AS I SEE IT - 4/14/2000
by: Bob Magee
Welcome this week to Wrestling City.com, Wrestling Era, and 2K Wrestling.com, which have picked up the AS I SEE IT column this week.
As a followup to last week's piece on censorship and spin-doctoring by wrestling promotions regarding the attempts at legislation of "extreme wrestling" in New Jersey, we now take a look at Extreme Championship Wrestling.
It was an article about Jersey All-Pro Wrestling in the Newark Star-Ledger that started this recent movement toward re-regulating professional wrestling. Now in an effort worthy of a Washington politician (well, we ARE talking about Paul Heyman here)... ECW, as well as the WWF have pulled their talent from fan conventions involving Jersey All-Pro Wrestling in recent weeks. The comment was made to online sources that ECW pulled out of the convention because "of the political climate in the state [of New Jersey]".
Now let me get this straight.
This IS Extreme Championship Wrestling, we're talking about, right?
This IS the promotion that has actually taken legal action against the California-based XPW promotion over the word "extreme" being implied in their title?
Witness the following excerpts from a 4/8/2000 article on WrestleLine.com:
"...WrestleLine.com has learned, according to top executives in Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW), that possible troubles with the law from Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) are no longer 'possible'".
Late last week, XPW received cease and desist orders from ECW and their attorneys regarding the use of the word 'extreme,' insinuating that there can be no other extreme wrestling company. XPW has until April 10, 2000 to either change their name or go to court. XPW also recently received word that actions will be made to take them off the air as soon as this weekend by ECW brass, suggesting that by airing a show with the word "Xtreme" in the title would constitute copyright mark infringement.
'They're trying to prevent us from doing business, but this goes deeper than a lawsuit.' Rob Black told WrestleLine.com Friday, 'I was going to do some cross promotion stuff with Paul E. a year ago, and things went sour. I could give a $@#k about their letters, thanks to them we're all over the place. It's an example of why Paul Heyman is where he is. He started sucking up to the Grand Wizard 20 years ago...
Rob Black continued with this statement:
'We're in California doing two shows a month and so tiny in the grand scheme of things, but I guess we're not so tiny after all. I'm having fun though. This is the big business coming after the little guys, which is actually funny. They once mentioned how WCW oppressed them, and now they're doing that to us. Big corporate people bullying the little guy. The best part is that they have to come out to California if they want to sue us. Heyman's little daddy will have to get in a plane and fly out here, or find representation out here to defend them.
What's the worst that could happen? We become XPW only? The X would mean nothing. Big deal. We are X-treme Pro Wrestling. There's no confusion, just like WWF and WCW with the word "world" in their name. Hey, there's other federations that have Extreme in their name, but why isn't Paul E. going after them? It's more of a personal thing, he's offended...'
...XPW just recently struck a deal with America One after a successful run of house shows in Southern California, and XPW is preparing for their first show at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, a major venue and former home to the NBA's Clippers, on April 15, 2000. ECW has been a staple on America One for a while."
So let me get this right...ECW is extreme wrestling, but not THAT kind of "extreme wrestling"?
Paul Heyman and ECW are ready to file a lawsuit (that they might well not be able to win) over a supposed right to be the only "extreme wrestling" promotion out there; but then stay away from a fan convention involving a wrestling promotion being labelled as"extreme wrestling" by Governor Christie Todd Whitman and members of the New Jersey State Legislature because it is politically inconvenient?
What a bunch of unadulterated horsecrap...
In case readers have forgotten, ECW is the promotion that featured an advertisement plugging a show in Asbury Park, NJ bragging about Balls Mahoney "bringing back barbed wire and explosives [from FMW in Japan]". This promo aired, not-so-coincidentally, only days after after one of the targets of Christie Whitman's proposed regulation, Combat Zone Wrestling, announced its agreement with Atsushi Onita to hold an exploding ring match in the United States. ECW currently features a shot of these explosives (one of which didn't even go off) on their spot for their own Hardcore Heaven PPV in May.
