AS I SEE IT 7/25: Fighting a fight wrestling fans thought they'd won

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Here we go again with an argument that we thought wrestling fans had won on...the wonderful world of double standards by State Athletic the good old state of Pennsylvania.

Combat Zone Wrestling was forced, only nine days before Tournament of of the promotion's signature events, to move the show from the ECW Arena to New Castle, DE. This after the event had been moved from its original Smyrna, DE location at the request of Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission representatives Frank Talent only two weeks ago.

Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission representatives Frank Talent and Umberto Perez had given Combat Zone Wrestling an offer to have the fourth annual Ultraviolent Tournament of Death in Philadelphia, PA after Combat Zone Wrestling had already obtained a Smyrna, DE venue for the show.

Combat Zone Wrestling was given their word that the show would go off without a hitch and to bring Ultraviolence back to Philadelphia, PA; with Talent and Perez publicly stating this in front of a crowd and on a commercial tape of the event at the ECW Arena on July 9.

The Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission's Frank Talent and Humberto Perez gave the promotion clearance to run the death match style Tournament of Death as long as CZW provided "a safe haven" for the fans. CZW claimed that they spent time and money for no reason as The Commission's Greg Sirb never once returned calls made by CZW owner John Zandig, while other Commission members were providing mixed signals. The final issue was a July 21 demand by Greg Sirb that the promotion could have the show, but not advertise any of the match stipulations....essentially rendering it impossible for a promotion to hold a show that it effectively now couldn't advertise.

To show even further arrogance regarding the situation.... at the Ring of Honor show this past Saturday, Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission representative Frank Talent was introduced to the crowd to a loud reaction from sections of the crowd about the TOD debacle.

Talent responded by grabbing his bicep and shooting an obscene gesture to the crowd three times. One wonders if anyone who was at the ROH show and saw it might just want to toss off a line to Greg Sirb, and ask if that's the conduct expected of State officials in public. If you'd like to do so, feel free to contact Greg Sirb via e-mail at, by phone at (717) 787-5720, or by fax at (717) 783-0824.

As for Tournament of Death, it will now take place in New Castle, DE at the Motocross Park in Blue Diamond Park on 765 Hamburg Road in New Castle, DE (located 20 minutes north of Smyrna and 30 minutes south of Philadelphia) with doors opening at 2:30 PM and belltime still scheduled at 3:00 PM as previously scheduled.

The above actions also leave into question the advertised No Robe Barbed Wire match at CZW's August 13th show...especially given the fact that rival promotion Pro Wrestling Unplugged had listed a barbed wire bat match on July 30, which has now been changed to a "Philadelphia Street Fight".

What CZW needs to do...NOW... is to file a lawsuit against Frank Talent and his fellow Commissioners, as well as Greg Sirb and anyone responsible; and end this bullshit once and for all. Pull their one sided governing of professional wrestling in the State; and sue Talent for any losses suffered in moving the show, which will undoubtedly cost ticket revenues for people that would have attended the show in Philadelphia, but have no way to get to Delaware.

This is not a situation where one party says the other person promised something and the other denies it...but does so privately, so the only proof is the word of each party in the dispute...this promise was as public as they come. Frank Talent and Humberto Perez PUBLICLY committed to allow this show and full well knew what that would entail...doing so in front of 400 people at the ECW Arena.

If CZW isn't willing to do sue these individuals, to sue Greg Sirb, and the Commission for what are clearly discriminatory business practices... for the gate revenue lost...for the advertising money spent for nothing... they (and most other independent promotions operating in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania) might as well close their doors, because its become crystal clear that the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission is nothing more than a bribe-driven bunch of lap dogs for Vince McMahon.

State officials don't make public statements in front of 400 people... and on a commercial tape to boot (which people ought to send copies of to the Governor's office by the way) without there being an agreement in place.

Back in February, WWE held its barbed wire cage main event stipulation at the No Way Out PPV at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh, PA with Big Show taking on John Bradshaw Layfield. Pittsburgh radio stations ran advertisements months ahead of time promoting "the first ever barbed wire cage match for the WWE championship."

This match was allowed to occur, 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 particularly 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 in the past about this inconsistency in the enforcement of their own regulations, several officials of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission have refused comment despite repeated requests.

Further, the Jeremy Borash/Shane Douglas run Hardcore Homecoming show this June was allowed to run a barbed wire match without repercussions...yet CZW is being screwed with again.

So the representatives of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission have progressed from ignoring the public to blatantly lying to the public and to the businesspeople they are sworn (as State officials) to supervise.

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.

1) If you're a wrestling fan and you think the fact what the PSAC is doing 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.

2) Along with these e-mails, send one to the Governor's page at this link and ask why a State governing agency is blatantly allowing TWO companies operating within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to undertake an action that a competing company is prohibited from doing as part of a performance.

Further, ask them why State officials are allowed to make a public agreement regarding a matter, then go back on this agreement only nine days before an event is to take place, causing material harm to a business operating within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

3) Ask Pennsylvania State legislators the same questions. The e-mail addresses of the members of the Pennsylvania State House and the members of the Pennsylvania State Senate are 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 threats of reducing 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....


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