AS I SEE IT - 6/30/2000
by: Bob Magee
For our readers in the United States, a happy and safe July 4 holiday weekend; and a happy Canada Day on July 1 to our Canadian readers. A welcome to Wrestling Titan.com at http://www.wrestlingtitan.com, and the returning Wrasslinedge.com from the UK, which both carry AS I SEE IT beginning this weekend.
This week's column continues on last week's themes on the hypocrisy of the Parents Television Council, and on state governments (and even competing promoters) attempting to censor the wrestling you watch.
Last week, I reminded readers of the running battle between wrestling fans and the Parents Television Council, one that Wrestling Fans Against Censorship played a role in. I also mentioned the need to become active again against the PTC given their lobbying of MCI Worldcom to pull advertising from WWF SmackDown.
Then another chapter in the "PTC follies" started in earnest with a column by IGN Wrestling.com's Galatea Lee on June 19th, where she posted a column on how hypocritical it was for the PTC to profit through its Marketplace program from a company like Toys 'R' Us, the largest distributor of WWF merchandise. Wrestling fans hammered the PTC on this one with hundreds of e-mails and phone calls. The Parents Television Council was forced to pull the likely profitable link to the Toys 'R' Us site; after first claiming that they "didn't know" of the connection between the WWF and Toys 'R' Us.
The reality is that the story of Toys 'R' Us pulling the Al Snow "Head" figure off of their shelves last year became news in many United States newspapers. That action of Toys 'R' Us was parodied constantly on WWF television programming.
The fact is that the PTC was well aware of Toys 'R' Us being one of the largest merchants of World Wrestling Federation merchandise.
The only "news" for the PTC was in getting caught trying to have it both ways. As I said in last week's column, the only thing the PTC hates worse than something that thinks differently than they do, is to get caught in their own hypocrisy.
But it didn't stop there.
According to Lee's June 21st column, "...nearly 40 other companies, however, remain [in the Marketplace program]....
...One such company, ICSCollectibles.com (International Collectors Society), which itself has reportedly over one and half million members, has a full ad for WWF Collector Stamps with the caption 'Attitude is in with the SMACKDOWN Collection!' "
You can verify her information at http://www.icsnow.com/Default.asp.
How about two more examples of well-known merchants of WWF products that I found?
The major online merchant, Buy.com, features WWF videos, games, music, books, and software. You can see all the items readily available throughhttp://www.us.buy.com/corp/searchresults.asp?qu=WWF
Another is K-Tel.com, which sells all currently available WWF music albums. Just go to http://www.ktel.com, go to the search engine, select albums and type WWF. According to WrestlePro.com, the PTC is refusing to pull this link, even after the facts of what K-Tel is selling have been made clear to them by readers of WrestlePro.
Again, remember....both are members of the PTC Marketplace program, meaning that the Parents Television Council still profits from the same World Wrestling Federation that it paints as depraved and morally bankrupt. This ethical lapse from an organization fancying itself to be a moral arbiter ranks with a Catholic Archdiocese deeming it acceptable to profit from a house of prostitution.
American (and other) readers should continue to e-mail the Parents Television Council at email@example.com. Remind them that they do NOT represent you as a parent or as a voter. Further, remind them that they are making profits off of the very thing they condemn, and that you will let as many people know about this as you can.
Readers can also become a "member" on the PTC Message Board. You can do so by simply designating a name and password on it. Remind PTC members of the moral hypocrisy of their group, example after example.
But the WWF may have the last laugh on this one. Watch for a hilarious return of Stevie Richards with an on-air gimmick change to reflect someone bringing "morality to the World Wrestling Federation".
You can probably guess where this one's going to go. The gimmick change started at King Of The Ring, and continued at Smackdown as a direct in-your-face to the Parents Television Council. As funny as Stevie can be, this will be a riot.
