Updated: Dec 28, 2020
When you think of the best fans in wrestling history you have to consider ECW fans between the years of 1997-1999.
More specifically, you have to consider the fans during 1997 due to the war going on between the then WWF and ECW. You were seeing wrestlers from both brands appearing on the other promotion's shows and making their presence felt. No bigger wrestler then Rob Van Dam was appearing on a consistent basis on Monday Night Raw for the WWF. However, there was one man that took extreme offense to it: Mr. ECW and the Innovator of Violence Tommy Dreamer.
This time in the world of professional wrestling was unlike any other time - promotion against promotion, wrestler against wrestler, and fan against fan.
I believe this time period will not and should not be mimicked again, as it would not hold up in today's world.
The story line going into November to Remember in Monaca, Pennsylvania was similar to David versus Goliath or Good versus Evil with Tommy Dreamer portraying David and the good of ECW, whereas RVD portrayed Goliath and the evil WWF. With this match being a flag match, each individual brought their respective colors to the ring with them. Tommy with the ECW flag and RVD with the WWF flag to be properly displayed upon victory. However, what we didn’t know was going to happen was men like Stevie Richards, Phil Lafon, and Doug Furnas would make their presences felt when they dismantled Tommy Dreamer causing this great match to end in a no contest. Yes, this match wasn’t the best technical match ever and yes, some may say that these two men were overrated, but to me this match was a clear tuning point for ECW and WWF.
Looking back at this time, there were very few individuals that drew emotion when they performed in the ring. Tommy Dreamer was just the man for that job, and he would put his mind and body on the line when he walked through that curtain to go to the ring. Dreamer wasn’t your prototypical look for a wrestler and didn’t have the move set to hold up to the likes of RVD, but the one thing that Tommy had that a lot of men didn’t have at this time in the business was heart.
Dreamer had the biggest heart for the wrestling business and still does to this day. Tommy Dreamer fell in love with the business the first time he watched it. Tommy lived and died by the sword; the sword being the wrestling business. Dreamer's counterpart in this match, RVD was the complete other end of the spectrum. RVD was one of the most flexible and in shape wrestlers on the ECW roster. Rob Van Dam was just what he said he was, and that was the whole f-ing show. Fans came in droves to see him get his ass kicked and lose or show off his incredible move set and leave the victor.
After writing an article or releasing an episode of Ringside Rant, I sometimes get kick back saying that the match I watched or covered didn’t really stand the test of time. However, this match between Tommy Dreamer and Rob Van Dam told the perfect story of how the good guy has to overcome all obstacles to finally overpower and beat the dreaded enemy and leave victorious. One thing was for sure, when you go back and watch this match from November in 1997, you will quickly learn that this match clearly shaped us fans then, now, and forever.
RJ Kruszynski is the host of Ringside Rant podcast. He is a lifelong wresting fan and a huge Yankees and Bills fan. Follow him on Twitter @Ringsiderant_RJ