AS I SEE IT - 7/28/2003:
The 300th AS I SEE IT column
by: Bob Magee
This is the 300th AS I SEE IT column... and part of a two-week look at the last
300 columns over the last 7 years.
This week, I'll take a look at AS
I SEE IT and the PTC, columns on the "human side" of the business, this
column's fight with XPW, and other subjects.
AS I SEE IT reported on
and battled the efforts of The Parents Television Council to censor
wrestling programming through their attacks on the WWF. The PTC is a
right-wing organization that claims to monitor television programming for
families. If that had been all they did, few would have objected, even if we
disagreed with they'd said...feeling that freedom of speech applied to the
PTC. However, telling people what they felt wasn't enough. They actively
campaigned to get WWF programming off of the air with a corporate attack
campaign against WWF's sponsors, attacks that got the US Armed Forces,
Coca-Cola, and other notable advertisers to pull their advertising from
SMACKDOWN and RAW through half-truths, outright lies, and exaggerations.
Coverage of and commentary on the PTC's actions began
with the November 28, 1999 AS I SEE IT column:
"...This past week on RAW in North America, Jim Ross made reference to the Parents
Television Council. They object to some of the angles that I'VE objected to,
such as the Paul Wight cancer angle. But there's a major difference between
the way these people think and the way I think.
I objected to the ANGLES.
But, as we can do in America...I expressed my viewpoint. The vast majority
of those who wrote me in reply to my AS I SEE IT column agreed at least with
the inappropriateness of using a ten-bell count in the angle. Some didn't go
as far as I did that the whole angle was wrong.
But I NEVER said say
that WWF programming should be pulled so that NO ONE could make that choice
for themselves. Not even WWF critic Bob Ryder went that far, in one of our
rare examples of agreement. He thought that the angle was as horrible as I
did. But even he never called for the banning of all WWF programming. Now,
let's say you read this column and say 'I'm not a WWF fan. I'm a ECW fan.
They're just copying what ECW did first.'
ECW fans, do you think that the
international coverage that the fan-based STRICTLY ECW group, and those
within the company worked so hard for two years can't disappear? Do you
think if these right-wing zealots get a good look at ECW, either on TNN or
the syndicated version, that they won't go berserk? Hell, TNN was barely
tolerating ECW only weeks ago...
WCW fans... just remember if censors
attack the WWF's product on UPN and USA...with the recent hiring of Vince
Russo and Ed Ferrera and their TV-14 content, WCW's programming on TNT and
TBS can just as easily be targeted by this group, if not more so. Why would
it be more easily done with WCW?
Don't believe it... think it's me just
going off on WCW again? I have two words for you: Lenny and Lodi. GLAAD, a
gay rights organization undertook a similar lobbying campaign, which claimed
that the Lenny and Lodi characters added to a climate of hate against gays
and lesbians. It resulted in the always politically correct
Time-Warner-Turner corporate empire kicking their characters off the air,
and keeping these two workers sitting home.
It's not just the companies
that own the WWF, WCW, and ECW. Do you think advertisers can't be pressured
by even such a small pressure group? With this "Parents Television Council"
alone, the Defense Department has pulled recruiting ads from Smackdown.
Coca-Cola has pulled its ads from WWF programming.
Do you STILL think
this won't happen? Do you STILL think it's a bunch of people on the Internet
running around half-cocked? Go ahead and believe that. Suddenly, you'll see
that someone who has appointed themselves your moral guardian will have told
you what you can watch. Suddenly either one or more major promotion's
wrestling shows will not air, at least in any fashion recognizable
Your wrestling will have been "sanitized for your protection" by a
right-wing front group run by a man named L. Brent Bozell III, whose father wrote speeches for Joseph McCarthy, the United States Senator responsible
for creating a generation of political cowardice and fear during the 1950s. L. Brent Bozell who worked for the Unification Church, better known to all
as the "Moonies" religious cult.
...Bozell has "attacked programs
like the cartoon show Captain Planet and the Planeteers because it 'seeks to
indoctrinate children and scare them into leftist political activism', has
stated that the media panders to gays, that Bryant Gumbel is an
'insufferable leftist', and that Nelson Mandela is 'the leader of a
Listen up, readers... reading this kind of
right-wing garbage should scare the hell out of you. Suddenly the potential
exists for those who would only see the kind of TV programs that their own
extreme political views deem appropriate to pull your favorite programming
from TV. It's time to challenge them.
Contact the sponsors of WWF you
see listed at the end of this column; AS WELL AS the sponsors of WCW and ECW
programming. Tell them you appreciate their advertising support of programs
you enjoy. The STRICTLY ECW people have been doing this for 2 years, calling
it 'preventive maintenance'. Those of us who work in business call it
client/customer relations. It's real and necessary, especially
L. Brent Bozell responded by attacking me personally on
the Michael Reagan syndicated political radio show, claiming that he had
never been connected to the Unification Church, and that all my claims were
Things were just starting to get fun, however. The AS I SEE IT
column, PWBTS and many of the sites that carried the column joined in an
effort called Wrestling Fans Against Censorship.
