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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Fuller Achievement

One of the most gratifying things in this end of the wrestling business is seeing the talent you've worked with and provided a stage for reach a higher plateau in our profession.

The people who really succeed in wrestling are the ones that have that unmistakable passion and drive to be very good at what they do. You see that hold true in all walks of life, but wrestling, especially on the independent level, is something else again. The commitment one must make is extraordinary. To commit to the training, to the constant effort to improve and market oneself and to physically put yourself on the line in hopes that one day you will make it in a business that has few top level opportunities is something I find most compelling. The guys who make that effort inspire me to make the effort that I make - to build a wrestling promotion that that strives to showcase extraordinary talent in an extraordinary way.

In July, NECW will be missing three of its top stars, all of whom are working overseas.

"Die Hard" Eddie Edwards is currently in the United Kingdom and will also be appearing elsewhere in Europe. Antonio "The Promise" Thomas will be making his debut with All Japan Pro Wrestling, and will, in fact, be staying for two tours. And lastly, Big Rick Fuller will be leaving next week for his first tour with New Japan Pro Wrestling and tagging with Giant Bernard, better known to U.S. fans as the former Prince Albert or A-Train.

We in NECW are extremely proud of all three men, each of whom is richly deserving of the opportunity they are getting.

However, I am especially happy for Rick Fuller who is getting an extraordinary opportunity at this stage of his career. I first met Rick years back when he worked for the late "Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble, who introduced him to Kevin Sullivan, then booker of World Championship Wrestling. Fuller's WCW run was not as impactful as it should have been. Fuller should have been a main event level guy on a national basis years ago.

Locally, Fuller has done some great work in NECW. He's in terrific shape - the best shape I've ever seen him in. He has been a true asset to our company, both in and out of the ring. But I will always have a soft spot for Rick over an incident that took place in 1998 when Tony Rumble was alive and we were running NWA New England.

One of the high points of our run with NWA New England was when our company had the NWA World Tag Team Titles, being held by The Brotherhood, consisting of Knuckles Nelson and Eric Sbraccia, managed by Tony Rumble. The NWA wanted to bicycle the titles around to different member promotions, but Rumble and I had begun to make some real noise in the business with the titles.

We did a one night title change with the late, great Public Enemy. I convinced Wally Yamaguchi through his brother Shun to book The Brotherhood on a couple of independent tours to Japan - the first time the NWA Tag Team Champions defended there in many years. The NWA Tag Team Champions were all over the major wrestling magazines, thanks to Rumble's friendships with then magazine mavens Bill Apter and George Napolitano.

The NWA, however, had made commitments to the NWA promoter in Texas, Ken Taylor, to put the titles on a very good team there called Team Extreme. A deal was made where The Brotherhood would go to Dallas and appear on a big show Taylor was promoting in the Bronco Bowl, which is a bowling alley and entertainment complex with a 2,000 seat theater. I even went along on the trip at my own expense and did color commentary on the Dallas promotion's TV show for the World Tag Team Championship Match.

But there was a problem along the way. Eric Sbraccia, who was one half of the tag team champions, decided he wasn't going to Texas. Sbraccia had just gotten back from Japan and claimed that his job would have been in jeopardy and that he would "rather stay home and swim in my pool."

The NWA was having issues with The Brotherhood holding on to the belts and the appearance in Texas was a mandatory title defense. If the champions no-showed, Rumble would have been on the hook for a $5,000 penalty.

Rumble made the call to Rick Fuller, who was still working for WCW at the time. Fuller agreed to step in to replace Sbraccia at the last minute.

The next hurdle happened at the airport in Boston. The plane ticket purchased for Sbraccia bared his name, not Fuller's. Rumble managed to pull off something you could never pull off today. He told the gate agent that the travel agent made a mistake and put the ticket under Fuller's "stage name." The agent bought the story and Fuller was on the plane.

