ECW was a revolutionary organisation during the 1990s and at a time where wrestling had become far too cartoonish for the casual fan, Paul Heyman's brainchild opened up a new, violent aspect to the business.
Being the rogue company that they were, there have been plenty of crazy behind the scenes stories down the years, usually orchestrated by their cast of tearaway superstars.
Back in 1996, Kurt Angle was fresh off his Olympic heroics from the Atlanta games where he won a gold medal in heavyweight wrestling.
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Looking to enter the world of professional wrestling, fellow Pittsburgh native Shane Douglas convinced Angle to attend an ECW taping with a view to working for the company.
Angle cut an in-ring promo and provided some guest commentary on a match, but in an interview with Sports Illustrated, former WWE and ECW announcer Joey Styles recalled what drove Angle berserk that night and how Heyman left him in the firing line.
"So I'm sitting there watching this match, and that's when Raven and his minions crucify the Sandman, à la our lord and savior Jesus Christ, on a wooden cross that the Sandman built himself because he was a carpenter. Raven even put a barbed wire crown around Sandman's head, like a crown of thorns. South Philly was a very Catholic community, and they were sitting in stunned silence—until they started booing. And it was not the good booing, either. It was the 'we don't want you doing this' kind of booing.'
"I'm speechless, but Kurt Angle turns to me, assuming—maybe because I'm wearing a suit and tie—that I know what's going on, and he starts screaming at me. 'I can't be a part of this, this is disgraceful, this is awful, I don't ever want footage of me being here to ever air!' I look to my left to get help from Paul, and Paul is gone. Paul left me alone with this angry, Olympic gold medalist heavyweight wrestler.
"I am just getting dressed down by Kurt Angle, nose to nose, right in my face. Paul left, he claimed, to go fix the situation. He damn well also wanted to avoid a screaming Kurt Angle. Then he sends Raven out to apologize for his using his 'religious iconography'—and those were Raven's exact words—and Paul, to this day, claims he knew nothing about it, which I don't believe for a second."
It won't come as a surprise to many that Heyman left Styles to take the fall, but it is a funny story nonetheless.
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