For someone who started his career as a manager and a nondescript mid-carder, the fact that Raven became one of the biggest stars in ECW history is amazing. He was a two-time ECW World Champion and one of the faces of the promotion during its ascent in the mid-90s.
Raven credits ECW’s rise with Paul Heyman being an innovator and thinking outside the box. Raven joined Booker T’s podcast where he discussed Heyman being a visionary and why ECW benefitted the entire wrestling industry.
“It was crazy because they were just on the cusp of getting big, so I got there right in time just riding the wave,” Raven said on joining ECW in late 1994. “I was there for the two years when they were the most influential. They revolutionized the business in a sense because the business had gotten really stale where you’d have the old-timers would sit in a hold for like 20 minutes, they wouldn’t even work a hold. Paul Heyman had said that we were changing that.
“They changed the music. They changed the sound. You know what I mean? He borrowed from a lot of places so it wasn’t like he created the whole thing, but he was smart enough to coalesce all these elements where whether it was the cruiserweights he got from Mexico and then he got the music and stuff from Memphis. He got stuff from FMW [Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling], the violence from Japan in FMW and then he just put it all together into a soup. He picked all the right ingredients and knew how to stir the pot.”
The internet and dirt sheets were just starting up during ECW’s rise and social media was non-existent. Raven believes that if ECW had come along a couple of years later when these things were popular then the promotion would have taken off and could still be around today.
“I definitely think it would have spread further. They came so close to picking up the No. 2 spot when WCW was going out of business. Then they were put on Spike TV before it was Spike. The network just didn’t get behind it,” revealed Raven. “There is so many what-ifs, but I try not to dwell on the past. I look back fondly, but I hate to play the what-if game because there were so many things that could have happened – so many things that could have gone right and so many things that could have gone wrong too.
“But it’s a moment in time and I guess that is what makes it so special too because it is a moment in time and it just happened and it won’t happen again.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Heated Conversations with Booker T with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.