AS I SEE IT - 5/13/2003:
Then and now... sort of...
by: Bob Magee
Combat Zone Wrestling returned to the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, PA on May 10th for "Then and Now: A Decade of Defiance", designed as a celebration of 10 years of wrestling at the ECW Arena. For those of you who haven't read recent AS I SEE IT columns.... May 14, 2003 will make ten years since professional wrestling began at the world's most famous Bingo hall, the ECW Arena.
As the column's title suggests, the theme of "Then and Now" was celebrated.... sort of.
Given the unusual level of competition with different events in the area, it would have made sense to use the ECW Arena tenth anniversary theme to draw in old ECW fans to get them to take a look at CZW's product. CZW had to compete with a weekend of WWE shows in the area, including a show in Newark, DE head-to-head on Saturday (and the RAW from Philadelphia last night), two Philadelphia 76ers-Detroit Pistons NBA playoff games, a major concert and a Philadelphia Phillies game.
It would have made sense to do so. But that didn't happen...
First, the 10th anniversary theme was announced at CZW's Best of the Best. Then, no mention was made of it on the promotion's website for at least 10 days. No mention of the 10th anniversary theme was made of it on the promotion's Philadelphia TV show
at all... not even on the TV two days before the show...
As a wrestling show, Sunday's show would have been a good to excellent show to do just that. It featured excellent wrestling that should disabuse those who seem stuck in the notion that CZW features nothing more than "garbage wrestling".
But given the failure to bring in any personalities from ECW's past, it may be just as well that CZW didn't promote it as much as they could have. If some of those oldtime ECW fans had attended, they'd have been at least somewhat disappointed, whereas the live crowd that was at the ECW Arena seemed not to be.
The show opened with CZW owner Zandig coming out to welcome fans to the show.
A video which will only be seen by those who were at the show (not available on the CZW commercial tape, due to copyright reasons) was played to commemorate the history of the building, opening with a shot of the corner of Swanson and Ritner Streets to U2's "The Streets Have No Name".
(A late note....In what may be an attempt by CZW to make up for the
above... the video IS available for viewing at the CZW website).
The extended video aired, beginning with a shot of the sign at the corner of Swanson and
Ritner, then historical footage of the first ECW show at the ECW Arena. The video went through the eras of ECW with the ECW TV graphics of the day to White Zombie's
"Thunderkiss 65" and other trademark ECW music featuring the stars and great moments in the building.
The biggest pops from the crowd were for Mick Foley, Terry Funk, Ted Petty, and
Sabu. Shane Douglas's footage got a mixed reaction at best, owing presumably to his current role with XPW.
The video then segued into CZW footage to show the "Now" of the night's theme.
For those who missed this show and this video, I can't communicate enough how great this video was. For those of you who weren't there, you missed a editing and composing job at or beyond the level of WWE videos. This video was truly incredible and brought back a lot of moments to those of us who there over the years.
The evening's ceremonies ended with Zandig holding a 10 bell count in memory of those who performed in the ECW Arena, but had passed away; names like Louie
Spicolli, Rick Rude, Brian Pillman and Ted Petty.
Then, there were the matches...
- In a four-way Tag Team elimination bout, Z-Barr/Derek Frazier defeated the teams of Jude/Niles Young (students from the CZW school), Jon
Dahmer/Cory Kastle and ROH's Dunn and Marcos (who got the biggest pop of the four teams by far)...and Hurricane Kid/Rick
Feinberg, who did a Sandman parody.
- GQ pinned Nick Berk after hitting him with a foreign object, and after having nailed him in the face with salt...right in front of the referee. Oops.
- In the high-spot lover's match of the night, ROH's Deranged defeated The Grimm Reefer and Smoked Out in a Three-Way Dance. All are from the New York area. A bit spotty at times, but OK after Smoked Out's elimination.
- Adam Flash and Ian Knoxx defeated Rockin' Rebel and Greg Matthews. The finish, which followed up on the challenge made two shows ago, saw Rebel whipping Flash with a belt, when Zandig took it and whipped him with it in return. Adam Flash rolled him up for the win.
Rebel then challenged (for the second time) Zandig to a strap match on June 14. This had been scheduled for Best of the Best 3, but got bumped when the marathon show ran too long.
- In what was far and away the blow-away match of the night, and may well have been CZW longtimer Trent Acid's best match ever; Homicide forced Trent Acid to tap out with an STF after about 18 minutes. The match was worked as a 15 minute draw, then, a 5 minutes overtime with the submission coming about 3 minutes in.
Post match, Acid shook Homicide's hand afterwards but attacked him. He and fellow Hi-V member B-Boy jumped Homicide. Mafia came in through the front door, and made the save. The CZW crowd knew of Mafia from
ROH, and PWF shows in the area.
