AS I SEE IT February 22: Becoming a fan


Posted on 2/22/121 by Bob Magee




AS I SEE IT
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
PWBTS.com
PWBTS on
Facebook



All the way back in 2008, I was interviewed by blogger Jeff
Bradley about how I got involved in reporting wrestling and
about various memories around Philadelphia independent
wrestling, particular wrestling personalities, and
Philadelphia indy wrestling politics.

As the years have gone on, too many of the people I mention
are no longer with us. I'm largely retired professionally.
There is far less wrestling at the ECW Arena then there once
was. But it gives you an idea of some of Philly indy
wrestling's past, and what I thought about it back then and
has been only slightly edited to feature those questions
and comments.

I'm curious about the history of you who read this blog as
fans. Feel free to share them via e-mail.

---------------------

(Q- Jeff Bradley) * How did you become a fan of pro
wrestling and at what age? What is your first memory of pro
wrestling?

(A- Me) It goes back to 1964 when I was seven years old and
living in Detroit. I was a kid, and the Saturday morning
cartoons were done at 1:00 pm or so, and I was looking for
something to watch on TV. I flipped the channel to CKLW
Channel 9 in Windsor, Ontario, where Hockey Night in Canada
aired (my mom, dad and I were hockey fans, so I knew the
channel) when I saw, quite by accident, the Sheik's Detroit
TV show. I looked and saw The Sheik going nuts, my mouth
dropped open, and I said "What is THIS?" I've been hooked
ever since.

Somewhere in there as well, I have a late cousin on my Dad's
side who did some small scale promoting up in Utica, NY
involving shows that used Ernie Ladd. There are also
relatives on my mom's side that ran circuses...so I suppose
the carny has been around one part of my family in way or
the other for even longer than I can document.

* What wrestling shows did you watch growing up?

Earliest was obviously The Sheik's stuff. The early
wrestling I have more detailed memories about would be 1970s
WWWF, then later Georgia Championship Wrestling's early days
on TBS after moving out to Toledo, OH as a VISTA
(AmeriCorps) volunteer in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

* Do you remember the first live show you went to?

First major promotion show I can recall was NWA shows at the
Philadelphia Civic Center, probably 1985 or so.

* Do you follow any other sports?

I'm a big time Philadelphia sports fan, particularly the
Philadelphia Flyers.

* When did you first decide that you wanted to be involved
in pro wrestling in some form?

It happened by pure chance, actually. Fritz Capp, the
original owner of PWBTS when it was in newsletter
form...asked me if I'd mind contributing my (even back then
opinionated) thoughts about what I liked and what I didn't)
to his monthly newsletter called Pro Wrestling Between the
Sheets (pun on the phrase "dirt sheets") .

* Was your PWBTS website your first step into the wrestling
business?

Yes.

* Is your site a full time job, or something you focus on in
your free time?

Definitely something in my free time. I've been working full
time in education and counseling in for-profit schools and
non-profit agencies since 1983.

* How many hours a day do you spend on your site?

3 hours or so.

* Do you have contacts inside of the industry that you talk
to, for the site or otherwise?

Yes. Most of them are in independent wrestling, but I have
some in WWE as well.

* What are some of your memories of Dennis Corraluzzo?

As an always colorful character who in many ways, was the
epitome of an old-time wrestling promoter. It seems
appropriate that on the last weekend of his life Dennis went
to a wrestling event, then complained on the way home Sunday
of not feeling well, then suffered the brain hemorrhage that
took his life. It figures Dennis would be around the
wrestling business until the every end.

While Dennis was what Dennis was as a promoter (and I don't
believe in posthumous canonization, so I recognize both
sides of him), he also had the other side that not everyone
saw. For all the carny (and a few other things) that Dennis
had in his soul, I remember that he was the one who honored
Eddie Gilbert with the Memorial Weekends; as opposed to
others who should have been the ones who honored Gilbert,
but stabbed him in the back instead.

One of the nicer things he ever did was during 1998's
Gilbert Weekend, when he conspired with Jim Cornette to do a
surprise honor of Brian Hildebrand. I met Brian through
Dennis actually...I saw Brian for the first time in 1990
during a combined Dennis Coraluzzo-Joel Goodhart benefit
wrestling show for Philadelphia area wrestling fan Tom
Robinson, with Brian doing his "Dr. Mark Curtis" manager's
gimmick.

