The legacy of the small Philadelphia-based wrestling promotion that rose up to challenge the WWE in the mid-nineties is such that to this day young men who were still filling their Huggies when the likes of Terry Funk and Sabu were ripping chunks out of each other back in '94 chant "E-C-W" at the merest whiff of a chairshot. Five years removed from its demise, the brand name was so strong that WWE decided to bring it back as a separate brand on TV. And in 2008, the Extremists will debut in SmackDown! Vs Raw.
Despite the omission from the title, ECW will be on level footing with both Smackdown and Raw, taking pride of place in SmackDown's new WWE 24/7 mode. 24/7 is an amalgamation of the previous year's Season and GM modes, with the ultimate goal of your superstar being to enter the WWE hall of fame and become a Legend. Now, although the word among WWE fans is that the new ECW is a poor shadow of its former self, for the purpose of Xbox 360 and PS3 we needn't worry about such politics, because THQ promises that SmackDown! '08 will capture the essence of the original ECW. This means small stadiums, fiercely loyal crowds and - we'd imagine - more environmental hotspots than you could shake a kendo stick at.
But as ECW enters the fray, it finds itself passing the onscreen meters in the hallway. One of the main criticisms of SmackDown! over the years has been that the screen is often more HUD than action, but this year Yukes have decided to whip out their magical coding brush and sweep away much of the on-screen clutter. The maniacal button-bashing has been carefully replaced by a more refined system, where the wrestler on the offensive can manually apply the pressure with creative use of the analog sticks.