The first effort of
WFAC was the listing and regular contact of WWF advertisers, in what we
referred to as "preventive maintenance", a campaign to thank these
advertisers for their support of wrestling programming and warning them of
what the PTC was doing.
The next target of our effort confronted one of
the sources of money of the PTC, a program called the "PTC Marketplace". In
short, purchases made of products and services from as many as 90 well-known
companies such as 1-800-Flowers, Avon, Burpee, Dell, ESPN's e-commerce site,
FTD, Hickory Farms, FAO Schwarz, LL Bean, McAfee, Office Max, Mattel and
Toys 'R Us contributed money to the PTC's efforts. One company alone, Avon,
was reported by sources within the company to have provided $16,000 per year
for the PTC's efforts through this program.
In the December
18, 1999 AS I SEE IT column, those of us with WFAC
organized a e-mail campaign and boycott effort of the businesses that
remained with the Marketplace.
"...Quite simply put,
readers... if you spend your money through any of these websites, a portion
of what you spend supports the efforts of the Parents Television
It's time to go to work... show the Parents Television Council
and the merchants listed above that wrestling fans have disposable income.
Let's show them that we can use that disposable income and the purchasing
power that it gives us to influence events... Let those companies know that, as long as they provide financial support to an organization that advocates censorship of TV programming you watch, you will not purchase products from their company. Let them know that you will encourage your friends to follow suit.
If you still have Christmas shopping to do, take a moment and
let those companies know that they lost out on a potential customer this
holiday season because of their financial support of the
Because of what Effinity.Net (the program's operator)
acknowledged to be a "deluge" of e-mails and letters directed toward
participating companies, many pulled out, until only 18 remained as of the
Marketplace program's closing on August 8, 2000.
During this and
other campaigns, PTC members and staff made veiled threats to file lawsuits
against those active didn't stop their activities. But the PTC would find
that it would itself be in need of legal help soon... as it made accusations
of WWF being to blame for "children killing children"... "pedaling
pornography to children"... and made false claims of having gotten certain
companies to have removed their advertising from WWF television, some claims
made while these companies were sponsoring both WWF TV and WWF
In cases where companies being targeted wouldn't state their
viewpoints... or wouldn't demand that the PTC remove their corporate names
and trademarks from the PTC's website... most notably the ConAgra family of
food companies; we asked fans to gather ConAgra products such as Armour meat
products, Bumble Bee tuna, Chef Boyardee, Chun King, Egg Beaters, Gulden's
Mustard, Hebrew National, LaChoy Chinese, Libby's, Orville Redenbacher
Popcorn, Peter Pan, Swift meat products, Swiss Miss cocoa, and Wesson
Oil... and send them back to the company in what we called "Project Care
Package". We did the same thing for Burger King, asking people to send
wrappers of competitors products and tell the companies that they'd be
buying their fast food elsewhere until they indicated publicly that they
were not withdrawing their advertising from WWF programming in conjunction
with the PTC.
Not everyone wanted to hear about the PTC and what they
were about. Some websites even dropped the AS I SEE IT column because they
claimed that the column was "no longer about wrestling", as I alluded to in
the August 3, 2000 AS I SEE IT column:
"PWBTS.com, the flagship website of AS I SEE IT and co-founding site of Wrestling Fans
Against Censorship; has always believed that it's more important to stand up
for what is right, rather than what is expedient. We believe that it's more
important to stand up for what we know fans need, rather than that which
would provide our website a provide temporary political benefit or greater
commercial success within wrestling...."
In the September 29, 2000
AS I SEE IT column, I made a suggestion out of
frustration. How little I realized that the WWF legal staff had the very
same idea that I did... and were ready to spring it on the
Well... I'll repeat what I've said before... I think it's
about time that Vince McMahon takes L. Brent Bozell's over-opinionated,
slanderous, libelous ass to court. While even the PTC is entitled to free
speech protection; libel, slander and defamation of character aren't
protected speech. Not even for the PTC...".
The PTC responded with an all-time classic line regarding the falsely made claims of
having gotten certain advertisers to withdraw: "...We do not have
written proof because we do not need written proof."
Unfortunately for the PTC, the legal system
Only six weeks later, on November 9th, 2000, WWF Entertainment
lawyer Jerry S. McDevitt filed a 10 count lawsuit against the PTC and their
Board members in the United States District Court for the Southern District
of New York, found in full here:
A number of the facts and sources cited in the AS I SEE IT columns and by
WFAC were used in the WWF's case filing, something we were happy to see
I was even subpoenaed in the preparation for the trial by the PTC,
who were apparently hoping to find some grand conspiracy between WWE,
PWBTS.com and my column, the details of which you can read about in the
November 20, 2001 AS I SEE
Finally... on July 3, 2002, WWF Entertainment, Inc. won a $3.5 million settlement from the Parents
Television Council, which also included a public retraction of the most
notable of the charges made against the WWF/E; charges that formed the
backbone of the lawsuit against the Parents Television Council, its parent
organization Media Research Center, PTC heads L. Brent Bozell and Mark
Honig, and members of the Board of the Parents Television Council, including
Senator (then Vice Presidential candidate, and current Democratic
Presidential candidate) Joseph Lieberman.
