ProWrestling

The Best and Worst of ECW Barely Legal 1997

I was born at the exact right time for ECW. No matter how it’s content is regarded today, in 1997 you could not have made a more appealing product to a teenage boy than ECW. I was crazy for it and went to great lengths to see it.

I first saw ECW in 1995 when I bought a bootleg Best Of tape at a comic book convention. The tape had been copied so many times that you could barely make out who was wrestling through the blurry lines on the television. In order to watch ECW’s weekly TV show I had to become a tape trader.

Once a month, for the next few years, I would mail two blank VHS tapes and a postage paid return envelope to a guy across the country who I met on the internet. He would mail me back one of the VHS tapes with a month’s worth of ECW TV on it and keep the other VHS tape as payment. That was a lot to go through for a teenage kid who didn’t have a car. So you can imagine how I felt when I heard ECW was going to air a show live on pay-per-view.

That was twenty years ago and literally everything has changed since then, including my taste in wrestling. I was so excited for Barely Legal in the spring of 1997, but in 2017 I could barely remember it. So I sat down to watch it on its 20th birthday.

If you like your shows loaded with cheap knockoff music, then you can watch Barely Legal right here on the WWE network. But if you want the real ECW experience, you should watch a third generation VHS dub that you got in a tape trade from a very shady dude in Pittsburgh.

Worst: I Still Couldn’t Watch It Live

Unfortunately, I couldn’t watch the show live on that historic night in 1997. Despite repeated calls and letters to my cable provider, they refused to carry the show. That’s right, every day for weeks leading up to the show, I called my local cable company and hand-wrote them letters (I didn’t have email yet) asking that they please carry Barely Legal. Why? Because Paul Heyman told me to, and in 1997 if Paul Heyman told me to get cut open by New Jack I would have done it. So what’s 20 or 30 phone calls to the good folks at Cox Communication?

It wasn’t just my local cable company, either. Across the nation, cable companies refused to air the show due to perceived content of extreme violence and sex (even though those same cable companies aired hours of pay-per-view porn nightly in 1997). So Paul reached out through the television to his kool-aid drinkers like me to hassle the cable companies into carrying it — the ’90s version of angrily tweeting at a company.

×