Friday, November 17, 2006

Happy Birthday NECW TV

This week marks the second anniversary of New England Championship Wrestling's pioneering Internet television broadcasts, NECW TV.

NECW was the first independent promotion to produce an original weekly wrestling television program specifically produced for distribution via the Internet. It set off a slew of imitators and set a trend for wrestling companies to use the Internet as a direct means to distribute television programming. Both WWE and TNA have distributed Internet-only programming in the wake of our efforts.

This, however, was not my first foray into distributing wrestling programming via the Net. Back in 1996, I worked with Howard Brody and the late Hiro Matsuda on a project called RING WARRIORS. RING WARRIORS was actually re-voiced and re-edited matches from New Japan Pro Wrestling. Hiro Matsuda had obtained the rights from TV Asahi, the Japanese TV network that airs New Japan Pro Wrestling and owns part of the company, to distribute the shows outside of Japan. RING WARRIORS had achieved quite a bit success on Eurosport, the European equivalent to ESPN at the time, and the desire was to find a way to prime the product for an introduction to North America.

My suggestion was to find a way to engage fans via the Internet, specifically using streaming video, which was in its infancy at the time. The company made a deal with VDO Systems, who were developing streaming video technology at the time. A number of episodes were produced featuring Gordon Solie and Bruno Sammartino on commentary. The initial launch was to allow viewers the chance to watch the first week's show free, then charge a modest subscription fee to view subsequent weeks.

The first week's traffic was high, but since few people had broadband access in 1996, the viewing experience was not very good. The Internet aspect of the project was abandoned not long after that, although other attempts to launch RING WARRIORS continued until Hiro's passing in 1999.

I still believed that eventually, the Internet would become the "great equalizer" for small wrestling promotions. The ability to distribute a television product worldwide without a TV station or network was, and is, a revolutionary concept that has now become a reality.

I actually wanted to launch NECW TV a few years earlier, but did not have the staffing or resources to make it happen at the time. I remember being scoffed at by people who thought that no one would watch wrestling on that little screen within a screen. Logic dictated otherwise. At the time, we had roughly 3,000 unique visitors each month to our website without video content. Since we were not drawing 3,000 people per month live, that meant that there were many more people out there who were looking at NECW through that little window that was our website. It only made sense to open that window wider by actually showing them our promotion via streaming video, which by this time had become far more viable.

The launch of NECW TV two years ago was an immediate success. We went from 3,000 unique visitors per month to over 40,000 in the early going. We got significant publicity, including a story in the New York Daily News. While the major wrestling websites, with a few exceptions, ignored it, there was no denying that it started a trend. Within days of our announcement Jersey All Pro Wrestling announced a similar thing. Today, dozens of independent promotions worldwide utilize the Internet as a primary means to distribute their content. All this, two years before YouTube made "user generated content" an entertainment industry catch phrase.

Today, NECW TV enjoys a continued strong worldwide viewership. As a promotional tool, it has been an invaluable means of marketing our company. We have also kept it free. In fact the motto of NECW TV is "Free. On Demand. Worldwide." That always summed it up best for me.

As successful as NECW TV has been, it should be noted that I have never viewed it as a substitute for conventional television. Pro wrestling, much like other mainstreams sports, has always been an experience best enjoyed at full screen size on a conventional television set. Conventional TV is still the best mechanism to reach the most people.

In fact, NECW TV does air on a couple of town cable access channels, so there are some viewers who have seen it on conventional TV, but our goal remains eventually transitioning our content to being primarily produced for broadcast or cable. Having the ability to produce a weekly program on a zero budget is not to be underestimated. NECW TV is a means to end, as well as an end unto itself.

I'd like to thank the fans who have watched and supported NECW TV for these past two years. We have been seen in more than 60 countries and hope that all of you have enjoyed our programs. You have helped us rewrite the history of pro wrestling promotion and opened the door for dozens of unheralded talents - promoters, as well as wrestlers - to be seen and appreciated.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Interesting Times for NECW & WWW

We are getting ready for a big DOUBLE IMPACT WEEKEND with NECW & WWW. Two fantastic events are on tap with NECW in Quincy on Saturyday night and World Women's Wrestling at Good Time Emporium in Somerville on Sunday afternoon with a 3 PM bell time.

This is an interesting time for NECW, as well as World Women's Wrestling (which is referred to as Triple W for short). While we are not as widely covered by the Internet wrestling media as say an ROH, NECW is a vibrant and innovative regional company.