The PTC was forced to retract
the claims that WWF programming was somehow involved for the so-called
"wrestling deaths" of several children, including the well-publicized murder
of Tiffany Eunick by Lionel Tate; and the claim that numerous advertisers
withdrew their advertising from WWF/E programming, particularly Smackdown.
The PTC acknowledged the fact that the information that they listed was
Further, the PTC signed additional statements promising never
to interfere with WWE business relationships again ... never to urge
boycotts of WWE products or of the products of WWE advertisers and to remove
from the PTC Web site "all references to child deaths and all references to
July 8, 2002 AS I SEE IT column, the campaign concluded
against the PTC and on behalf of wrestling fans who simply wanted to watch
their entertainment in peace.
"...The PTC ignored the fact that (to cite only one of the fourteen companies in question) M&M/Mars had
run advertisements on 129 separate RAW, Smackdown and Heat episodes over a
19 month period, in addition to sponsoring four major WWF/E
Even with numerous individuals citing these facts to the
organization via e-mails, written communications, and telephone calls; the
PTC continued to list M&M/Mars as a so-called "Good Guy" that had
withdrawn advertising from WWF/E. That... is hardly a
Instead, that "mistake"... and the use of the bodies of dead
children as part of an ideological vendetta was a deliberate attempt to
raise money for the Media Research Center and Parents Television Council;
deliberately making claims they knew to be false... to scapegoat the
programming that you and I watch on Monday, Thursday, and Sunday nights as a
cause for children killing children via their campaigns of corporate
The PTC and their allies never expected that there would be
wrestling fans who would care enough about their rights as Americans (as
well as Canadians and UK citizens) and as wrestling fans to simply enjoy the
television programming they choose to watch...to fight their well-funded
corporate terrorism campaign. They never figured that people like you and I
sitting at our keyboards at home would take them on with the power of truth,
and give WWF/E Entertainment the factual ammunition they needed to force
this settlement by the Parents Television Council.
Wrestling fans can
and always will argue if they find particular storylines entertaining, or
think that certain performers should be featured more often...or think
they'd enjoy a particular style of matches featured more often. That's part
of the fun of being a fan. But no one thinks that someone outside their own
household should make choices for them as to what they should choose to
watch or choose not to watch...based on ideological vendettas and worse, as
no more than a fundraising tactic.
In the end, the PTC didn't get the
opportunity to do so."
One of the things that I've always said
that I wanted AS I SEE IT to do was to take a look at the "human side of the
business", columns about the real-life human beings behind the
performers...to give readers an insight that might not otherwise
Here's an example from the August 24, 1997
"...In a business populated by many who never seem to
understand the fact that while their business is a work, the way they deal
with others doesn't have to be; Sherri Martel has always been one of the
exceptions to that rule. In the time I've known Sherri, she has always shown
herself to be a person who genuinely treats fan or friend with anything less
than grace, kindness, and decency.
To illustrate: One night, while
with some of us at the legendary wrestling hangout, the Philadelphia Airport
Marriott (now a Hilton); some kids continued to wait in the Marriott lobby
well onto midnight, hoping to get Martel's autograph. While Sherri was
working heel at the time, it was obvious that even the kids had long before
figured her out for who she really was. After she found out about the kids,
she excused herself, saying 'Sorry, guys, I'm a mother, you know how that
is'. She then spent at least 20 minutes with them in the lobby."
Longtime readers know of the story of former SMW right-hand
man and WCW referee Brian Hildebrand (pka "Mark Curtis") and his two
year-battle with cancer, as talked about within my AS I SEE IT columns. It
started the night of a WCW show in Baltimore, then going to the Marriott bar
afterwards. I noticed Eddie Guerrero taking an awfully long time to pray
over his post-show dinner. On the way home, I found out why, as outlined in
the October 5, 1998 AS I SEE IT and
October 11, 1998 AS I SEE IT
"I'm not looking forward to writing this one very much at all...
As you may have
read on 1wrestling.com, WCW Referee Brian (Mark Curtis) Hildebrand will
undergo surgery on Wednesday to remove an obstruction from his stomach. I'd
spoken myself by phone to Pam Murphy-Hildebrand about 10 days ago at their
house in Tennessee. Brian had just had tests done earlier in the day, and
wasn't up to getting on the phone. But she mentioned that Brian had troubles
digesting food for some time...and they were wondering what the obstruction
is, hopefully being nothing more serious than scar tissue from his previous
Six days later...
"The news came back on WCW referee Brian (Mark Curtis) Hildebrand. It isn't
Doctors were initially searching for what they believed to be a
bowel obstruction, which became necessary after Brian lost 15 pounds due to
the inability to digest food. But they have found much, much more than a
bowel obstruction. The cancer has returned, with doctors advising Brian that
the cancer is inoperable. Brian was in Lakeway Regional Hospital through the
weekend, and returned home on Monday.
