Monday, June 30, 2008

The Good Times Come To An End... For Now

Tonight was the last night of operation for Good Time Emporium in Somerville, MA after 17 years. The building is being redeveloped for an Ikea store. The owner threw a big party for customers, vendors, former employees and friends tonight. It was a night full of memories and emotions, as we said good bye to one of the most unique venues in the country, if not the world.

Good Time Emporium was over 150,000 square feet of almost every kind of entertainment from batting cages to bumpers cars, arcade games to basketball and bowling, plus laser tag and an indoor go kart track. Not mention, 80 regulation sized pool tables, over 70 big screens for sports and all the wrestling and MMA pay per views. Plus, 3 big bars, a nightclub and a large birthday party area. Good Time Emporium was the largest indoor entertainment complex in New England. Nothing else came close.

Good Time Emporium, of course, was the scene of so many great NECW events, as well as World Women's Wrestling. Our company would not have taken hold had it not been for the home that Good Time Emporium provided for us. Had there been no Good Times, there would have been no NECW.

In fact, had there been no Good Times, the entire landscape of wrestling in New England would be different.

The first promoter to run wrestling at Good Times was Rocky Raymond. While Raymond didn't last long, the late "Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble ran the building consistently for the 5 or so years until his death in 1999, first under the Century Wrestling Alliance banner, then as NWA New England.

I have some great memories of those years, but more importantly, it was the Good Times shows that were the first real consistently run independent promotion in the area and a chance for local talent to work consistently. The company which was backed by a pretty darn good cable access show, had spotty results as a draw at Good Times, but nonetheless brought fans some great action and introduced some great talent to the area.

One of my favorite memories of NWA New England and Good Times was the time we had then NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Naoya Ogawa scheduled to appear. I had the foresight to make up posters with Ogawa's picture and distribute them to some of the Japanese grocery stores in the area. Ogawa was a silver medalist in judo in Japan and a national hero, prior to embarking on a career in pro wrestling. Ogawa's plane was late that day and he didn't actually make the show. We had about 40 Japanese fans in attendance who came specifically to see Ogawa. We asked them to wait and when he arrived, he graciously signed autographs for everyone and posed for pictures.

Also in attendance that day was boxer, "Hurricane" Peter McNeely, famous for being destroyed by then heavyweight boxing champion, Mike Tyson. We did a photo op in the dressing room for the Japanese press, where McNeely challenges Ogawa with yours truly in the middle trying to0 break it up between them. The photo of that ran in almost every major newspaper in Japan.

My most precious memories of Good Times will always be the NECW shows and the talent we introduced to the area. Guys who never had a chance to be anything more than filler on a New England wrestling card before got the chance to shine. Young talent from England, Canada and Japan made a mark in this area thanks to NECW at Good Times. Two future WWE World Champions appeared for us at Good Times before they became famous - John Cena and Beth Phoenix. Good Times was the house that made the career of Nikki Roxx, now Roxxi in TNA. British champion, Doug Williams, now signed to TNA, appeared for us many times at Good Time Emporium after making his debut in America with NECW on our 2nd show in Wethersfield, CT. I will always be proud of how we launched World Women's Wrestling at Good Times and changed how women's wrestling was viewed in the area.

I don't know of any wrestling company anywhere that got as much publicity as NECW & WWW did at Good Times. We even had a front page of the Boston Herald a few years back. No company in this area ever made a mark at a building, like we did at Good Times. So many stars, so many shows, so many memories.

Tonight, as I walked around the building, I felt like I was losing a dear friend. I shook hands with many of the fans who came regularly for our events and was touched at the thanks I received from many for all the entertainment we brought them.

Many of the staff from years back came by to say goodbye as well, and there were lots of handshakes and hugs from those who helped us so much over the years.

I thanked owner Dan Hayes and gave him a copy of our Gateway To Greatness DVD, which had the Cena match, Beth Phoenix and more from Good Times. Dan told me that the thing he felt saddest about was his employees, many of whom had been with him for most of the 17 years of its existence.

The good news is that they are close to closing a deal to reopen in a larger facility in Brockton, so "The Good Times" may roll again soon.

As I drove away and looked at the lighted sign in front in my rear view mirror, it sunk in that this was the end of an era that made a big difference to a lot of people, myself included. Thanks for the Good Times.

Postscript: Two weeks ago myself and videographer Bryan Nadeau shot extensive footage inside Good Times for a forthcoming DVD tribute to this unforgettable venue. Look for that to be released this fall.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's sad to hear about the closing of Good Times; I had two of my favorite matches in that building, with Doug Williams, and Alex Arion, and some great memories of shooting the breeze
shows with some great people (including you Sheldon, when Maverick and I weren't being too obnoxious).

I'll lift a glass to the memory of that building, and the memories that will now be hidden amongst sweedish furniture.

--Justin McIsaac (aka Justin Powers or Justin Shaype)