Brian had called me days before the Gilbert Banquet,
wondering why Jim Cornette and then Dennis were calling him
numerous times to make sure he was coming, and said "Bob,
what in hell is up here?" I replied, not wanting to ruin the
surprise, but knowing he’d smell me fudging a mile away…
"Well, if you actually got Dennis to return a phone call…if
you got Corny calling that many times in a week…I’d bring a
suit… and be prepared to say something".

The tribute that Jim Cornette did for him at that Gilbert
Banquet was pure Cornette, totally irreverent as usual, but
also done with a great deal of feeling. But it wouldn't have
happened at all if Corraluzzo hadn't helped set it up.

* I believe you were a part of the SMW BBQ? Is this correct?
If so, tell us about that experience.

The SMW Fanweek were two of the most fun summers of my life.
Hell, looking forward to it all summer until August was half
the fun.

To explain for those who aren't familiar with them, SMW
Fanweeks were a combination traveling road show, along with
barbecues, shoot Q&As, and marathon videotape parties, as
well as lots of beer... and excursions to a Knoxville
establishment called "The Mouse's Ear" for those so
inclined.

Fanweeks were a chance to experience Southern wrestling and
mark out with other wrestling fans. Brian Hildebrand, who I
mentioned earlier, was the reason these yearly Fanweek
celebrations were possible, because of his non-stop
organizational work during the weeks leading up to them; and
during the moment to moment problems that occur when one is
trying to please 55 human beings, please Jim Cornette and
Sandy Scott, AND work as referee "Mark Curtis" all at the
same time. An example of the problems was the infamous tour
bus to Johnson City that was outraced by the Mongolian
Stomper on his bicycle, due to the bus engine not working
well as we traveled over mountains.

My favorite Fanweek story involves the time in August 1994
at Fanweek that I had to go with Brian to Knoxville's West
Town Mall to get Jim Cornette a new tennis racquet (a local
fan had taken it upon himself to steal Jim's racquet at a
SMW house show the night before).

Brian and I went to a sporting goods store and got the
racquet. The clerk fell all over himself meeting "Mark
Curtis". I stood and watched. As the clerk rang up the
purchase, he asked me "Can I help you, sir?". I replied, in
full kayfabe mode, "I'm just here with Mr. Curtis". We
walked away into the Mall to grab lunch, and Brian asked me,
"How in hell did you just do that?"

My reply was "Because you and Jimmy taught us to remember
that your folks down here 'still believe'." Even the
"smartest" of smart marks wanted to help the people of
Tennessee keep their special "belief" even though we knew
better....all because of the atmosphere Cornette,
Hildebrand, and the SMW crew created.

* I believe you were a part of the famous front row of ECW
that included many people involved in wrestling related
sites or companies, such as Smart Mark Video and PWInsider.
What were your feeling on the Shane Douglas/NWA Title
situation? And did you know anything about it ahead of time?

Yup, I was part of that front row in the early years. Some
of the people in it included Frank Iadedvia and Ray Sager
who later started Jersey All Pro Wrestling, the Smart Mark
Video crew, some of the original 1wrestling.com crew (now
all with PWinsider.com)...and of course, "Hawaiian shirt"
John Bailey (who is as recognized as some of the ECW crew,
even years later...to the point that people at Hardcore
Homecoming asked him for autographs).

No one in the crowd knew a thing about the Douglas swerve.
If you take a look at the DVDs of the ECW TV of that night,
you'll see my younger brother and I front row as shocked as
anyone could be. He was rattling off Ricky Steamboat and
other names of NWA Champions Douglas hadn't mentioned in his
promo.

* How about some of the other famous ECW incidents? What
were your recollections and opinions on:

* The burning chair incident?

I remember it all too well. The seats that the flaming
material came onto were either the old seats of my brother
and I...or right next to them. I lucked out only because
when ECW started asking people to buy four seats at a time
for "Club ECW", I decided I'd rather sit in the bleachers.
ECW should never have used fire in a building where the
crowd was that close to the action. They are very lucky that
the incident didn't result in a catastrophe.

* The crucifixion?