As readers may be aware,
Hildebrand was out of action for several months last year after being
diagnosed with stomach cancer. He returned to working this spring at a
Southern States Wrestling show and the NWA-sponsored Eddie Gilbert Memorial,
before resuming his refereeing duties in WCW.
I've known Brian for five
years, since SMW Fanweek 1993. Brian's responsible for two of the most
special experiences of my life, Fanweek 1993 and 1994.
One of my favorite
Fanweek stories involves the time I had to go with Brian to Knoxville's West
Town Mall to get Jim Cornette a new tennis racquet. It seemed a local fan
had taken it upon himself to steal Jim's racquet at a SMW house show the
night before. Brian and I went to a sporting goods store and got the
racquet. The clerk fell all over himself meeting 'Mark Curtis'. I stood and
watched. As the clerk rang up the purchase, he asked me 'Can I help you,
sir'. I replied 'I'm just here with Mr. Curtis'. We walked away into the
Mall to grab lunch, and Brian asked me (referring to my keeping kayfabe)
"How in hell did you just do that?" My reply: 'Because you and Jimmy taught
us to remember that your folks down here "still believe".' It can be said,
Brian, so have you, for your entire career in the industry.
Gilbert, Terry Funk, Mick Foley, and some of the best....he's always been a
mark FOR the business, not about it. So his love and dedication for the
wrestling business, right down to the word 'mark' in his ring name; his love
for his lady Pam Murphy-Hildebrand, his friendship to others, and the heart
he's shown fighting his cancer in the last year make him a truly exceptional
individual thought of highly by nearly everyone in the
That's why over the last week, people like Jim Cornette and
Mick Foley have made their way down to Tennessee to see Brian. Hundreds of
fans, and those in the wrestling industry have called him, or sent e-mail
messages in recent days. It's been indicated these calls, e-mails, and cards
have lifted Brian's spirits.
One example: I spoke to Tracy Smothers
during the ECW Arena show two days ago, and asked if he'd heard about Brian.
He said that he, Troy (Shane Douglas) Martin, and much of the ECW roster,
who've worked with Brian (either in Smoky Mountain Wrestling, WCW, or in his
one appearance in ECW) called him at the hospital over this past weekend.
Tracy reminded me that 'Brian has a great heart, and sounds like he is
keeping right on fighting.'"
Brian's friends in WCW showed
him what they thought of him, as I talked about in the
December 1, 1998 AS I SEE IT:
"...The honors for Brian on the November 29th show were broken up into two separate ceremonies,
one before the show and one before the night's main event. Mike Tenay served
as master of ceremonies. Those in the ceremony from Smoky Mountain Wrestling
included Tim Horner, Sandy Scott, Les Thatcher, Tony (Dirty White Boy)
Anthony, and his wife Kim.
Then Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, and Bobby
Heenan came representing World Championship Wrestling. Schiavone told the
story of how Brian came to earn the nickname within the company, "the
shooter", during a match on a Monday Nitro when a fan ran in the ring and
Brian took him down almost immediately.
Then, Brian was presented with
the Referee of the Year award and the Pro Wrestling Illustrated Man of the
Year Award, a special award given out only three times in history by the PWI
magazines. Brian and Pam then received a standing ovation from the Knoxville
Brian later said at the ceremonies, as he has frequently to
friends that "he had lucked out twice in his life, when he got into
wrestling and when he met and married Pam." Despite dealing with what
doctors have said to be inoperable cancer, it's his goal to return to the
other love of his life, professional wrestling within two months.
second half of the ceremony was held prior to the main event match of Chris
Jericho/Eddie Guerrero-Chris Benoit/Dean Malenko. Brian and Pam were awarded
an all-expenses paid honeymoon vacation in Las Vegas....according to his
wife Pam, to replace the honeymoon vacation Brian had originally set up for
he and Pam to go on at Halloween Havoc. Arn Anderson, Chris Benoit, and Dean
Malenko then arrived, with comments by each. Ric Flair then appeared
unannounced to a standing ovation awarding a replica of the WCW title belt
Then there was the main event... Benoit, Malenko, Jericho
and Guerrero are among Brian's favorites in the ring and close friends out
of it (readers may recall my column on Eddie's reaction to Brian's original
cancer diagnosis). Those of us in Philadelphia may get this
Jericho/Guerrero-Benoit Malenko tag match later this month, but it's hard to
imagine that they will be able to top this match in Knoxville...a match with
all their signature spots, and with dedication and emotion befitting the
Appropriately, the finish saw Jericho involve referee Mickey Jay
in a ref bump. Benoit then hooked the Crippler Crossface on Jericho as
Malenko put the Texas Cloverleaf on Guerrero. Brian then came out, ran in
and signaled in his trademark demonstrative fashion for the bell. Brian then
took off his shirt to reveal a Horsemen shirt underneath. The show concluded
with Brian, Benoit, and Malenko doing the Horsemen sign.
I remember talking to Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Eddie
Guerrero after a WCW Philadelphia house show in early January, and
complimented them on what they did.
