AS I SEE IT - 2/24/2003:
Fun and games in the world of independent wrestling
by: Bob Magee
This week, assorted items regarding independent wrestling around Philadelphia... plus one other note.
First, it appears that the originally stated reason for the cancellation of the mini-cards sponsored by the Pottstown, PA-based Premier Wrestling Wrestling Federation that were to be held prior to Philadelphia Wings Major League Lacrosse games (including one on February 22nd) had a lot less to do with "safety concerns" and "fire regulations" following the disaster at a Chicago nightclub, as they had stated to the promotion....than the need for
Comcast-Spectacor management to cover itself legally by enforcing the exclusivity clause for wrestling events at the First Union Center by WWE, even after having made an agreement with the Pottstown-based promotion.
PWF owner Rob Dimension indicated that he had concerns regarding the well-known exclusivity agreement with WWE, but was assured by representatives of
Comcast-Spectacor management that since the mini-cards were pre-game entertainment, that the exclusivity agreement would not be an issue.
The mini-cards were first to have been held prior to three Philadelphia Wings games during January and February. The first mini-show was cancelled with less than a week's notice, due to "possible promotions to be done if the Philadelphia Eagles go to the Super Bowl". Thus, the first show was moved to February 22nd. There were no apparent problems, and PWF did publicity for the mini-card.
Then, after PWF's TV had already been produced and sent to Philadelphia's WGTW 48 with announcements throughout the show of the February 22nd mini-card; PWF was informed that all the events were to be cancelled "due to the recent tragedy in a Chicago area nightclub and the safety issues that it aroused".
The fact is that the crowd would not have been significantly increased by the wrestling mini-cards, which were to be held prior to the Philadelphia Wings games over a three game agreement. Little or no additional crowd gathering would have taken place, beyond that which gathers prior to games, and between periods of hockey and lacrosse games, at intermission of basketball games and concerts, and other events.
It appears that someone in Comcast-Spectacor management made this agreement with PWF to have the promotion hold this pre-game entertainment without checking with their legal department.
After discovering the mistake they'd made, they then attempted to find ways to get out of it; first by using the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl drive, then by using the tragedy in a Chicago nightclub in a crass and cynical way to cover themselves for having made an agreement that they apparently found out too late that they shouldn't have made.
For their part, WWE Vice-President Gary Davis stated that "the decision was made by the First Union Center. WWE was not involved, nor did it request this action".
Fortunately, this fiasco didn't cause major problems for the promotion, as each pre-show mini-card would have cost PWF an estimated $1,000 per pre-show event, money that the promotion wouldn't have been able to recoup by charging admission. Still, it seems particularly disgusting that
Comcast-Spectacor management used a tragedy to attempt to excuse its own corporate bungling.
In further Philadelphia independent news...
On Friday, February 21st, it was announced by Dave Meltzer and was confirmed by a NWA-Wildside mailing and an e-mail from NWA Wildside's owner Bill Behrens that XPW's TV in Philadelphia has been "cancelled by the station", referring to WGTW Channel 48, on which XPW's Philadelphia TV had aired since last September.
For now, this will give Philadelphia fans a second airing of NWA Wildside, during the slot formerly occupied by XPW. This will be a rerun of the show airing Friday night/Saturday morning at 1:00 am.
It appears that money was the issue as reported by Jess McGrath who reported on his February 22nd update at: 1wrestling.com
"According to one source, the reason for the cancellation was that the promotion had not paid for their time slot (as required in their deal with the station) for several weeks.".
Another version of the story from two different sources is that XPW owes two weeks to
WGTW, along with bouncing one check to the station.
This is yet another indication that XPW has lost huge amounts of money in its attempt to secure a foothold in the Philadelphia market, between its $120,000 yearly lease on the ECW Arena and its losses on Philadelphia shows in the range of $10,000-20,000 per show.
The loss of TV occurred only days after the cancellation of the February 15th event by the promotion at the ECW Arena, allegedly due to weather, but in fact due to company money issues.
