For those who don’t know, XPW has canceled all of it’s upcoming shows, lost it’s TV in LA (and according to one source Pittsburgh, but that isn’t independently verified) and their parent company Extreme Associates was raided by federal authorities, for what is believed to be shipping what would be considered obscene materials into Pittsburgh, PA, but could turn out to be more than that.
While Xtreme Pro Wrestling might not yet be officially dead, the plug is almost ready to be pulled on it’s life support.
XPW has had a very rocky time, almost from the start, mostly due to bad business decisions and a total lack of regard for it’s fan base. Over the next three columns we’ll take a look at XPW’s history and where things went wrong. Part one will focus on the beginning of XPW up through their shows at Patriot Hall. Part two will cover the debut at the Grand Olympic through Shane Douglas’ return and the announcement XPW would be running in Philadelphia. And part three will be the ECW Arena debut to the present.
XPW was pretty much created after a failed attempt by Rob Black (Robert Zicari) to invest in, and become a west coast promoter for ECW. Despite being an almost carbon copy of ECW straight from the start, early XPW was actually met with decent press (except for by members of UIWA and their fans, who felt that XPW was created by raiding and screwing over that promotion, but more on that later), and while a good portion of their crowds were papered (something that would not only continue throughout their history, but grow to ridiculous levels), the attendance was pretty steady and one of the larger crowds in indy wrestling. Then they started running shows at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
While the first Los Angeles Sports Arena show for XPW saw the debut of Sabu, who would actually bring XPW to highest levels, it was also the beginning of the running joke that XPW papers most of it’s crowd. Unable to draw a crowd that didn’t look embarrassing in a building that holds over 10,000 people, free tickets to the shows became increasingly easier to find. While some people might think that giving away free tickets to a show is a good way to attract a new audience to your promotion, unless your show is truly blow away, you will have a hard time convincing people to pay for what they were getting for free. So the cycle began of XPW having to comp to get any real crowd.
XPW was also running what it called house shows in Ventura and Bakersfield at the time, but stopped shortly after they began running at the Sports Arena. While one might think the house shows were stopped purely because of the money lost running at the Sports Arena, the truth is the theater in Ventura they ran at wanted to raise the rates to an incredible level, and Bakersfield wasn’t drawing well enough to justify the shows.
Also about the same time XPW’s bad reputation with fans was really just beginning A lot of people cite the ECW Heatwave incident as the start of the bad Internet publicity, and while it definitely was the worst thing to happen to XPW in it’s history, something it could never shake and was still haunting them three years later, the true beginnings were in June of 2000.
Lonnie Hill, who co-founded SoCal UNCENSORED, was a very vocal critic of XPW’s product on their official message board. Lonnie was an XPW fan, and was even called Mr. XPW on the board, but he was also outspoken as to what he thought was wrong with the product, and was angering some people within XPW with his views. Lonnie was also co-creator of the first XPW fansite “Blood, Beer, & Tities”, so he was well known by XPW staff.
At June 17th, 2000’s XPW show called “Vengeance”, a member of XPW’s street team came from ringside, and attacked Lonnie Hill from behind. XPW claimed the street team member would be fired for the incident, but he was still seen around the offices and at the next show after that. People who went to school with him claimed he was saying at school that he was told to do it by XPW management, though that can’t be verified at this point in time. The incident started to get XPW a lot of backlash on the local level, and set the seeds for what was to follow.
Then of course the Heatwave incident occurred. This really has been talked about to death, and there is no real point in going into it in much detail again, but for those who are new to wrestling here is a basic synopsis. ECW was holding it’s Heatwave pay-per-view at the Grand Olympic in Los Angeles, and several XPW wrestlers, Messiah, Supreme, and Krysti Myst were sitting front row. Security made everyone who was wearing XPW shirts turn them inside out and wear them that way. During the main event the XPW wrestlers tried to turn their shirts right side out so the XPW logo was showing, and Krysti Myst removed her shirt. Francine took issue with it, Dreamer came over, and the XPW wrestlers were escorted out of the building and they, along with other people associated with XPW were attacked outside by members of the ECW locker room. Nothing was really noticeable on camera, and aside from people in the building who saw some commotion going on, no one would have known if it didn’t blow up on the Internet. Unfortunately for XPW it did.