At this point, they all pointed
to one guy for what they'd done...Dean Malenko. Additionally, they mentioned
Ric Flair. When I asked Dean about it, he got really serious, seemed
appreciative of the show being reported on, but didn't seem to want to get
any credit for it. His response was more or less "...it was what we should
Brian seemed somewhat embarrassed at all the attention he
received, which isn't surprising. But in some ways it wasn't surprising that
his friends reacted in such a way, given that it had been that there were
only two people within the entire wrestling industry that had no enemies,
Brian and Owen Hart. Sadly, we all know what happened to both of them that
That July 30th, a fundraiser was done for Brian's medical
expenses called "Curtis Comes Home", in suburban Pittsburgh, PA featuring a
cross-promotional lineup of Shane Douglas, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, Eddie
Guerrero, Tracy Smothers, Chris Candido, Tim Horner, Tammy Sytch, Terry
Taylor, Public Enemy, Hugh Morris, Al Snow, D-Lo Brown, Mick Foley and the
actual WWF debut of Chris Jericho. The show raised $30,000 for Brian
Hildebrand's medical expenses.
But sadly, on September 8, 1999, Brian
ran out of time in his battle with cancer. I talked about it in the September 9, 1999 AS I SEE
"I will always remember Brian Hildebrand as a man who lived and loved the wrestling
business, who got to live his dream of making a living in wrestling as
referee Mark Curtis for World Championship Wrestling. I remember a man who
lived to his last day with more courage than anyone I've ever had the
privilege to know.
Brian fought stomach cancer for nearly two years,
after being diagnosed in October 1997. He refused to allow cancer to stop
his incredible spirit and his wonderful sense of humor. He seemed amazed and
somewhat embarrassed at all the attention his battle with cancer
...Brian kept himself going through sheer will and
determination that he refereed a match for a local independent promotion
only days before his death. He had the often-expressed hope of returning to
work fulltime for WCW, and never gave up that dream.
It can be said
that at the time Brian Hildebrand left this world, he knew he was loved and
respected by all within the business he himself loved so much. While a small
man in stature, Brian showed us all a giant heart that is an example for us
The sad news wasn't limited to Brian that year.
all know too well about what happened on May 23, 1999.
I wrote about it
in the May 25, 1999 AS I SEE
"Real men do cry.
If there were any doubts of that fact before, there were none after
May 23rd, a night which will be remembered for one of the worst tragedies in
the history of the wrestling business. Along with millions, I watched the
Over the Edge pay-per-view that night at home. It was a pay-per-view
starting out pretty much like many WWF pay-per-views, with Jim Ross and
Jerry Lawler trading their usual entertaining banter.
Then, as a
video package promoting the match between "The Godfather" and Owen Hart for
the Intercontinental Title began, I could hear Jim Ross say "something's
gone wrong...". When the video package finished, the camera was showing a
crowd shot. At first, I didn't understand what had happened. Then the faces
and the words of Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross made it clear that something had
gone horribly, tragically wrong...
I have to say I felt numb for most of
Monday. I noticed that Dave Scherer of 1wrestling.com described much the
same feeling. I'm sure we weren't the only people who felt that
Because on May 23rd, a man known for tremendous talent... for a
sense of humor legendary within the wrestling business... and known for his
great love for his wife Martha and his children Oje and Athena... was taken
from this world far, far too soon. I think I had this feeling so strongly
because I've had the privilege of seeing the human side of the business and
writing about it. These are very real people that work as professional
wrestlers. They aren't just characters to me...
...As fans, we need
to respect how much these performers give to entertain people all over the
world, both physically and emotionally. Next time you get ready to give a
catcall after a wrestler "blows a spot", stop and think about the price he
and she has paid to entertain you that day or night. Stop and think about
the travel, the strain on their personal relationships, the drugs used to
deal with the physical and emotional pain. Then think again if you need to
make that comment."
Then in October, I had to write about the
passing of Robert (Gorilla Monsoon) Marella and the tragic in-ring injury of
Darren Drozdov in the October 8, 1999 AS I SEE IT:
"...Aside from the ring, some readers know that Robert Marella and his wife Maureen also
adopted a son, Joey who became lead WWF referee in the late 1980s and 1990s.
Some of us who knew of this relationship got to enjoy the running inside
joke on WWF TV of Monsoon telling viewers how 'horrible' that referee Joey
Marella was, each time Joey 'missed' heel interference in a match... It says
something about the manner of man that Robert Marella was that he grieved
for Joey as if he were his son by birth. There are those who say he never
recovered completely from Joey's death."
The column also wrote about independent wrestler Jeff Peterson and his own cancer fight, first in
the April 21, 2000 AS I SEE
"My favorite thought on Jeff Peterson comes from one night last year at an ECWA show down
at their homebase of St. Matthew's in Newport, Delaware. It was at the end
of another of the traditional heel-babyface matches Kettner favors. As the
end of this tag team match approached, my younger brother and I played
armchair booker and tried to guess the finish. Then, one heel stood on the
apron holding one of the babyfaces with his arms pinned waiting for the
inevitable punch; so we said out loud "rollup, or...".
behind us, chirped this voice (in a carny stage whisper) "skiz-ool-biz-oy",
with a grin on his face. It was Peterson, who was back in the crowd being a
fan, after he'd already worked earlier in the evening.