It's been reported that a customer service number for Extreme Associates has also been disconnected, suggesting further attempts by the company to save money at a time when they've been losing $10-20,000 per show in Philadelphia. Extreme Associates has also been reported by several adult industry websites to be having problems with their pornography business, including laying off staff.
The wrestling promotion has also had problems with television in its New Orleans market, with a a repeat airing last week, and the week before that featuring what was described by a local resident as "nothing more than black fuzz" airing on the screen during the slot.
XPW TV has been airing as scheduled in Los Angeles each week recently since the promotion switched outlets. Their shows scheduled for next week in Los Angeles are on as scheduled, with lineups posted on the company's website. A show is also scheduled for Pittsburgh on March 8.
Then, on Saturday night, Jim Kettner's East Coast Wrestling Association announced the participants for the seventh annual Super 8 tournament. Kettner's annual junior heavyweight tournament has spawned countless others tournaments around the United States, and has featured talent such as Billy Kidman, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Christopher Daniels, Chad
Collyer, Jet Jaguar, Vic Capri, Shark Boy, Trent Acid, The American Dragon, Donovan Morgan, The Amazing Red, Xavier, Bobby Rude, Matt
Stryker, Tony Kozina, A. J. Styles and Jamie Knoble.
Announced for this year's tournament:
- Brian "Spanky" Kendrick (WWE)
- Paul London (Ring of Honor/NWA-TNA)
- Alex Arion (New England Championship Wrestling)
- Chance Beckett (NWA/ECCW in Canada)
- Chris Sabin (Border City Wrestling, Detroit independents, IWA Mid-South Wrestling)
- Johnny Jeter (Ohio Valley Wrestling)
- Chris Cage (Ohio Valley Wrestling)
- Sedrick Strong (IPW Hardcore Wrestling- Florida)
The 2003 ECWA Super 8 takes place on Saturday, April 5th at St. Matthews Parish Center in Wilmington, Delaware at 7:00 pm.
For information on the Super 8 event, and biographies on the competitors, go to ECWAProWrestling.com.
New York fans can attend the Super 8 via a bus trip emanting from Queens, New York to the event. For reservations and information, email AgentCLPT@aol.com.
On Sunday, I received a rather important response to my February 11th column on real life inspiring moments in wrestling, particularly how special of Charlie Haas winning the WWE Tag Team Titles was, due to the personal circumstances that led up to it. I thought I'd close this week's column by sharing this response with
you... from his sister Kelly Haas Church:
My computer has been down and I am afraid I missed your deadline. However, I would like to respond with great pleasure to your question. Perhaps, you may be able to use it at another time.
A tag team champion, Wow! Ever since I can remember my big brothers, Charlie and Russ Haas, role played their favorite superstars as they would victoriously win the tag team belts. They were young boys who had a passion for pro-wrestling and always had control of the tv remote; so as I had no choice, being the youngest of four, we always gathered around the tv for those now classic pro-wrestling performances.
I liken Charlie's success thus far to a little girl's dream of becoming a fairy princess or a little boy's dream of becoming a super hero. For Charlie, his childhood dream was to be a pro-wrestler. Charlie has always been dedicated and determined to live to his full potential. He has overcome many challenges, he has fought for his physical wellness, he has fought for his place on the team, he has fought for all that he has.
Our family's loss of my departed brother Russ has pushed Charlie's intensity to a whole new level. Charlie now fights for Russ. You may notice that when Charlie goes into the ring he has Russ' name on his wrist wraps and when he wins he points to the heavens as to say, 'this if for you bro!'
To see Charlie on tv every Thursday doing what he loves and keeping Russ' honor right there in the ring with him is to us 'bitter sweet!' Charlie loves the business, he is a fan of pro-wrestling. He will always work hard to be at his personal best. The viewers can expect all heart from Charlie Haas. We, his family, never doubted his talent or his ability to achieve his dream. We support his career and hope that his journey brings him happiness and encourages others to dream big!
Kelly Haas Church"
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)