Monday, September 20, 2010

TAG CLASSIC Notes, Salute to Jim Kettner, Worcester Debut

NECW's 2nd Annual TAG TEAM CLASSIC was a great event, in my not-so-humble opinion and really delivered a ton of action and excitement for the money. 

The Logan Brothers made an auspicious return to NECW. "The Talent" T.J. Richter and Mr. Mini-Roe found themselves in the unexpected position of being the fan favoriotes in their opening round match with the G3 Network.  The Red Devil Fight Team looked great in their journey to the finals for the 2nd time in a row.  Even undercard teams like "H2O" Rayan Waters and Matt Magnum, stepped up their game to where they performed as well as any team in the tournament.  Da Hoodz turned a lot of heads in winning the Classic, even if they didn't win the NECW Tag Team Championship at the end of the night.

The TAG TEAM CLASSIC is a great device to put the spotlight on tag team wrestling, which is often an afterthought on the independent scene.  It's also interesting to see talent from outside the regular roster (a la another signature NECW event for singles competition, the IRON 8 Championship).  It gives our fans something new and different on a card and that something promoters have done for decades to keep things fresh.

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What a lot of promoters will not admit is that the "tournament concept" was really the invention of the greatest independent promoter in American pro wrestling, the recently retired, Jim Kettner of the ECWA (East Coast Wrestling Association) who had been promoting shows since 1967.  Jim's ECWA introduced the annual Super 8 Tournament, which became "THE" event of the year for independent wrestling.  Kettner would bring in the top independent talent from around the country and put them in a one night, single elimination tournament.  People would come from far and wide to see it, and it still gets coverage every year in the national wrestling magazines.

Jim Kettner also holds the distinction of being one the nicest and classiest men in our business.  His retirement is a remider that nothing is forever, but the legacy of what he built will continue under new owenership.  I personally learned a great deal from Jim - much of that from a distance - but if NECW is thought of as a promotion in the same league with Jim Kettner's ECWA, it's because I tried to follow much of his example.

I wish my friend Jim Kettner the very best and I will always be grateful for what he's given our business.

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This Saturday night, NECW is presenting a very special event, making our debut in Worcester, MA at the Central Community YMCA.  It's a benefit for TEAM FOX, which is the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research. 

NECW Triple Crown Champion, "The Real Deal" Brandon Locke takes on former WWE Tag Team Champion and Worcester native, Kenny Doane (the former Kenny Dykstra), plus 2 more title matches and much more, including a huge raffle of great memorabilia donated by WWE and Florida Championship Wrestling, as well as gift cards from from some great local merchants.

There will be a special after party as well, where you can get up close and personal with the stars after the show.

Click on over to for all the details, including how to order tickets.

I expect a great crowd and a great night of action and I hope you will see fit to join us.  These are the kinds of events where NECW often shines the brightest.  I hope to see you in Worcester this Saturday night.

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Sheldon's DVD Picks:

If you were a fan of wrestling in the 80's, most likely you saw World Class Championship Wrestling out of Dallas, TX.  WCCW and the Von Erichs revolutionized pro wrestling and took their company to dizzying heights only to suffer tragic fall after tragic fall.  It's a fascinating story and one no true student of the business shouldn't study.

There are two great DVD's available on the subject.  Heroes of World Class, produced and directed by Brian Harrison with the help of Kevin Von Erich priror to the sale of the World Class tape library to WWE, is a haunting and powerful epic.  All the great angles and clips are here, along with very unique insights from Gary Hart, Skandar Akbar and others.  The commercial edition is two discs and has some great extras on disc two.

WWE's version is called The Triumph & Tragedy of World Class Championship Wrestling.  Equally powerful in its own way.  The WWE version has comments from Michael Hayes, Jimmy Garvin and Buddy Roberts that Heroes lacks.  This is also a 2 disc set, with disc 2 containing a lot of memorable matches from the early years, as well as the heyday of the Dallas promotion.

Much like WWE's Rise & Fall of ECW and the independentlky produced Forever Hardcore DVD's.  Each one compliments the other and both are worth going out of your way to add to your library.

I can also highly recommend the auto biography of Gary Hart, which I beleive is out of print, but you may be lucky enough to get a copy on or eBay.

This is the best wrestling book I've ever read, bar none.  Hart takes you through his life with keen insight and no stone left unturned.

Hart was the booker for much of the heyday of WCCW and his take on that period is even more detailed in the book than it is on either the Heroes of World Class or Triumph and Tragedy DVD's.

I can also recomend the Gary Hart Guest Booker DVD from, which contains even more great insight and historical perspective.