So that one night in Dallas, Rick Fuller was one half of the NWA World Tag Team Champions and saved Rumble and myself and NWA New England from what could have turned into a major problem.

Should Fuller and Giant Bernard win the IWGP Tag Team Titles at some point, me and "The Boston Bad Boy" will be smiling extra wide.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Goldberg & Gorman On Radio: "The Mouthpiece Wrestling Show" Premieres July 11 on Boston's 1510 The Zone

Here is a press release we just sent out the other day:


WWZN, Boston’s Sport’s Station, 1510 The Zone announces a new program focusing on the world of professional wrestling. “The Mouthpiece Wrestling Show,” a compliment to the station’s successful “Mouthpiece Boxing Show,” premieres on Friday, July 11 at 5 PM.

The show will be hosted by New England Championship Wrestling promoter, Sheldon Goldberg and the notorious “Manager of Champions” Sean Gorman. Goldberg is also a noted wrestling historian and has appeared on A&E, ESPN and MSNBC.

In making the announcement, WWZN General Manager, Anthony Pepe said, “Our station has been a leader in broadcasting niche sports programming and we are looking at “The Mouthpiece Wrestling Show” to be a great compliment to that effort. New England Championship Wrestling has a substantial local following and Sheldon Goldberg and Sean Gorman offer keen insights into the world of pro wrestling because they are real insiders in that industry.”

The show will focus on all the happenings in WWE, TNA and ECW, as well as international and independent promotions, including New England Championship Wrestling. Guests will range from current national stars and industry figures to legends of the mat game to the stars that are making a name for themselves here in New England.

Sheldon Goldberg says, “Most importantly, “The Mouthpiece Wrestling Show” is going to be fun. We’re going to get into some interesting discussion, take listener phone calls and do a lot of contests and giveaways. We’re looking to make an impact on Boston radio and have a great time doing it.”

WWZN, 1510 The Zone’s “Mouthpiece Wrestling Show” will air every Friday afternoon from 5 to 6 PM beginning July 11. The station is streamed live on the Internet at

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Needless to say, I am very excited over this extraordinary opportunity. What could be more fun than getting to talk about a subject I am so passionate about with a large potential audience? The show is going to cover everything in pro wrestling, but will also be a platform for us to introduce a whole new audience to our great New England Championship Wrestling promotion.
The choice of Sean Gorman as co-host was a no-brainer. Gorman is as talented as many of the great wrestling managers of days gone by. While Gorman is normally my number one antagonist in NECW, he is also a charismatic, intelligent individual and a real student of the game. It should be an interesting combination and please spare me the Monsoon-Heenan comparisons.
Make sure you listen in on Friday, July 11 at 5 PM Eastern time!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Response to Comment

Anonymous writes:

I agree with you to a degree. I've promoted shows in the past, present, and future. Don't you think that bringing in "Name" talent sometimes works as long as you do the right thing with that talent? If you pay $1000 for someone to come in and they sell approximately $2000 extra in tickets, isn't it a wise investment? No one in TNA is going to bury your talent unless you let them. Now, in my opinion, no one in TNA except for Angle, Booker, or Christian Cage is really going to draw big numbers but as a "once in while" thing couldn't you promote your champion facing Samoa Joe in a "World Title Match" similar to the old days of Brisco, Funk, or Race? I mean, the local guy could really get the rub if he has a knock-down drag out 15 or 20 minute match with The World Champion and loses. You could even do a DQ. I think you can make it work, but I see your point as well.

Anonymous (great name by the way), there are many ways to promote wrestling. The old "big name main event, local boys as filler" method worked well for decades. It stopped working in the mid-90's when WWE stopped third party bookings of their talent and WCW was on fire and their talent was unavailable. ECW talent showed up on limited independent dates, but they were a rarity. That formula, in certain situations, may well be valid.

The key sentence in your response was, "Don't you think that bringing in "Name" talent sometimes works as long as you do the right thing with that talent?" The truth is most promoters don't. Most of the time their view is "the stars draw the crowds," so doesn't it stand to reason that you set yourself up for not being able to draw without those stars?