Disgusting. That's about all I'll say. Even ECW should have
known there are absolutes you don't go beyond.

* The first PPV?

I was there, if jammed in the corner and not able to see
that much. Garden State Cable (now Comcast) carried it..and
was one of the few local systems that did. I actually got to
see later a lot of what I missed behind hundreds of people
standing in front of me.

But going back to the pre-show...even with the usual pre-
show craziness at the ECW Arena...that day was something
special. Fans waited outside the ECW Arena from early on
that morning. The Arena was filled as full as physical space
would allow, well beyond anything permitted by city or state
fire laws. The atmosphere was really electric outside our
little Bingo Hall.

Think about it...all this came from what we saw as "our"
wrestling promotion, which was founded by a downtown
storefront pawnbroker that got its fame from running in the
most unusual of locations, a converted Bingo Hall that was
first an old freight warehouse. ECW staff had to paint and
fixed it up on their own, down the street from a bargain
basement store and vacant buildings. The promotion went in
that building within four years from drawing crowds that
wouldn't fill a bar.... to going on PPV. It amazes me to
this day.

Whatever happened later with Paul Heyman's business
ineptitude...anyone around that night saw magic that will
always be remembered.

* Jerry Lawler?

Yup. I was there as well. I'm not sure what surprised me
more....Lawler being there, or when Jim Cornette did. And
no, I didn't know either time.

* Did you ever meet Paul Heyman?

Heh. On more than one occasion. My personal dealings with
Heyman were primarily limited to a situation in 1996 where
he unfairly let go a person who worked behind the scenes
with ECW. I've said more than enough about it in the past.

* Other memories of ECW?

Texas Chain Match Massacre, Terry Funk vs. Eddie Gilbert,
June 19, 1993 - This show was the first ECW show sold on
tape commercially, with what was then the largest crowd in
the young promotion’s history. These two gave the fans at
the Arena an old school all-Arena bloody brawl of a kind not
seen anywhere in Philadelphia, save Gilbert’s own program in
1991 with Cactus Jack in ECW's predecessor, the Tri-State
Wrestling Alliance.

The Night The Line Was Crossed, Shane Douglas vs. Terry Funk
vs. Sabu, February 5, 1994- The original "Three Way Dance"
(although it wasn’t referred to as such at the time) was a
one hour long match that put the cartoon shows that
masqueraded as professional wrestling of the time to shame.
Between the blow-away effort of the three wrestlers,
Heyman’s booking had fans going with a match that told a
story in creating the storylines that moved along the three
pivotal characters of the golden era of ECW.

For earliest memories, I also have to mention the match with
The Sheik/Pat Tanaka - Kevin Sullivan/Tasmaniac; primarily
for being one of the few times I got to see the Sheik
wrestle live. It kind of made things come full circle with
what I earlier mentioned about my first site of The Sheik.

Arn Anderson and Bobby Eaton crash the ECW Arena, April 13,
1994 - What was the single loudest, wildest, out-of-control
crowd reaction in my memory of the six and a half years at
the ECW Arena occurred when Bobby Eaton, then Arn Anderson
ran in to conclude a two match multi-part angle involving
Shane Douglas, Curtis Hughes, The Public Enemy, Tommy
Dreamer, The Bruise Brothers, and Sabu. Seeing Anderson sent
the crowd into some other level of sound. Anderson and Eaton
were always favorites in Philadelphia, because they were
hardnosed and actually seemed to wrestle, a perfect counter
to the cartoon show going on in the WWF and WCW during that
era. So, when they hit the ring that night to set up the
main event for When Worlds Collide the next month…it’s
another one of those "you gotta see it for yourself"
moments.

The Public Enemy vs. Funk Brothers (Barbed Wire Match),
Heatwave, July 17, 1994- In an building that was estimated
by some to be as much as 120 degrees, PE and the Funks tore
down the house, with an incredibly violent match, remarkable
given the temperature, let alone any temperature, at Dory
and Terry Funk’s ages.

