ECCW began promoting its first shows in January 1996 under the ownership of veteran wrestler/promoter "Gorgeous" Michelle Starr, with assistance from Terry-Joe Silverspoon. The promotion initially operated solely on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, running shows in towns such as Port Alberni, Nanaimo, and Campbell River. The first ECCW Heavyweight champion was The Bodyguard. The title changed hands to "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka and John Rambo, before settling for longer periods of time with Michelle Starr and Mike Roselli.
In September 1996, ECCW moved its home base to New Westminster, British Columbia in order to more directly compete with rival International Championship Wrestling (based in Cloverdale, British Columbia). The promotion would hold its main house shows at the Eagles Hall (the former Columbia Theatre, now the Burr Theatre). In late 1996, full control of ECCW was given to Silverspoon, who continued to operate out of New Westminster until Michelle Starr returned to Canada approximately six months later. In late 1997, Dave Republic assumed controlling interest of the promotion, and announced that it had become a member of the National Wrestling Alliance, operating under the NWA Pacific Northwest banner. This resulted in a separation of the talent, with half the roster aligning itself with Republic and the NWA, and the other half with Starr, thumbing their collective noses at the more traditional wrestling mindset the NWA adopted at the time.
It was during this time that the company adopted a rigorous touring schedule, often running up to 15 shows a month across British Columbia. Playing in towns of all sizes in the province, many of these touring shows were fundraisers for various schools or charities. A collection of one of these tours, The Northern Hell Tour, was made available as a multiple volume set of VHS video cassettes. The company also began running an annual summertime event at the North Surrey Rec Centre in Surrey, British Columbia, the first of which saw then-NWA World Heavyweight Champion Dan Severn defeat "Ironman" Mike Roselli in the main event.
During this period of the company's history, they heavily relied on rabid fans and a blend of hardcore-style veterans such as Billy Two Eagles and "Maniac" Matt Borne, young up-and-comers such as Tony Kozina, El Antorcha, Strife, and Chance Beckett, and wrestling purists such as "Rocket" Randy Tyler and Doby Gillis. Other talent used during this period included Louie Spicolli, Tommy Rogers, and Dan Severn as touring NWA World Heavyweight Champion. It was not rare to see chairs, tables, and barbed wire at ECCW events.
In 2000, with their main building having been sold to the Raymond Burr Society, ECCW relocated its main monthly shows to Surrey, BC's Bridgeview Hall. To this day, it splits its main shows between Surrey and the Russian Community Centre in Vancouver, BC. During this period, ECCW brought in such outside stars as "Fallen Angel" Christopher Daniels, Nova (WWE's Simon Dean), Steve Corino, Sabu, and Tommy Dreamer. They also expanded into Washington State, occasionally running simultaneous shows in the U.S. and Canada with separate crews of wrestlers. It was around this time that ECCW entered into a working relationship with the IWA Japan organization, exchanging talent. IWA wrestlers Leatherface, Freddie Kruger and Jason the Terrible would often appear for ECCW, as well as IWA freelancer Asian Cougar, while Michelle Starr, Juggernaut, Disco Fury, and Buffy appeared in Japan for IWA.
On December 8, 2005, ECCW announced that they had purchased independent group Top Ranked Wrestling (TRW), which had a program on KVOS (Channel 23 in Vancouver) on Saturday afternoons. ECCW's take over of the Top Ranked Wrestling program (renamed NWA Top Ranked Wrestling or NWA-TRW following the purchase) took effect on January 7, 2006, in time for the promotion's tenth anniversary celebrations. However, the first TV tapings under ECCW ownership took place at its "Season's Beatings" event on December 23, 2005. TRW star Vid Vain, who was the promotion's heavyweight champion at the time of the ECCW purchase, then joined ECCW, and his title was renamed by the company as the TRW Television Championship; that title was rarely defended on NWA-TRW, however, and the belt was shelved after a brief run. Also during the run of NWA-TRW, ECCW's top two championships, the NWA/ECCW Pacific Northwest Heavyweight and Tag Team titles, began to be referred to on the TV program as the NWA Top Ranked Heavyweight and NWA Top Ranked Tag Team Championships, respectively, although the titles otherwise retained their official names in promotional material.
ECCW later announced that NWA-TRW had been picked up for a second season. ECCW constantly had a rating of around .3, which is abnormally high for an independent promotion, and given the time slot, it was one of the highest ranked wrestling shows outside of WWE and TNA. Originally a one-hour show, NWA-TRW was cut to a 30-minute program in the spring of 2006.Despite being picked up for a second season, NWA-TRW aired its last episode on November 4, 2006. It is unknown whether the show was cancelled by KVOS or by ECCW. Mauro Ranallo, who got his start on-camera with All Star Wrestling's CHAN-TV program in the late-1980s, was the original host of the program (starting with the then-independent TRW), with heel commentary provided by The Count and later Ladies' Choice (and occasionally Vance Nevada); after Ranallo left, ECCW ring announcer Scotty Sweatervest became the new TV host and held that job until NWA-TRW ended its run.
During a training session in the fall of 2006 at ECCW's wrestling gym in Whalley, British Columbia, ECCW star Disco Fury suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. The injury's severity was such that the tendon re-coiled halfway up Fury's calf, requiring restorative surgery where 250 stitches inside and out were needed to re-connect the tendon tissue. Fury spent the remainder of 2006 out of action, and despite initial fears that he would never wrestle again due to his injury, he made a full recovery and returned to action in Surrey on May 4, 2007.
Following the cancellation of NWA-TRW, former color commentator Ladies' Choice was named as the new General Manager of ECCW on December 16, 2006 in Vancouver. Not surprisingly, following the lead of previous heel authority figures in major promotions like WWE and TNA, LC has shown blatant favoritism toward heel wrestlers and abused the power of his office, in particular actively attempting to protect the title reign of NWA/ECCW Champion Randy Tyler (who had held the title since January 27, 2006, when he was awarded the belt without wrestling for it, after tricking Sweet Daddy Devastation into signing a contract giving the championship to Tyler if SDD defeated then-champion Juggernaut) from the challenges of popular contenders like Aaron Idol by doing all in his power to prevent those contenders from receiving title shots. LC's luck in keeping the championship on Tyler finally ran out on June 22, 2007 when Idol defeated Tyler in a steel cage match in Surrey to win the title, thanks in part to the involvement of the returning Sweet Daddy Devastation, who slammed the cage door into the escaping Tyler as payback for Tyler's duplicity.