The NECW roster boasts a boatload of talent. From Evan Siks, the Triple Crown Champion on top, to D.C. Dillinger and Eddie Edwards, NECW Tag Team Champions, The Canadian Superstars, 2D Edge, Big Rick Fuller, R.I.O.T., NECW Television Champion, "The Talent" T.J. Richter to managers Sean Gorman and Brian Cairo and up and comers like The Wild Boys, Handsome Johnny, Max Bauer and Scott Reed (apologies to anyone I left out), there is a lot to like in NECW. If you follow our online TV shows - - it's there for you to see every week. These are the best wrestlers in the region. Not the upper class of wrestling school trainees. The best talent is drawn here, because they see things happening. They see bigger, more enthusiastic crowds and a company with a long and consistent track record.

World Women's Wrestling is a story unto itself. A year and a half ago, I ran two all women's shows, as part of a day/night doubleheader. The NECW crew at the time, and this was before the merger with PWF, were resistant to the women's shows to the point of blatant sabotage by the booker and a few of his co-horts. The women drew a receptive audience in spite of that and it was clear to me that a women's company would be viable. The experience of those first two shows was, in one way, a blessing, because it became clear to me that the women needed to stand alone with their own brand name and their own stand alone dates.

Once the shows were presented under the World Women's Wrestling name, it took off like a rocket.

The promotion features some of the best female wrestling talent around and the roster is constantly growing. The women are accomplished pro wrestlers and are presented as such. It is interesting to see how these girls rise to the occasion when given roles equal to how men are normally presented. It is completely fresh and entertaining and I have been very gratified by how fans, the stars and staff have accepted it. The sky is the limit for this company and you can look forward to seeing the same kind of innovation that has been a hallmark of NECW, applied to World Women's Wrestling.

If you have not experienced NECW or WWW before, you are in for a very big treat. Check out and for all the details of this DOUBLE IMPACT Weekend.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Remembering Rumble

When I die, I don't want people to be sad. I want people to be happy, because I'll be with my friends. - "The Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble

It was 7 years ago today that "The Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble died suddenly of a massive heart attack.

Most wrestling fans would have been familiar with Rumble from his hosting of Mario Savoldi's old ICW (later ICCW) TV shows. Around these parts, Tony Rumble was the owner and promoter of the Century Wrestling Alliance, later becoming NWA New England.

His exposure on the ICW/ICCW shows made him something of a local celebrity. He was street smart, as opposed to book smart, and a tremendously effective promoter. The CWA/NWA NE dominated the area as far as local promotion goes. Rumble had a knack of being able to pick up sold shows (events where a school or organization would buy the event for a set price) and then promote events off of the sold show. While he was never what you'd call wealthy or even well off, he did made a living from wrestling during much of the last 5 years of his life.

At its best, CWA/NWA NE was a collection of top national (and even some occasional international) stars and some interesting local talent. Rumble also had what he called his "Whack Pack." Guys who were there just to be amusing or entertaining. They gave the promotion a unique character, much like Rumble himself.

Rumble's friendships with the likes of Jim Cornette and Kevin Sullivan put the promotion in a very unique place in the late 90's. Before the beginning of developmental territories that WWE uses now, Rumble was one of those few who had the ear of decision makers in the then-WWF and WCW. Rumble was also still friendly with former ICW proteges like Taz and Tommy Dreamer, as well as Paul Heyman. In New England, Rumble dominated the local scene, such as it was at the time.

In fact, NWA NE was really the first "serious" independent promotion in the region. The company had a cable access TV show called "Mass Madness," produced by a bright young cable access producer named Pat Doyle. The production was fairly high quality for its time and the shows had everything from great wrestling with top talent to funny wrap-around segments. The show eventually made its way onto broadcast TV on an independent UHF station out of Derry, NH. The show used a different format on broadcast TV and lasted 16 weeks before the station wanted to change the deal and get paid for the show. A local car dealership - Atlantic Toyota - had agreed to sponsor the show, but pulled out at the last minute. It was a hard blow to Rumble, who passed away a few weeks later.

Those who knew him remember him fondly. They remember his as a mentor who gave people a chance to perform who would have otherwise not had that chance. He helped a lot of guys get into the national spotlight. He was a larger than life character, always fun to be around and quick with a great story.

But the real person behind Tony Rumble was a lot more complex. Anthony David Magliaro was a street kid whose parents died young. He had a difficult childhood and life with few bright spots. One of Tony's joys as a boy were the monthly wrestling shows at the old Boston Garden. At a Garden show in 1966, Bruno Sammartino and Gorilla Monsoon had a match where the ring broke in the middle of the match. It was the moment that Tony decided he wanted to be a wrestler, and years later he fulfilled that dream. He eventually took on the persona of "The Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble and that was when Tony's life really began.

