Hey Scott, it always seemed obvious from 1997 on (beyond the ECW invasion on WWF TV and obvious collaboration here) that Vince helped ECW out, at least by giving them some of his developmental or undercard guys (Brakus, Lafon/Furnas, Snow, Aldo) or non-wrestlers (Lawler, Sunny, Rude) to help Heyman fill his cards and spice things up a bit. On the other hand, Vince took ECW guys for one-night-shots (Candido) or snatched them up (later on Dudleyz, Taz…) when he wished. No surprise that you never saw Raven or Shane included in the WWF vs ECW storyline, for obvious reasons.
I really doubt he funded/supported ECW before the Scorpio deal in November 1996, because there was almost zero cooperation regarding talent or any angles (only the Mindgames IYH incident in September 1996 comes to mind). Tommy Dreamer hinted that ECW was supported by Vince the entire time. What do you think/know? Why didn’t Vince use ECW talent more often for a shot or two post-Invasion storyline in 97, let’s say Bigelow appearing on a RAW episode in 98?
I’m pretty sure there’s lots of legal entanglements that would have prevented Vince from lending Heyman any kind of significant monetary support. At the very end of the company there was a loan floated to them so that WWF was listed as a creditor during bankruptcy and they could get the library and assets, but I imagine that WCW could easily cry contract tampering if they were trying to, for example, sign Bigelow, and he was showing on WWF TV as a part of his ECW deal. Obviously I’m no legal-talking guy, but if Vince WAS doing that kind of backdoor dealing, he’s clearly smart enough not to broadcast it.