Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was an independent wrestling promotion which existed from 1992 to 2001. Originally known as Eastern Championship Wrestling, its owner Todd Gordon sold the promotion to Paul Heyman in August 1994, and Heyman turned it into a runaway renegade promotion focused on hardcore wrestling and blending wrestling styles from all over the world into a single ring (the former technique was used to great success in the WWF while the latter technique was successful for WCW Monday Nitro).
Establishing itself as the tertiary North American wrestling promotion by 1995, ECW loyalists stuck with their promotion through thick & thin, despite many hardships that it placed on its top draws like Rob Van Dam, Raven, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, and others. One of the most difficult problems in working for ECW was the inability to rely on Heyman to provide timely paychecks (or even full payments), so ECW became a glorified feeding system into the "Big Two" promotions. Even guys like Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio, and Chris Benoit started in ECW before joining WCW and later the WWF.
Despite generating additional revenue through hosting pay-per-view events, signing a deal with a national cable network (TNN), and even getting profiled in the Beyond The Mat, Paul Heyman was unable to keep his dream alive and the company declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2001. Today, WWE owns the entire ECW video library.