The Raven-Tommy Dreamer feud, March 1995 to June 1997 - In
an era where storylines are non-existent, where feuds are
dropped at the drop of a hat, and where fans are too "smart"
to get emotionally involved, this two and! a half year feud
with ECW’s ultimate babyface against the character t hat was
the masterpiece of Paul Heyman and Scott Levy’s careers was
the most memorable feud in recent memory anywhere in
wrestling…to this very day.The feud has twists and turns;
starting off with their "mutual girlfriend from summer camp"
(now the real-life wife of Dreamer) Beulah McGillicutty;
concluding with an actual payoff at the end at
Wrestlepalooza in June, 1997 with Raven’s departure to WCW.

Rey Misterio Jr. vs. Psicosis, Mexican Death Match, November
To Remember, November 18, 1995 - This match gave fans
another once in a lifetime experience to see Rey Misterio
Jr. before injuries and being unmasked by Eric Bischoff took
away some of his ability and mystique. Seeing these two go
full blast (without being told not to show up oversized,
overpaid mastodons on top as happened in WCW), was a thrill
that I’ll never get again. The match made what they later
did in WCW look like a shot and a beer indy opening match.

Shane Douglas vs. Chris Jericho vs. Pit Bull 2 vs. Too Cold
Scorpio, Heatwave, July 13, 1996 - Jericho’s mid-air rana
out of a PitBull top rope powerbomb all in one motion still
amazes me when I watch it on TV eight years later.

Great Sasuke/Gran Hamada/Masato Yakushiji-TAKA
Michinoku/Dick Togo/ Terry Boy, Barely Legal, April 13, 1997
- For many, it was the first time they’d seen Japanese
wrestling live. The incredible match combined with an
unbelievable atmosphere among the fans so supercharged to
even have that PPV at the ECW Arena, along with the added
touch from many of the fans throwing streamers ala
traditional All Japan created a helluva memory.

Sabu vs. Terry Funk, Born to Be Wired, August 9, 1997 - The
almost psychotic violence of this match probably goes beyond
even the Taipei Death Match at Hardcore Heaven 1995 with the
Rottens. Even the bloodthirsty violent ECW Arena crowd of
the time was shaking its heads at this one.

Jerry Lynn-Rob Van Dam, August 8, 1998 and August 28, 1999 -
For two straight years these two created Match of the Year
candidates. For whatever reason, Lynn and Van Dam seemed so
perfectly matched with one another that they could turn the
Arena crowd on, and made them remember the way they used to
before the Arena crowd changed, and before the pure
bloodmarks discovered ECW.

* Did ECW change the way fans viewed and behaved at shows?
If so, is that a good thing or a bad thing?

Definitely.

How it changed the way fans viewed and behaved at shows
depends on who you ask. I go with the Bobby Heenan theory in
the foreword of his book. He said that traditionalists
should quit being worried that others were giving away too
much about the business and that they should realize that
the fans knew about as much about the "magic tricks" of the
business and those in it.

Being smart and reacting accordingly, isn't a bad thing,
provided one tempers it with respect for the wrestling
business at the same time. As for the fans making themselves
part of the show, it worked in ECW because of the uniqueness
of the ECW atmosphere. It doesn't work everywhere.

If promoters are worried about fans popping for heels and
not babyfaces, then they should create more babyface
characters that are as interesting as the heels are, and not
bitch about fans behaving "wrong". Characters like Steve
Austin are interesting because they are more real with
layers in their character, really a "tweener" by traditional
wrestling definition. He wasn't a Bob Backlund "bland,
boring babyface"; but someone fans could be interested in
and get into.

* I believed you were/are involved in some form with CZW.
How did that come about?

Pretty much as a fan first, then in limited way, as someone
who could help them given the PWBTS website. I've tried to
pass along helpful hints on the need to promote more
aggressively in the community, get monthly show lineups out
sooner to the public, and suggest how they could be creative
in how they bring in fans. I still offer opinions about
things, but that's pretty much all I've done.

* It seems CZW tried to capitalize on the hardcore audience
ECW built. Why do you think it never got nearly as big
(although still remains as a consistently running indy)?

Because there will never be another ECW. Promotions should
stop trying to be another ECW and worry about carving out
their own niche. Ring of Honor did that, and look where they
wound up.

* On the other end of the spectrum is the ECWA. What are
your thoughts on Jim Kettner and the ECWA?