Then there are the efforts of the Governor of the State of New Jersey and members of the New Jersey State Legislature to make an unfair and discriminatory distinction between so-called "extreme wrestling" and other wrestling promotions that have precisely the same product content; yet will not be regulated under the law, which passed the New Jersey Senate by a 26-1 vote on June 26th. The regulations are intentionally designed to drive out two wrestling companies, Combat Zone Wrestling and Jersey All-Pro Wrestling from the State of New Jersey.
Combat Zone Wrestling has indicated that it will challenge the discriminatory nature of the bill in court. Several reporters, including the Philadelphia Daily News's wrestling columnist Michael Tearson, have stated that they believe the bill will be declared unconstitutional and exclusionary.
If government inserting itself into your wrestling isn't bad enough, other wrestling promoters themselves have gotten into the act. This showed itself in the whole situation surrounding the CZW/Onita/ADV Films supershow and PPV taping that was to be held on June 25th at the Electric Factory. A number of sources in Japan and the United States have reported that the June 25th event was cancelled through the efforts of several Philadelphia area wrestling promoters, who lobbied the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission to cancel the show.
In lieu of the scheduled Electric Factory event, CZW didn't want to disappoint fans who had already arrived in the Philadelphia area for the previously scheduled PPV taping from various parts of the United States. CZW ran a show on Sunday afternoon outside their usual venue (the Champs Sports Arena in Sewell, NJ) to a crowd of 300 on a hot, humid summer afternoon. The featured matches including a Zandig-Lobo barbed wire match and another match with Wifebeater-Nick Gage with 100 fluorescent light bulbs surrounding the inside of the ring.
Prior to the show, CZW promoter John Faretti made various references to the failure of ADV Films to promote the event far enough ahead of time (see my previous column) and to the promoters who contacted the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission.
Now, who are some of the likely nominees for promoters that contacted the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission? Here's some of my possible choices...
The first nominee is Paul Heyman. It's no secret around the Philadelphia area that many see Combat Zone Wrestling as very similar to ECW in the early "Team ECW" days, before greed, sex, drugs, talent defections, and money problems turned the company into what it has become today.
Further, it's no secret that Heyman sees CZW as potential competition in the Philadelphia market. Fans have even been harassed by ECW security personnel for handing out leaflets publicizing CZW shows. This perception of CZW being competitive in the Philadelphia market is especially true given the degree of excitement CZW has garnered in a relatively short period of time among fans of their style of product.
When one considers that Heyman runs in Philadelphia so infrequently (three months from his last show until the upcoming July 8th ECW Arena show), one would think this not to be a problem. In addition, this week's news that the Viking Club Mummers Brigade is seeking to sell Viking Hall... better known by wrestling fans as the ECW Arena, should make it even less relevant.
But longtime readers of this column over the last three years know that Paul Heyman is quite capable of saying and doing anything if he sees something to be in his interests. I don't think I need to go any further on that one.
Another nominee is Chris Lash, promoter of the APWF in upstate Pennsylvania. Lash is the promoter of the small APWF promotion in upstate Pennsylvania, who has gone onto the Combat Zone Wrestling website's message board; and harassed CZW fans and promotional staff; claiming the CZW promotion to have "stolen" many of his ideas.
Lash's possible participation in this effort to derail CZW's efforts would be particularly dishonorable, given the fact that CZW honored Lash's late son after his death last year in a swimming accident with an in-ring ceremony. I know they did, because I was the person asked by CZW to do it that evening last year.
Lash has denied any involvement, and claims he supports CZW's right to run shows in Pennsylvania.
If he reads this column, and continues to deny his involvement, my challenge to Chris Lash is this: to PROVE his willingness by letting CZW use his own license to run those shows in Pennsylvania, should they so choose....put his money where his mouth is. Let him insure that CZW has the right to run its shows without governmental and promotional interference in the state of Pennsylvania.
As for the third nominee...on Sunday, in his speech from the ring before the show, John Faretti made reference to a promoter from Delaware who had contacted the Commission who "runs @#&@ty shows that draw 50 people". Faretti indicated that if the New Jersey Senate passed extreme wrestling" legislation on June 26, he'd run his shows in Delaware, a state without an Athletic Commission against that promoter.
