AS I SEE IT - 2/28/2002
I often get comments asking why I focus so heavily on independents on PWBTS and
in this column. I've even lost some websites that had been posting AS I SEE IT or my news
updates, with webmasters making statements like "why do you write about that crap, no
one cares about those independent shows..."
These are some of the reasons...
First: the release of Jerry Lynn, apparently done back in November with 90 days notice (meaning his contract was actually up this weekend). This became public notice on Sunday when Lynn appeared at the World Wrestling All Stars PPV event in Las Vegas.
Explain to me why Jerry Lynn... who wrestled with Rob Van Dam in 1998 and 1999 Match of the Year nominees... gets released when wrestlers like Big Slo... er... Show, Godfather, Billy Gunn, and Chuck Palumbo are still collecting paychecks, let alone getting belts put on them.
The publicly stated reason for Lynn's release was "they couldn't find a storyline for him". A more proper English translation would be that Lynn joined the Steve Corino Club of those who pissed off Paul Heyman back in ECW's death throes by demanding, God forbid, that they would actually be paid.
In other words... payback time for asking to be paid.
So much for Jim Ross and his claims that he wants to see a light-heavyweight division built. There is little question in my mind that Jim Ross could have prevented Lynn's release if he chose to do so, and kept a talented worker within the WWF.
Then, let's go back to last week's Smackdown... three actual matches in a two hour show (one of them with "Chuck and Billy" doing their usual poor imitation of Lenny and Lodi... if one can call one of their matches a match).
(One of the funnier moments of the World Wrestling All-Stars PPV this past Sunday was when Lenny and Lodi actually came out with a sign "We're not Chuck and Billy...we're actually funny").
Look, I know the WWF isn't All Japan...but this is ridiculous. I could just imagine if that Smackdown taping had occurred in Philadelphia with three matches in 2 hours. The Philly fans would have damned near rioted if they'd have been forced to sit through that many skits for that long without actual action. It'll be interesting to see what goes on at the March 26th Smackdown taping in Philadelphia.
So with all of that...here is a reason to mention indies...the debut Ring Of Honor event on February 23rd.
The event, sponsored by tape dealer Rob Feinstein had a professional look and professional feel from the very beginning....and even started on time.
Feinstein's Ring of Honor promotion appears to be trying to run a Japanese-style promotion with a greater emphasis on the wrestling, and very little emphasis on gimmicks and "sports entertainment". The fans were different than the usual crowd too. Reported to be from 14 states and 3 countries, they reminded me of the ECW Arena circa 1993-1995 when the crowd there was the "smartest" wrestling crowd in North America.
The show featured several tremendous matches including northeast standout The Amazing Red and CZW's Jay Briscoe working an opener that had the crowd wondering how it could be topped.
Later in the show, fans got a "high spot Heaven" style match as former ECW favorite Mikey Whipwreck refereeing a six-way elimination with Whipwreck trainees Quiet Storm, Joel Maximo, Jose Maximo, Chris Devine, and The Amazing Red doing (double duty), as well as Brian XL.
Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy trainees Spanky & Ikaika Loa worked fellow trainees Michael Shane & Oz. Spanky, debuted in the Philadelphia area at last year's Super Eight tournament with American Dragon. This match blew away his fellow trainees, as well as last year's Super Eight match.
Then, Super Crazy beat Eddie Guerrero to become the first ever IWA Intercontinental champion, in a match taped for IWA/Puerto Rican TV. It was unintentionally funny that Eddie was trying to heel (to let Super Crazy work face to go along with IWA storylines)... but the Philly crowd was having none of that, with the "Eddie...Eddie" chants getting louder every time he tried. Forget "Latino Heat"....fans in south Philadelphia will never forget the Malenko-Guerrero classic matches in ECW during 1995.
Then there was the main event...easily an early independent Match of the Year nominee as Low-Ki, Christopher Daniels, and American Dragon worked a three way that took your breath away, with mindblowing submissions, stiff kicks, and excellent technical work by all.
Here's another reason to mention indies....this year's Super Eight.
Saturday, March 2 is the date for the sixth annual ECWA Super Eight, which will take place at ECWA's home, the St. Matthews Parish Center in Wilmington, DE.
Participating in this year's Super Eight:
From NWA Wildside... A.J. Styles, Atlanta, GA
From Pro Wrestling NOAH... Donovan Morgan, San Francisco, CA
From Puerto Rico's World Wrestling Council... Bobby Rude, Toronto, ON, Canada
From various northeast independents... The Amazing Red, Brooklyn, NY
From Jersey All Pro Wrestling... Xavier, Queens, NY
From Les Thatcher's Heartland Wrestling Alliance... Matt Stryker, Cincinnati, OH, Pepper Parks, Buffalo, NY; and replacing the injured Charlie Haas... Jaime Knoble.
AJ Styles may well be the best unsigned independent talent in the United States. There have been rumors that the WWF is interested in Styles, and the Super Eight will provide a great opportunity for Styles to showcase his talent. Those of you who have had the chance to watch NWA-Wildside can see Styles's talent for yourself...and can see it for yourselves at this year's Super Eight tournament.
Along with the Super Eight tournament, ECWA Heavyweight Champion Scott Andrews will face Billy Fives in a Ladder Match. The regular ECWA roster will compete in the annual "ECWA Summit" a Royal Rumble-style event which will feature the SATs, Low Ki, and the stars of the ECWA.
Fans in the New York area fans will be able to travel to the Super Eight by bus, as there is a bus trip from New York City being put together for the event by One of a Kind Tours. The bus will leave promptly at 1:30 PM on March 2nd from the Modell's behind the Queens Center Mall, giving riders tons of time to travel to Wilmington, Delaware for dinner, the pre-show Meet and Greet, and the show. Belltime will be a prompt 7:00 pm. Information is available at ECWLegacy@aol.com.
ECWA Super Eight tickets are available at: Mike Womer's 1614 Fitness Center, Fox Run Shopping Center, Bear, DE/(302) 832-1614: or Alpha Pizza, 1402 E. Newport Pike, Newport, DE/(302) 995-6995. Tickets will also be available at the door, but I'd recommend getting there early. It's been reported that Kettner has the largest advance ever for this year's Super Eight.
For those traveling to the show, here are directions to St. Matthew's Parish Center:
From Pennsylvania: Follow I-95 southbound. Take Exit 5B (Route 141 North/ Newport exit). Take Route 141 northbound about one mile to Exit 4 Route 4 East (Newport exit). At the bottom of the ramp, turn right onto Route 4 East. On Route 4, go through 4 lights. Between the fourth and fifth lights, St. Matthews Parish Center will be on your left.
From Delaware and Maryland: Follow I-95 northbound. Take Exit 5-B (Route 141 North/ Newport exit). Take Route 141 north about a mile to Exit 4/Route 4 East (Newport exit). At the bottom of the ramp, turn right onto Route 4 East. On Route 4, go through 4 lights. Between the fourth and fifth lights, St. Matthews Parish Center will be on your left.
From New York & New Jersey: Follow New Jersey Turnpike (or I-295) south to Delaware Memorial Bridge. Cross over Delaware Memorial Bridge (stay to the LEFT, following signs for I-95 south.) Just before merging onto I-95 southbound, take Exit 5B/ Route 141 North (Newport/Lancaster exit). Follow Route 141 north for 1 mile. Take Exit 4 Route 4 East (Newport exit). At the bottom of the ramp, turn right onto Route 4 East, and follow Route 4 East through 4 lights. Between the fourth and fifth lights, St. Matthews Parish Center will be on your left.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com)