There are many exceptions and variables. If you are in an area that is starved for live wrestling, the "big names" formula may be the way to go and you may not care about building up local talent.

There is a certain promoter out there, whose name I will not mention, that has been called "the most successful independent promoter in the country." His shows are dominated by name talent. That is the whole selling point. And right now he's doing great with that business model, because that name talent is available to him. But if you took those names away, I would bet you he wouldn't draw 100 people.

The point I made in the original post is that you are walking a slippery slope if you are 100% dependent on names that are contracted elsewhere. There have been instances when TNA has pulled talent off independent dates if they needed them for TV or a PPV. How would you like to be the promoter who has rented a venue, sold tickets, advertised TNA talent, only to be told "Sorry we need those guys elsewhere?" Do you think TNA is going to reimburse you for the ad money and building deposit you just lost, or the posters you just printed or the time you just wasted? As the late Gorilla Monsoon would have put it, "Highly unlikely."

You also say, "If you pay $1000 for someone to come in and they sell approximately $2000 extra in tickets, isn't it a wise investment?" The answer is that depends. If you are looking to make a quick $1,000 maybe. But if you intend to run regularly, you are now at the mercy of talent not contracted to you, that may be booked elsewhere when you need them, or booked against you by another promoter in the same area.

Another consideration is what type of operation you run. If you want to sell a DVD of your show that could be distributed to retail stores, TNA won't let you use their talent on the DVD. If you do TV, you won't be able to have those names appear. And at that point, there goes your upside. If you just run live shows, there's no problem, it may be worth the risk. But there IS a risk.

Friday, June 06, 2008

NWA 60th/Ric Flair Controversy & The Lesson It Teaches

As you may have read on any of the major wrestling news sites, the National Wrestling Alliance is putting on a big 60th Anniversary event at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA on this Saturday June 7th.

Part of the event is scheduled to include an NWA Hall of Fame induction ceremony that was announced as including WWE Hall of Famer, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. The controversy arose when WWE decided to pull Ric Flair from appearing at the event and from doing any personal appearances for any other NWA promoters, which NWA promoter, David Marquez had contracted with Flair to arrange.

Paul Heyman, in his weekly Sun newspaper column, which you can find by clicking here, discusses the matter in detail and lambasts the NWA and specifically it's Executive Director, Bob Trobich, for announcing Flair without written confirmation from WWE.

As most people know, I am friends with both David Marquez and NWA Executive Director, Bob Trobich. NECW is not a member of the NWA, though we have worked with them on occasion. I was very involved in the NWA when the "Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble was alive and promoting under the NWA New England banner. One of my closest friends is former NWA president, Howard Brody, who is no longer involved in the NWA and hasn't been for several years.

While I am not privvy to all the inside details, to defend my friends, Marquez and Trobich, I would have to believe they had a deal, based as I understand it, on dealings with Flair's agent. Obviously, WWE, to whom Flair is undisputedly contracted, decided to veto the arrangement.

As Paul Heyman, so smartly put it, "This industry is driven by an investment of time and money, and the allotment of minutes given to someone on whose performance and marketability that first investment is made."

The NWA situation is a more blatant example of a danger many independent promoters expose themseleves to.

There is a trend in the wrestling marketplace currently that is seeing a lot of promoters basing their cards around talent that are contracted to TNA. TNA freely allows these so-called "third party bookings" where their contracted talent are allowed to be booked on any independent show. TNA books these talents through their office.

On the other hand, TNA is booking more and more house shows under their own umbrella. It doesn't take a genius to see where this is leading. The day is going to come, and my guess is that it will be sooner rather than later, that TNA will decide that it's not in their best interest to have their talent performing for anyone other than them. After all, had this policy been in effect, TNA's top star, Kurt Angle, who was injured on an independent date in Korea to the point where there is a dark cloud hanging over the man's career, would be a more certain option for the company he is contracted to. How many serious injuries on a third party dates will it take before TNA says, "Gee, maybe this isn't such a good idea?"

