There have been many rumors, stories, urban legends, he said/she said moments….the fact is, everybody has their own version of what transpired in Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) back in 1997. A potential massive defection of ECW talents to WCW, all orchestrated by an alleged “mole” within ECW. Who was the mole? Who was approached to defect to WCW? What were the reasons behind the mass walkout? Was it all a work?
It all started in 1995, when ECW founder Tod Gordon sold majority interest in his promotion to head booker Paul Heyman. Tod Gordon remained with the promotion for a couple of years after in an on air authority role. That’s where things begin to get murky. Apparently, during his last couple of years with ECW, Gordon was looking to get out of the business. He had two small children that he wanted to spend more time with and was growing tired of the party like atmosphere.
Then word got out to Gordon, that two of his close friends….Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge aka The Public Enemy were leaving ECW to sign with the WWF. Tod Gordon stepped in and convinced them that he could get them a better deal with WCW. Gordon had some connections in WCW’s front office including former ECW talent Kevin Sullivan. In the end, Gordon did in fact get Grunge and Rocco Rock a better deal.
It was then that word got out about what Gordon did and other ECW wrestlers approached him to broker deals for them. Gordon allegedly agreed, but only if it was kept extremely quiet and without Paul Heyman’s knowledge. Some believe the reasoning for this was for a few reasons…1. Paul Heyman would punish those involved involved if Gordon was unable to get them deals. 2. Paul Heyman had legitimate heat with WCW ever since he was fired from the company and filed a lawsuit against them. 3. It could potentially divide a somewhat close knit locker room.
We also would be remiss if we didn’t mention the fact that Heyman at that time, was on Vince McMahon’s payroll. He agreed to help develop green talent that the WWF wanted to utilize later for a fee. Apparently, if Heyman had a choice in the matter…he’d much rather have his talent go to the WWF than WCW..if they had to depart.
To keep it low key, Gordon allegedly only tried to negotiate deals with people he knew and could trust to stay quiet. Guys like the Sandman, Bill Alfonso, Sabu and Rob Van Dam. It was reported that WCW was looking for fresh talent and Gordon was offering these men for a potential 6 figure pay off from Ted Turner’s company. A possible ECW invasion angle in WCW with those men was rumored to take place.
It allegedly all blew up when a Paul Heyman guy….Tommy Dreamer heard a voicemail from WCW agent Terry Taylor to Tod Gordon. There is also word that Kevin Sullivan gave Heyman a heads up to what Gordon was attempting to do. The locker room was divided and finger pointing almost immediately began. Heyman sent out ultimatums to his staff and crew and fired Tod Gordon.
Tod Gordon’s good friend and man who was believed to be assisting Gordon in the WCW deals…manager/referee Bill Alfonso was spared…but for a price. As punishment, Alfonso was put in the ring against Beulah McGuillicutty. It doesn’t sound so bad, only that Alfonso nearly bled to death in that match with Beulah.
As to why Tod Gordon and Paul Heyman didn’t go into an all out war with one another during that period of time….Heyman wanted to minimize the damage as best as he could. Word of strife or unrest in the ECW locker room could potentially scare off cable companies and pay per view outlets.
After years and years of being silent…Tod Gordon in 2004…finally told his side of the story. It was all a work. While he did indeed help Public Enemy in getting a better deal with WCW….everything else was pretty much staged to 1. set up an angle with Tod Gordon as a villainous heel to go against Paul Heyman. 2. The ECW mole story was all set up as damage control for all the ECW talent that were legitimately leaving for better money opportunities.
Different stories from different people….what’s the truth…what’s fiction…who is to be truly believed. We do know that the Tod Gordon heel angle never happened. Paul Heyman still contends he was screwed over by Tod Gordon. All that being said, why would Tod Gordon go out of his way to destroy a wrestling company he helped build?