Monday, August 30, 2010

UFC 118 Leaves Much To Think About

In case you didn't hear about it, UFC 118 and the UFC Fan Expo took over Boston this past weekend.  When I say "took over Boston," I mean that quite literally.

It seemed that everywhere you looked in this city, UFC was there.  From billboards and taxi tops, to media stories and coverage the likes of which would be the envy of any PR guy anywhere, UFC got coverage that was absolutely unprecedented.  Hell, I was listening to the oldies station on my way to a radio remote last Thursday and even the DJ on the oldies station mentioned UFC.  If you are a Bostonian and didn't know UFC was coming to Boston, you were either a) deaf, dumb and blind or b) deceased, so check your pulse.

Boston is home to some of the greatest franchises in professional sports.  Between the Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots and Bruins, those entities suck up media coverage like a dry sponge sucks up a small puddle.  UFC was given coverage akin to a major sports franchise in the playoffs or championship finals.  It was fascinating to watch, purely from a media standpoint.

The event had such buzz that it attracted stars from the local sports community such as the Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady, the Celtics' Glen Davis, Shaquille O'Neal and many others.  This was more than just a sporting event.  This was a very big deal in this city.

The post-fight press conference was also fascinating to watch due to the make up of reporters and the level of questions.  To me, it sounded like 2/3 of the media in attendance regularly cover UFC and asked the more sport-oriented questions.  The other third sounded like the reporters with no connection to the sport, covering it purely as a media event.

For those of us in the pro wrestling business, what does it mean?  What does the level of coverage say about UFC and what does it say about pro wrestling?

Obviously, UFC is a very hot ticket.  While the Garden was not sold out, at a $600 top ticket, it was a very, very healthy gate.  Combine that with tens of thousands who attended the Fan Expo at the Hynes Convention Center across town and you have an event that even made Pat Moscaritolo, the head of the Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, sniff around the UFC like a dog to a brand new fire hydrant.

You could chalk this level of coverage up to first time curiosity, but the sheer magnitude of coverage says something else entirely.  The locally based WCF (World Championship Fighting) run by long time Dana White friend Joe Cavello, had been drawing several thousand fans on a regular basis to the venerable Shriners' Auditorium in Wilmington for a couple of years now.  It's clear that the area has a substantial MMA fan base.  (By the way, let's be clear about terms.  UFC is hot.  MMA is a cult item.  Some shows draw, but local MMA is like outlaw pro wrestling back in the territory days - hit or miss and mostly the latter.) WFC has had an association with UFC, so that has given them the aura of credibility other local MMA events don't
have a prayer of getting.

I have always maintained that a large element of the success of UFC is the failure of WWE/TNA to present a pro wrestling product with a greater aura of athletic credibility.  I believe it is - to a large degree - an overreaction to lack of sports in "sports entertainment."   By and large, people want to be able to suspend their disbelief and the more difficult that become, the less interested they are going to be.

The other issue I see is simply change.  The world changes every day.  Society changes.  Trends change.  No matter what your field of endeavor, you have to change with society in order to survive.  UFC is one of the great brand names in sports now.  They have done an incredible job of creating and defining a major league sport.  Pro wrestling is still defined by one company and that company is resistant to change.

No one knows what the future will hold.  UFC is here to stay and so is pro wrestling - whether its WWE, TNA or some independent brand.  One thing is certain.  Boston felt the world change this past weekend.  How many others in our industry will get the full meaning of that change?

Friday, July 30, 2010

10 Years of New England Championship Wrestling

On August 7 & 8, New England Championship Wrestling, the promotion I founded and currently operate with 3 fantastic partners and the help of numerous others, celebrates it's 10 year anniversary with a 2 night spectacular you can learn more about at

This post is not about hyping these events, although it may additionally serve that purpose.  This post is about its title "10 Years of New England Championship Wrestling."

NECW has run consistent live events for a decade.  It has produced weekly original television distributed via the Internet for more years than there has been a You Tube or a Hulu and was the first to do so.  It is currently producing original weekly television that can be seen throughout New England on Comcast Video On Demand - another first in the industry.

On Saturday, August 12, 2000, I stood in front of a group of young men in a former arcade in Wethersfield, CT and told them, "This company is about making you guys the stars.  I live and die with you guys."

At the time, that was a radical statement.  The conventional wisdom at the time was that TV stars drew the fans, and if you didn't have those stars, you weren't going to make it.  In fact, I remember after our 3rd event, which took place at the old Good Time Emporium in Somerville, MA, our then ring announcer sat me down, looked at me and said, "If you don't start booking the big names, you'll be out of business in six months."