ECW is also the promotion that at least once a night features matches with various combinations of New Jack, Sandman, Vic Grimes, Tony DeVito, and "Angel" which involve various combinations of cookie sheets, 2X4s, vacuum cleaners, cheese graters, bowling balls, computer keyboards, and other weapons. Historically, ECW has featured such "extreme" matches as no-rope barbed wire matches, Taipei Death Matches (involving glass glued to taped hands), and even invited fan involvement with "fans bring the weapons" matches.
If violence isn't enough for you, how about sex? ECW is also the promotion that brags on its company website, ecwwrestling.com, about having "perv pictures" of its female valets with the following message:
"Pervert Pics are just a few clicks away. Parental Warning: These photos are graphic and should not be viewed by children under 18."
Mind you, most of these pictures aren't that revealing by the standards of many. However, with the ecwwrestling.com website calling them "perv pictures", yet at the same time using that sort of protective language; seems to be some sort of attempt to make ECW seem to be appear comparatively family-friendly in the current"political environment".
Family-friendly? Yeah, right. Next thing, you're going to tell me that a $2 Kensington crack whore has become the Mother Superior at the local convent.
Now, before ECW fans and staff start sending me their usual hate mail claiming I'm "trashing ECW again", understand my point here: I am NOT saying that ECW should change what it is. I do attend ECW shows on a semi-regular basis at the ECW Arena. But whatever it is, ECW is NOT family-friendly. It needs to ADMIT what it is, and act accordingly.
ECW can't have it both ways. Either ECW is the "extreme wrestling" promotion it markets itself to be, and that it is engaging in litigation to say that it is, thus making itself liable for regulation by the state of New Jersey; or the company is planning on toning down what it does to avoid such regulation.
ECW cannot and should not claim on TV advertisements that it "thumbs its nose at the censors", yet actively or passively support censorship against rival wrestling companies. Instead of Paul Heyman doing ideological spin-doctoring, his company needs to be using the sizable fan base it has to FIGHT such potential regulation. STRICTLY ECW, the ECW fan organization has already begun doing so, feeling that any potential regulation will limit or eliminate the ability of ECW to run shows in New Jersey. Given ECW's frequent use of the Asbury Park Convention Center for PPVs, this is a very real issue.
To close, I'll repeat the message I've used the last two weeks in this column:
Readers, whether New Jersey residents, or potential tourists to the Jersey Shore can look up the names, addresses, and phone numbers of New Jersey State Assemblypersons and Senators at http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/html/members.htm
When you do so, DO NOT respond with some of the language that we all see from wrestling fans on countless messages boards and newsgroups on a regular basis.
If you do that, you will insure that those within the New Jersey State Legislature will find it even easier to dismiss wrestling fans with being no more than the stereotypes we've been seen as by the general public for decades.
Instead, those of you reading that are New Jersey residents, call or write your legislator in a THOUGHTFUL manner. Indicate what you do for a living, or that you go to school. Remind them that you're a taxpayer and that you vote (you DO vote, don't you?) and that a election for the State Senate and Assembly are coming up in the not too distant future.
Let them know that you'll remember how they vote on any legislation involving the restrictions being proposed on professional wrestling.
If you're from outside the State of New Jersey, remind NJ State legislators that you spend tourist dollars in New Jersey; and that the shore season is coming up within two months, with lots of potential tourist revenue to be made or lost.
Remind them that if they try to take away a form of entertainment you like...that Delaware and Virginia have beaches too, and that you can take your dollars there this summer.
Remind them that instead of Atlantic City... Delaware Park has slots and horse racing you can go to and spend your money at this summer.
Fight these proposed restrictions in a CONSTRUCTIVE manner, not with name-calling. Threaten them with your vote and your pocketbook.
That's the way to make an impact on how politicians vote.
Please take the time to follow up on that suggestion, readers.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)