A lot of people don't realize that the people they see (or
have seen) regularly in Ring of Honor, such as Christopher
Daniels, were brought to the Philadelphia region first by
Jim Kettner. His product was a mix of that and old time
faces vs. heels family friendly matches. It was a great mix.
A lot of the fans who came for the Chriostopher Daniels
caliber matches have gone to Ring of Honor as the years have
passed, with the exception of the yearly Super Eight
tournament, which takes place in a few weeks.

Kettner's formula worked for his audience and still does.
When he turned longtime babyface (the late) Boogie Woogie
Brown heel, kids were actually crying in the crowd.

* This may sound a bit out there, but besides the Super 8,
one of my favorite things about ECWA (at least when they ran
St. Matthews as I haven’t been there in a few years) was
their food! The pizza and fries and everything else was
cheap and very good. Out of all the shows you have been to,
who has/had the best food? PWF in Pottstown has to rank up
there too! But someone needs to get the ECWA French fry
recipe!

Amen to that for those St. Matthew's "opium fries". Yum.
Probably more salt on those things then people need in a
month, but God, they were good.

For food at indy shows, in recent years, the ECW Arena (and
yes, I'll always call it that....not by any other name) has
had some of the better food, as Roger Artigiani and the new
Arena management has done a great job improving the Arena
food. Along with the usual indy food suspects....they have
some good local South Philly pizza and even occasionally,
meatball sandwiches. Gotta mention the muffins, too.

* Since we are on food, I have to ask this as well. The
Oregon Diner in Philly was a key part of a story I wrote for
the site about my trip to an Eagles game earlier this year.
Was the Oregon Diner a regular stop of yours during the ECW
years like it was for so many others?

Actually, not every often. But I'm the exception to the
rule. Lots of people soaked up their post-ECW alcohol with
food from the Oregon Diner. Lots of post-show stories, too.

From hardcore to family fun, back to hardcore again. XPW
came to Philly and a feud was immediately started between
their fans and XPW fans, or people who went to XPW shows.
Can you give us your opinions on XPW’s stint in Philly?

They tried to be a 900 pound gorilla when they might well
have been successful had they just run shows and carved out
their own niche. Instead, they tried shutting out other
promotions from the ECW Arena and throwing money at people
to make them change loyalities. The result, or lack thereof,
is well-known.

* It was rumored at the time that you were leading the
charge to run XPW out of Philly, including printing fliers
that were handed out around town. Is this true? And why was
it done?

I never printed any flyers, designed flyers or any such
thing. I showed people a leaflet that was already
circulating in the community. That fact was reported in a
neighborhood newspaper article on the matter.

The only "charge" I led was to demand that XPW follow the
same regulations every other promoter had to. As a wrestling
fan, I was pissed that they were shutting other promotions
out of the ECW Arena, seemed to be getting away with not
presenting a bond and not having a license, and with
publicly stating they were going to do things like running
concerts and other events on literature, then denying that
fact to the community.

They also tried to deny that XPW and Extreme Associates, the
porn company owned by Rob Zicari were affiliated. EA had a
catalog that included movies featuring rape, underage girls
and snuff films, even though the evidence was right out
there for the public to see.

All I did was report what they were doing.

What was rumored at the time was that all someone with
enough money and a lawyer had to do was threaten a certain
member of the PSAC with a lawsuit, and this PSAC member
would back off on enforcement. This was said to be XPW's
strategy, to threaten lawsuits every time this Commission
member pointed out things like a lack of a bond or lack of a
license. When the things cited above were made public, the
PSAC had to deal with things and enforce basic business-
related regulations that they were looking the other way on.

Both XPW and the Parents Television Council made legal
threats to me as the result of what I wrote. One problem:
the truth always wins out. It did with the PTC's lies about
the WWF...and it won out about XPW, their ignoring of PSAC
regulations, their attempts to bulldoze their way into a
monopoly of the Philadelphia market and the cult-like
behavior of some of their fans and supporters.

* Once XPW arrived, the PA Athletic Commission suddenly
started to try and enforce such rules as no fighting in the
crowd, no blood, and many others. Yet they were selective in
doing so, only targeting XPW shows, and rarely targeting CZW
and others. What were your thoughts at the time, and do they
differ today?

