AS I SEE IT - 6/08/2000
by: Bob Magee
A welcome back to WWF Haven (http://www.wwfhaven.com) which once ran this column; as well as Wrestlespot.com (http://www.wrestlespot.com), Pro Wrestling Columns (http://www.prowrestlingcolumns.com) and WrestleGuide (http://wrestleguide.hypermart.net) which are running AS I SEE IT beginning this week.
The New Jersey State Legislature has taken the first step in "re-regulating" wrestling in the State by the State Assembly Bill passing A# 2304 on June 5th. It did so without allowing public testimony on the Assembly version of the bill.
Readers should note that the legislation in question is clearly designed to be discriminatory in nature, as both versions of the bill explicitly makes distinctions between "wrestling" (read: ECW/WCW/WWF) and "extreme wrestling", as in Jersey All Pro Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling. The fact of the matter is that most, if not all, of the aspects that are being criticized in Combat Zone Wrestling and Jersey All Pro Wrestling exist in the so-called Big 3.
Don't believe that the bill is constructed in a discriminatory manner?
Let's look at just three portions of this bill.
First, in the definitions at the beginning of the Assembly version of the bill:
"1. Section 1 of P.L.1985, c.83 (C.5:2A-1) is amended to read as follows:
o. 'Extreme wrestling' means an activity in which participants struggle hand-to-hand and cut, slash or strike each other or themselves with an implement to intentionally cause bleeding or perform any intentional act which could reasonably be expected to cause bleeding, primarily for the purpose of providing entertainment to spectators rather than conducting a bona fide athletic contest.
Well, let's see: "cut...themselves with an implement to intentionally cause bleeding"...
How many times have we seen HHH or Rocky Maivia blade on World Wrestling Federation PPVs and television programming? More than a few.
How many times have we seen Terry Bollea or Ric Flair blade on World Championship Wrestling PPVs and television programming? Often enough.
How many times have we seen any number of people blade on Extreme Championship Wrestling PPVs and television programming? Every night.
Yet the legislation makes a distinction between the "Big 3" and so-called "extreme wrestling". Such a statement is actually in the Assembly legislation:
"This bill does not re-regulate professional wrestling groups such as the World Wrestling Federation (WWF), World Championship Wrestling (WCW) or Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW), but instead distinguishes extreme wrestling from professional wrestling".
Such a statement ought to make it clear to any reasonable person that this legislation is blatantly discriminatory in an attempt to make this distinction.
I'll be offering an opinion as to WHY this distinction is being made later in the column.
Second, here is another portion of the bill, related to health insurance for "extreme wrestlers":
"9. a. Promoters licensed pursuant to P.L.1985, c.83 (C.5:2A-1 et seq.) shall carry medical insurance covering all extreme wrestlers, professional boxers, kick boxers or combative sports participants whom they promote.
b. The cost of the insurance required pursuant to this section shall be borne by the promoter.
c. The promoter shall obtain medical insurance coverage in an amount to be determined by the commissioner, which amount shall cover the expenses for the treatment of any injuries the extreme wrestler, boxer, kick boxer or combative sports participant may suffer as a result of [a] an extreme wrestling, professional boxing, kick boxing or combative sports exhibition, event, performance or contest.
d. The insurance coverage required under this act shall extend for at least six months from the date of the bout.
e. No extreme wrestling, professional boxing, kick boxing or combative sports exhibition, event, performance or contest shall be approved in this State unless the promoter is in full compliance with the requirements of this section concerning medical insurance coverage.
(cf: P.L.1988, c.20, s.9)"
So let me get this straight...
Jersey All-Pro Wrestling and Combat Zone Wrestling are required to provide health insurance for their wrestlers...but the World Wrestling Federation with its recent IPO, worth tens of millions of dollars... World Championship Wrestling, owned by AOL/Time-Warner... and ECW, owned by Paul Heyman, Acclaim, and others, ARE NOT?
