Those people who hated ECW must have hated the Attitude Era, seeing as how ECW was a heavy influence.
Not only that but ECW incorporated that old school style, mixed with the pop culture of the 90s. Truth is, ECW had something for everyone. If you wanted the hardcore, you had Sandman, Raven, Dreamer, Balls, etc. If you wanted Lucha Libre, ECW was the first promotion to bring that to a large American audience, with Rey, Juventud, Psychosis and various international stars. If you wanted technical wrestling, you had Chris Candido, Shane Douglas, Lance Storm, etc. For comedy, you had the BWO & FBI. Overall, it took wrestling away from focusing on good vs. evil and made everything seem more realistic, with characters the everyday person could relate to.
All in all, it made for some of the better TV in the 90s and from what I've read in the past, was heavily praised by the IWC.
As I have said many times I was not an ECW fan back then, and there was a time when I thought the ECW did things that hurt the industry. I was probably one of those voices years ago that blasted ECW as an abomination. But looking back on it now, I do not believe that ECW ruined anything. If anything it brought back an appreciation for well laid out wrestling storylines, and paid homage to the territory days. Sure it probably contributed to the over the top dangerous spots, that probably pushed it a little. That being in the sense that they always had to up themselves and it created a very dangerous element in the sport.
My dislike for ECW was born out of a love of the southern territories which were often derided on ECW television. I never understood this because I felt the ECW was largely a mirror image of alot of the southern type angles I grew up with. So now instead of slamming Paul E. for trying to take credit for what the southern territories did, I give him credit for bringing it back.
It still pains me a little to hear the ECW chants (although they have dissapeared for the most part). I don't ever recall wanting to chant "Georgia, Georgia" when I saw a bloody chain match, or "Memphis, Memphis" when I saw a scaffold match. Or even "Florida, Flordia" when I saw a wreslter who worked that territory. Why did people chant ECW after a stiff chair spot or a really awesome moonsault? Both of those were done years before. I always thought it was ridiculous. But I digress.
The ECW was a reflection of what the country was in that time period, and that is why the WWF took that "it factor", and ran with it in the AE. Blamming ECW for todays stail brands is like blamming Soundgarden for a lack of vision in the current rock establishment. They were so good back then people just are not excited about today's offerings? That does not work.