AS I SEE IT
"I can't remember if I cried...
when I heard about his widowed bride...
but something touched me deep inside..
the day the music died"
Don McLean American Pie
For Philadelphia wrestling fans of a certain age, the music indeed died earlier this weekend.
The last connection to the original hardcore wrestling tradition born in Philadelphia nine years ago with Joel Goodhart's Tri-State Wrestling Alliance, which was then carried on to a wider audience by ECW; ended Wednesday when Jim Fullington, known to wrestling fans as The Sandman, signed with World Championship Wrestling.
For those not from Philadelphia, you can't understand the feeling. Only those who were there back when Joel Goodhart's Ringmasters wrestling school trained J.T. Smith and Jim Fullington... when you went to the TWA Bar Wars and spot shows in Pennsylvania and Maryland.... who went to the quarterly TWA Civic Center shows... who were there when we got to see Fullington work Memphis for the first time... when we saw Fullington and J.T. work the opening match of a WCW show in Aberdeen, MD... could understand that pride local fans felt for two of our own.
After J.T. Smith's knee injury in 1993, which started with his jump off of the "Eagles Nest" with Doug (Dark Patriot) Gilbert, a program with the TV belt in 1994, and another brief one more recently as a "Full Blooded Italian", J.T. largely faded from the scene, leaving Fullington as the one full-time player left from the TWA era.
Only those who saw Jim Fullington make the switch from his original surfer gimmick with wife Lori “Peaches” Fullington to the hard-edged personna most fans know him for today can understand...or those who saw him, along with Nancy (Woman) Duas (ex-Sullivan), in the "blinding" Angle of the Year back in 1994 that was so well done, it had friends of mine within the business calling me to ask if it was a work... or those who saw the controversial program with Scott (Raven) Levy that saw Lori Fullington return portrayed as a Courtney Love-like “drug addict”, a program that saw Jim and Lori’s real life son Tyler involved... or those who saw in person the psychotic bumps he would take show after show, month after month, year after year. That’s why for so many, Jim Fullington, The Sandman, seemed to symbolize the type of ECW WE knew, as opposed to what we see today.
It's been said by some that Jim Fullington wasn't always the most lovable in person. That may or may not be true. But the fact is, unlike others in ECW with more notable public images, I never ONCE saw him be rude or abusive to a fan, even during times when it would have been well-deserved. Fullington seemed to appreciate where his daily bread came from.
It could also be said that he wasn't a cartoon character. No matter how many "smarts" thought otherwise, Fullington would say over and over again that "The Sandman" wasn't a gimmick...it was only a mild amplification of his real personality. If you saw him in person, you knew that was the truth.
So those who have only recently followed ECW might not understand this. You don't understand that this is no longer the Philadelphia-based promotion you knew, regardless of what's said by Paul Heyman through Joey Styles on ECW TV. It's changed into something totally different...a change that's been happening since August 1996.
Best wishes to Jim Fullington, Lori, Tyler, and their new child. Support your family, make whatever money you can in WCW...just remember to duck the flying coffee from Bischoff.
Until next time.....
If you have comments or questions, I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.