I happen to think that providing health coverage is a good idea FOR ALL WRESTLING PROMOTIONS... but not when such a law is being enacted in a blatant attempt to bleed dry the two companies in question, Jersey All-Pro and CZW; and when the companies that can most afford it are explicitly excluded from the requirement.
Don't believe it? About a month ago, the Assembly bill's sponsor Assemblyperson Joseph Doria flat out stated in an online interview that this was his intent by including such a requirement. He felt that if nothing else worked, he'd put CZW and JAPW out of business this way.
Here's the final excerpt from the bill:
8. Section 18 of P.L.1985, c.83 (C.5:2A-18) is amended to read as follows:
"e. No extreme wrestling event shall be held by any promoter who has been licensed pursuant to section 14 of P.L.1985, c.83 (C.5:2A-14) unless the promoter shall have, at least 20 business days before the holding of the event, notified the director of public safety of the municipality in which the event is proposed to take place, in such form and with such detailed information as the board may prescribe, of the proposed holding of the event and received approval in writing therefor.
If a municipality does not have a director of public safety or a public safety official with substantially similar duties, the governing body of a municipality shall designate a public safety official to receive notification and approve or disapprove the proposed holding of an extreme wrestling event. In addition to obtaining municipal approval from the appropriate public safety official and having a license as provided by section 14 of P.L.1985, c.83 (C.5:2A-14), a promoter of an extreme wrestling event shall obtain from the board a permit in writing to hold the event.
The public safety official of a municipality who receives notice of the proposed holding of an extreme wrestling event shall within 15 business days approve or reject the proposed holding of the event. The official may reject the proposed event if the official decides that the holding of the proposed event would constitute a threat to public safety or public health. If the official rejects the proposed event, no permit for the proposed event shall be granted by the board.
If the official grants approval, the written approval shall be forwarded by the official to the board, which shall within five business days of the receipt make a determination on the permit to be issued pursuant to subsection a. of this section, notwithstanding the requirement to notify the board at least two weeks before the proposed holding of the event."
So these two promotions are required to get specific approval from a Police Chief or a Director of Public Safety or township/City Councils to hold their events; but Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman are not?
This opens the door for all sorts of mischief by public officials.... which is likely the intent of this provision.
One example of such mischief: a Jersey All-Pro show was cancelled last month, at the last possible minute; with fans in line waiting to go into the building. It seems that Joseph Doria, who doubles as Mayor of Hoboken (along with sitting in the New Jersey State Assembly) claimed that JAPW "didn't have a license". The promotion produced a license. Doria then claimed that "a staffperson put the wrong date on the license" and shut the show down.
Those who might wish to see other portions of the Senate/Assembly bill, can go to http://www.topcities.com/Crazy/njwrestling/bill.html to see the entire bill.
Now I questioned earlier WHY this distinction is being made later in the column. There is little question in my mind as to the two reasons.
Money. And hypocrisy.
Let me go back to my February 4th, 2000 AS I SEE IT column, where I printed a letter from an employee from one of the major wrestling companies in the United States regarding drugs in wrestling. The individual brought up one element of his job, having to work with State governing bodies and athletic commissions:
"...This usually means signing over a check to them for allowing the event to take place in their state. Most of them, as you probably know, are a joke and do nothing to regulate the 'sport' of professional wrestling.
In [state omitted], for example, I give the ring doctor five 100-dollar-bills for taking the blood pressure of each wrestler on the show and then allowing some guy to work with a 220/130 count because he's just 'worked up' for his match.
In other states... for example, I have to pay a certain amount for every wrestler, announcer, referee and manager. No medical check-up... just a simple tax. For a live [major TV show] in [state omitted] recently, the 'Commission' received $9,653.00 to allow the match. Free money. I doubt that state would want to force the major companies to look elsewhere for a venue. It's a one-night stand... here today, gone tomorrow and the state is $9,000 richer.
Imagine what states in the Northeast make in one night with no effort. I agree with you that the big companies need New York, New Jersey, etc. and would not run from those states because of new drug testing measures and regulations. But the other states with commissions, which make easy money, would be hard pressed to cooperate.....thus losing the money."
