AS I SEE IT - 2/18/2003:
A "challenging week" for some... and some happy news
by: Bob Magee
A certain wrestling promotion has had what could safely be described as a "challenging week"...that wrestling promotion being XPW.
First, XPW's February 10th (last Monday) Philadelphia TV show to promote their weekend of shows didn't air, with an episode of NWA-Wildside airing instead. One could have reasonably attributed it to WGTW, as each promotion running on the stations has had problems within the last year; including Rob Dimension's PWF last week having the previous week's episode aired by WGTW because (quoting the station response to PWF) "We accidently put in the wrong show...".
Considering the above, one could have reasonably attributed it to WGTW...that is, until XPW's TV didn't air February 17th either, with a repeat from January 27th airing instead. While the show would likely only have been a highlights package of the weekend's shows, plus matches from 1999-2001; as has been XPW's practice on the Monday after each Philadelphia XPW show, it certainly had to make the average fan scratch his or her head.
No response as of press time has been received from WGTW regarding my inquiries as to the reasons why these episodes did not air.
Then on February 11th, Kevin Kleinrock had confirmed to PWBTS reporter/columnist Eric Walker that the promotion would not be running shows at the ECW Arena in March or April. Kleinrock's version of the story was that XPW would be doing renovation of the ECW Arena...something they'd said they would do in their initial press release announcing the leasing of the building. So this seemed to make some sense.
It made sense, that is...until later in the same day when Heritage Wrestling Association spokespeople made very clear that their March 29th show at Viking Hall, scheduled to feature Raven, was still on as scheduled.
This understandably made many people start to ask why the Heritage Wrestling Association could run a show in the building despite renovations that would keep XPW from doing so during the same period of time. No one's had an answer for that yet as of this writing. Heritage was at least smart enough to make arrangements for an alternative venue in the event of well...let's call them "problems".
One of those who are asking questions, and who could become a potential problem for XPW...is reported to be Philadelphia City Council President Anna Verna (the Councilwoman of the district in which the ECW Arena is located).
Council President Verna has been made aware of the nature of XPW's backers, and about the plans to use the venue for "club nights" and concerts; plans that were announced by XPW themselves in the press release issues after they assumed the lease for Viking Hall, a copy of which can be found here. According to property manager Butch D'Amato, such plans would be in violation of the lease of the property, as he stated in Tuleya's January 9th South Philly Review article quoted here. Nonetheless, these plans are still on record with no statement by XPW as to any plans to withdraw them.
There have also been suggestions that Philadelphia's Department of Licenses and Inspections may seek to examine the building if a permit for extensive renovations is requested, as would be the Department's normal practice.
As a longtime fan that's attended shows in the ECW Arena since 1993; I can tell you that if a City agency decided to enforce each and every City ordinance or regulation regarding the structure we know as the ECW Arena...XPW would be spending a ton of money to deal with the citations that would likely be found from a thorough examination, conditions that have existed for years long before XPW was ever in existence.
Then, as the week continued... on Friday, February 14th, I posted the following item, based on information provided me by a well-known and respected source; which was also confirmed it with a source within the State Athletic Commission:
XPW Saturday Philadelphia show reported to have been cancelled
Three different sources, including two within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, are stating that at least the Saturday XPW show in Philadelphia is being cancelled.
There is no word yet regarding tonight's show on the company's website. One of the sources within the State Athletic Commission has been told no ring truck has shown up in Philadelphia as of yet for tonight's show. One of the referees working for the company has not been told if there is or is not a show tonight or tomorrow.
I was first given the information this morning, in an e-mail that stated the reason given to talent for the cancellation of Saturday's show was "due to the potential snow storm". This seemed peculiar given that 3PW's debut show at The Electric Factory is still on, and that the amount of snow forecast for Saturday ranges between only 2-6 inches (depending on which local station one listens to), and that the snow is scheduled to be over by noon.
Later in the morning, both of the sources within the State Athletic Commission confirmed the story, stating that the real reason was "lack of funds". Executive Director Greg Sirb had indicated to one of the sources that he had heard from XPW on Thursday that money was an issue, as well as 'the stacked 3PW show scheduled for Saturday evening.'
It had previously been confirmed Wednesday night by Kevin Kleinrock of XPW that the promotion would not be running shows in Philadelphia in March or April, a fact confirmed by Executive Director Greg Sirb. The reason stated was that 'complete renovations' were being done to Viking Hall for a 're-debut in May.'
Given that the promotion had stated that they would be doing renovation of the ECW Arena in its initial press release announcing the leasing of the building, this made sense. That is, until Heritage Wrestling Association announced that its show scheduled for March 29th, during the "renovation" period was still on as scheduled; which made many people start to ask questions.
