AS I SEE IT - 11/18/2002:
Pennsylvania Tax Dollars "At Work" Telling Fans What They Can See
by: Bob Magee
In yet another example of your tax dollars being used in attempts to tell you what you can and can't see, in some of the most selective and bizarre ways you can imagine...
At a meeting in Philadelphia on November 16th, Greg Sirb of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission indicated that existing regulations were to be more strictly enforced in so-called "death matches".
Sirb told those promoters present that barbed wire and light tubes are now banned from use after January 1. The already existing rules on fighting in the crowd are to be enforced. Sirb claimed that any promoter that allowed this to happen would have their license pulled, and "city health board would be notified and wrestlers would have to be tested for HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases".
As much as I think this comment was directed primarily at XPW (and regular readers are well aware there is no love lost between me and this promotion), there is a fairness issue here....namely, the obvious question as to whether or not the State Athletic Commission has such a legal right to make such an order until or unless the State Legislature passes a law allowing them to order such testing.
Sirb mentioned that he wanted to see a cutback in excessive blood as well, a curious request given that blading is already technically illegal in Pennsylvania, referred to as "self-mutilation". You have to wonder if this is somehow a unofficial codification of the informal "one match" rule for blood.
The issue with "excessive" blood and brawling in the crowd stems from the August 31 XPW Philadelphia debut show at the ECW Arena, when a bleeding "Hardcore @#$# Angel" went into the women's bathroom and got blood all over the dress of the daughter of a judge who was in attendance (a friend of Pennsylvania State Athletic Commissioner Ron Greeley).
There were other complaints after that August 31 show regarding "excessive nudity" from a post-main event angle with Lizzy Borden, when Borden's top and bottom were successively pulled off by Terry Funk. Such nudity previously got Women's Extreme Wrestling thrown out of Pennsylvania.
As reported on PWBTS back in September, Greenley had scheduled a meeting designed to pull XPW's license due to the above incidents, cancelled when Greg Sirb himself neglected to show up for the meeting at the last minute.
Reliable sources within the State Commission state that XPW's Kevin Kleinrock threatened to sue Sirb if he enforced the regulations. It's been suggested that this may have had more than a little bit to do with Sirb's last minute "engagement", keeping Greeley from holding this meeting.
Concerns were also expressed in the meeting about the weedwhacker and the "overuse" of the light tubes during the CZW Zandig-Wifebeater match on November 9. Interestingly, the Commission's own Frank Talent took part in an angle involving that weedwhacker in that very match, which was edited out of the TV featuring the Wifebeater match, but presumably still exists on the commercial tape.
CZW's Cage of Death match will go on as scheduled on December 14th, without barbed wire or light tubes. Other elements will be added to insure that the match is innovative enough that fans will leave more than happy.
In the continuing Philadelphia inter-promotional wars, November 16th's XPW show featured an attempt to blame CZW for the "new" restrictions, despite the fact that this re-enforcement of these regulations likely took place due to the August 31st incident.
XPW conveniently neglected to mention on this very night, that they falsely advertised the November 16th show, entitled "Exit Sandman" as a "retirement match", despite the fact that at least two other companies are advertising Sandman for upcoming shows:
- The New York-based USA Pro Wrestling's Eighth Anniversary Show on November 22nd, found at this URL
- The December 5th show with Legacy Wrestling Enterprises in Fort Worth, TX, in a match with
Konnan, the poster for which can be found at http://www.geocities.com/lwewrestling/konnanbanner.jpg (note: you must cut and paste this URL into your browser as banners stored on Geocities will not link directly).
Then, after all of this came out prior to the show, and after an angle featuring members of his
family... Sandman basically came out at the end of the November 16th show and said he wouldn't retire.
Presumably, falsely advertising stipulations should fall under "false advertising" laws, yet the State Athletic Commission has made no comment regarding the deliberate and intentional false advertising of a retirement match.
I'm getting tired of different states trying to decide for us what we can and can't see. While these regulations outlined above are essentially enforcement of already existing regulations, I find it peculiar that
these are the regulations they want to enforce, not regulations like:
- All promoters must have a valid promoter's license from the Commission - fee is $100 per year and the license will expire on December 31st of each year.
As I stated back in August, XPW didn't have a license when selling tickets for
at least three weeks.
But that regulation hasn't been enforced, and apparently won't be.
- A surety bond (on a form supplied by the Commission) of not less than $10,000 must be on file with the Commission before the event. Cash or certified check may also be used instead of the bond.
As I stated back in August, XPW did not have a $10,000 surety bond while selling tickets for
at least three weeks.
But that regulation hasn't been enforced, either, and apparently won't be.
From personal experience, this particular regulation is important for fans. This bond is required to prevent promoters from doing what (as one example), Joel Goodhart did back in 1991, when he took ticket reservations for a show at the Philadelphia Civic Center, even though he knew he was going to go on his Saturday morning radio show
the very next day and tell fans that he'd run out of money, and the promotion was closing down.
The regulations requiring such a bond allowed at least some fans (such as I) to get partial refunds for the ticket money we'd already spent, up to the $10,000 bond limit.
Further, it's well known that XPW attempted to falsify a bond using the well-known name and address of RF Video, and even posted the bond on their website. That isn't my opinion. That's a statement from an attorney employed by The Hartford.
Anyone with a bit of sense knows that she is not perjuring herself for Rob Feinstein's benefit or for mine. At least XPW fans, however, don't agree.
The State Athletic Commission is well aware of this fact, yet has refused to pull XPW's license for performing this act, or even sanction the company for what is clearly an illegal act.
- A Commission representative may be assigned to your event to monitor activities. The cost for this representative is $100 and is paid by the promoter. This fee can be paid along with the same CHECK or MONEY ORDER for the 5% tax.
XPW reported a paid crowd of 937 (with a handful of comps) for its August 31 show on those websites giving them publicity, yet reported to the State in the above legally required that they only had 90 paid. Obviously, something isn't kosher here.
Now... why is it important for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission to regulate content when they refuse to regulate business practices clearly in violation of their regulations and of State laws?
Further, they don't seem to have any problem with the fact that the company that owns XPW, Rob Black's Extreme Associates, engages in an activity which is illegal in the State of Pennsylvania, that being the selling of pornographic material that either does or is designed to create the illusion that it is depicting minors in sexual acts.
But they care about people hitting themselves with light tubes and engaging in wrestling matches that use barbed wire.
That... they are willing to enforce.
You have to wonder why.
If you agree with me, and have concerns about the selective enforcement of laws and regulations within Pennsylvania, feel free to contact State Commissioner Greg Serb at (215) 560-2407 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to Commissioner Ron Greenley at (215) 245-6061.
Along with those calls or e-mails, perhaps contacting the new Governor would be in order, and suggesting the total deregulation of wrestling. Go to this URL and click "Contact us".
Suggest to the new Governor of Pennsylvania that maybe it's time to put government busybodies like this out of work.
Until next time...
(If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by
e-mail at email@example.com)