I knew something
was up last Saturday night when I attended the monthly ECWA show at St.
Matthew's. We were let in unusually late. There was something missing from
the workers all night. The sometimes raucous crowd of regulars even seemed
unusually quiet. Of course, I found out the next day what that "something"
Despite extended chemotherapy and anxiety attacks brought
on by his fight, Peterson somehow made it back to work one more match for
his uncle Jim Kettner's ECWA promotion on April 6, 2002, as I talked about
in theApril 6, 2002 AS I SEE IT column. Peterson
finally died on November 29, 2002, after having fought back at least four times from death's
AS I SEE IT also wrote about Jim Cornette repaying his mother for a
lifetime of support in the July 29, 2002
AS I SEE IT column:
"....I first met Jim Cornette back about 12 years ago when he first worked for
Philadelphia independent promoter Joel Goodhart. Cornette will remember that
visit, especially if anyone who sees him asks him about the story of the
infamous watermelon truck (let him tell the story...it's quintessential
Cornette). He's also responsible, along with the late Brian Hildebrand, for
two of the most enjoyable vacations of my life with the Smoky Mountain
Wrestling Fanweeks in 1993 and 1994.
Along with the various shows we all
traveled to during that week... there were the Q&As and the down time
between shows filled with stories of Cornette's time in Bill Watts's
Mid-South/UWF... such as the story that includes Jim Ross protecting Bill
Watts's brand new Rolls Royce duting a fan riot in Tulsa; and his time in
NWA/WCW... which included being asked by Jim Herd and Ole Anderson to wear a
pumpkin at Halloween Havoc 1990 in Chicago...
...Well, as you've
likely heard, Jim's going through a very rough time right now. As has been
reported on PWBTS.com, mentioned in this past week's Ross Report, and in
this week's print edition of the Observer; Cornette had been taking time
away from wrestling to take care of his seriously ill mother Thelma
Cornette, who had been diagnosed in April with lung cancer. Despite
receiving chemotherapy, Mrs. Cornette's cancer spread quickly. Word came
from Miss Pamela of Ohio Valley Wrestling that Mrs. Cornette passed away
last Saturday morning.
Many longtime wrestling fans remember
Cornette's frequent storyline use of his mother in Bill Watts's Mid-South
and UWF, Jim Crockett's NWA and Ted Turner's WCW; as the rich mother who
would pay all of Cornette's various fines for various misdeeds (blown off
with the trademark line "that's just a phone call home to my mother"); and
allow him to "get great talent" like the Midnight Express, and the various
heels he'd bring in to help him and the Midnight Express against the
babyface of the day.
Mrs. Cornette was often the butt of on-air jibes by
babyfaces designed to get Cornette mad, including the time that the Rock 'n
Roll Express brought out a picture showing "Mamma Cornette" as a dog in
glasses wearing a blonde wig, or the t-shirts in SMW depicting her with a
pigface. In real life, Mrs. Cornette happily allowed her name to be used to
get Cornette's character over for years, contributing greatly to the career
of one of wrestling's best talkers, best managers, and most unique
I recently went back and watched a tape of the Q&A from
SMW Fanweek 1994, when Cornette talked about his childhood as a wrestling
fan, and being encouraged by his single mother (his father passed away when
Cornette was 8 years old). Cornette said on the tape "She's always been
supportive and everything... she knows I'm going to do something weird... she
was just happy it was semi-legal".
But it went far beyond that.
Thelma Cornette allowed young Jim to feed his imagination by letting him go
to the homes of various relatives, and watch wrestling...lots of wrestling.
He was able to see the television from Dick The Bruiser's Indianapolis
territory, Nick Gulas's various programs from Chattanooga, Nashville, and
Memphis, the last years of The Sheik's Detroit territory, Joe Cazana's
Southeastern Championship Wrestling... and two shows that the adult Jim
Cornette would later appear on as a professional: Jim Crockett's World Wide
Wrestling, and Georgia Championship Wrestling on a brand new cable station,
WTCG...which would become Superstation WTBS.
As he got a little older,
Mrs. Cornette traveled to the Wrestling Fans International Association
conventions with her young son back in the late 1970s. Later she supported
him as he wrote programs, worked as a photographer, and did, as Cornette put
it: 'any kind of stooge work I could' in the early 1980s. Cornette joked
that it helped that 'the business was going so well back then, and I was
selling so many photographs, that I was making more money then I am now [in
She even worked the gimmick tables back in the early 1990s in
Smoky Mountain Wrestling, and supported her son's love for one of the most
unique artforms around. It seems sadly appropriate that Jim Cornette dropped
wrestling for awhile to be with a mother who supported her son's love for
the wrestling business for most of her lifetime... and his."
There were humorous moments as well, as taken from the
March 28, 1999
AS I SEE IT column, written in a diary format
of experiences around that year's WrestleMania weekend in
"....I met another family... folks from Lima, OH
who came out for the weekend. We talked about the atmosphere at the hotels
at PPVs. The mother laughed about someone claiming he was 'an insider'
giving them a hard time at last year's King of the Ring PPV, claiming they
were 'nothing but groupies'.
