AS I SEE IT - 1/13/2003:
Thoughts on "Ring of Controversy" ...a local article on XPW
by: Bob Magee
The South Philadelphia Review has published an article on the controversy regarding XPW in the January 9th edition of their weekly newspaper in South Philadelphia.
Below are excerpts from the article, entitled Ring of Controversy. (To read the article in full go to http://southphillyreview.com/news/news1.shtml).
"...Bulked-up wrestlers beating each other with folding chairs, crashing opponents though tabletops and pile-driving each others' skulls into the canvas mat is nothing new at Viking Hall.
For more than a decade, the arena has been regarded as the city's premier venue -- and one of the best-known in the northeastern United States -- among independent wrestling organizations.
But Viking Hall's new tenants have some residents in the area ready to tap out -- or at least that is what someone would like people to think.
For the last two weeks, an unidentified group or individual has been circulating a two-page flier, mainly via e-mail, warning people that "pornography is coming to your neighborhood."
It is a response to Xtreme Professional Wrestling entering into an exclusive lease with the owners of Viking Hall, Swanson and Ritner streets. The missive makes allegations about XPW's connections to the hardcore pornography industry, problems it has had with licenses for past promotions and even claims that the promotion's management had something to do with severing the thumb of one of its former wrestlers...
XPW's lease on the arena began Jan. 1. Carmen D'Amato, property manager for the company that owns the arena, S&S Family Partnership, said he was unsure of the length of the lease and its terms, except to say it gives XPW exclusive rights to promote all sporting events at the venue.
The company will be prohibited from hosting events such as concerts or teen dance parties, D'Amato said, contrary to what had been suggested in the anonymous leaflet.
Several other sources report the lease deal is for three years at $120,000 annually.
Shane Douglas, a wrestler as well as the executive producer of XPW's television programming and head talent booker, would not confirm that amount. However, Douglas did respond to the statements made on the flier.
For most of XPW's three-and-a-half years, the business has been part of a larger company owned by Rob Zicari -- also known as Rob Black -- called Extreme Associates, Douglas said.
Among the Los Angeles-based parent company's other business interests are filming and distributing hardcore pornography films and running an adult Web site. Its catalog includes movies featuring rape, underage girls and snuff films. (To the best of anyone's knowledge, the actresses are all of legal age and the violence is staged.) Several of the actresses featured in the films now participate in the wrestling business.
Douglas, known to wrestling fans as "The Franchise," has wrestled for 22 years with various organizations. He worked for seven years with the popular Extreme Championship Wrestling that held many shows at Viking Hall.
He has been affiliated with XPW since May and insists the promotion firm cut its business ties with Extreme Associates when Zicari established the wrestling arm of the business as a separate company before Christmas. Zicari remains owner of both.
"This porno issue is something our enemies keep trying to use against us," Douglas said from his home in Pittsburgh. "I have scoured this clean because it is something that I know will hold us back."
Distancing the organization from its porn roots, Douglas said, will make it easier to promote XPW, especially to television stations. XPW used to feature more explicit sexual situations, Douglas said, but that has stopped. However, Extreme Associates' adult movies star several of the female valets who accompany its wrestlers ringside, like Lizzy Borden and Veronica Caine.
Douglas acknowledged this, but insists those working with XPW no longer shoot new films.
"If you dig, you will find a load of dirt on XPW over the years," Douglas admitted.
You do not have to dig that deep. There were two incidents in August. One was related to XPW's Aug. 31 card.
The company was new to the area and instead of attempting to secure its own license from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission as well as a $10,000 surety bond -- which ensures customers can get their money back in the event a promoter cancels a show -- it decided to borrow one, Douglas said.
XPW management believed it had a deal to use the license and bond owned by Ring of Honor Wrestling. Such an arrangement would have been perfectly legal under state law.
XPW contends Ring's owner, Rob Feinstein, backed out of the deal two weeks before the show. Magee said Feinstein's attorney has told him there never was an agreement and Zicari had tried to sign on Feinstein as a co-promoter without his consent.
Greg Sirb, the state athletic commissioner, declined to be interviewed for this story. Feinstein could not be reached for comment. Douglas explained XPW has since obtained its own license and surety bond.
Not long before that conflict, two assailants attacked former XPW wrestler William "The Messiah" Welch at his California home and cut off his thumb using gardening shears. Los Angeles County detectives told the Los Angeles Daily News that the attackers went to Welch's home specifically to attack him.
Despite allegations against the wrestler's former employer, police investigations have found no evidence connecting Zicari or XPW to the incident.