I think the State Athletic Commission realized they had a
problem with the violations on XPW's part being made public,
and wanted XPW to go away as fast as possible. The PSAC
realized some of us weren't going to be quiet and finally
dealt with the situation they allowed to happen in the first
place. They chose to use their typical selective enforcement
policies against XPW. Don't worry, the PSAC has done it
enough on other indies versus WWF/E that no promoter has
gotten away without dealing with their selective enforcement
altogether.

All State Athletic Commissions NEED to do is insure that
promoters are solvent, follow basic business regulations,
pay taxes, and leave EVERYONE'S in-ring product alone. But
that's another conversation altogether.

After the XPW/CZW feud ended, the indy scene in Philly got a
little quiet for awhile. ROH was around, and some other
random feds.

* What were some of the groups you attended regularly after
that time, on up until today?

CZW, Ring of Honor, Pro Wrestling Unplugged, 3PW, CHIKARA,
and Jersey All Pro Wrestling to name a few.

* Do you ever cover events for your website? Doing your own
event reports?

I actually cover events as such less so than I used to. I
prefer to go as a fan more than as if I'm "working".

* Do you ever go to a show just as a fan, or are you always
"working"?

I'm always a fan first. The day I stop being a fan is the
day I stop my involvement in or around wrestling.

* Do you have any idea how many shows you have attended, and
for how many groups?

Lord....I'd have to go back and count old ticket stubs. It
has to be in the hundreds.

* Do you have any souvenirs or memorabilia you have
collected over the years?
I have tickets from most, if not all of the shows I've
attended over the last 20 years.

* Have you ever made a trip to Japan for pro wrestling?
Never. It's something I hope to do so someday.

* Back to the famous front rows of ECW. I believe your
brother attended the shows with you, not only for ECW, but
for many other groups. Do you two have the same tastes in
pro wrestling?

Pretty much.

* Which death in wrestling hit you the hardest?

Chris Benoit, Chris Candido, and Eddie Guerrero...all for
very different reasons.
To this day, I can't understand how the Chris Benoit I got
to know in ECW turned into the Chris Benoit that murdered
his wife and son. I think very few of us ever will
understand. That's probably all I want to say about Benoit.

I knew Chris Candido when he worked for Philadelphia
independent promoters Joel Goodhart and Dennis
Coraluzzo...with his claim to fame being that he was the
grandson of former WWWF preliminary talent Chuck Richards.
Tammy Sytch was just his 16 year old girlfriend hanging out
with the other girlfriends and "ladies supportive of the
business".

As Richards's grandson, he grew up around wrestling; and
hung out with Balls Mahoney. The two started as backyarders
(before the term even existed) until starting with formal
training at Larry Sharpe's Monster Factory. Candido then
worked for Dennis Coraluzzo.

Years later, I was on vacation in San Fransisco, and took in
a WWF show at the Cow Palace, not so much to see a WWF house
show...but mostly to see the historic wrestling venue.

So I'm standing around the parking lot, waiting for the
doors to open with the locals and kids milling around...and
a car screeches to a stop, and goes into rapid reverse. The
door opens, and it's Chris and Tammy (who had already broken
up in storyline, but even the kids in the parking lot knew
better than to ask) with a collective "What are YOU doing
here!?!?!" We said our hellos and they drove into the
building. Until the doors to the Cow Palace opened, I had to
listen to at least a hundred kids screeching at me without
end..."You know Sunny?!?!?".

In WWE and WCW, Chris and Tammy got into drug problems and
it affected them badly. Finally Chris got himself clean,
then Tammy.

In the last years of his life, Candido went back to the
indies and started resembling the guy we all remembered from
years past. He worked in higher profile Northeast
independents and in TNA, working with The Naturals tag team.
The last time I saw Chris Candido alive was at a Jersey All
Pro Wrestling show at the ECW Arena as a surprise match
against JAPW's E.C. Negro. Negro came out, only to be told
by announcer Steve DeAngelis that he wasn't on the lineup.
Negro went into a promo how he wasn't leaving until he got a
match, telling the crowd how tonight the ECW Arena was the
"E.C. Negro Arena"....and on and on.

The lights went out..."Back in Black" cranked up...and the
loudest pop of the night ensued, as Chris Candido came out
to a standing ovation that seemed to truly shock him. Chris
was on that night, looking like the Candido of old, with a
sick looking table bump after Candido put Negro on a table
and went for a legdrop off the turnbuckle. Negro got out of
the way, with Candido plowing through the table like a
freight train.