ECW’s fanbase was extraordinarily loyal, and they were the fans XPW needed to draw in order for the product they were presenting to have any chance of working. When every major wrestling website mentioned that XPW tried to “ruin” ECW’s pay-per-view, which was a huge over exaggeration, fans turned on XPW, and fans who never knew XPW now knew they hated them. XPW tried to play it off with the old “any publicity is good publicity” routine, but time has proved that one wrong for XPW as years later fans still used that as an excuse for refusing to check out XPW’s product, despite much improvement.
XPW’s next show “Go Funk Yourself” would however go down as the largest attendance in XPW history, however that was mainly due to the introduction of “free admission with this flyer” flyers that were given out at the ECW pay-per-view and the Metallica concert the next week. Even if there was to be any momentum due to the recent publicity, and a crowd of almost 2,000 at “Go Funk Yourself”, XPW would kill it by not running again for nearly five months.
During the five month hiatus, the rumors of XPW’s demise began, and also the ill fated exploding ring death match between Onita and Sabu was announced, that would never happen. People who were inside XPW at the time said the match never occurred because Rob Black basically blew Onita off, and Onita eventually said “fuck you” to XPW. In an effort to save face, Josh Lazie and Sabu sent Onita a letter blaming the cancellation of the match on a lawsuit that was filed against Sabu by Paul Heyman.
XPW finally ran again, sort of, in November 2000 at the San Bernardino Metal Fest concert. While the show was pretty much panned by most people who went, at least it was a sign of life for XPW.
In January 2001 XPW began running in Patriot Hall in the San Fernando Valley, which while it was only for four shows in three months, it is still considered by some a golden age for XPW. The shows in Patriot Hall had logical booking for the most part, and built well to the next. Plus the building was the perfect size for the crowd and there was a real energy in the building. It seemed XPW was beginning to turn things around.
In the last XPW show at Patriot Hall, which is on the campus of Birmingham High School, the main event featured a double flaming tables spot, that not only got XPW kicked out of the venue, but got pro-wrestling banned from all Los Angeles Unified School District schools, a ban that is still in place, forcing XPW to get a new venue once again.
Part two in a couple days.
We should start getting more interviews up on the site again shortly. We have a couple setup and if anyone has any suggestions to who they’d want to see interviewed send Justin, Scrub, or myself an e-mail and we’ll see what we can do.
I think UPW has done a pretty good job so far of hyping their 22 Man Battle Royal as something important. I think for the most part wrestling fans could care less about a battle royal in this day and age, but by linking it to wrestling history, and really doing a good sell job of it on their site, they are doing a great job of building interest in the match. It will be interesting to see how the actuality of the match lives up to the hype.
Speaking of UPW I hope to check out their Laughlin show on the 19th and if I do I should have a full report on that up on the site.
According to WPW Lil’ Cholo and Chilango will be joining El Genio (King Ali Baba) on the June Toryumon tour in Japan.
Real Pro Wrestling, the group that is trying to start a promotion based on non-worked amateur style matches, finalized a deal with USA Wrestling that will bring the U.S. National Wrestling Championships to Fox on May 24th. I don’t believe it will be on in the SoCal area however, but for you NorCalers it will be on in the Bay Area, as well a few other cities.
In a follow up to Steve’s View #104 dealing with the Threat versus EWF situation, Threat claims that he was not involved in any trashing of anyone’s house and he wanted to state that he did not punch out the window of his jeep. He also stated that he wasn’t ordered to remove any EWF related material from his site, that he did it as a work to explain why EWF would no longer be mentioned there. EWF has admitted to telling him he couldn’t use any pictures or graphics that are their property.
And since I’ve been getting asked about it at every show, there’s no heat between myself and Threat. People get upset at me or this website all the time when something negative comes up about them, and when good stuff is written they like the site. Threat took issue with some stuff coming out about the cancellation of UWW’s show, and then later at my column on the subject and the fact that Jeff Hanula was one of the sources for the column. Once people think things over, cooler heads usually prevail. Which is what happened here. I’m sure Threat will have his side of things in more detail up on his site soon, so if you are interested check it out.