PWBTS is awaiting word from XPW representatives regarding the cancellation of tomorrow's show and regarding whether tonight's scheduled show will take place.
Then, mid-afternoon I received a hostile e-mail from a person identifying herself as a friend of XPW's Slash, referring to me among other things, as a "liar", and claiming I'd be sued if I didn't remove the story.
My source within the State Athletic Commission stuck to his guns.
Then that night, XPW drew 100 people with what was actually a fairly good lineup....if you knew about it. As I said earlier, XPW's TV didn't run in Philadelphia the previous Monday night, although it did run in at least Los Angeles last week.
Then, just before the main event on Friday night, the following occurred: XPW TV announcer Kris Kloss announced that the Saturday show was cancelled.
One observer described the crowd's mood after Kloss's announcement as being "...an incredibly tense moment of silence as soon as Kloss announced it and then the mood just got sad. People started leaving during the match, [with no] more than 50 people around for the finish."
It was reported that refunds were offered. Then, fans were later told (and are told as of this writing) to contact the XPW offices at (888) 768-8249, M-F, 12 noon-8:00 pm ET, beginning the following Monday. Fans were also given the alternative of accepting four XPW DVD's, which many chose to do.
XPW's version of the reason for the cancellation was explained in this apology to fans on their website:
"We apologize to all of the fans whom were going to attend My Bloody Valentine on Saturday February 15th, but were victims of the cancellation.
A number of the XPW wrestlers had commitments outside of Philadelphia, and if they were to stay for another night they would've been trapped in the snow storm. It was expected that many of the flights would be cancelled on Sunday due to the downpour. Airline flights were re-arranged and Halloween, Damien 666, Juventud Guerrera, Pogo the Clown, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas, and Cody Michaels all had to leave this morning (Saturday, February 15, 2003).
An XPW event without these stars is not an XPW show at all.
To obtain your refund, called the XPW Offices at 1 (888) 768-8249, Monday through Friday, 9-5pm PST.
XPW sincerely apologizes and thanks its fans for sticking with us. We look forward to the next time we meet in Philadelphia, PA."
One problem with that rationale: the snowstorm in question was not predicted to start until Sunday afternoon (it did turn out to start somewhat earlier that predicted). But flights were available, especially in the morning from Philadelphia.
XPW was, or certainly should have been, aware that flights are available to Pittsburgh (the homes of Douglas and Michaels) in the morning via US Air and other carriers. This would have permitted these two to depart Philadelphia in advance of the storm. Flights would also have been available to the West Coast for the other performers in question.
Along with the first person who sent me the news of the cancellation, I'm not the only who figured that the "weather" rationale was a dodge by XPW. Check out these comment in Saturday's Wrestling Observer update, found here on the Wrestling Observer website:
"XPW canceled tonight's show in Philadelphia, citing the weather (a euphemism for no advance)....no return date was announced for Philadelphia as they're losing their ass there".
I suppose someone will soon be sending Dave Meltzer threats that he'll be sued, or that he'll get a "cease and desist" letter from XPW, or that we've committed "fraud" as some XPW fanboys and fangirls have said about me and about PWBTS columnist Eric Walker over the last few days.
By the way, when these fanboys and fangirls make threatening online comments, perhaps they should remember what their favorite promotion still has housed on their website, saved under the file that once housed the controversial $10,000 bond that had the address of RF Video found here.
Perhaps they ought to ask why I'm not making those kinds of threats to their favorite promotion regarding that graphic, or to them regarding their comments made on public message boards...and hope I don't decide to do so in the future.
Now for the happy news...at the 3PW show this Saturday. No, I'm not talking about how well they drew, or what I thought of the matches. I'm talking about something more important.
On Saturday night, I was able to help out a young woman who has a serious medical condition. Her condition can be particularly painful, and wrestling is one of the things that gives her joy.
With the help of Jasmin St. Claire and one of her staff, I was able to get the young woman and her grandmother in before the doors opened, which allowed her to meet a number of 3PW workers and assorted others; including Jasmin and Blue Meanie, Terry Funk, Raven, Striker, ECW founder Tod Gordon, and well-known Japanese tape dealer/tour guide George Mayfield.
All of them were more than gracious, and gave someone badly in need of it a lot of happiness with autographs and photos.
It made me remember that so many within wrestling do remember that what they do is supposed to be about giving people moments like that, and not about some of the other things you've read about in this column.
Many, many thanks to Jasmin and her crew. Let what they did serve as a reminder for some within this business who badly need to be reminded of the right way to go about their business... and the way they need to stop going about it.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)