What seems so damned unfair with all this, is that Chris had
beaten drugs, had gotten his life together, was working
independents again... and working well. He was sharing his
knowledge with lots of up-and-coming indy talents. He'd
gotten his gig in TNA and was the Chris Candido we all
remember...the goofy, old school heel who loved the hell out
of what he did. In his last TV appearance, taped less than
48 hours before he died, even after his broken leg and from
a wheelchair; he was getting over a young tag team, The
Naturals, for the NWA Tag Team Titles.

As for Eddie Guerrero, I first met Eddie Guerrero when he
came into ECW in April 1994. There have been few within
wrestling who’ve ever been genuinely nicer, or more
approachable to fans than the Guerrero I got to know.

To this day…one of my most vivid ECW memories was the
farewell show for Dean Malenko and Eddie on August 26, 1995.
This may well have been the best match I’ve ever seen for
the overall emotional experience combined with the actual
match itself anywhere in wrestling. While Dean and Eddie
worked better matches in ECW and in Japan, the sheer emotion
of the toughest crowd in North America, with the "Please
Don’t Go" chants; not to mention the fans, locker room, and
Dean and Eddie themselves in tears, accompanied by Joey
Styles doing the match call of his life as Guerrero and
Malenko worked their last ECW match.

As I rode with my brother to an independent wrestling show
the morning after Eddie's death, he said pretty much what I
felt…that he felt like he’d been kicked square in the balls
and for someone like him who can talk about anything to do
with wrestling…all he wanted to do was drive to the show. He
didn’t want to talk about Eddie at all.

For my brother and myself…and undoubtedly for many, many
others; the fact that Eddie was sober (four years according
to his brother)…and had been so for some time makes
Guerrero’s passing that much harder to deal with to this
very day. Guerrero was a man who’d found God, dealt with his
demons, worked on his addictions to alcohol and other drugs
being taken by God with so much to live for. That makes it
hurt...again to this day... all the more to see someone so
talented…and such a fundamentally decent person leave this
world far too soon.

* Met any life long friends through wrestling?

Yup.

* Have you lost any friendships due to wrestling?

None that mattered.

* Who is the one wrestler who when you first saw him/her
before they were established, you knew they would be a star?

Sadly enough, its the THREE people I mentioned above as
having had their deaths affect me the most. I saw Chris
Candido years before anyone knew who he was outside
Philadelphia and South Jersey. I saw Eddie Guerrero while he
still worked in AAA with Art Barr as part of Los Gringos
Locos. I saw tapes of Chris Benoit working as Pegasus Kid in
Japan when Ameican promotions wouldn't take a chance on him.

To end this list a bit more happily, for the future...I'll
put Mark and Jay Briscoe on that "can't miss" list for the
years to come. I watched them work for CZW before anyone
outside the Philadelphia area knew their names, and saw them
work each other in a ***** quality match at a soccer arena
in South Jersey that had their mother in tears of pride out
in the crowd.

* Who is your favorite wrestler of all time to see perform
live?

Until a couple of years ago, I'd have said Chris Benoit. Now
even seeing him on an old tape makes me sad. Now, I'd say
seeing my favorites I've seen live are Kenta Kobashi or
Jushin Liger.

* Do you believe that New Alhambra (ECW/2300 Arena) at one
point was the mecca of wrestling? Or indy wrestling at
least? Do you believe it still is?

Overall, places like Korakuen Hall and Madison Square Garden
are obviously the two most known wrestling venues overall.
In the territorial days, there are tons of old classic
venues that are mostly gone, places like the Irish McNeil
Boys Club, the Sportatorium, and the Omni. But for indy
wrestling today, name one indy venue that beats out the old
Bingo Hall at Swanson and Ritner.

* Before we end this, tell us again about your website Pro
Wrestling Between The Sheets.

PWBTS.com was originally designed to push independent
wrestling, as well as report on what was then the Big 3 of
WWF, WCW, and ECW. It's continued that aim to this day, with
the sad exception that it's now solely indies and WWE that
we report on domestically. We get reports on lucha, MMA and
puroresu as well.


Until next time...

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