We became close friends over the last 6 years of his life. He loved wrestling with all his heart, as he did his wife, Ellen, her children and his first grandson, Hunter.

Tony's sudden death threw the New England wrestling scene into turmoil. Rumble was an irreplaceable commodity. His widow tried to put the promotion in hands that would continue the business, but they were the wrong people for the job. The solid business that Tony had built over 6 and half years, crumbled within 6 months. Eventually, Tony's widow turned the operation over to Jason Dellagatta, who had wrestled for NWA NE as Jason Rage. At the urging of Ellen Magliaro, Jason Rage became Jason Rumble, the "son" of Tony. While Jason was no relation to Tony in real life, the promotion did continue under his direction, but Jason did not have the experience as either a wrestler or a businessman to be effective in either role.

With Tony gone, it was inevitable that other promotions would spring up and try and occupy the same place it held on the New England scene. By the time of his death, the business was changing rapidly. The sold shows became more difficult to get and the ability to book top names from WWF and WCW dried up. It became clear, at least to me, that the region called for a different model for doing business. To try and imitate what Tony did would be impossible, because so much of it worked because of him and his personality.

I think about Tony Rumble every single day. He was one of those characters that simply don't exist anymore and probably never will again. And while I am sad that he is not here to lend his street-wise wisdom, humor and love to this world, I pray that he is happy wherever he is now.

Rest in peace my friend.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Post Monster's Brawl Thoughts, Bischoff Book & More!

Thanks to everyone who came out last week for another stellar NECW event at the Armory in Quincy, MA.

I thought this event had great energy led by some feuds that are getting hotter by the month. The issues between "Hurricane" John Walters and Jason Blade are getting more complex with each outing. My take on Walters' "turn to the dark side" is that it was born out of frustration over not being able to regain the NECW Heavyweight Championship and beyond to the Triple Crown. However, on the recent edition of NECW Roundtable, both Evan Siks and Sean Gorman seem to think this attitude change was a calculated move. Wherever the truth lies, there is a passion in Walters' demeanor that makes him a much more interesting athlete to watch. Walters and Blade are two of the best ring technicians in the game right now and each of their collisions has been memorable. They will do it again on November 18th with the count out rule waived and I am looking forward to that one.

Kristian Frost and Brian Fury are in the thick of battle these days. Fury scored a victory last weekend over Frost in a bout that could have gone either way. After the match, Frost laid out Fury with a set of handcuffs and Fury has challenged Frost to a "Handcuffs On a Pole" Match on November 18. Frost and Fury are both marquee athletes who are going to do huge things in NECW in the future.

The Canadian Superstars continue to frustrate their opposition - as well as management. It is a credit to this team that have been so dominant. But their manhandling of Matt and Kyle Storm was as difficult to accept for me as it was for them. I hope that the Storms decide not to hang them up, as they are a team with much to offer.

Of course, the buzz is all about the mystery partner Evan Siks produced last weekend in "Big" Rick Fuller. Talk about impact players! Fuller is going to have a gigantic impact in NECW. It's good to have the big man in house. Fuller and I go back to the days of late, great "Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble. Rick has always been a class act and has deserved a much higher profile in this industry. Do not be surprised if that injustice is rectified within the parameters of NECW.

Thinking about the current state of affairs in NECW, I think this is the most interesting and talent-rich roster in the history of the promotion. That is no knock on anyone in the company's past.

For those of you who have not yet seen NECW or WWW live or who haven't been in a while, we have a very unique opportunity this month. We're calling it a "Double Impact Weekend" an NECW event on Saturday night, November 18 in Quincy (7 PM bell time) and a World Women's Wrestling event the next afternoon at Good Time Emporium in Somerville (3 PM bell time). This is a great opportunity to see the best wrestling New England has to offer and the phenomenon that is World Women's Wrestling.

I read Eric Bischoff's new book, Controversy Creates Cash and highly recommend it to anyone who is a true student of the wrestling business. There will be debate over the veracity of many of the things Eric says in the book, but it is a real education on how pro wrestling got to where it is right now and what the realities of the industry are today. I have had a few personal dealings with Eric over the years and I have a very high opinion of him personally. He is a creative guy with a great work ethic and a "can-do" persona. That describes a lot of successful people and Eric is cast in that mold.

I want to thank Doc Young and Les Thatcher for having me on their Wrestling Weekly radio show this past week. We talked about NECW and World Women's Wrestling amongst other topics. Les Thatcher is one guy that I have so much admiration and respect for. In his four decade career, Les has literally done it all from wrestling (including a stint as World Jr. Heavyweight Champion) to promoting to booking to producing and announcing TV, as well as training young wrestlers. What I marvel at most with Les is that he stills passionately follows the current product and listing to his weekly show is a real education. I hope we can get Les to this area again in 2007 for a training camp.

