AS I SEE IT 4/20: Dragon Gate USA this July, and The Voice
AS I SEE IT
First...a shout out to a sports broadcasting legend.
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
His voice was the soundtrack of Philadelphia summers.
Whether you lived in a South Philadelphia row house, a mansion on the Main Line, or were "down the shore", sports fans always had the radio on listening to the Philadelphia Phillies, and that voice. Whether the Phillies were in contention for a division title, or bringing up the rear of the National League Eastern Division, everyone listened to Harry Kalas, every summer. I was out Saturday night at a place called Doc Watson's Pub and heard a 21 year old bartender tell me how he was in tears when he went to the memorial Philadelphians placed at the Mike Schmidt statue...because he didn't see flowers...but he instead saw his grandfather there...and the summers they shared listening to games.
So, Harry, have a cold one up there at Heaven's Happy Hour...light up your cigar...and you and Whitey get ready to call a doubleheader. Thanks for giving generations memory after memory.
Now, to wrestling.
Time for a major mark out moment....and something to look forward to this July besides my vacation...
ANNOUNCING DRAGON GATE USA
PHILADELPHIA- Japan's Dragon Gate promotion has announced its expansion into United States with Dragon Gate USA at last night's Korakuen Hall event in Tokyo. It has named Satoshi Oji as the President and Gabe Sapolsky as the Vice President of Dragon Gate USA. DGUSA will make its online home at DGUSA.tv, as the site was launched late last night.
Dragon Gate's roots go back to Mexico in 1999. Now Dragon Gate promotes over 250 shows per year in Japan. It will increase its schedule by running live events under the Dragon Gate USA banner every other month in the United States. The first show is scheduled for Philadelphia at The Arena on July 25th. Already announced for this event are CIMA, Dragon Kid, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino. Tickets will go on sale on April 29th. Information will be coming soon about DGUSA's Chicago debut on Labor Day weekend.
Oji has been a long time employee of the Dragon Gate promotion and will run an office out of Houston. Sapolsky, the former booker of ROH and office worker in the original ECW, will head the Philadelphia office. "This is a natural progression in Dragon Gate's growth," Oji said. "The entire company in Japan is looking forward to bringing our style of wrestling to the United States. The wrestlers are all very excited to make a new home in the United States."
"This is a great opportunity to bring something new, fresh and unique to the American pro wrestling scene," Sapolsky said. "DGUSA is going to be about quality over quantity. This is the haven for pro wrestling fans. Our goal is to become known as the premium brand of pro wrestling."
"Known as the premium brand of pro wrestling...."
If that's not enough, there's their new cube ad just out advertising the July 25 debut show referring to DGUSA as "the new haven for pro wrestling fans.
Somewhere, I think Cary Silkin just went for his bottle of Maalox.
Fans had a hint something was up when a statement was issued two days earlier by Dragon Gate's CIMA, alleging that the reason that the Ring of Honor-Dragon Gate relationship had ended, one that produced several Match of The Year candidates and DVDs that were among the best selling in Ring of Honor company history...was the allegation that Ring of Honor had shorted Dragon Gate on money.
I have been receiving inquiries like 'why aren't Dragon Gate wrestlers on the ROH Wrestle Mania weekend shows?" or "What is the relationship between Dragon Gate and ROH?'
Well, I can't tell you in detail because our lawyer is working on this case in the States, but what I can tell you is Dragon Gate no longer has any relationship with ROH. One of the reason is because we haven't got payment from the past ROH show held in Japan in September 2008. Some of the ROH wrestlers' airfare and their guarantees were supposed be shared between two companies, but the promise had never been kept. I recently hear from some of my dear friends not being paid by ROH as well. Any business is based on a trust, and we no longer wish to do any business with ROH again.
Dragon Gate wrestlers, however, love all ROH wrestlers as well as all its fans. So we are very sad that this situation is happening.
Please keep in mind that we are still planning to do our shows in the States, and we have a very good relationship with PWG in Los Angeles, CA.
Even though Dragon Gate hasn't announce the above statement to the media, I can't ignore my American fans. I just wanted to let you know what is going on. I will try to keep you updated with any of our future plan!
Please support Dragon Gate wrestling, and come cheer us when we wrestle in the States!"
Ring of Honor responded with a denial:
"... CIMA from the Dragon Gate promotion in Japan has made claims that Ring of Honor owes Dragon Gate money from our Sept. 2008 show stating "Some of the ROH wrestlers' airfare and their guarantees were supposed be shared between two companies, but the promise had never been kept." This statement is false. All Ring of Honor talent was paid in full for these events along with their airfare. CIMA and the Dragon Gate promotion are very well aware of what agreements they did not live up to in regards to the ROH/Dragon Gate show and why we choose to no longer do business with them."