"We are amazed how we've become a target," said Douglas, reflecting on his company's recent bad publicity. He suspects most of the heat is coming from the local organizations who are not happy to see XPW in Philly...
...Said Douglas, "I'm not concerning myself with Ring of Honor. I'm not concerning myself with CZW or 3PW. I am concerning myself with XPW and placing all of my energies towards that because I believe the other companies are bottom-dwellers and time will weed them out."
Now...let's look at 2 inaccurate statements made to Mr. Tuleya by Douglas, and a note on a comment by Butch
1) The company is a part of Extreme Associates, whatever Douglas may say to the contrary. Given the common practice of heavy comping into their Philadelphia and California events and reported losses of $10-20,000 per Philadelphia show, the money to pay the workers comes form somewhere. That somewhere is the adult film end of the business.
Anyone can also check out some other simple indications of the truth of this. First, a simple WHOIS search (a search of ownership records for websites) shows that the XPW website is clearly registered to Extreme Associates. Further, the XPW title belt clearly shows a copyright mark for Extreme Associates.
2) "Douglas acknowledged this (Extreme Associates' adult movies star several of the female valets who accompany its wrestlers ringside, like Lizzy Borden and Veronica
Caine), but insists those working with XPW no longer shoot new films."
Which no doubt explains the following item easily found on a link on Extreme Associates front page (misspelling is in the original) concerning Lizzy Borden:
LIZZY BORDEN IS PORNOGRAPHIES MOST CONTROVERSIAL FEMALE DIRECTOR AND HER WORK IS AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY FOR EXTREME. VIEW CLIPS OF HER MOVIES AS WELL AS PHOTOS AT CLUB EXTREME.
It sure looks like the references are in the present tense to me.
Here's a similar indication regarding Veronica Caine in the list of
new releases on the Extreme Associates website:
THE ADVENTURES OF MAMMARY MAN AND JUGG WOMAN
Directed by Thomas Zupko
Starring: Brian Surewood as Mammary Man, Veronica Caine as Jugg Woman...
Tuleya did indicate in an e-mail to me that he felt the article portrayed Lizzy Borden and Veronica Caine as active porn actresses. However, Tuleya did not take Douglas to task in the article for maiking such a statement that he apparently feels is untrue.
3) "The company will be prohibited from hosting events such as concerts or teen dance parties, D'Amato said, contrary to what had been suggested in the anonymous leaflet."
Perhaps Mr. D'Amato and the lawyers that comprise S&S Family Partnership would have done well to have read the press release tht XPW itself sent out when it officially announced that XPW was assuming the lease:
Xtreme Professional Wrestling, L.L.C. Obtains Exclusive Lease On Philadelphia’s Viking Hall
Earlier this week, the owners of Viking Hall announced that XPW had signed a long term lease for the building. The lease, which was signed on October 5, begins January 1 2003 and continues through December 31, 2005 with an option to renew for another three year period.
The venue, which will be renamed the XPW Arena, will be home to XPW but will also feature a variety of sports and entertainment events from boxing and bingo to concerts and club nights.
“We are very excited about bringing the first entertainment complex of this kind to Philadelphia,” said Kirk Farrington who the company named General Manager of the venue.
“The renovations and upgrades being made to the building will enable us to provide a great concert venue where both local and national acts can play when in Philadelphia.”.
Someone at S&S Family Partnership is apparently not paying much attention here. If you read this press release, it clearly states the intent of XPW to run "concerts and club nights".
Apart from the misstatements to Tuleya in the article itself, it seems particularly interesting that Greg
Sirb, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission refused to be interviewed for the article.
Why would a State official such as Sirb refuse to be interviewed regarding such an article?
If all that was being said about a wrestling company within Pennsylvania was untrue, common sense says that Sirb should debunk the statements being made, and indicate that XPW is operating within state regulations.
On the other hand, if Mr. Sirb viewed them as true, one would think it would his responsibility to offer comment accordingly, and then act upon them as circumstances would require. Instead, he makes no comment at all about a matter concerning the industry that he governs...one that is causing problems within the most active market within the state.
Given the relative lack of boxing shows within Pennsylvania, professional wrestling has become the cash cow of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission; with the 5% tax on WWE shows (paid on sellouts, not on actual attendance figures) and on the numerous independent shows held throughout the State. There were at least 50 licensed shows within Philadelphia in 2002 alone.
One wonders if Greg Sirb is getting a bit lazy, or if his wallet is getting a bit too fat.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)