Keeping that promise was not easy.  It took years before people started to believe that "local wrestling" was a viable way to conduct business.  It still isn't easy.  But today, when I call the matches for TV and see young men and women who are bound together by a near irrational love of pro wrestling and the burning desire to make it in this profession, and the audiences, no matter how large or small, touched by their in-ring stuggles, I continue to be inspired and priviledged to have had a hand in making those dreams into reality.

The list of athletes that have benefitted from the stage NECW has provided over the years is a long and impressive one.  Whether they worked for one night, a few months or a numerous years, all had a part to play in the history and legacy of New England Championship Wrestling.  Whether they were local or made the trip to our area from across the U.S. or overseas, they sought NECW out because it provided that stage that gave them credibitlity and exposure.

Some of NECW's alumni include, John Cena, Beth Phoenix, Trinity, Doug Williams, Sumie Sakai, "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards, "Prince" Fergal Devitt, Nikki Roxx, Mercedes Martinez, Antonio Thomas, Rebecca Knox, Jonny Storm, Jody Fleisch, The All Knighters, and many, many, many more.

The local stories are often the most compelling.  When NECW decided to seriously promote women's wrestling and created the Wordl Women's Wrestling brand, Nikki Roxx, tapped to be the company's first champion appeared in every major local newspaper on radio and TV, garnering more press than any other wrestler - male or female - in New England wrestling history.  It was a springboard to a tryout in WWE and a run in TNA.

Speaking of women's wrestling, this Sunday the World Women's Wrestling brand returns with a very unique main event - WWW Champion, Mistress Belmont vs. Alexxis Neveah for the title in a steel cage.  These two women have improved so much since they started with us to the point that they are two of the best women in pro wrestling bar none.

Next weekend, as we celebrate 10 years and embark on our second decade, I hope you will make it down and share this extraordinary promotion and experience with us.  I can say with every confidence that New England Championship Wrestling takes a backseat to nothing and no one.  It has absoultely made an impact on this sport we call professional wrestling.  If you've followed us at all, come back and you'll remember why.  If you've never been to NECW live before, come down and be a part of a very special event and a very special group of people.

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July! Random Thoughts on NECW, WWE, TNA, Lesnar/UFC, Heyman

Hope everyone is having a great 4th of July weekend.  We are overdue for an update and there's lots to cover, so let's get to it.

We are getting closer and closer to a huge milestone for New England Championship Wrestling - our 10th anniversary.  We are cerebrating with a huge 3 night spectacular with a banquet on Friday, August 6, the main Bash 10 event on Saturday, August 7 and a combination World Women's Wrestling event and NECW TV taping on Saturday, August 8 at 1 PM.  Everything takes place in Quincy.  All the details, as well as a tremendous 3 event discount package, can be found at

If you are a wrestling fan, you really don't want to miss NECW live.  We're back in Quincy this coming Saturday night and the action of late in the company is on a par with anything we have ever done.

If I have one frustration, it is that I believe NECW is the single most underrated wrestling promotion in the country.  We made a choice to specialize in local wrestling.  Maybe some people think that isn't sexy enough, but I would put this company up against anything out there and I believe those who haven't seen it would absolutely find it worth their time and money.

I am lucky that I get the best the seat in the house to call the matches for TV and home video and having watched wrestling for as long as I have, I can confidently say that if I weren't involved in putting this on, I would be following everything and buying tickets.

Not only do I think its great wrestling, its a great value too.  With tickets normally well under $20, you can't go wrong, especially if you have a family and want to bring your kids out for a great night of action and fun.

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I want to apologize to our fans in New England who had to wait until later in the week to see the latest episode of New England Championship Wrestling on Comcast On Demand.   Comcast has technical issues on their end and the show did not get up correctly until Friday.  The shows aired as scheduled online, and all previous shows are available on Vimeo.

If you have Comcast On Demand, live in New England, and aren't seeing NECW on your menu, or if there are technical issues with the show, please e-mail me directly at, because I want to know.

I'd also like to hear your thoughts on our On Demand series.  This is another innovation for NECW, as there has never been another original wrestling program made available in this way. 

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WWE has been raising eyebrows with the NXT program and the rookie invasion dominating RAW.  The company sees the need to elevate young stars and this is an ideal vehicle to do it.

Whatever criticisms I have read about the way the company has presented this, I applaud them for the effort and find a lot to be interested in.

Pro wrestling is a talent driven business.  To keep people interested, stars have to be made.  Talent needs to be developed and brought to the top of the roster effectively.

