The war with Iraq has begun, but there is another war right here in SoCal. In San Bernardino County to be exact.
In what has become a quasi-promotional battle between the Empire Wrestling Federation and Threat and his upstart United World Wrestling, started out as just a person leaving a promotion, and has turned into such an ugly fight that law enforcement has become involved, and restraining orders have been issued.
Threat by most accounts was never a popular wrestler in the EWF locker room. A lot of it more than likely stems from jealousy of his being pushed at or near the top of the promotion despite being considered by most fairly green. Multiple times his opponents decided to work ultra stiff with him due to their dislike, most notoriously the Havana Pitbulls (then called Los Cubanitos), who actually sent Threat to the hospital.
In Threat’s defense while his in ring ability left a lot to be desired, he had a unique look and was one of the few wrestlers in the EWF at the time that actually looked like a pro-wrestler, which more than likely had a lot to do with his push.
During Threat’s time in the EWF was involved in several backstage altercations, and wrestlers were starting to complain that Threat was no longer a welcome part of the EWF locker room, and a disruption. Then it all came to a boil when Threat was involved in a backstage fight with one of the EWF referees and ended up biting him in the back.
After that, depending on who you want to believe, Threat was either fired or quit the EWF.
Now, for those who have been around the SoCal scene for some time, what came next was no surprise. It seems any time over the years a wrestler has left the EWF, no matter what the circumstances, anonymous posters (and sometimes not so anonymous) show up on the SCU message board to trash said wrestlers, and if they really upset people, they might get trashed on EWF’s site. Within hours of Threat leaving the EWF posts appeared calling Threat “an abortion from the EWF family” among other things.
Threat then responded by writing a commentary on his website slamming Jeff Hanula (better known to message board users as EWF Jeff) and his wife Michelle Hanula (who also runs the EWF website). Of course no one could let that go without retaliation, and anti-Threat related info was quickly put on EWF’s website, and Threat was ordered to remove all EWF related info from his website.
While all this was going on, Threat had teamed up with Joe Cantrell, who used to train with EWF to become a wrestler, and later helped EWF in various aspects of running the promotion, including helping to find venues on occasion, to start up their own wrestling promotion in San Bernardino County, United World Wrestling.
From the start UWW had been taking subtle shots at EWF, such as stating “finally pro-wrestling has come to the Inland Empire”, and of course anti-UWW posts began to appear on the message boards, including photos of signs that were put up near EWF’s School of Hard Knocks (their training center) insulting the EWF, that people associated with EWF claim Threat or others involved with UWW were responsible for.
Also building code violations were called in on the School of Hard Knocks, and even more serious a anonymous call was made to child protective services stating that Jesse Hernandez and his wife beats their grandchildren. After investigation it was realized this was just a prank that someone had pulled.
UWW had previously announced that their debut show would be taking place May 3rd at Rialto High School in Rialto. On March 13th UWW announced that the show was being canceled as a result of Jesse Hernandez calling the school and complaining to them until they pulled the plug.
That claim in itself was very believable due to EWF being associated with those types of tactics throughout their history, whether they happened or not. In 2000 the IWC (who EWF also had a really heated war with, but that would cover so much space it will be saved for some future column) was unable to run a show due to complaints about the restrooms at their venue, that Jeff Hanula privately (and later publicly) took credit for. In early 2001 Revolution Pro was set to begin the opening round of their Spirit of the Revolution tournament, but someone had tipped off the fire marshals and the show was canceled hours before it was set to begin. With the EWF running a show that same day there was much speculation that someone associated with them was behind it, though there has never been any real evidence found to support that.
However, the next day the school was contacted about the show, and most of the administration knew nothing about any wrestling show that had been canceled, or that there ever was a wrestling show. Finally, talking to coach Dan Williams he admitted that he had talked to Joe Cantrell about running a show, but nothing was ever agreed upon or finalized. He also stated that he was upset that UWW began selling tickets for a show, that had never been approved. He also stated that show was flat out rejected by the administration, and he told Joe Cantrell that. When asked about any involvement Jesse Hernandez or the EWF may have had in the cancellation, or getting the show rejected by administration, he stated “I have had no contact with Jesse, only his wife who came by here earlier while I was away, and I called her back”.
Once it appeared that show hadn’t been canceled due to the reasons that UWW had stated, I made a post in response to their allegations on the SCU message board stating what I had learned. I also had contacted Jesse Hernandez who offered to pay the rates of every wrestler on that card if they could provide any evidence that supports the fact that he had anything to do with the show being canceled.
The next morning after my post the UWW made a post denying the claims that I made about the show never being approved, and continuing the “Jesse Hernandez had it canceled” excuse, despite independent verification by other parties. I responded to those posts by calling them “full of shit” which was met with a threatening letter in my e-mail from Threat. Also about this time, workers who were booked on UWW’s debut show began pulling out, including Adam Pearce who released a statement saying:
“I withdraw my name from anything having to do with UWW. Somebody, and I am not completely sold on who that somebody is, needs to get their bullshit straight. Learn a lesson before it’s too late.”
And workers in WCWA, which is currently the only promotion in SoCal that has Threat booked for an upcoming show, began lobbying to have Threat pulled from the card (which I don’t believe he has been at this point).
On March 15th EWF ran a show at Arroyo Valley High School. During the show a Papa John’s pizza delivery man showed up with about $125.00 in pizza, which apparently had been ordered to the show as part of a prank. The delivery was addressed to Jeff, and the number on the order was Jesse Hernandez’ pager number. Papa John’s decided to then donate the pizza to the show in exchange for a plug on the show. The crowd reportedly enjoyed their free pizza.