Next week is the 7th anniversary of the death of "The Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble. Rumble was my best friend and a guy I would go to the wall for again and again. If you didn't know him, words probably won't do him justice, but he was one of those true characters - a larger than life figure who was loved by many and who lived and - sadly - died for this business we call professional wrestling. I think about Tony everyday and the more time goes by the more I realize that he was truly one-of-a-kind, never to be duplicated. I hope that he is at peace and surrounded by the family he cherished and the friends he treasured.

Friday, October 20, 2006

NECW Monster's Brawl Preview

Saturday night, October 28th, NECW returns to live action at the National Guard Armory in Quincy, MA with a 7:00 PM bell time for THE MONSTER'S BRAWL. Quincy has now racked up a string of consecutive sell out houses. While it would be impossible to say for sure why this has taken place, my best guess is that the level of talent and competition in NECW has risen to the point where the people know when they come to see us, they are getting top notch action at a great price with compelling stories being told in the ring.

Next Saturday night will be no exception.

THE MONSTER'S BRAWL is topped by a main event pitting NECW Triple Crown Champion, "The Human Nightmare" Evan Siks and a mystery parter against D.C. Dillinger and "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards, better known as Sabotage, accompanied by "The Mouthpiece of the East" Sean Gorman. Edwards attacked Evan Siks after his battle with Jason Blade last month in Quincy and "The Human Nightmare" sees this as an opportunity to scratch two itches at the same time. There is a lot of conjecture over who Siks' partner will be. I've been sworn to secrecy on the subject, but I can tell you that the opposition will be spooked by the Halloween surprise that "The Human Nightmare" has in store.

In the tag team title match, The Canadian Superstars, along with Brian Cairo, ought to be worried about next Saturday night's grudge match with The Storm Brothers. It's one thing to run roughshod over competing teams. Champions do that, especially underhanded ones like the Canadians. But when you start pushing around management, you've got problems. Technically, the Superstars are an excellent team, and you could make a very strong argument for them being the greatest team in NECW/PWF history. Their title reign is closing in on a year and they have kept some great duos at bay. But at MONSTER'S BRAWL, they have a very different type of disadvantage, as the officials will be leaning toward The Storm Brothers at every turn. And while the Storms may not have seen much ring time in recent years, they are former PWF Tag Team Champions, so they have been to the dance and have the veteran experience to give Busta and Cole a real run for their money.

The battle between "Hurricane" John Walters and Jason Blade will be another high impact, high octane encounter for sure. While it's disappointing to see Walters turn into the ruthless assassin he's shown himself to be against Jason Blade, Walters' frustration level over losing the NECW Heavyweight Championship and being unable to regain it was evident to all behind the scenes. I don't care at all for his attitude, but Walters is a premiere athlete and this attempt to reinvent himself may turn out to be the key to future successes. Jason Blade has proven himself time and again as a blue chip talent and this is a critical feud for him. A victory would keep him in the title picture after his unfortunate loss to Evan Siks last month in part due to Walters' presence via video. A loss propels Walters to the forefront of title contention. Blade is hellbent on revenge for Walters' post match attack at BIRTHDAY BASH 6 that could have resulted in tragedy. All the element are in place for an epic collision and I am sure this one will not disappoint.

TOXIC WALTZ winner, "Straight Edge" Brian Fury takes on "The Exotic" Kristian Frost in a grudge match and this one is hard to call. Both men have been on a collision course of late and they are an interesting match up. Both men are former NECW Tag Team Champions who have flourished in their solo careers. Both of these stars have a huge upside that has yet to be tapped. It is ironic that each man happens to stand in the other's way at this juncture, but that is the nature of competition. Fury has the experience advantage over Frost, and with all else being pretty much equal, that's where my wager would go.

In World Women's Wrestling feature match, it's Tanya Lee, with Sean Gorman in tow, taking on Natalia. It's been great seeing Natalia back in action in both NECW & WWW. This young lady is modest when discussing her talent as a wrestler, but make no mistake about it, she is as good as they come and easy on the eyes to boot. You could say all the same things about Tanya Lee, except Sean Gorman says them and that adds a whole other dimension to this contest. Tanya Lee is coming off a count out victory over Nikki Roxx, and with Gorman in her corner, Natalia will have her hands full in Quincy.

