AS I SEE IT - 9/16/2003:
Welcome to the People's Republic of Dover...

by: Bob Magee

As was expected... the Dover City Council passed an ordinance Monday night designed to directly target CZW shows run in the city by an 8-1 to pass, termed a "combative fighting" or "ultimate fighting" ordinance.

What's that, you say? I read last week's AS I SEE IT column. Didn't the proposed law ban all wrestling with "sham... collusive... or pre-determined outcomes"? Didn't it also outlaw tag team wrestling (no, I'm not making that one up, folks, a ban on tag team wrestling was actually in the initial legislation)?

It did.

But after the not-so-coincidental presence of Delaware Championship Wrestling's (a small competing promotion based in Dover, DE) owner Steve Grossman, who also just happens to own J.W.'s Restaurant & Sports Lounge, a competing bar in town to Rack's Bar and Billiards... all language making reference to other promotions was removed.

The measure, as it exists, prohibits matches in which anything but the human body or boxing gloves are used, and also prohibits "the use of any objects meant to inflict bodily injury".

"We had many e-mails saying pass it and many saying not to pass it," said Rep. Eugene Ruane, who sponsored in favor of the ordinance. Councilman Ruane failed to suggest where the alleged e-mails came from in support of the ordinance. It is known that a large number of e-mails in opposition to the measure came from CZW fans.

But if the nature of the law wasn't bad enough, we find that the Dover City Council isn't quite sure WHAT it passed, up to and including Dover's Mayor.

PWBTS writer Eric Walker spoke to Dover Mayor James Hutchinson. In the several minutes Walker spoke to him, Hutchinson stated that he "did not fully know what weapons were specifically banned in the wording of law." When Walker brought up folding chairs and tables, Hutchinson admitted that he wasn't sure if those weapons fell under the wording of the law. The Mayor also admitted that he was aware that CZW brought in revenue to his city with their shows.

Mayor James Hutchinson stated that there were "numerous" calls complaining about the CZW shows, but then acknowledged that he could not state, even approximately, how many calls they received, despite Councilman Ruane's statement in the Dover News-Journal claiming that the calls for and against the measure were roughly equal.

Walker's calls to Councilman Eugene Ruane, the bill's originator, were not returned. Walker did speak to his wife who couldn't find him inside their own home when Walker called, although Ruane was apparently known to be home at the time.

Rack's Bar and Billiards owner Steve Kozel, has threatened to sue the city for the right to promote the CZW events at his bar.

In an unintentionally hilarious moment, Grossman was quoted in the Dover News Journal, <b>after the ordinance passed</b> saying: "This will eliminate someone from jumping through panes of glass and barbed wire," said Delaware Championship Wrestling co-promoter Steven Grossman of Dover. "[Combat Zone is] not wrestling." He was also quoted in the Delaware State News: "If somebody gets cut in a match, we have a rule that you 'go home' (finish the match quickly). I don't want kids seeing that."

Since Mr. Grossman claims CZW "isn't wrestling"...only after his company was excluded from the Dover law... let's look at what he said earlier in the week when he thought he WOULD be affected, in a quote from a Dover newspaper:

"...J.W.'s Restaurant & Sports Lounge owner Steve Grossman heads up Delaware Championship Wrestling, a professional promotion based out of Dover.

While his organization caters to families more than CZW, he said he personally enjoys the hardcore wrestling shows. 'As a paying adult, why can't I go over there in a closed environment and enjoy it?' he asked."

Hmmm... sounds like someone changed their mind after they were excluded from the law, doesn't it? Does the word hypocrite come to mind to anyone else?

In another unbelievable moment, Jeff Rocker, described as the "Executive Director" of DCW approved of the Council's action: "They made the right decision," Mr. Rocker said. "There's no need to penalize family entertainment for an out-of-state company that comes in and (its wrestlers) mutilate each other."

For those who don't know, Jeff Rocker worked for CZW for 2 years, and was himself the point man in getting the company established in Delaware, first in Smyrna, DE and later at at least one other location in Dover, DE.

Further, there are reports that a member of Grossman's locker room was the "anonymous" person who sent the tape to the Dover City Council. This individual may well also have been the individual who called the Dover Police and Fire Marshall on different occasions before CZW shows in Dover claiming "someone's going to get killed tonight".