Since there are only two wrestling promoters based in the State of Delaware, the first being the ECWA's Jim Kettner. Based on past experiences, I'd like to believe would be above those tactics. There is, thus, one other promoter who we can go to as the other possible nominee...
That third nominee is Damon Feldman, former champion boxer and the promoter of the "World" Wrestling Union, which runs bar shows at the Big Kahuna Entertainment Complex in Wilmington, DE; and recently at the Electric Factory. At the one Wilmington show I attended with friends, Feldman and his sound man got on the house mike and fancied some of his wrestlers to be "the most hardcore in the world".
To be frank, this crap made NWA Wildside look like an All Japan Champion Carnival final. I've seen better bodyslams from five year olds. Hell, I've seen fewer blown spots from a "Best of Robby Walker" six hour compilation tape.
Seems to me that Faretti's description on Sunday of the Delaware promoter in question would fit Feldman and his promotion to a "T".
Along with the obvious perceived competition for the Electric Factory space; employees from another independent promotion pointed out to me this past weekend that Feldman somehow sees them as competition for his WWU shows, and that they viewed him as a possibility.
Underhanded tactics between competing promoters are hardly a new thing. Longtime wrestling fans can probably name plenty of them between promoters for decades in their own areas. Jealousy plays a part. So do simple business
But Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and other wrestling fans... even those who can't stand "hardcore" wrestling, ought to boycott any promoter that is proven to have been involved in what happened to the June 25th show. Because what happened to them can happen to your favorite promotion as well.
Finally, many of you have noticed the downtime for AS I SEE IT's flagship site, Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets this past week due to actions by the web hosting service Interland. At first, we were told that the problem involved Interland's servers, and would be remedied in a short period of time. Then, another reason was followed by another and yet another.
However, as soon as webmaster Fritz Capp indicated that PWBTS expected compensation for the downtime, we were suddenly told by an extremely rude technical services staffperson that the problem had to do with PWBTS "exceeding acceptable usage".
One problem: the amount of hits cited was on the LOW side of our average daily hits. In short, someone was playing games with us. Then they tried to cover themselves with various efforts, which included the possible forging of an e-mail by a member of the technical staff of Interland to "prove" his allegation of "abuse".
The battle went on with various staff of the sales, legal, and technical departments of Interland from June 23rd to June 28th.
One of the last tactics Interland used was to prevent Fritz Capp the ability to FTP the site. This means, in short, that they were illegally holding our newsboard, other elements of PWBTS.com, AND the copyrighted material consisting of the AS I SEE IT archives (housed on PWBTS.com), as well as all the other columns on the site.
Interland finally released the FTP access to PWBTS.com on June 28th after I threatened legal action on behalf of myself and the other columnists on our site based on their withholding of access to copyrighted material. Needless to say, PWBTS is in the process of changing our web hosting service to Smarthosting, and should be back up by mid-week.
The situation that we confronted should speak volumes to any of you involved in e-commerce or who run fan-based websites. In short, it suggests that you should avoid Interland as a webhost under any circumstances, despite the popular image of the company in such magazines as PC World as a top webhost. If you currently use Interland as your webhost, you should seriously consider exploring webhosting alternatives as soon as you can contractually do so.
The one extremely gratifying aspect of this whole situation is the way that many webmasters and readers supported us by writing to Interland and expressing their concern over the way we had been treated by the company; as well as providing options for a new webhost, one of which we have chosen. Some of you were even kind enough to mention in your e-mails your concern over the fact that you couldn't access the archives of the column.
Other webmasters even posted what was happening to us as a news item, and encouraged their own readers to e-mail Interland. Still others offered us their sites to post our news and columns until we resolved our problem with Interland.
I've gotten to read copies of many of those e-mails sent to Interland. All of us at PWBTS appreciate the time or effort that you put into them. It tells us at PWBTS that you appreciate the news and opinions that we provide. While our news and opinions are often viewed as controversial by some, it is gratifying to see that what we do is meaningful to you.
For that, again, more thanks than you know...
Until next time
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)