With MMA siphoning off some of the best young fighting talents, pro wrestling in general and WWE specifically, needs to address how to recruit top athletes and develop them.  We are in an age when the territory system no longer exists and instead we have "developmental."   I am happy to see that Jim Ross will be back involved in the developmental area, because of the top stars in the company today, Ross recruited most of them.

I want to see WWE, as well as TNA succeed.  As someone in the business of professional wrestling, when the top players do well, that interest trickles down.  What is good for WWE & TNA is good for NECW, ROH, etc.

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TNA has been struggling of late after the aborted move to Monday nights.  There are rumors of Paul Heyman being courted to be the "savior" and frankly, pro wrestling needs a mind like Paul Heyman's actively working in it.

Heyman was in Brock Lesnar's training group at UFC 116 last night, and I happened to see a video interview with him.  Heyman claimed his days in pro wrestling are over and that he's got a couple of book projects and other things going on in addition to his Heyman Hustle website.

Do I think Paul Heyman is done with pro wrestling?  No.  Do I think he'll be picked up by TNA?  I would say that for Paul to jump in there, he would have to have a very lucrative deal, one where he would be able to execute his concepts fully.  Control is a tough thing for any company to give up, so we'll see what happens.  If anyone could make TNA more competitive, it would be Heyman.

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Amazon Video Recommendation

Andy Kaufman's run in Memphis Wrestling was so far ahead of its time.  "I'm From Hollywood" chronicles the story of Andy run vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler in a feud that changed pro wrestling forever.

This is a DVD you'll want to watch again and again.  An absolute 5 star classic!

More thoughts later in the week!

Monday, June 07, 2010

P.W. Why?: Does Anyone Read Pro Wrestling Illustrated Anymore?

Last Thursday, on my way to doing the Mouthpiece Wrestling Show, I stopped off at a Barnes & Noble to kill a little time and wait out a brief thunderstorm.  As the skies opened up, I gravitated to the magazine section to see what, if any wrestling magazines were on sale.

A little over 10 years ago, there were at least a half dozen pro wrestling titles available on every major newsstand.  Apart from the Pro Wrestling Illustrated family of magazines (PWI, The Wrestler, Inside Wrestling) you had WOW, the Starlog titles, Wrestling's Main Event and some others. Back in the 70's, titles like The Ring's Wrestling, The Big Book of Wrestling and Wrestling Revue populated local newsstands and were prized collectables of kids like me all around the country.

Today, you have WWE Magazine and PWI. That's it.

There are people who will tell you that these are changing times, that printed media is a dinosaur and how everyone gets their information from the Internet or TV.  I won't argue that trend, but I look at newsstands today and I see just as many titles as I ever did.  Most are glossier, many are thinner, but they are still there.

Back to Barnes & Noble last Thursday.  Browsing through their huge selection of magazines, I saw the latest issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated - the "State of the Game" issue.

I flipped open to the article called "The State of Independent Wrestling."  It talked about Ring of Honor (on national TV and touring around the country, so that's hardly an independent), DGUSA, Jersey All Pro Wrestling and something called EVOLVE.  And that was it.

Ugh.  It was as though wrestling did not exist beyond the NY, NJ, PA area.

I thought to myself, "How crappy is this?  This is so not thorough.  Why would anyone bother to read this?"

A couple of months ago, we got an e-mail asking us to send in pictures and profiles for the annual PWI 500, an issue where the top 500 wrestlers in the business are listed.  Every promotion around the country PWI has an e-mail address for gets solicited for this and we're happy to send in names, photos and bio information.

But why does it stop there?  Why is it that PWI has such a narrow focus?  Is it a lack of resources?

Back in the territory days, promoters would pay to fly in a Bill Apter, who would take photos of the big shows, write stories about the top stars in a given territory and highlight certain talent.   While WWE has its own magazine and doesn't need PWI to expose its talent, WWE still dominates PWI content as it should.  But shouldn't there be more coverage or more avenues for coverage for the significant independent companies around the country?

Any wrestling fan can get all the latest news for free on any number of wrestling news sites.  The internet has done more to usurp the importance of the newsstand wrestling magazine than anything else.  PWI has allowed itself to be pretty irrelevant by not embracing the online world.

I think there is still a value to the newsstand wrestling magazine, but not if its going to focus only on a few companies.

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Amazon DVD Deal

If you've never seen the 5 disc Wrestling Gold box set chock full of great 70's and 80's matches, you owe it to yourself to get this set.

10 hours of old school wrestling for less than $15?  Yes inded.  This is the best wrestling DVD bargain out there.

