By Lauren Conrad, Columnist
Today we’re going to take a look at arguably the most famous wrestling pipe bomb that birthed ECW.
One of the first ever true pipe bombs concerns the then National Wrestling Alliance: Eastern Championship Wrestling. You know it better as ECW. The year was 1994, August 27th. A young man named Shane Douglas had just won the most prestigious belt in all of wrestling.
Please note throughout this I will call it wrestling. Sports Entertainment is garbage and for kids, I will not acknowledge any of the WWE Era so called “Pipe Bombs” because they’re scripted garbage.
So, going back to NWA:ECW. Shane Douglas had just won the title from “The Ice Man” Dean Malenko and 2 Cold Scorpio, both who would go on to have careers that made them famous in WCW later on. Shane stood in the ring, and gave a passionate speech.
“I stand here before my God and my Father….as I said I would be worlds heavyweight champion.” Shane went on to name some greats, Lou Thez, Jack Brisco, Dory Funk Jr, Terry Funk, Nature Boy Buddy Rodgers, Harley Race, etc etc. He went on to thank everyone, accepting the NWA title. It was a passionate speech, but then after naming some more names, in a foreshadowing of what was to come, Shane stopped, looked up, and said “This is it, Dad.”
What was about to happen would forever change history, and was one of the most disrespectful moments in wrestling, ever. Shane continued to name a few more names, while looking at the NWA title. No one but him, Paul Heyman, and a couple other people knew what was about to come. This was a closely guarded secret, obviously, because I believe the NWA would have cut the cameras and they most definitely would not have allowed what was about to happen transpire. This moment, this one moment, shook wrestling down to it’s very foundation.
Shane looks at the belt, calls it beautiful, names a couple names, and then, the famous, “And they can all…kiss. My. Ass!” as he threw down the most prestigious title in wrestling, the NWA Championship. The belt that started it all. WWE, ECW, WCW, WCCW, TNA, Impact, ROH, almost every single united states promotion has gotten it’s feet wet thanks to the NWA, and this man disrespected the belt, and threw it on the ground, proclaiming himself the “NEW E C W World Heavyweight. Champion. Of. The. World!”
This was the birth of a new era. Tired of WWF and WCW’s “fluff” programming, Paul Heyman sought to revolutionize wrestling, focusing on death matches, blood, shock value, and it all started on August 27, 1994, starting the era of “The ECW” as he said.
The reason Paul chose Shane was his “I don’t give a shit” attitude. He didn’t care. Shane had a famous dispute with Ric Flair in WCW after all, and the way he despised Ric could be heard in his voice during his promo, “The….’Ric Flair’s…”. The disgust could not be hidden, but Shane had the respect to at least acknowledge Ric. Shane was perfect, Shane was the man to lead ECW. He had the look, he had the charisma, and he had the attitude. Since this moment in history, many people have tried to replicate this “Pipe Bomb” promo, CM Punk, Roman Reigns, John Cena, CM Punk, but those have all been scripted. This was real. Let’s take a look at the events leading up to this (in)famous promo.
Paul Heyman was frustrated with the restrictions of the NWA. This would not be the last time a federation was birthed from frustration of a then “dead” organization, according to Douglas’ promo. At the time, the NWA was only alive through other federations TV time. WCW and ECW both were holding NWA championship matches. The NWA itself did not have a TV deal of itself at the time, and really has never had a TV deal for itself in a very long time. Without you tube and the internet as we know it today at the time, the NWA was reliant (and still is mostly) on other promotions TV deals. However, to have the NWA title, or the NWA name, you must adhere to strict guidelines. These included rules like no over the top rope or you get disqualified. Heyman was obviously frustrated with this. The guidelines did not allow him to do what HE wanted, and we all know how Paul Heyman is, what Paul wants Paul gets.
