches. In addition to that, Lynn also feuded with Justin Credible and captured the ECW World Heavyweight Championship in 2000.
He's not just the coolest... he's not just the best... he's Justin Credible and during his four-year ECW stint, he captured the ECW Tag Team Titles twice with Impact Players partner Lance Storm and held the ECW World Heavyweight Championship for about six months in 2000.
In the two years he was with the promotion, Rhino formed an alliance with Steve Corino and Jack Victory, feuded with The Sandman and became the final person to hold both the ECW World and Television Championships.
New Jack showed up in ECW in 1995 as part of The Gangstas, capturing the tag team titles twice. He's best remembered, though, for his brutal beating of Mass Transit in 1996 that led to national headlines and cost ECW its first pay-per-view shot.
An argument can be made that Bill Alfonso was the most hated individual in ECW for a simple reason - he was a referee who enforced the rules. His law-abiding efforts were a thing of legend during his earliest ECW appearances. Subsequently, he went on to manage Taz, Sabu and Rob Van Dam - three of ECW's biggest names.
While not nearly as visible to outsiders as his successor, Gordon was the founder of ECW and helped bring it to national prominence. In fact, it was under his ownership that Shane Douglas famously threw down the NWA Title and made ECW "extreme." Gordon sold ECW to Paul Heyman in 1995.
The Sandman was a staple of ECW programming for almost all the promotion's entire run (except for a brief WCW stint). In fact, Sandman held the ECW World Title a record five times and engaged in prominent feuds with most of the company's biggest names.
Like Taz, Sabu captured all of the ECW Championships and was with the promotion for a good chunk of his existence. From his initial persona (being restrained and strapped to a gurney) to becoming the Homicidal, Suicidal, Death-Defying Sabu, no one could deny he was a legend in ECW.
Raven has been positioned as one of Paul Heyman's favorite creation, and it's no secret why. The character was groundbreaking for professional wrestling and became a central point for most of the promotion's other gimmicks at one point or another. He was also a two-time ECW Champion.
Paul Heyman has been mentioned several times throughout this list - it's not a coincidence. Between writing all of ECW's biggest storylines, creating most of its biggest characters and fighting behind the scenes for global recognition, he was in many ways the heart and soul of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Eddie Gilbert was responsible for a lot of ECW's early booking around 1993 until he left the promotion, paving the way for Paul Heyman. He also managed to briefly hold the ECW Tag Team Championships with The Dark Patriot.
Best known for a series of three-way dance matches involving Little Guido and Yoshihiro Tajiri, The Insane Luchador Super Crazy managed to also win the ECW Television Title in 2000, after the belt had been vacated by Rob Van Dam.
Danny Doring and Roadkill
Danny Doring and Roadkill teamed together from 1997 until ECW's demise in 2001 (and even beyond then), with the unlikely duo becoming the final pair of ECW Tag Team Champions.
Bearing a striking resemblance to Kid Rock, Kid Kash became a staple on many ECW pay-per-views because of his hard work and cruiserweight skills. He captured the ECW TV Title as well.
Rey Misterio Jr.
On the recommendation of Konnan, Paul Heyman hired Rey Misterio Jr. to bring lucha libre to mainstream American audiences, a first for many fans. Although his run in ECW lasted less than a year, Misterio's hardcore matches with Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera were considered classics.
Chris Candido initially joined ECW in 1993 and captured the ECW Tag Team Titles as one of The Suicide Blonds. When he returned later in his career, it was with Tammy Sytch and as part of The Triple Threat with Shane Douglas and Bam Bam Bigelow, and later as part of a championship team with Lance Storm.
Dean Malenko made quite an impact in ECW. The Shooter was part of the original Triple Threat stable with Chris Benoit and Shane Douglas and, along with Benoit, captured the ECW Tag Team Championship twice. He was also ECW Television Champion during his run.
During The Eliminators' two-year run, Paul Heyman booked Perry Saturn and John Kronus as one of the strongest teams in ECW, winning the tag team titles three times and clashing with the likes of The Gangstas, The Pitbulls and The Dudley Boys.
