AS I SEE IT 1/17: Double standards by State Athletic Commissions

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

First, another reminder about last week's column...

On December 26th, at 7:59 am local time, a 9.0 magnitude underwater earthquake struck northern Sumatra, the planet's most powerful in over 40 years. The earthquake in turn generated a major Indian Ocean-wide tsunami which devastated Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Bangladesh, as well as parts of Australia, Africa, and the Arabian peninsula.

The tsunami has killed at least 160,000 as of this writing (over 105,000 people along the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island alone), and has left thousands from 52 countries dead or missing.

The United Nations has suggested this catastrophe could end up being one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded in world history. They have also warned that another 150,000 people could die from cholera and other waterborne diseases.

It is more than a little appropriate to show people that wrestling fans are people who are concerned with their world, and are not just the stereotypical obsessives that many view us as being... concerned with nothing more than what HHH is doing on next week's TV...engaging in petty bullshit to help a local independent promotion steal 200-300 fans from a competitor...if Jeff Jarrett is going over on the next TNA PPV...or whether or not a certain Ring of Honor match deserves **** or *****.

I'm running a cube banner on that will directly link to the tsunami efforts of UNICEF (United Nations International Children's Fund), which you can see besides this text.

I selected UNICEF's graphic/link to post on my site, because of UNICEF's longterm role in helping those most affected by famine, war, poverty and natural disasters throughout the world...and because of the international readership of my flagship site, I also did so because I've felt haunted by the picture of the children, both tourist and native, who have been killed...or survived...but who lost one or more parents...and whose lives will thus be changed forever. many of you as will do so, please feel free to beg, borrow, or outright steal that code from the above graphic...and place that cube banner on your own company's website...your own fansite...or on any message board that will allow it.

For those readers that are concerned that their donations go to the victims of the disaster, and not to charity bureaucrats; here is a list of other organizations reviewed by the group Charity Navigator for their efficiency in delivering service to those they serve, with links to the websites of the organizations in question:

  • American Jewish World Service
  • American Red Cross
  • AmeriCares
  • CARE
  • Catholic Medical Mission Board
  • Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières
  • Feed the Children
  • HOPE Worldwide
  • Lutheran World Relief
  • Mercy Corps
  • Oxfam America
  • Save the Children

    Please take some time as you read this column...and find it in your heart to send UNICEF (or another charity of your choice) some money to help those hundreds affected by this catastrophe; and find it in your heart to post the above link to the UNICEF site on your own website (or, again, another charity of your own choice) and help those hundreds of thousands affected by this catastrophe.

    Now back onto the far less important scene of the wonderful world of double standards by State Athletic Commissions.

    WWE is moving ahead with its planned barbed wire cage main event stipulation for February's No Way Out PPV at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, PA (with Big Show taking on John Bradshaw Layfield according to the InDemand website).

    Mike Johnson reported last Wednesday that local Pittsburgh radio stations are now airing commercials promoting "the first ever barbed wire cage match for the WWE championship."

    This match is scheduled, despite the fact that the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission banned the use of barbed wire and fluorescent light tubes in professional wrestling events in November 2002, as a result of 2 XPW wrestlers coming into a women's room where a child of a judge known to be friendly with members of the State Athletic Commission. The rules were enforced particualrly against the Philadelphia-based Combat Zone Wrestling, and XPW... which closed in 2003.

    The ban has had a material effect on the crowds of CZW in Pennsylvania, with overall crowds down since the seemingly one-sided ban was put into effect.

    When asked about this inconsistency in the enforcement of their own regulations, several officials of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission have refused comment despite repeated requests. The same is true from representatives of WWE, who have been made aware of the ban, but also have not commented.

    In the interest of independent wrestling and of allowing fans to see the kind of product THEY choose to see; instead of the wishes of governmental busybodies who seem to feel the need to give fans sanitized wrestling that is good for them (depending on the size of the corporation in question)...wrestling fans ought to spend some time contacting the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission regarding the double standard of what WWE is allowed to do (namely anything they want) versus what independent promotions are NOT allowed to do....and are hurt at the gate as a result.

    If you're a wrestling fan and you think the fact that WWE is allowed to operate on this double standard is as ridiculous as I do, contact the State Athletic Commission at, by phone at (717) 787-5720, or by fax at (717) 783-0824.
    If you don't get a response there, try the Governor's page at this link and ask why a State governing agency is blatantly allowing one company operating within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to undertake an action that a competing company is prohibited from doing as part of a performance.

    Ask your Pennsylvania State legislators the same questions. The e-mail addresses of the members of the Pennsylvania State House available here and the members of the Pennsylvania State Senate available here.

    If the State Athletic Commission refuses to enforce regulations equally, perhaps it's time to ask the Pennsylvania Governor's office if the State Athletic Commission's jurisdiction over wrestling is really necessary anymore;, given the trend toward reducing government, and the many other needs of the Commonwealth, including funding of mass transit in the two major cities within Pennsylvania.

    Let another agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania collect the 5% taxes. Let another agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regulate the bonding of promotions.

    But end the double standard...and let wrestling promotions do what they do best...put on wrestling shows.

    Until next time...

    (Graphics courtesy of BBC and UNICEF)


    If you have comments/questions, or if you'd like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at