I said to her 'First of all, he'd have
called you a ring rat....if he was 'an insider'...since that's what he was
trying to say'. At the mention of the phrase 'ring rat', two women looked
up, annoyed, as if being insulted. The Lima family and I all burst into
laughter together. No further comment was necessary...."
Finally, there were the columns about last year's
Philadelphia independent war as the California-based XPW targeted
Philadelphia area independent promotions in the summer and fall of 2002. XPW
came into the Philadelphia market in the summer of 2002...and proceeded to
operate according to their own rules, and no one else's, including the State
of Pennsylvania's Athletic Commission.
This coverage and commentary
started with the August 12, 2002 AS I SEE IT column with the
"The scheduled August 31 XPW show at the ECW Arena...
a show which has had tickets sold, bus trips scheduled (from New York City),
two commercials aired before and after the competing CZW promotion's TV show
this past Saturday, and TV infomercials scheduled to advertise it (at 2:00
am on a local Philadelphia TV station)... is doing so without a license with
the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission.
by myself with sources within the State Athletic Commission over the last
two weeks indicated that this was the case. Further, it seems that XPW was
not aware of the need to obtain a license, obtain a $10,000 surety bond, and
officially inform the State that a show was to be held; all of which are
Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission requirements.
Yet XPW has
continued to sell tickets, rented the ECW Arena (reported to have paid twice
the normal price, due to the late renting of the building), and a bus
company has scheduled a bus trips to the show from the New York City area.
On August 1st, in a direct communication with the State Athletic Commission,
Steven Bryant of Socaluncensored.com was told that XPW does not have a
license to run in the State of Pennsylvania.
This story is being reported
elsewhere; most notably in an early form by Dave Meltzer in this weekend's
print edition of the Wrestling Observer, and by Jess McGrath of
1wrestling.com. Given Jess McGrath's usual care for stories, it is likely
that he obtained independent verification as well."
went so far as to use the address of tape dealers RF Video (sponsor of the
Ring of Honor promotion) without permission to fraudulently obtain a bond
from The Hartford insurance company. An attorney from The Hartford stated
that the bond was not legitimate and was later withdrawn. I had a crude
graphic dedicated to me on the XPW website at the URL of the original
graphic of the "surety bond".
Then, 2 weeks later, XPW promoter Rob
Black finally obtained a license and bond by striking a deal with Joe
Blackburn, the promoter of the Delaware County-based Heritage Wrestling
Association. After HWA got cold feet, XPW obtained their own license,
despite the fact that they'd violated five major rules of the Pennsylvania
State Athletic Commission.
The dirty pool continued, as XPW attempted to
get regional indy workers to work exclusively for XPW and to no-show
existing bookings with other promoters, as well as falsely advertise
wrestlers who had no intention or interest in appearing, such
- XPW started rumors that Northeast indy the SAT, would be
at the 8/31 show, wrestling Mexico's Most Wanted (Damien 666 and Halloween).
However, when PCW promoter Donnie Bucci, (who already had the SAT booked for
the same night on his Russ Haas Memorial Show in Toms River, NJ) asked one
of the Maximo Brothers about this possible double-booking, Maximo's response
was "Who are they?"
- XPW also offered comp tickets to
anyone presenting a ticket for the CZW Tournament of Death scheduled for the
same day in Dover, DE, but later denied doing so, even though the effort was
- XPW spread a rumor among New York City fans
(through individuals organizing a bus trip to the show from New York City)
that Wifebeater "and one other CZW wrestler" were to be surprises on the
show. This was news to Wifebeater, the CZW locker room, and CZW
- XPW made an effort to get the Backseat Boyz to
work the August 31 show, and were turned down. They then tried to get
Kashmere individually, thinking he would jump alone, and were turned down.
Two months previously, XPW had also attempted to get CZW Heavyweight
Champion Justice Pain and Ruckus, and were turned down by both wrestlers
(they eventually did get Pain for 2 shows...at the very end of
XPW's time in Philadelphia. Pain is now only getting work with small
independents, and has not returned to CZW).
- XPW also
tried to get several people from the Ring of Honor lineup and were turned
down by all of them. Given that a number of the wrestlers have Japan deals,
or work for NWA:TNA (some under contract) or are major independent stars who
would not limit their dates to any one promotion, this wasn't a
- XPW called a ticket outlet for Philadelphia area
independent 3PWrestling, claiming that 3PW was working with XPW, in an
attempt to get this outlet to sell XPW tickets. When this alleged
"relationship" was discovered to be non-existent, XPW was
XPW did draw what seemed an impressive crowd for their August
31st debut ECW Arena show (paid and comped, with heavy comps).
independent promotions CZW and ROH, known to have a contentious relationship, joined together to deal with the XPW efforts to steal their
talent and to obtain an exclusive lease on the ECW Arena. 3PW also worked with CZW in this effort.