So in other words, states like New Jersey which Christie Whitman is the Governor of... and Joseph Doria is a Assemblyperson of... won't enact drug testing of ALL wrestlers, because WCW and the WWF threaten to pull out of running live shows from states (like Oregon) if they do....and, of course, New Jersey wants the money that comes from those traveling wrestling companies.
So much for any concern by Whitman and Doria about the health of professional wrestlers. This just proves it's all about the bucks. Since they can't touch the WWF, WCW, or ECW.... in order to look like the pseudo-moralists that they are, they go after a Combat Zone Wrestling and a Jersey All Pro Wrestling, which don't have the political clout that WCW, the WWF, and ECW do.
And especially, the money.
The State of New Jersey won't require the World Wrestling Federation to abide by the standards set forth above, because of money.
The State of New Jersey won't require World Championship Wrestling to abide by the standards set forth above, because of money.
The State of New Jersey won't require Extreme Championship Wrestling to abide by the standards set forth above, because of money....even though ECW has actually gone to court against XPW over the right to be known as the only nationally-based "extreme wrestling" company by virtue of that title being intellectual property. Yet they aren't being held accountable under these "extreme wrestling" regulations.
One even could go so far as to reasonably wonder if Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff, or Paul Heyman have made or intend to make any sort of personal or corporate contributions to the campaign funds of Joseph Doria or other legislators that are leading this charge to pass this discriminatory legislation.
Now that the bill is moving to the New Jersey State Senate, I'm again going to urge all wrestling fans within New Jersey (and everywhere else) to contact the members of the New Jersey State Senate listed below. I've included e-mail addresses for most of the Senators. A few either don't have them, or don't choose to make them available.
Again...when e-mailing, or calling and speaking to a State Senator, DO NOT engage in name-calling or profanity. That kind of behavior helps allow Christie Whitman and Joseph Doria to carefully cultivate their image of hardcore or "extreme" wrestling fans as some sort of stereotypical circus freaks who can be dismissed; and to thus allow them to jam their personal agenda down the throats of wrestling fans and the taxpayers of New Jersey.
If you're from New Jersey, remind him and the others that you vote (you DO vote, don't you?) and pay taxes, and are entitled to the forms of entertainment you choose, without government regulation.
If you're from outside the state, remind them that your tourist dollars can be taken elsewhere this summer, as the Jersey Shore season is beginning. Remind them that Delaware has nice beaches and limited gambling at its race tracks. Virginia has lots of nice beaches, too.
NEW JERSEY SENATE/ALPHABETICAL LIST OF MEMBERS/E-MAIL ADDRESSES
Senator John H. Adler, Democrat
231 Rt. 70 East, Cherry Hill, NJ 08034-2421 (856) 428-3343
Senator Diane B. Allen, Republican
2313 Burlington-Mt. Holly Rd., Burlington, NJ 08016 (609) 239-2800
Senator Byron M. Baer, Democrat
125 State St., Hackensack, NJ 07601 (201) 343-3333
Senator Martha W. Bark, Republican
3000 Midlantic Dr. Suite 103, Mount Laurel, NJ 08054 (856) 234-8080
Senator C. Louis Bassano, Republican
324 Chestnut St., Union, NJ 07083 (908) 687-4127