"The Talent" T. J. Richter pulled off a pretty mean feat last month sending "Big Guns" Frankie Arion into retirement. The Undisputed NECW Television Champion is someone who has learned how to get the job done and his success cannot be argued. However, a former nemesis is on his tail and it could spell trouble for "The Talent." The R.I.O.T. (Revolution In Our Time), Kellan Thomas holds a title victory over Richter having traded the PWF Mayhem Jr. Heavyweight Title back and forth this past summer. R.I.O.T. is demanding a title match this Saturday night, to which he is most definitely entitled. However, the scheduled match is a 6 man tag with Richter teaming with Scott Reed and Max Bauer to battle R.I.O.T and The Wild Boys. The Championship Committee is mulling this one over, so you never know what could happen at MONSTER'S BRAWL.

I look forward to seeing everyone next Saturday in Quincy!

Other notes:

A lot of people have asked me if Frankie Arion has really retired and if he will ever be back in NECW. Sadly, yes, Frankie really is retired, though I sincerely hope that retirement is like a Terry Funk retirement and not the final act for this great star. "Big Guns", for my money, was the most charismatic performer in NECW history and has a trememdous amount to give to this industry, should he continue to apply himself toward that goal.

This Saturday night we are going to have a special gift for our younger fans. A special Halloween treat bag filled with candy and other goodies will be given to each of our under 12 years old fans, while they last, to thank them for their support of NECW.

For those of you who are into DVD's, the World Women's Wrestling debut DVD, Champion vs. Champion is selling very well and we have been getting lots of compliments on the action, particularly the incredible Nikki Roxx-Ariel main event. The Gateway to Greatness DVD, which features many national and international stars when they appeared in NECW over the first few years of the promotion, is now on sale as well. None of us could believe the reaction the trailer got when we played it live last month, particularly when John Cena came on the screen. The crowd went crazy and had we had the DVD's that night, no doubt we would have sold a lot of them. They are available now online by clicking here, or you can get them next Saturday night and save the shipping and handling charge.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Independent Wrestling Hall of Fame

The good folks at The Wrestling Clothesline have released the names of the inductees to their Independent Wrestling Hall of Fame for 2006. I'm honored to have been one of the voters for this particular Hall of Fame. (I also vote for inductees into the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame in Shenectady, NY.)

The Independent Wrestling Hall of Fame, much like The Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, is not a "bricks and mortar" establishment, but an effort to recognize the greats of the past and provide fans, wrestlers and students of the game with some historical perspective.

What I especially like about The Wrestling Clothesline's effort is the recognition of those on the independent scene, who don't get the recognition they deserve. Like it or not, independent promotions are the lifeblood of professional wrestling.

Inducted into the Hall of Fame this year is the late Dennis Coralluzzo. Dennis was a former NWA President and one of the last of the truly unique characters in professional wrestling. I am pleased to say that Dennis was a good and dear friend who left us way too soon. I know he is somewhere smiling and drinking an iced tea over that well deserved honor.


After much thought, I have decided to debut this blog containing my thoughts on the doings in New England Championship Wrestling and World Women's Wrestling, as well as other wrestling-related topics.

I have missed column writing quite a bit recently and that is thanks to Jim Ross, whose blogs on his J.R.'s Bar-B-Q site are great reading and highly recommended. I don't claim to be in J.R.'s league as a writer, but nonetheless I look forward to sharing my views with you.

I'm happy to tell you that NECW and WWW are both doing very well. The merger between NECW & PWF has created a great promotion with an excellent roster and a dedicated staff. With everyone pulling in the same direction, NECW has accomplished more in the past 8 months than it has in the past several years.

I have always tried to lead NECW by creating innovative vehicles for the talent to shine. These range from signature events like the annual IRON 8 Championship to the Internet television broadcasts that NECW created that have been imitated by promotions around the world.

One of my proudest creations has been World Women's Wrestling. About a year and a half ago, I ran two all women's shows under the NECW banner. Each was part of a "doubleheader" with the men in the afternoon and the women at night. While some of my own staff hated the prospect of a women's promotion, the response was undeniable. The shows draw fans from as far away as Virginia and Canada. Media response has been amazing. DVD sales have been strong. Triple W is the real deal and this is just the beginning.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with, or relatively new to NECW, I encourage you to check out our latest video release: New England Championship Wrestling's Greatest Matches: GATEWAY TO GREATNESS. This is a collection of matches from the first few years of the promotion featuring stars who went on to national fame, as well as great international talent who sought us out in search of exposure in America. Our company has a rich history and this DVD is a great way to relive it. Order it by clicking here. Or check out the trailer.

Next time I'll run down our next NECW live event, Monster's Brawl, taking place Saturday night, October 28 at the National Guard Armory in Quincy, MA.

Thanks for reading!