AS I SEE IT - 12/01/2003:
Well...sounds like those of us in the New York/Philadelphia region with an embarrassment of wrestling riches are getting even more of them.
by: Bob Magee In the past week, Court Bauer's Major League Wrestling, as well as the long-planned Zero-One USA promotion... to be named Pro-Wrestling WORLD-1, both announced that they were coming to the northeastern United States, with MLW announcing a Friday, January 9th return to Philadelphia and a Saturday, January 10th debut in Elizabeth, NJ...and the Pro-Wrestling WORLD-1 promotion planning three shows... on Friday, February 6th on the Jersey Shore, Saturday, February 7th in Philadelphia, and Sunday, February 8th in Fall River, MA.
Both promotions have indicated that they plan to start television in the Philadelphia market, with MLW indicating a December 29th target date for TV to begin on WGTW Channel 48 at midnight Mondays, and Pro Wrestling World-1 to debut in Philadelphia and Fall River, MA in mid-January on a station not yet named.
Pro-Wrestling WORLD-1 states that it will be an "independent company from Pro-Wrestling ZERO-ONE" but will utilize talent from ZERO-ONE, NWA, Ring of Honor, MLW, Jersey All Pro Wrestling, IWA Championship Wrestling (PA), and other northeast US-based US promotions with a Japanese style product, using ZERO-ONE and NWA rules.
The talent roster includes: Masato Tanaka, Jun Kasai, Yoshihito Sasaki, Steve Corino, and Guillotine LeGrande from Zero-One, Jerry Lynn, CM Punk and Simon Diamond from NWA, CW Anderson from MLW, Jason The Legend from Japan's UFO, and Josh Daniels, The Christopher Street Connection, The Solution, and Stryker from northeast independents.
Some have expressed concerns that, at least according to an early schedule, Pro-Wrestling WORLD-1 will be running head-to-head with Combat Zone Wrestling on its first set of shows, on Saturday, February 7th. One report has the promotion running Philadelphia shows at the Murphy Recreation Center... only blocks away from the ECW Arena, CZW's home venue.
Court Bauer's MLW, which had been based in Florida, with shows in Ft. Lauderdale and the Tampa/St. Petersburg area, will return to the northeast; beginning in January 9th at the National Guard Armory in Philadelphia, and at The Rexplex in Elizabeth, New Jersey on January 10th. Tickets for events will be sold through Ticketmaster.
Along with the return to Philadelphia, the promotion parted ways with several individuals responsible for promotion and TV...all previously from ECW... Steve Karel, Dan Kowal, Greg Bagarozy, and TV announcer Joey Styles, who will be replaced as TV host by former WWE announcer Kevin Kelly.
MLW's in-ring talent roster includes Steve Corino, Terry Funk, Low Ki, Homicide, Vampiro, Mike Modest, Ted Hart, Christopher Daniels, Bryan Danielson, Bobby Quance, Pinoy Boy, Da Hit Squad, CM Punk, Justin Credible, Harry Smith, TJ Wilson, Sonjay Dutt, Josh Prohibition, M-Dogg 20, and Stryker. The promotion will also be using talent from Toryumon and Zero-One in the future.
Along with Philadelphia, MLW TV will also returning to Dayton, Ohio at a date not stated by the promotion. MLW will also air a Spanish language show in Puerto Rico.
MLW's return to the northeast is not, however, without controversy. More than a few have pointed out that the change in emphasis and style of promotion in the early press releases from MLW (in this newest incarnation) seems to greatly resemble the Philadelphia-based Ring of Honor promotion, rather than the ECW-style product that had been undertaken during 2003. Others have pointed put that the promotion is also running venues being used by Ring Of Honor, as well as much of their roster; although it must also be said that the common rosters existed prior to the return by MLW to the Northeast.
It appears that Ring of Honor isn't especially happy about what's happening, as ROH staff initially replied with a "no comment" when asked about the MLW debut in both of their area buildings and with at least some of their talent. This was followed by ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky posting a thoughtful but critical, column of MLW by PWBTS columnist Marcus Dowling on the company's message board last week. This is unusual for Ring of Honor, which prefers to have its message board limited to topics relating to their own company. But it shows the state of mind of those within ROH toward MLW.
Two days later, MLW's Samu requested the right to post on PWBTS a reply entitled "Dishonor in drinking the Kool-Aid", a clear reference to ROH and what he perceived as "words from the ignorant telling fans to not support wrestling" in the Dowling column.
Sapolsky responded in kind on the PWBTS.com site that Samu's guest column "...about drinking "Kool Aid" and "Dishonor" [was] demeaning and insulting to the Ring Of Honor organization", and that "...it would only be proper if Samu issued an apology for trying to disparage the Ring Of Honor name."
A potential MLW-ROH talent conflict that some fans feared would begin on January 10, the first date where both promotions are scheduled to run (Ring of Honor in Wilmington, OH, and MLW in Elizabeth, NJ) with Justin Credible booked for both shows was averted Thanksgiving weekend when MLW pulled the booking of Credible off of MLW.com.
Another issue with ROH workers who work MLW may well be what happens the first time they see Teddy Hart, which may happen on January 10th (see below).
But it will without question be more than a little interesting when the first major conflict of dates occurs with these promotions, which will occur as MLW and ROH are both running February 14. MLW is scheduled for The Rexplex in Elizabeth, NJ, and ROH will be running its Second Anniversary show at a location to be announced in the Boston area. While the promotions aren't in the same market...fans are already wondering what effect the common date will have on either promotion's lineups that night (along with a USA Pro show in Long Island with several workers used by both companies listed for their lineup).
The first time ROH and MLW are actually in the same area will be Wrestlemania weekend, when MLW and ROH are scheduled to run consecutive nights at Elizabeth, NJ's Rexplex. MLW is scheduled for Friday, March 12th, while Ring of Honor's previously scheduled return date is on Saturday, March 13th (along with a fan convention)...not to mention Wrestlemania the next night at Madison Square Garden.
There has also been questions over a potential double-booking of MLW champion Steve Corino on January 10th, as NWA Florida promoter Joe Price has stated that Corino is booked for his show at the same time that MLW's Court Bauer is listing him as booked for an dual stipulation MLW Heavyweight Title match against Terry Funk in Philadelphia, PA. When I questioned Joe Price about the double booking, he repeated the statement that Corino was booked for his show.
There's been no word from Corino regarding this situation as of yet.
In an ideal world, all promotions concerned will use some common sense and learn to cooperate. As I've said before with inter-promotion pissing matches, especially recent one in the Philadelphia market... there is nothing to be gained by angering potential cutomers who are fans of a competing company. XPW found out the hard way how much that such actions hurt success when it failed to heed this advice (given to them by many people) when they came to Philadelphia in late 2002. The promotion wound up out of the market within six months as a result.
As a fan who wants to see more opportunities for talented independent wrestlers, and more alternatives for fans to WWE...I hope that Court Bauer will have the sense to sit down with Rob Feinstein and Gabe Sapolsky...soon. Fans of ROH are already upset at MLW about what they rightly or wrongly perceive to be a copying of ROH's product style by MLW, and about use of ROH's workers within the same markets ROH runs.
That perception isn't good news for MLW's future success in the northeast, with such a perception likely hurting all concerned.
Until next time...
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