Senator John O. Bennett, Republican (SENATE MAJORITY LEADER)
655 Shrewsbury Ave., Suite 307, Shrewsbury, NJ 07702 (732) 842-4900
Senator Wayne R. Bryant, Democrat
501 Cooper St., Camden, NJ 08102-1240 (856) 757-0552
Senator Anthony R. Bucco, Republican
60 Broadway, Denville, NJ, 07834 (973) 627-9700
Senator James S. Cafiero, Republican
3319 New Jersey Ave. P.O. Box 789, Wildwood, NJ 08260 (856) 522-0462
Senator Gerald Cardinale, Republican
350 Madison Ave., Cresskill, NJ 07626 (201) 567-2324
Senator Andrew R. Ciesla, Republican
852 Hwy. 70, Brick, NJ 08724 (732) 840-9028
Senator Richard J. Codey, Democrat (SENATE MINORITY LEADER)
449 Mount Pleasant Ave., West Orange, NJ 07052 (973) 731-6770
Senator Leonard T. Connors, Jr., Republican
620 West Lacey Rd., Forked River, NJ 08731 (609) 693-6700
Senator Donald T. DiFrancesco, Republican
1816 Front St., Scotch Plains, NJ 07076 (908) 322-5500
Senator Garry J. Furnari, Democrat
590 Franklin Avenue, Nutley, NJ 07110 (973) 667-4477
Senator John A. Girgenti, Democrat
507 Lafayette Ave., Hawthorne, NJ 07506 (973) 427-1229
Senator William L. Gormley, Republican
Suite 108, Hamilton Mall, Black Horse Pike, Mays Landing, NJ 08330
Senator Peter A. Inverso, Republican
3691A Nottingham Way, Hamilton Square, NJ 08690 (609) 586-1330
Senator Sharpe James, Democrat
Suite 1535, 50 Park Place, Newark, NJ 07102 (973) 622-0007
Senator Walter J. Kavanaugh, Republican
76 North Bridge St., Somerville, NJ 08876 (908) 526-4222
Senator Bernard F. Kenny, Democrat
235 Hudson St. Suite 1, Hoboken, NJ 07030 (201) 653-1466
Senator Louis F. Kosco, Republican
441 Market Street, Saddle Brook, NJ 07663 (201) 712-1221
Senator Joseph M. Kyrillos, Jr., Republican
Suite 301, One Arin Park Bldg., 1715 Hwy. 35, Middletown, NJ 07748
Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, Democrat
315 Elmora Ave. Suite 208, Elizabeth, NJ 07208 (908) 353-7722
Senator Robert E. Littell, Republican
P.O. Box 328, Franklin, NJ 07416 (973) 827-2900
Senator John A. Lynch, Democrat
100 Bayard St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901 (732) 249-4550
Senator Robert J. Martin, Republican
Suite 2-D, 101 Gibraltar Drive, Morris Plains, NJ 07950 (973) 984-0922
Senator John J. Matheussen, Republican
Suite 2-B Greentree Building, P.O. Box 8019, Turnersville, NJ 08012
Senator Henry P. McNamara, Republican
P.O. Box 68, Wyckoff, NJ 07481 (201) 848-9600
Senator Edward T. O'Connor, Jr., Democrat
1738 Kennedy Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07305 (201) 451-6120
Senator Joseph A. Palaia, Republican (SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE)
290 Norwood Ave. Suite 204, Deal, NJ 07723 (732) 531-1303
Senator Ronald L. Rice, Democrat
1044 South Orange Ave., Newark, NJ 07106 (973) 371-5665
Senator Norman M. Robertson, Republican
Overlook at Great Notch, 150 Clove Road, Little Falls, NJ 07424
Senator Nicholas J. Sacco, Democrat
9060 Palisade Ave., North Bergen, NJ 07047 (201) 295-0200
Senator William E. Schluter, Republican
2 North Main St., Flemington, NJ 08822 (908) 788-3800
Senator Jack Sinagra, Republican
100 Plainfield Ave. Suite 1, Edison, NJ 08817 (732) 819-7551
Senator Robert W. Singer, Republican
2110 W. County Line Rd., Jackson, NJ 08527 (732) 901-0702
Senator Shirley K. Turner, Democrat
1440 Pennington Road, Ewing, NJ 08618 (609) 530-3277
Senator Joseph F. Vitale, Democrat
87 Main Street, Woodbridge, NJ 07095 (732) 855-7441
Senator Raymond J. Zane, Democrat
The White House, Suite 3 39 S. Broad St., Woodbury, NJ 08096-7921
Go to work, folks. Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)