2 Cold Scorpio
2 Cold Scorpio held the ECW Television Title four times, including one reign where he was also ECW Tag Team Champions with The Sandman. He was also in the final round of the infamous NWA/ECW World Championship tournament won by Shane Douglas.
Eddie Guerrero won the ECW Television Title from 2 Cold Scorpio in his debut match with the promotion. He also headlined a show against Dean Malenko in both competitors' final night in the company, which led to a "Please don't go!" chant.
Bam Bam Bigelow
Bam Bam Bigelow spent about two years in ECW, most notably as a member of The Triple Threat. He also captured the ECW Television Title from Taz in an infamous match where both men fell through the ring.
Joel Gertner began as a ring announcer and color commentator before branching out to manage The Dudley Boys. The Quintessential Studmuffin became legendary for his innuendo-laced introductions, and he even feuded with Cyrus and The Network.
Mikey Whipwreck had an amazing transformation during his first five years in ECW, starting as part of the ring crew, becoming enhancement talent and then, against enormous odds, winning all three ECW Championships. He returned to ECW in 1999 after an underwhelming WCW run.
Yoshihiro Tajiri was best known in ECW for matches involving Super Crazy and Little Guido. The Japanese Buzzsaw also received World Title opportunities against Taz and Justin Credible, won the ECW Tag Team Titles with Mikey Whipwreck.
The Public Enemy
The Public Enemy was one of the very first creations of the Paul Heyman era in ECW. Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge proved captured the ECW Tag Team Championships four times, forever tying them to the promotion.
Francine was one of the most successful managers in ECW history, being in the corner of Stevie Richards, The Pitbulls, Shane Douglas, Tommy Dreamer, Raven and Justin Credible, among others. She was also one of the earliest participants in ECW "catfights" against the likes of Beulah McGillicutty.
Mike Awesome was perhaps the biggest heel in ECW history, given he left for rival WCW while still the ECW World Heavyweight Champion. Beyond that, he had a memorable feud with Masato Tanaka and, along with Raven, captured the ECW Tag Team Championship.
Cactus Jack's 1994 to 1996 run was so memorable that ECW actually dedicated a DVD to it. Between his unusual partnership with Mikey Whipwreck, his feud with Tommy Dreamer and his string of "anti-hardcore" promos and subsequent gimmick, Cactus Jack definitely made the most of his time in the promotion.
Every ECW match and moment we've described on here wouldn't be what it was without Joey Styles's signature calls and catchphrases on the microphone. He became the only commentator in wrestling history to call a pay-per-view on his own at ECW's inaugural Barely Legal PPV in 1997.
While Terry Funk's efforts to put over younger talent in ECW was admirable, his transformation from veteran badass to ECW legend was a thing of beauty. When in his mid-50's, he captured the ECW World Title at the company's first PPV, with the fans looking past his age and embracing his hardcore spirit.
The Dudley Boys
While Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley are the most famous of Dudleyville's first family, there were many other members including Snot Dudley, Dudley Dudley, Dances With Dudley, Big Dick Dudley, Chubby Dudley and, of course, Little Spike Dudley, all of whom contributed to the history of ECW.
Taz was with ECW for most of the company's history. Most famously, he was The Human Suplex Machine, a gimmick he adopted after returning from a year-long injury. Taz captured all of the ECW championships more than once, including his own FTW Championship, which he held twice.
Rob Van Dam
How closely was Rob Van Dam associated with ECW? He stayed on with the company despite not being paid and when he got to WWE, he fought for ECW to be brought back for a reunion show. The Whole F'N Show was ECW's longest-reigning Television Champion and captured the Tag Team Titles twice.
Shane Douglas was another character whom ECW often revolved around (he was, after all, The Franchise!). In addition to being responsible for turning Eastern Championship Wrestling into Extreme Championship Wrestling, Douglas was a four-time ECW Champion.
Surprised that Tommy Dreamer is number one on this list? You shouldn't be. If the history of ECW was a novel or television series, The Innovator of Violence would be the main character. Whether he was the biggest name in the promotion at the time or not, everything in ECW always came back to him. Combine that with the fact that he was a massive behind-the-scenes force and you've got the biggest ECW legend of them all.