You can't build a business around talent that are contracted elsewhere. The NWA just found this out the hard way.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

IRON 8 & Hot Dog Safari Notes

I am still recovering from this past weekend's events - the 5th annual IRON 8 Championship on Saturday night and the Hot Dog Safari on Sunday. It was a phenomally successful weekend for us and my most sincere thanks to everyone who came out and joined us.

Saturday night's IRON 8 was quite an event and something that our company is very proud of. Everyone involved in the IRON 8 gave an extraordinary effort and are to be congratulated on making a good accounting for themselves.

"The Golden Greek" Alex Arion proved to be the true iron man of the night by winning the IRON 8 tournament. "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards came very close to "three-peating" but narrowly missed when Arion scored the go-ahead fall with just 15 seconds left in the final 4 way match. The fans were solidly behind "The Golden Greek" and it was great to see Alex Arion take home that trophy.

Alex Arion has come a long way since breaking in to wrestling in 1998. First trained by Al Snow, I go back with Alex when he was a rookie in the old Century Wrestling Alliance and later NWA New England. In my not-so-humble opinion, Alex really came into his own when he won the NECW Heavyweight Championship from "Brutal" Bob Evans in March 2002. Alex has always been able to capture the emotions of the fans through good basics and psychology. All he needed was the right spotlight and when he got it, he delivered. Prior to NECW coming on to the scene at that time, no one really pushed local guys. Arion was the first real success of anyone in that role locally and paved the way for everyone who came after him.

I thought the first round match between Arion and Kahagas was a fantastic, hard-hitting match. Kahagas really impressed me this weekend both in the ring and out. There is a guy who could really make an impact in this area, should he ever think about relocating.

I had not seen Julio Dinero since the Tony Rumble days and he was a great addition to our tournament. Julio is a polished pro and one of the most underrated talents in pro wrestling.

Gran Akuma was also a fantastic addition to the IRON 8. Another guy who is just as impressive outside the ring as he is in it, Akuma is a real blue chip talent and someone who has the potential to be a big time player in our business.

I do not own a crystal ball and cannot predict the future with absolute certainty, but if Scott Osbourne does not become a big star in this business somewhere down the road, I will be shocked.

On the other hand, one does not need a crystal ball or lay claim to any sort of future predicting ability to know that "Die Hard" Eddie Edwards is one of the greatest talents in wrestling. Yes, he came up short in this year's IRON 8, but again, Eddie Edwards is someone who is destined for greatness. Edwards is leaving for a European tour soon, which will be a great experience for him and will only serve to add to his already impressive resume.

Speaking of people going overseas, congratulations to Big Rick Fuller who will be going over for New Japan Pro Wrestling this summer. Antonio Thomas will be heading for All Japan later this summer as well.

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Sunday's Hot Dog Safari was a great day for everyone associated with it, especially The Joey Fund, which is the beneficiary of the gate proceeds. The event drew over 25,000 fans, which the Hot Dog Safari website claims was the biggest crowd ever.

NECW and World Women's Wrestling presented a nearly 5 hour long combined show which included a 16 man tournament to crown a new NECW Television Champion. The ring area was packed with fans all day long. We've received quite a few e-mails from people who attended, praising our company and looking forward to seeing us in our regular settings.

All of the talent and crew deserve praise for taking part in the event and working hard to put on a fantastic day's event. We had a lot of new faces at the Safari, some of whom are going to be great additions to the NECW roster down the road.

You'll be seeing some of the matches from the Safari over the next several weeks on NECW TV.

I want to take a moment to once again thank Eddie Andelman for his warmth and hospitality this past Sunday. It was also an honor and a pleasure to meet the legendary sportswriter, Frank DeFord, who is heavily involved in the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

We were blessed to be a part of this truly one-of-a-kind event and look forward to next year.