AS I SEE IT - 9/29/2003:
Philadelphia indy wars, version 2.0
by: Bob Magee
The September 20th Ring of Honor show at the Murphy Recreation Center featured the opening salvo in what might well be another chapter in
Philadelphia's indy wars. The question, however, is who all of the warriors actually are.
The Ring of Honor show was delayed, with at least 100-150 fans not being let into the building for the Showcase portion (dark matches) of the evening, due to Philadelphia's Fire Marshal having been called the night before by an anonymous individual, claiming that Ring of Honor was violating fire laws by filling the Murphy Recreation Center beyond capacity. This caused the actual show to start some 25 minutes late. It should be noted that delays like this are absolutely unheard of in ROH history (unlike many other independent promotions), given the promotion's reputation for being on time.
ROH staff openly alleged to those already in the building and those stuck outside, that the anonymous individual calling the Fire Marshal was Jasmin St. Claire of 3PW, or others on her behalf. A representative of the Fire Marshal's office went so far as to state: "I know I'm being treated like a ping-pong ball between promotions".
Kudos go out to a number of the workers for Ring of Honor who kept the crowd left outside far calmer than would be expected under the circumstances, including Johnny Kashmere and Trent Acid ponying up $20 and buying a ton of soft pretzels for those in line. Eventually, after State Athletic Commissioner Frank Talent negotiated with the Fire Marshal, everyone got in, and the show started.
The delay caused the crowd (some of whom stood outside for as long as 2 hours while all this was going on) to greet the opening of the show with a chant toward St. Claire that can't be repeated here and which will presumably will be edited off of the show's commercial tape.
Brian Heffron (better known to us all as The Blue Meanie) responded to these allegations accordingly on numerous online sources, including Wrestling Classics and PWBTS.com:
"...We have better things to devote our energy to than these childish games that are being played. I'm really disgusted and I am really tired of some of the things people will do to "F" with one another. I REALLY am. Back in January of 2002 we came up with the idea of running shows. One of the many reasons we thought of doing it was to give people MORE work. Not take it away...
...Someone out there has nothing better to do than to stir the pot. Someone is probably POed that either 3PW or ROH doesn't book him or her. Or it's someone that no longer works for 3PW or ROH. Or it's someone who got mad when we suggested there asking price was too much money in order to book them. Or it's someone who would like nothing better than to see the two promotions kill each other. Sadly it's nothing new. I'm not saying anything that hasn't happened before. It's now just come down to someone wanting 3PW and ROH have some spat so they can get off on it.
Well I want nothing to do with it. NOTHING! Never have and never will. We have never subscribed to the "Philly Wrestling Wars" or they said this and that. You know why? Because it's all a crock of ****! That's why. It's a bunch of petty high school BS that is beyond old and people need to grow up. People have tried to pit us against each other and we have wanted nothing to do with it. ROH and 3PW have had differences when it came to business decisions and that's ok. It's business, not personal. There is no way we would stoop to something so juvenile. Where is the sense in it? Really? There is NONE. The only people who get hurt are the fans, the wrestlers, the promotions themselves and we have had NOTHING and WANT NOTHING to do with it."
It needs to be said that others including one area indy promoter and one local wrestling personality have said to me this past week that what Heffron says might well be true... that the real instigator of this whole mess could well be someone who hasn't been booked by one or more of the two promotions, or could be someone with a grudge against them. They have their suggestions as to who their nominees are for this "honor".
I'll also add that I take no sides in this dispute, regardless of who did or didn't do anything. Those that read PWBTS, know that this column's flagship site is one of the few sites that provides consistent plugs for 3PW shows (along with 1wrestling.com and Declaration of Independents). I attend the shows of both promotions whenever possible and actively promote the shows of both companies.
Practically speaking though, and no matter if 3PW was or wasn't involved in what happened at the Ring of Honor show... this mess will continue as 3PW will be running a show on October 3 in Cherry Hill, NJ. with a main event of Justin Credible against Raven, as well Homicide against Xavier, and a battle of partners as Joey Matthews takes on Christian York on top. 3PW doesn't need potential fans upset with them, especially if the reason is a misguided one. But many fans of Ring of Honor seem to believe that 3PW was responsible, and claim they'll boycott upcoming 3PW shows in response to what they believe to have happened on September 20th.