This DVD set is special because the bouts are presented with not only the original commentary, but also with a special alternate commentary track featuring Dave Meltzer and Jim Cornette, who give great background and stories about the matches and the territories and what was going on in the business at the time.

You owe to yourself to add this to your collection and the price is most definitely right.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

IRON 8 Thoughts & more

Last night's NECW event was a great night of action and entertainment in Somerset, MA for the 7th annual edition of the IRON 8 Championship. Fans were treated to a live performance by the great local band Tester, whose "King of the World" was the official song of the IRON 8. If you haven't checked this band out, they are pretty damned awesome and "King of the World" has hit written all over it - check it out at

Hats off to producer/director Bryan Nadeau for putting that together. NECW and the local music scene are a great fit, especially considering the media assets NECW brings to the table.

As for the wrestling end of the evening, it was a phenomenal card and kudos to every athlete who participated.

This year's IRON 8 was marked by several injuries prior to the event taking place, which caused numerous changes to the line up. There was a certain flavor missing this year, but when it came to bell to bell action and intrigue, this one was hard to beat.

Full results will be available soon on the NECW website, but congratulations to Handsome Johnny who won this year's tournament in dramatic fashion. The result leaves a lot of unanswered questions regarding The Handsome One and his protetge, "Sensational" Scott Levesque, but there is no question that Handsome Johnny elevated his game in NECW last night.

The night also featured a phenomenal Triple Crown Championship Match that saw "The Real Deal" Brandon Locke and NECW Television Champion, "The Heat" Kris Pyro take each other to the absolute limit in a match that I would consider an all time classic in NECW. While Pyro showed he has the goods to be a top dog by any measure, Locke is a superb athlete and in my no-so-humble opinion, the Triple Crown has elevated Locke to his peak as a performer. I watched this match and got that same vibe I would get watching a classing NWA World Title defense by Harley Race or Ric Flair.

When this one comes out on DVD, I would get it for that title match alone.

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This summer New England Championship Wrestling will celebrate its 10th anniversary. In our business, that is a very significant milestone and plans are afoot to celebrate in a big way.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Mania/Holiday/Spring Thoughts, NECW in Carver, MA This Saturday, Mouthpiece Update and more

I hope everyone had a great Easter or Passover, whichever you celebrate. It looks like spring is finally making itself present and that is a very good thing.

I watched WrestleMania at the home of super fan, fellow wrestling collector and NECW devotee, Jay DeChellis last weekend. Joe Matterazzo and I, along with another of the NECW faithful, Jerry Lane, enjoyed the PPV event, in particular the Undertaker-Michaels bout.

While I hate to see the industry lose a great talent, Shawn Michael's farewell speech on Raw was touching and hit the points perfectly. I hope Shawn keeps his word and stays out of the ring, unlike Ric Flair.

I am as big a Flair fan as anyone, but frankly, I think Flair really damaged his legacy with his return. And while I understand that financial necessity was involved, it is going to be hard for fans to take any wrestler's retirement seriously after Flair returned to the ring after last year's ultimate send off.

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New England Championship Wrestling comes to Carver High School in Carver, MA, which is on the way to Cape Cod, this coming Saturday night, April 10 at 7 PM. The event is called "A Fight for Alex" and for all you long time fans, it does not involve any real or imagined friend of Killer Karl Kox.

Alex is Alex Wawryzniak, a 3 1/2 year old child suffering from brain cancer. His grandfather is Bill "Buzz" Lopez, a former area wrestling manager who did a brieft stint with NECW doing interviews for our Internet TV show. Pro wrestling is very much "family" to those involved in it. And when one of our family is in a time of need, we respond.

I hope that if you are at all close to the area, you will see fit to join us that night for a great event and a great cause.

Head on over to for all the details, including how to order tickets.

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There will be a major announcement concerning Thge Mouthpiece Fight Block, the three fight talk shows on Boston's 1510 the Zone, later this week.

We have a lot of loyal listeners who have followed the show no matter how many times we've changed time slots over the past 21 months, and I want to thank all of you profusely for your support.

This week, we will be live from our studios on Thursday night, April 8 at 7 PM EST, as we will be pre-empted from our now usual Saturday night slot due to Red Sox baseball.

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New England Championship Wrestling on Comcast On Demand continues to perform well both on TV and online.

This week's edition is an exceptional episode featuring a first-ever World Women's Wrestling Title vs. Hair Match, between champion Alexxis Neveah and challenger, Mistress Belmont, managed by Sean Gorman. If Belmont loses, BOTH she and Gorman lose their hair. It's a tremendous match up, and I can tell you that the next few weeks of New England Championship Wrestling are "must see" episodes.

Check it out at