AS I SEE IT - 3/04/2003:
Wrestling returns to the ECW Arena:
XPW evicted... CZW returns
by: Bob Magee
In a stunning turn of events, the news broke at 6:00 pm on February 28th from sources in CZW and to the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission; that XPW had been evicted by the owners of Viking Hall due to bouncing checks to Viking Hall owners, as well as for violations of the agreement signed to lease the building.
As a result, it was announced that CZW will return to the ECW Arena beginning at its March 8th show.
Sources close to CZW say that the deposit check by XPW for the ECW Arena initially bounced, as well as have other XPW checks to Viking Hall management. Viking Hall management had refused to take further personal checks as recently as the last XPW Philadelphia show, and were forced to pay expenses with a combination of money orders, cashier's checks, and personal checks from individuals.
PWBTS.com, the flagship website of this column, reported on the acute financial issues surrounding XPW 2 weeks ago; when it reported first on February 14th that the Saturday show of a Friday/Saturday "My Bloody Valentine" Philadelphia weekend was being cancelled for financial reasons...rather than the cover story of "bad weather" that turned out to be a grand total of 2 inches of snow.
Individuals connected with XPW e-mail bombed several people concerned with the matter, threatening lawsuits, and making a variety of personal remarks about this columnist and others involved. Those providing the information stood by their guns, and the information was verified later that night by XPW from the ring...using the weather cover story.
The violations of the lease in question included concerts held prior to 2 XPW shows that were judged by the building's owners to be violations of the lease. Further, the renovations that XPW had outlined as a reason they were not to be running for the next two months included plans for storage areas for the adult film company, Extreme Associates. Both items were reported as violations of the agreement signed.
Viking Hall management has indicated that it will retain the $30,000 deposit money, money spent by XPW even though the promotion only ran for two months under its "exclusive lease" (and cancelled one of the four shows scheduled under it).
These events will signal the return of wrestling to the historic venue on March 8th (special 7:00 pm start time) when CZW returns to the building, with the following matches already announced: H8 Club-High Five (Messiah and B-Boy), Trent Acid-Nick Mondo for the CZW Iron Man title, Ruckus-Chris Ca$h for the CZW Junior Heavyweight Title with Sonjay Dutt as guest referee, Ric Blade-Johnny
Kashmere, Nick Berk-the debuting Tony Mamaluke in a submission match, Jude/Niles Young-Cory
Kastle/Jon Dahmer...Ian Knoxx-Chris Styles.
Another set of matches involves a "Trifecta Elimination" mini-tournament with the winner placed in the Best of the Best 3 First Round Brackets. The first bracket of three participants announced will be three IPW Hardcore-Florida wrestlers with Steve Madison vs. Justice vs. Jarrell Clark. A second bracket includes
NWA-Wildside's Jimmy Rave and New York independent wrestler Mayhem. The third bracket includes Southern wrestler Menace.
The promotion will also return on April 12th for the Best of the Best Junior Heavyweight Tournament, which itself will be part of a doubleheader with Ring of Honor.
In a move that may or may not be related to the above, the March 29th Heritage Wrestling show scheduled for the ECW Arena has been postponed to April 16th. Heritage was able to use the venue primarily through its relationship with XPW. Heritage Wrestling owner Joe Blackburn claimed that a backup facility was available for the original date, but this venue apparently fell through. He has stated that the promotion is obtaining a venue of its own for future shows, which may be available for April 16th.
3PW is reported to be committed to The Electric Factory through at least June, with shows scheduled in March, April, and June. There's no word as to what the promotion plans to do after that date.
Fans could logically ask themselves the question....
Why did it happen?
Why did a promotion with money and resources such as XPW and Extreme Associates fail so miserably and totally?
In my opinion, XPW's inability to be successful in the Philadelphia market can be attributed to several things:
First, their "hostile takeover" mentality...
From the beginning, XPW attempted to position itself as the proverbial 900 pound bad-ass gorilla with lots of money; that would (in the words of Shane Douglas) outdraw the "bottom feeders" that supposedly populated Philadelphia's independent wrestling scene.
XPW also decided that they need not follow the rules and regulations of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission prior to the August 31, 2002 debut show in Philadelphia by:
- Selling tickets for an professional wrestling event three weeks in advance of possessing a license to legally do so.
- Selling tickets for an event three weeks in advance of possessing a $10,000 surety bond license to legally do so.
- Falsifying (in the eyes of The Hartford and of Ring of Honor/RF Video), the bond application submission for his own license, a requirement to run shows in the Commonwealth, using the well-known address of RF Video.