When Bobby Bradley, a wrestler with the EWF and former tag-team partner of Rob Van Dam, returned home, he returned to discover that someone had come over during the show and left flyers everywhere talking trash about various EWF wrestlers, and mentioning the UWW. When the police arrived, a witness, one of Bobby Bradley’s neighbors gave descriptions to the police of two of the vandals that matched a description of Threat, and another former EWF wrestler, Paranoia. Jesse Hernandez discovered the same thing when he arrived home.
On the answering machine at the School of Hard Knocks, the tape had been filled up with various messages from Threat that were talking trash about the EWF, Jesse, and various other members of the promotion. Paranoia can also be heard on the tapes. In one of the messages it appears Threat forgets to hang up the phone and can be heard talking to Paranoia and stating “it’s all backfiring, it’s all fucking backfired”.
Because of all the drama that was unfolding, Jesse Hernandez filed restraining orders against Threat and Joe Cantrell, with Threat being served his restraining order on March 19th. By all reports, Threat was told to leave the court by the judge, and then punching out the window of his Jeep in the parking lot. Threat says he will fight the order on the grounds that he claims Jesse perjured the restraining order, saying he “is a mental patient at Kaiser” and even putting on a fake name to maybe make it untraceable, and the judge did not give him the chance of defending himself, just telling him “to leave Jesse alone” and for Jesse “to leave Threat alone”. Threat also says he never signed anything, but that wouldn’t hold up in any court if he violates the restraining order.
Joe Cantrell was delivered his summons to appear in court on March 20th, for an April 8th court date. When Joe received the summons, reportedly he first called Jesse Hernandez and told him he would “do everything in his power to get him fired from his job”, but then later Joe’s mother called Jesse and it was explained to her what was going on, which promoted Joe to call back and apologize to Jesse for everything and claim that he “was brainwashed by Threat”. Jesse’s response was that “the two phone calls are in violation of the restraining order” and “to stop calling”.
While I doubt this is over, hopefully Threat and Joe Cantrell will realize the irreparable harm they’ve done to their reputations, and the chances of having any sort of success as a wrestling promotion, and the harm both the UWW and EWF group have done to themselves with petty bickering. All it would have took is for one party just to stop at the beginning for this feud not to get to the point where retraining orders have been filed, and lawsuits are being worked on.
A promotion war, or any kind of wrestling feud, is only beneficial when all the action is in the ring, and not on someone’s doorstep.
UPW, which is now running monthly in Laughlin, NV needs to do a good job of using both SoCal, and Laughlin to advance their storylines and keep both groups informed of what is going on. Checking out UPW.com there is only a small link towards the bottom with Laughlin results, despite what sounds like major events taking place on the shows. I’m glad however that UPW is using the Laughlin shows to advance storylines, as to have a chance to succeed in an area you probably wont get away with running what would essentialy be house shows for long. It’s the same reason WWE TV tapings draw so much better than the house shows, people keyed in along time ago that house shows are important in the grand scheme of things, and since UPW is running monthly in the area, the fans in that area would quickly key in on that. So in that sense UPW is doing a very good job, but people will get confused if something happens in SoCal, and it isn’t somehow known in Laughlin.
The only real solution is to hype the website like crazy, and make sure that important developments really are put over on the web.
That being said, UPW has begun to announce more matches for the April 25th SoCal return at the Grove in Anaheim. Including Frankie Kazarian defending the UPW Lightweight title verus Mikey Henderson, and the match to decide the UPW Women’s Championship with Savvy against Erica Porter (the former Jungle Grrl from WOW) for the vacant title.
And of course the already announced revival of the annual Los Angeles battle royal.
A more complete card will be up on the front page of SCU (as well as other April shows) after this weekend’s shows.
On a side note if anyone is reading this in the Laughlin area and can send in UPW notes that would be greatly appreciated. I’m curious as to how the crowds are there compared to SoCal (size and attitude). I hope to possibly make the next Laughlin show.
B-Boy will be taking part in the Jeff Peterson Memorial Cup tournament, which will be a two night cruiserweight tournament being put on by IPW in St. Petersburg, FL on May 16th and 17th. Also taking part in the tournament will be C.M. Punk, Naphtali, Colt Cabana, Sedrick Strong, Sonjay Dutt, Justice, Jason Cross, Roderick Strong, Tony Mamaluke, Mike Quackenbush, Jerrelle Clark, Reckless Youth, Phil Latio, Ruckus and Bug.
I want to throw three plugs in this week. First for “Parts Unknown”, which is a weekly internet radio show hosted by the SoCal Franchize Josh Waldrop and Francis. They cover the world of wrestling, but a big focus of their show is SoCal. The show is broadcast from Cal State Fullerton and can be found at http://tir.fullerton.edu every Thursday night at 10:30 PM (of course I plug this on Friday morning so everyone forgets in one week).
I’d also like to plug the Brutal Butcher Shoppe, who also can be reached via the banner on the front page of SCU. If you want the B-Boy or Messiah t-shirts, and won’t be at a show where either are at in the near future, you can buy them there. I haven’t seen the B-Boy shirts yet, but the Messiah shirts are real nice quality.
And lastly, with women’s wrestling really starting to pick up in SoCal (a year or two ago there was none at all, now there are women that are doing better than some of the guys) check out socalwow.com which is dedicated to the women of SoCal.
God bless America.