At the time NWA:ECW was selling out local arenas, and was the only territory under the NWA banner at the time doing so. The NWA saw this, and wanted the tournament held in what later became known as the ECW Arena. They pitched the idea of Shane winning the NWA title, and dropping the Eastern Championship Wrestling title. It’s hard to get information on this exactly, even reading and watching videos I was sort of confused. My impression here was that Shane was the current Eastern Championship Wrestling champion, and the NWA wanted him to become the NWA champion to carry the legacy. Information is sketchy on this exactly.
So a couple weeks before the actual tournament, Paul called up Shane and told him the plan, which Shane at first was sort of opposed to. Paul had laid out a couple options, laying out the good and bad of the scenarios. Shane was not forced into this decision at all. During the weeks leading up to it, Shane was struggling with the idea of doing this, because he had a lot of respect for the NWA. The problem here was Shane could not call his friends, or ask for advice, because obviously this was all very hush hush. Can’t imagine having a huge moment like that and wrestling with it for two weeks before making a decision. Do you blast the oldest federation in the US? Or do you not do it and continue running the NWA:TNA?
The nail in the coffin came a week before the show when Dennis Coralluzzo did a podcast (Radio Show they were still called then) with Mike Tenay, and told people never hire Shane Douglas, he was a thief, and would take from your organization. Keep in mind Shane had never, ever met this man before in his life. Needless to say Shane was not happy with this. Shane at that point, according to a show he did in I believe 2018 (No date was given, it’s on YouTube, “Shane Douglas on National Wrestling Alliance Title Incident,” from The Hannibal TV), was like, his words, “Fuck it I’m throwing the title down.”
It came down to the actual moment. In his match with 2 Cold, Shane had still not committed to this. Shane was still wrestling (no pun intended) with the decision of throw down the belt or not? No one by this point knew which way this was going to go. Not Paul, not Todd Gordon, not even Shane himself. Shane said in the interview that it came down to the promo, and as he started talking, he still had no idea if he was going to go through with it. In the interview I cited on YouTube, Shane said “Growing up my dad was a Super Hero, he was a WW2 vet…” and continued to talk about how his father was a superhero to him, and said “Son always remember you can walk with your feet on the ground, or you can soar with the eagles.” Shane had no idea what he meant, until that night. When he stopped and said “Here we go Dad.” it was because he felt his father’s presence, the man who had just weeks before died. Shane said it was that moment, as he said “Here we go Dad.” That he knew what his father meant. He could continue to be a sheep and do what the NWA told him (“Walk with your feet on the ground”), or take off on his own, take a risk, throw it all in. He knew it was time to soar with the eagles. The only thing scripted in that promo was the names. Shane said he was struggling to remember, but thanks to the audience throwing out names, he was able to get through it, keeping in mind it was a hot august day, he had done 3 matches prior, and it was hot in the arena, and he was about to make a major, major change in the wrestling world.
Shane at this moment said he was STILL struggling with whether to do it or not. In a world today where everything is written months in advance, I can just see Paul Heyman and Todd Gordon in the back, sweating bullets, not knowing what was about to happen. Shane said the reason he kept dragging the promo out was he was still wrestling with the idea of throwing down the NWA title. Again, I can’t imagine a decision like this, the stress he had to be under. The biggest hesitation on the promo was him worrying about these legends being angry at him for disrespecting their legacy. As he’s talking, during the promo, you see Shane turn to the left, and Dennis Coralluzzo was sitting out there with the ring announcer. He said he made eye contact with Coralluzzo, and despite popular belief, he did not just throw the belt down. He threw it right at Dennis Coralluzzo , the man that just cost the NWA the ECW.
The fans, shockingly, embraced it. It was a moment of shock for the entire wrestling world, and it’s still one of the most talked about moments of history. What about you? What’s your most shocking UNSCRIPTED moment? Maybe I’ll write about it next. Hit me up on twitter, @LaurenCR3 and let me know!
Special thanks to The Hannibal TV and Wrestling Bios for information used in this column.