Further, rather than following State regulations and then simply competing with the locally based promotions, as any promotion would have the right to do...XPW decided that they would employ a "rule or ruin" philosophy by offering ridiculously large paydays to CZW, Ring of Honor and 3PW talent to get them to desert their promotions and to no-show their shows.
XPW attempted and failed to steal the following talent working Philadelphia-based independent promotions: Backseat Boyz, Homicide, Jodie Fleisch, both members of Da Hit Squad, Jay and Mark Briscoe, AJ Styles, Doug Williams, CM Punk, Colt Cabana, Joel and Jose
Maximo, The Amazing Red, CZW Tag Team Champions The Backseat Boyz, Wifebeater, Ruckus, and Nick
XPW had also attempted to steal Dusty Rhodes; offering him 10 dates with XPW in return for no-showing an upcoming 3PW show. Rhodes refused to return the telephone call given him by his secretary with the proposal. He also offered comments on the situation on an interview with betweentheropes.com that seem almost clairvoyant in retrospect.
Rhodes said that Black was a money mark, and "they are just taking the money while they can". Rhodes stated that he didn't see it being a viable promotion, and "so he wasn't gonna waste his time on it".
With all of their efforts, XPW only succeeded in luring away Justice Pain, MDogg 20, and Josh Prohibition from CZW, and Boogalou from Ring of Honor.
What did XPW get out of this?
Pissed off fans...and nothing more.
The very fans that should have come to XPW shows were turned off by the promotion's "rule or ruin" strategy...were turned off by the attempts to steal talent from locally based promotions...to the point that crowds steadily dropped with each XPW show...and to the point that the promotion's final show at the ECW Arena was the lowest recorded paid crowd for any wrestling show in the 10 year history of the building.
XPW also created three pissed off promoters...Zandig, Rob Feinstein, and Jasmin St. Claire.
These extremely competitive Philadelphia independent promoters did an unusual thing for wrestling promoters. They decided (to varying degrees) to be smart businesspeople, as opposed to the usual behavior that affects independent wrestling promoters.
CZW and Ring of Honor, two promotions with very different product styles that had their own problems with one another earlier in 2002, shook hands in the middle of the ring at a October ROH show. They then began to work with one another to schedule their shows around each other's events, and in doubleheaders that benefitted both their own pocketbooks and the needs of the Philadelphia wrestling fans, as well as doing ticket discounts for fans appearing from the other promotion's shows.
3PW has also worked together with CZW to do similar doubleheaders and ticket discounts for the fans of the other promotions, as well as 3PW advertising on CZW's Fake You TV.
If that wasn't enough, then there was the XPW booking that made Vince Russo look like a genius, such as these three examples in their first three shows:
Finally, there's the assault of William "Messiah" Welch.
- Terry Funk getting cut and a heavily promoted main event between Shane Douglas and Terry Funk lasting all of four minutes in their debut show...
- The "Dusty finish" that legitimately angered the Arena crowd of the October 2002 XPW TV title match between Kaos and Danny Doring when fans were told immediately after the match that it REALLY wasn't a title match...
- The November 16th show with a Sandman "retirement match" that, as many suspected, wasn't a retirement match.
One thing you don't do to Philadelphia wrestling fans is insult their intelligence. XPW did. This continued the XPW tradition of not delivering what was promised, as seen in detail in my August 18, 2002 AS I SEE IT column found here.
Let's face it, whether or not a charge has been filed, and however fair or unfair some may feel it to be, the blame for the incident involving Messiah was placed by many wrestling fans on Rob Black.
The only things known as fact are that Messiah engaged in some sort of sexual liaison or relationship with Rob Black's wife, Lizzy Borden. It's also known that at a California independent wrestling show where the crowd kept chanting "you
f#%@ed Lizzy", Welch finally responded, after it was clear the crowd wasn't going to let up: "...and she LOVED it".
It wasn't long after that, that Welch was assaulted on August 1, losing a thumb in the process.
Beyond that, anything is supposition.
I've consciously avoided even mentioning this in any columns relating to XPW...but its effect on XPW within Philadelphia at least has to be mentioned here. I'm not suggesting in any way that I know who was responsible, directly or otherwise. I'll leave that for the Los Angeles Police Department to determine.
But I know who many people in Philadelphia blame: Rob Black. The effect that situation has had on XPW in the Philadelphia market cannot just be ignored, however unfair some people might feel it to be.
All those things combined, and the willingness of fans to continue to strongly support the Philadelphia-based independent promotions, are the reason XPW failed in Philadelphia.
And they are the reason wrestling has now returned to the ECW Arena.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)