Even before this went on, earlier in the summer... CZW had to fight to even put the shows on, as the Fire Marshall of Dover claimed that Rack's Bar and Billiards "didn't have enough parking" for this show or other outdoor concerts offered by Rack's. People associated with DCW gleefully posted on CZW's message boards that "[the] Tournament of Death wasn't going to happen...and wasn't that a shame" (it would be interesting to find out how they were aware of this issue, which hadn't been made public at that time). However, after local merchants offered to provide parking for the events, the permits were grudgingly granted.

Back to DCW's owner... since Mr. Grossman claims to hate hardcore wrestling... and claims he'll take matches home if there is any blood, and is willing to express his true feelings on the subject now that his own company is conveniently protected by a sudden re-writing of an ordinance.... he might want to read a sample of results from a recent DCW card... from his company's own message board (mis-spellings from the original):

Jeff Rocker (defeated) Dragonfly
Very Hard Match - Dragonfly gives Rocker a Kryptonite Krunch to the Outside trough a table.

Justice Pain (defeated) Balls Mahoney
Balls Mahoney bleeds like a pig after Pain pildrove him trough a table.
Many weapons were used...

11. DCW Heavyweight Championship MATCH
Chris Hamrick (defeated) Glen Osbourne
Chris Hamrick becomes the new DCW Champion. After the Match Rocker comes in and turns Heel by joining the Pain Syndicate and beats up Osbourne with a Singapoore Caine.

Apparently Jeff Rocker and Steve Grossman weren't paying attention at this show. They had no problem with these matches, and they didn't take any match home early.

So looking at those results... it would only be fair then if someone from the Dover area stopped over to the DCW shows (coincidentally or not, run on the same day each month as the CZW Philadelphia shows), monitored the show, and called the Dover Police if any of the above occurred, and demanded that the show be shut down.

After all....according to the law, the use of gimmicks of any sort are prohibited, stating specifically:
"...[where] anything but the human
body or boxing gloves are used... any objects meant to inflict bodily injury."

So if someone happens to see as much as one chair shot, one belt shot to the head, a single use of "brass knuckles", or any other "object meant to inflict bodily injury", that person could presumably call the Dover Police and demand that they come down and immediately shut down the show. The Dover Police could also be reminded that if they fail to do so, they might well become one more plaintiff in Steve Kozel's (the owner of Rack's Bar and Billiards) lawsuit against the City of Dover.

Is that ridiculous?

Of course it is.

But that's now the law in the People's Republic of Dover. That's right... the People's Republic of Dover, where government protects some people for their own good and rewards others... well, we won't suggest why they were rewarded... not just yet.

Let's see if the new law in Dover is uniformly enforced. If, by some odd chance it is enforced uniformly... one wonders how much Mr. Grossman will like what he's helped create... since under these rules, even Ring of Honor shows couldn't even be run in Dover, DE. Given the circumstances, don't hold your breath for this to happen, unless the City of Dover is forced to do so by legal action, especially since gimmick shots were reported... in rather sparsely worded reports on the September 13th DCW show... days after the law was passed to prevent such things.

It should be said that late this past week, Grossman tried to claim that he didn't REALLY say that CZW "wasn't wrestling", and claimed that his quote was taken out of context. Mind you, this denial occurred days after the quote was widely distributed on wrestling websites and in the Dover News-Journal. Perhaps, like a politician or other public figure caught making a statement that offended a group that became vocal... he's backpedaling, suddenly realizing what he's done.

It is worth reminding DCW about what happened to a promotion in Philadelphia when they attempted a similar form of strong-arming a number of months ago. Rather than attempt to compete with the other promotions in the same market (and follow State Athletic Commission business regulations like they had to), this promotion got a exclusive lease on a well-known building, designed to shut out the other 2 promotions that ran this venue... as if to say, you'll either see our wrestling or not see any wrestling. This upset the fans of the competing promotions... who did not choose to turn out as expected to this promotion's shows.

We all know which promotion I'm referring to here.

Mind you, I'm not suggesting in the least that promotion was in ANY way, shape, form, or fashion involved in this, as some people incorrectly have. They have their own issues to deal with these days. I'm merely making a comparison between two similar situations in terms of the way they've handled rival promotions.

In both situations, the promotions in question violated one very logical practice: don't piss off the customers (or if you prefer, fans) of a competing promotion... who might become your own customers if they're provided with a product that they like. If you give them a good enough alternative, they might start buying your product alone.

Well, the first promoter in question didn't exhibit that common sense, and lost out as a result.

Let's see if the same thing happens to the second promoter.

Until next time...


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