ECW Arena fire (lost footage of post-hardcore professional wrestling match brawl; 1995)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its disturbing subject matter.


Cactus Jack holding the flaming chair.

Status: Lost

On 28th October 1995, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) was holding an event at the ECW Arena in Philadelphia. The event gained infamy, when following the main event between Cactus Jack and Tommy Dreamer, a stunt involving a chair wrapped in a towel that was set on fire ended up engulfing Terry Funk and a fan, and caused major panic among those in attendance that led to a stampede.


Cactus Jack vs Tommy Dreamer was the final match of the show, with Dreamer winning after pinning Jack following a DDT. Post-match, a brawl occurred also featuring Raven, who DDT'd Dreamer, and Terry Funk, who attempted to save Dreamer by attacking the others with a flaming branding iron. At some point, Jack and Raven apprehended Funk, where Jack was then given a chair that was wrapped with a towel given by Bill Alfonso.[1]

The ECW Fire Incident

Jack and Raven poured lighter fluid onto the towel, before igniting it with a branding iron. Jack tried to hit Funk with it, but Dreamer stopped him. This caused Jack to hit Dreamer instead, causing Dreamer to catch fire. According to PWInsider's Dave Scherer, the crowd was stunned, with growing tension caused by the fact Jack was struggling to pick up the chair, which was burning uncontrollably with pieces of burning towel falling off it. Jack again tried to hit Funk, only for the latter to roll out of the ring.[2]

According to PWInsider's Mike Johnson, this stunt was supposed to have the chair rebound onto Jack. In actuality, the burning towel fell off the chair and landed on Funk's back, which immediately engulfed him. As Funk ran around ringside in clear distress, some fans attempted to put him out with others began to panic. Eventually, some ECW employees with fire extinguishers ran in. But instead of simply focusing on areas where burning pieces of towel were situated at, they merely shot their extinguishers through the ring, causing more chaos with Funk still burning and with fans beginning to choke and cough from the extinguishers.[1][3]

Suddenly, the lights for the arena were turned off, as this was meant for a crucifixion angle. This further panicked the crowd, with the majority stampeding for the doors. This caused some injuries, including a man breaking his nose, and another breaking his leg. Some were also burned, with one fan attempting to sue ECW following the incident, claiming he suffered burnt hands and other medical issues after trying to put out the fire,[4] but this case was dismissed.[1] The incident was finally resolved when ECW owner Paul Heyman ordered the lights be turned back on, which when combined with the fires finally being put out, helped to fully calm matters.[5]


Funk and Dreamer suffered injuries following the match and brawl. Dreamer broke his nose and suffered burns to his back. Meanwhile, Funk was hospitalised after suffering second-degree burns on his right arm.[2] Prior to leaving, Funk was angered by what transpired, throwing chairs and being especially furious with an apologetic Jack. Nevertheless, upon returning from the hospital, Funk returned to good spirits and even apologised to Jack for his outburst, with him also requesting to compete in the next show to help placate fans following the incident.[3] According to Heyman, the chair stunt was Funk and Jack's idea, as they had replicated the stunt several times while wrestling in Japan.[6]

The incident nevertheless caused ECW to suffer a loss of goodwill from its fans, believing the stunt jeopardised their safety and with some vowing not to attend another ECW show.[3] Heyman was able to placate the fans for ECW's November to Remember show however, by apologising for the incident and bringing back fan favourite Sabu. Heyman also vowed that there would be no more use of fire in future ECW shows,[6][3] although this ultimately turned out to be false, as multiple future ECW matches would feature fire-related stunts.[7]


No footage of the incident has ever been publicly released, with ECW claiming during a litigation case involving the injured fan that the tape was accidentally erased the following week. However, some questioned this, as footage of a crucifix angle coming from the same event appeared on the following week's ECW television program.[8] If it still exists, it is likely within WWE's tape library, as WWE purchased ECW's assets and its tape library in January 2003.[9] However, given the context of the incident, it is highly unlikely that it will end up on the WWE Network. Nevertheless, a few photos of the incident, including Jack holding the flaming chair, have publicly resurfaced.


Photos of the ECW Fire Incident.

Cultaholic detailing the ECW Fire Incident.

The Steve Austin Show where Austin and Funk discussed the ECW Fire Incident (2:49-4:25)

See Also