AS I SEE IT - 1/30/2002
Two weeks ago, I wrote a column on inter-promotional wars.
This week brings more on the way in which some promoters are willing to do anything to preserve their own little piece of the pie. They are more than willing to say to hell with legitimately competing with a rival promotion....and to be perfectly blunt, willing to say to hell with wrestling fans.
One of the subjects this time is IWA Mid-South Wrestling, which has been running hardcore style shows in the Kentucky/Ohio area for several years. They feature regulars like Ian Rotten, Mad Man Pondo, Corporal Robinson, "Mean" Mitch Page, "Rugby Thug" Trent Baker, and Chris Hero, and names like Chris Candido and Sherri Martel.
Recently IWA Mid-South began having "zoning problems" with the town in which they run, Charlestown, Indiana. IWA staffperson Jim Fannin posted the following statement outlining their situation:
"...Every piece of property is zoned for a certain purpose in every city by a zoning board. They zone land for residential, agricultural, business etc. What the land is zoned for is what the land is to be used for by law.
The land we are on is zoned residential since there are houses around us. Even though it was a place of business for 18 years before we moved in, the zoning board didn't know it was a business. For nearly two years we ran there without the board knowing it was a business and without any of us knowing that it wasn't zoned for a business since it had been one for so long.
After the 18+ over show, a local promoter who has repeatedly tried to have us shut down called the zoning board to say that we had nudity on a show. Then, they then notified us that we aren't zoned to run a business there.
We have to go before the board, file paperwork, pay alot of filing fees and ask for them to rezone us. They can choose to rezone us for business. They can also choose to deny us the rezoning, and make us pay more filing fees to try again. It is a nice little way for the government to milk money out of people cause they want a chunk of the pie."
Not to mention rival promoters.
IWA apparently pays just over $2000 a month rent, along with money for electricity, dumpster, gas for the heater. So we're not talking small change here. While we're hardly talking WWF level, we're talking people making one helluva financial investment in what they love to do, not to mention the physical investment they make in each show they work and run.
Doesn't it seem particularly convenient that the use of the building that IWA Mid-South refers to as the "House of Hardcore" was "just discovered"? After 2 years of use?
It's oddly like the problems that Combat Zone Wrestling had in their initial home of Sewell, New Jersey when suddenly "building inspectors" decided that the CZW Arena didn't have enough bathrooms, and that the CZW food concession (set up in exactly the same manner as a dozen other independent promotions in New Jersey do without incident) didn't meet "specifications". No matter how many times CZW spent money and made adjustments, it conveniently wasn't enough for this "building inspector".
I suppose it was a total coincidence that a locally connected rival promoter had been after CZW; including carefully placed stories in a local newspaper and on television, as well as having family members show up to CZW shows and take notes to provide to a local township in hopes of stealing an upcoming outdoor show. CZW has since moved on to another venue in South Jersey... then, most recently, the ECW Arena.
Both of these examples are identical to what I spoke of two weeks ago.
As I said then, and I'll say again, I'm getting tired of these childish games that are going on between promoters in area after area.
There is little secret as to who is involved in this situation with IWA Mid-South, as there was no secret to who was involved with CZW's problems. In both cases, the same thing has been going for the last 2 years.
Promoters like this aren't able to run their business by making it a better or more entertaining product. Instead they are determined to ruin it for others who runs another promotion, that may be a different style than their own. The name of the game should be to make a buck by putting asses in the seats by producing an entertaining wrestling product, and doing the grunt work necessary to promote it, when you're someone other than Vince McMahon.
These behind-the-scenes phone calls, the video tapes sent to various governmental agencies, and all the dirty tactics that occur do nothing more than cause havoc for workers who get a payday from these shows, and a chance to practice their craft. They also ruin it for fans like me who simply want to see a show on a weekend.
Are these sorts of tactics anything new? Of course not.
You can go back to the 1930s to read about various promoters and promotions playing "dirty tricks" on one another. Read Lou Thesz's "Hooker" to find out how one of the first Golden Eras of wrestling was ended by a promoter who blew kayfabe out the window and exposed the business to New York newspapers after he was cut out by two of his partners.
You can read go to Kayfabememories.com to read stories in the 1950s and 1960s of New York City officials willing to help out Vince McMahon Sr. over any rival, or to get around New York City fire laws, or to low count crowds to avoid taxes on the gate...all for a buck.
But for the here and now....
Do yourself and the people you watch in the ring a favor.
If you hear about this sort of thing going in your area...don't support the promoters you know of who engage in this sort of garbage. Let fellow wrestling fans know the truth about those who engage in these sorts of practices. If you know wrestling or mainstream media, make them aware of what's going on in your area.
Support the promotions that are being made victims of these practices, as Ian Rotten went so far as to get in the ring two weeks ago to ask his fans to do.
The reason is the same one that I give people when asked why I'm still involved with Wrestling Fans Against Censorship. We don't have the luxury of just being a fan. If we don't pay attention to what's going on with our favorite form of entertainment, we won't have our favorite form of entertainment...or at the very least, as much of it as we could have had.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)