A sad thing is that it's hard enough for a promoter to get fans to come over the bridges to New Jersey for a show... in the best of circumstances... let alone doing so on a Friday night (for those outside of the Philadelphia region... fans will travel TO Philadelphia from New Jersey, but won't come the same distance to a show in New Jersey FROM Philadelphia, no matter how good the lineup is).
But even more notable than this Cherry Hill show in this battle between promotions is that 3PW is returning to the ECW Arena on November 22, and most importantly, will also be running head-to-head with the next Ring of Honor Philadelphia show (which takes place only blocks away at the Murphy Recreation Center) on December 27.
Thus... two of Philadelphia's three major independent promotions are running head-to-head against each other, literally blocks away from each other. Again.
I talked about the last round of Philadelphia independent wars back almost a year ago to this day in the October 1, 2002 AS I SEE IT. These words seem awfully prophetic if we switch certain names.
"It's insane for two of the three major Philadelphia-based independents to run against each other... blocks away from each other...is just plain nuts. It will also be the second time it's happened, counting this past month when 3PW and Ring of Honor ran against each other.
I've spoken with CZW's Zandig, as well as Gabe Sapolsky and Rob Feinstein of Ring of Honor, asking why one or the other can't run an afternoon show on November 9th. All three seem uncomfortable with the idea. I can't make up my mind how much of it is a desire for competition, or if it is just a legitimate fear to do something different.
In my opinion... like it or not, it's time for the Philadelphia-based independent promotions to start thinking like the businesses they have to be. Regardless of their personal or business differences (and there are many of each between these promotions).... the fact is that for the moment, there is a player in the Philadelphia market who is prepared to lose tens of thousands of dollars on a show - Rob Zicari."
Oddly enough, Zandig and Rob Feinstein the very next week publicly buried the hatchet at a Ring of Honor show.
Mind you, Zandig likely didn't head over to the Feinstein home to celebrate the High Holy Days. Rob Feinstein and Gabe Sapolsky likely aren't heading over to South Jersey to Zandig's house to celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other holiday. But all concerned decided to employ the smartest strategy of all... to be businessmen... deciding that they liked making money more than they were worried about personal issues one had with the other.
And we all know what happened to that other promotion from Los Angeles that seemed so ready to cause so many problems with all the independent promotions in Philadelphia only a year ago... a promotion that angered fans of all the other three promotions by much of what they did, and paid the price.
But it sounds like some people haven't learned anything out of that lesson from a year ago. Neither have their fans.
As I also said in that October 1, 2002 AS I SEE IT, rather than engaging in name calling contests on message boards or making crank calls to the home of staff of a "rival" independent company, there are steps you can take to let local promotions know what you think... regardless of who (if anyone) is right or wrong in this most recent outbreak of independent warfare:
E-mail the two local promotions in question...
If you personally have other e-mail addresses to contact these promoters, use them as well.
Ask the State Athletic Commission if they can offer any help as well by e-mailing them at email@example.com. Ask them to do something useful with their share of Pennsylvania's state tax dollars, and offer whatever formal or informal assistance they can to encourage these Philadelphia-based promotions to do more reasonable scheduling, and spend a lot less time regulating content.
Tell whoever you e-mail that you don't want to have to choose between independent shows being run four blocks away from each other, both of which typically feature talent that you really want to see on both shows taking place on the same night.
Tell them that you want to see the thriving locally-based Philadelphia independent wrestling market survive, and not cannibalize itself... so that fans don't wind up being left with only occasional WWE "sports entertainment" shows, and creating further damage to the independent tradition that's been alive in Philadelphia since the late 1980s.
And literally as I conclude this article... on a far more serious note... the endless lunatic newsreel continues in wrestling... with yet another drug-related death. Former ECW wrestler Anthony Durante (aka Pitbull #2) was found dead at his Westerly, RI home of a suspected drug overdose, along with his girlfriend. The police found one of their two children foraging for food inside the house, with the other in a crib in the bedroom. The police also found oxycontin and a needle in the house.
Anthony, here's hoping you've found peace... and that SOMEONE learns from your death, and chooses instead to live. Ironically, the line at the beginning of this column seems especially true now...
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org)