In a historical note, 1wrestling.com's Mike Johnson pointed out to me Saturday night that Trent Acid used to do moonsaults off the bleachers to entertain other fans as a teenager back during ECW shows years ago. In that respect, it was especially appropriate to see Acid have such a blow-away match at the place where he dreamed of wrestling as a teenager.
- CZW Iron Man champion Nick Mondo pinned Johnny Kashmere. Kashmere did some funny mike work before the match, noting that fans threw change at him two shows ago (a spin on the regular pre-match spectacle of female fans sticking dollar bills down his pants as he comes down the aisle). The fans, as you'd expect, started the rainfall of coins again. Kashmere and manager Dewey Donovan opened up umbrellas saying they had to get up early to get one over on him. Kashmere also did a hilarious rendition of Ted DiBiase "Money" theme as the money flew.
Mondo won the match when he hit his Mondo Driver finisher on Dewey Donovan off the top through a table on which Kashmere was laid out.
- CZW Junior Heavyweight champion Ruckus defended his title pinning Chris Cash. The sick spot of this match began with the two they brawling to the upper stage of the ECW Arena.
Cash was going to hit Ruckus with a move off the upper stage through a table but GQ interfered and ended up the Cash Flow down. Both wrestlers brawled back to the ring; with GQ interfering again, knocking Cash off the ropes and putting a chair in front of his face while he lay in the corner. Ruckus hit a Van Terminator, but flipped forward into the kick rather than a jump from one corner to the other. He then hit a handspring into a 450 splash for the win.
- B-Boy pinned Tony Mamaluke with a shining wizard. Second best match of the night, with solid work. Mamaluke came out waving an ECW shirt to the crowd. The atmosphere got an interesting twist where I was sitting by hearing Tony Mamaluke's girlfriend loudly yelling "tap" as he did submission spots.
Mamaluke received an "ECW" chant when he left the ring.
- Ric Blade defeated Sonjay Dutt in a Ladder Match to become the #1 contender to the CZW Junior Heavyweight championship. Three ladders were used in the bout, including a tall one which allowed Blade to grab the "contract" clipped to the top of the building.
- In the "senseless violence portion of the program", CZW champion The Messiah pinned Nate Hatred in a Fans Bring The Weapons Match. The list of sick weapons included: hundreds if not thousands of thumbtacks, a shopping cart, a street sign, plastic bats with tacks, a Nintendo player (a frying pan would have been nice as a tribute to Ted Petty).
In the disgusting spot of the night, after Messiah had already taken a bump into hundreds of tacks, Hatred poured rubbing alcohol over his back and ran a mop soaked in it over him.
Hatred's partner Nick Gage hit the ring, then laid him out with a chair.... then laid out Messiah with it to boot. Messiah fell on Hatred and the referee counted the pinfall. Post-match, Gage hit Hatred with the boot scrape, as fellow Hi-V members Backseat Boyz and B-Boy pulled Messiah out of the ring.
The finish came off somewhat flat, as the CZW crowd clearly does NOT want to see H*8 Club broken up...the payoff to the three-month CZW storyline, that started with Gage and Hatred fighting about the CZW Heavyweight Title. Gage came out for the interference spot with a brace on his leg, possibly injured at Best of the Best.
As a wrestling show, this was a good to excellent show. As a commemoration, it was OK, but it could have been far better.
As for the lack of ECW personalities at the show, Zandig did a promo at the beginning of the show saying that he had invited Tod Gordon, Tommy Dreamer, and Paul Heyman to appear.
Zandig indicated that Tod Gordon "didn't want to show". He also indicated that Heyman didn't return his calls, apparently expecting Heyman to change a lifelong policy of not returning telephone calls. He also called Tommy Dreamer to make an appearance but Dreamer was unable to due to WWE commitments, and put over Dreamer, who sent his regards and stated he was honored to be asked.
There's one likely reason for all of the above. Most, if not all, of these people had not been called until a week ago, which I was told by 2 CZW staffers at the May 3 3PW show, and told by one other staffer during this past week.
Mike Johnson even attempted to make a last minute personal contact on behalf of the promotion to bring in some former ECW personalities by contacting Steve Corino and Masato Tanaka, a call made too late, due to Corino having had custody of the Japanese performers on the May 11th PWF show (and having his son at home), and was scheduled to take them to the Phillies game May 10th.
While CZW should be credited for commemorating the date at all, and while the retrospective video was incredible; the element of the commemoration concerning past personalities could have been handled better.
No one (in their right mind, anyway) expected CZW to fly in talent on the level of Sabu or Terry Funk and have their presence take over the show, since ultimately the aim of the show should have been to put over CZW. But it was reasonable to expect CZW to have contacted individuals like Dreamer, Gordon and Heyman long before 6 days prior to such an event, and it would have made the moment more special.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
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