Making things even more interesting, Dave Meltzer reported in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter that the issue in question involved the September 13 Ring of Honor Tokyo show promoted by Dragon Gate. There were claims that Pro Wrestling NOAH didn't want to work with Dragon Gate and that Dragon Gate didn't work hard to promote the Ring of Honor show (given that the promotion's normal house shows typically draw more than this show did). NOAH promoted a show with ROH talent the next night, which drew significantly more fans. Meltzer reports that Cary Silkin and Dragon Gate management a disagreement over finances, which in turn led to a shouting match between Cary Silkin and Gabe Sapolsky backstage, because Dragon Gate ended the relationship with Ring of Honor over the financial "disagreement".
Coincidentally or not (and the fact that Meltzer mentions it suggests that he doesn't entirely think it was a coincidence); Sapolsky was fired as booker six weeks later.
So, after the dueling claims....two days later the announcement that Dragon Gate would be running shows in 2009, including in the venue in which Ring of Honor tapes TV for HDNet...the ECW Arena....with Gabe Sapolsky as booker for Dragon Gate USA.
Somehow, I have a feeling the fun's just beginning. For example, the ECW Arena website lists Ring of Honor as doing TV tapings on July 18 and 19, the weekend before the Dragon Gate USA show. The Dragon Gate show coming one week later can't exactly help live attendance at the tapings. In this economy, people may make choices if they can't afford to go to both shows.
Lance Storm's scathing online review of the Ring of Honor TV show on HDNet won't help either. Apparently, he feels the TV is "... very bad. The venue and crowd looked small, and the ring looked so small I just couldn’t take the show seriously. I’ve talked to two close friends who have seen the show and both echoed my disappointment, one summing up best: “They've somehow managed to use the increased production values to remove almost everything that made ROH feel unique and special.”
Then, there's Gary Hogewood. Apparently, he isn't Harry Kalas, Bob Caudle,.or even Tony Schiavone. After the last TV taping, if I hear him say "slap a porpoise" one more time, I'm going to puke.
FInally....plug time for two shows benefitting good causes:
Deaf Wrestlefest, a benefit for the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf will take place Sunday, May 3rd with a 6:00 PM belltime at the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, located 300 East Swissvale Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA (Edgewood), It's the tenth anniversary show for this yearly fundraiding event
Limited Front Row $25/Advanced Tickets $15/Day of Show $20 For tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (412) 678-3287
Matches announced so far:
Missy Hyatt appears...
JJ. Dillon comes out of retirement to wrestle...
In a trios tag match with local legends...Dominic DeNucci & Dr. Cody Michaels & Sheriff Steele vs J.J. Dillon, "Handsome" Frank Staletto, "Beef Stew" Lou Marconi
Brutus "the Barber" Beefcake vs King Kaluha
The Blanchard Express (Shawn Blanchard & Lou Martin with Frank Durso) vs Kris Kash and Anthony Alexander
Jessica Havok and Haily Hatred vs Angeldust and Brittany Force
The Wrong Crowd vs Gambinos
Crusher Hansen vs Dennis Gregory
Also, another plug for the Legends of the Arena show on June 27 and the ECW Arena:
Over 30 "Legends Of The Arena" will participate in truly one nostalgic night for the ages at the world famous Arena in an event designed to benefit the American Cancer Society. Fournier is organizing this benefit show due to the fact that two members of her family recently died as the result of cancer.
On the card for Saturday June 27th are Arena legends: "The Franchise" Shane Douglas, "The Queen Of Extreme" Francine, The Sandman, Sabu, "Manager of Champions" Bill Alfonso,, Al Snow with Head, Blue World Order members The Blue Meanie and Super Nova, Full Blooded Italian members Little Guido and Tracy Smothers, "Chair Swingin Freak" Balls Mahoney, The artist formerly known as Spike Dudley, Justin Credible, "King Of Old School" Steve Corino, C.W. Anderson, Chris Hamrick, Tammy Lynn Sytch, Tod Gordon, "Original Pitbull #1" Gary Wolfe, Jack Victory, Big Sal E. Graziano, Axl Rotten,Angel and Tony Devito Of The Baldies, "Judge" Jeff Jones, referees John Finnegan and Mike Kehner
Legends Of The Arena pricing:
Super Tickets pricing $250, includes an all day Fan Fest starting at 1:00 pm, includes wrestling card, and the following items:
All Day All Access Passes (includes signing and matches)
Golden Circle Ringside Reserved Tickets Rows 1, 2, 3 and Commemorative Chair
1 signed 8x10 photo of every legend on hand, ability to bring your own camera in and take photos with every legend on hand
Early access and admission, pre-show barbecue and tailgate party
Dunk Tank (dunk your favorite legends)
Q&A session with the legends of the Arena, Fan Participation guest ring announcer
A very special video tribute to the fallen legends of the Arena, legends induction to the Arena Hall Of Fame.
General Admission seating pricing $50; includes:
Ticket to Legends Of The Arena wrestling card
Legends induction to the Arena Hall Of Fame
A very special video tribute to the fallen legends Of The Arena.
Donations to benefit American Cancer Society.
Tickets on sale now at this link For more information checkout the event website.
Until next time...
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