CZW and ROH also responded by shuffling
their November 9th shows to create an unheard of two show-two building indy
wrestling super-doubleheader featuring such talent as Christopher Daniels,
Donovan Morgan, Low Ki, Doug Williams, Mike Modest, Steve Corino, Spanky,
Masato Tanaka, Shinjiro Ohtani, American Dragon, Paul London, AJ Styles,
Michael Shane, The Amazing Red, CM Punk, then see Messiah, Backseat Boyz,
Ruckus, MDogg 20, Sick Nick Mondo, Justice Pain, Wifebeater and Zandig... all
in one day.
XPW responded by talent raiding, this time more
successful...and by obtaining an exclusive lease on the ECW Arena as
outlined in the December 23, 2002 AS I SEE IT:
"The inter-promotional atmosphere was heated up when XPW brought in MDogg20 and
John Prohibition from CZW over the weekend, and put them over Mexico's Most
Wanted, XPW's Tag Team Champions on their December 21 show. Given that this
occurred prior to the December 28th tripleheader, MDogg20 and Josh
Prohibition will no longer be used by CZW, and those matches will be
re-booked (with MDogg 20 originally scheduled in a 3-way with Chris Cash and
Ruckus, and Prohibition scheduled to work Ian Knoxx).
As for 3PW talent,
Devon Storm appeared for XPW on December 21 (had been booked for 12/28 by
3PW), and Joey Matthews and Alexis Laree of ROH are also to join XPW. It's a
curious step of Laree, who has been known to complain about the state of
women's wrestling, and the inability to get bookings where she's treated
XPW had also attempted to steal Dusty Rhodes, as well as
contacting Sean Waltman with a similar proposal. In a previous attempt to
secure Rhodes's services, Rhodes was offered 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.
Rhodes offered comment
on the situation last Wednesday on an interview with betweentheropes.com.
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".
times over the last six months, XPW has tried to raid talent from the Ring
of Honor roster including Homicide, Jodie Fleisch, both members of Da Hit
Squad, Jay and Mark Briscoe, AJ Styles. Doug Williams, CM Punk, Jose Maximo,
and The Amazing Red, as well as CZW talent including former CZW Heavyweight
Champion Justice Pain and Tag Team Champions, The Backseat Boyz.
these attempts has been successful...making the only talent XPW has obtained
from the Philadelphia-based indies being booked mid-card at best."
Despite this, the crowd at XPW's second show dropped
by half, according to eyewitnesses... and dropped steadily each show from
that point on.
In late December, AS I SEE IT featured a copy of a leaflet
circulated around the neighborhood surrounding the ECW Arena expressing
concerns about the nature of XPW's parent company, Extreme Associates; that
the company would use the Arena as a storage location for their pornographic
tapes, and that they would (as XPW publicly stated...then attempted to deny)
and use the venue for a concert hall when not running wrestling shows. Local
weekly newspapers picked up the story the following week and gave XPW some
Seemingly in response, XPW attempted to claim
that they had a "developmental system" including IWA Mid-South, and several
other independent promotions, which was news to all but one of the
promotions in question.
Finally... all the lies, half-truths,
exaggerations and threats started the house of cards XPW had built over the
previous six months to come crashing down. First, as XPW's TV went off the
air in Philadelphia due to non-payment and bounced checks. Then, a show on
February 14th was abruptly cancelled, claiming "threats of winter weather"
(despite the fact that other local promotions ran shows that evening)...when
the actual reason was a lack of money to run the show.
reported in the March
4, 2003 AS I SEE IT, the house of cards totally
"In a stunning turn of events, the news broke 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.
deposit check by XPW for the ECW Arena initially bounced, as well as had other XPW checks to Viking Hall management. Viking Hall management had
refused to take further personal checks as recently as February 2003's XPW show, and were forced to pay expenses with a combination of money orders,
cashier's checks, and personal checks from
During the columns devoted to XPW attempted
"invasion" of Philadelphia, I dealt with online namecalling, received
threats (of lawsuits and otherwise), and telephone calls to my home at 4:00
am. In the end, though, I was found to have been 100% correct....XPW HAD
been violating Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission regulations... HAD
been operating via smoke and mirrors financially, despite their loyalists
portraying them as some juggernaut that was going to take over
Philadelphia's independent wrestling scene.
Extreme Associates is now
dealing with a major Federal legal case surrounding their pornography
business, and the XPW promotion hasn't run a wrestling show since February,
despite claims that they're airing a "Best of" PPV on DirecTV this summer
(which has already been postponed twice).
The last two weeks have gone
over some of the subjects I've touched on in the AS I SEE IT columns over
the last 300 columns and 7 years. As I said back in October 2001, the
thought of people reading this column with everything from their morning
coffee, to their evening tapas, to their Buffalo wings watching a PPV...from
the 90 plus countries that read the column on PWBTS alone... is pretty
mind-blowing when I think about it... for something that just started as a
labor of love from a wrestling fan back in 1997 that was being read by maybe
200 or so people a month.
The fact that many of you have read these
columns, and have told me how you read and react to my opinions gives me a
sense of enjoyment and a reason to keep doing them.
that there are another 300 columns for me to write and you to think
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)