Eric Gargiulo Diary January 14, 2002

The following is a republished diary/commentary from ProWrestlingRadio.com.

It is a few days after Saturday’s show and I am still wired to the extreme. After every show I usually get into a zone for it about two days before and it takes two-five to wind down. I can only imagine how the boys that work inside of the ring must feel.

Saturday’s show was an interesting one on many levels. The real problems started about last weekend when it was announced the Eagles would be playing a Saturday game. At that point, we all knew we were in big trouble. The only saving grace was that Baltimore would win and the game would start at 4:30 and not 8:00. I am sure quite a few of us turned off the Game’s return to make sure Baltimore wrapped up the game Monday. They did, and we knew we would hurt but it would not be as bad.

On Tuesday, the calls started coming in to the CZW ticket numbers. People were canceling reservations left and right. They all apologized, but they had purchased these play off tickets in advance and could not come. Some said they would try and come after the game, but again a ton of cancellations were made. It was made even worst when the top story all week long was the traffic situation in the area on Saturday. For those that do not know, the ECW Arena is about five minutes around the corner from the Vet and the FU Center. So, most of the same traffic patterns are used to get to our arena. That a lone caused a lot of fans to cancel. On top of the Eagles, there was an earlier Flyers game, and a Motocross and Phantoms game during the night.

I showed up at the building early, and was the first talent to actually arrive. I shoot over straight after the radio show so I always wind up there early, which is how I was taught anyway. I was shocked when I pulled up at 1:45 and already saw fans in line, “tailgating.” Since these fans were dedicated, I went outside and hung out with them for a while. VD arrived shortly and joined the party. At that point, I had a better feeling about the show.

Soon, the rest of the boys and staff started to arrive. It was not the same kind of atmosphere for COD. For one, I think most of us were in awe of the whole event the last time out. The boys seemed a lot calmer and more at ease on that level. Everyone seemed a lot more confident in what was going on. The feeling of success was lacking in that we all expected a low crowd. This is not your everyday wrestling crew. We are all one big family and more united than any locker room in the business today. We all win together as a family, and lose together. We have also worked and busted our asses in front of 125 people in Smyrna and the 1500 last month. So we all appreciate the success of our company and fan support much more than most places. It was not about money. Zandig is frankly the most fair and honest promoter I have ever worked for. He will take a loss before he stiffs his boys. He is loyal to you, as long as you show that loyalty back. I have told talent before that were interested in working in CZW, that you are not going to make a king’s ransom here. But, its an awesome place to work, the product is great, and whatever you agree to work for, you will get. Period.

About a half hour or so before the show the state athletic commission gave the locker room a very good speech. It really made you wanna go out there and tear the house down. Some things were said that I cannot print here, but it really put a lot of things in perspective. Zandig also gave a great speech thanking everyone and getting the troops ready. I went up on the stage to place my notes and water on the table when I noticed the crowd was much bigger than I anticipated. I could not believe there were as many people out there that there were. I ran in the back in excitement and told Zandig, who had to add another few rows of seats. The vibe started to really pick up as most of the boys started to check out the size of the crowd. We were also told that Bruno Sammartino may come to the show. As a wrestling historian, I was marking out huge. I am a big fan of the history of our business and legends and pioneers like himself. He may be my favorite guest I ever had on my radio show. Everything said and done, as I walked to the stage with John House I told him I was super pumped and ready to go. I was without a doubt in a zone, as I am sure the rest of us were.

My thoughts on the show are as follows. The fan response on different fan boards has all been positive. I have not seen one negative post or have I received any negative feedback from fans through messages or emails. Some fans and staff feel that this was a better show than the Cage of Death 3. The shorter show allowed a better flow for the matches in their opinion. I do not know if I would go that far, but any doubts about CZW being able to top the COD were negated. Zandig and I talk after our shows and I always question how are we going to top the next one. He is always very confident and tells me that we always do, and he is right. The show was great and it was all CZW. We did not bring in any outside names, as I consider Messiah a CZW talent now. Running down the show quickly, I think it was great seeing Barr and Berk together as a team. Of the three, I think they are the smoothest of the Softcore Connection and can easily rise to challenge the Backseats in a series. Divine, Storm, and XL quieted any critics that said they can only have good matches with the SAT. Quiet Storm is another guy that may be one of the most underrated guys on the indies today. Cash and GQ were in a tough spot. This was their first singles match ever, and as rookies in this environment that is a hard thing to pull off. For two guys that are in here less than a year, they had great psychology. Some fans were pissed about the chain wrestling, but as heels they were doing the chain to piss off the fans. Some people get on Cash about his size, but the kid is an animal. He has so much heart that what he lacks in size, he makes up for in intensity. These two will be major players in CZW down the line. The three way with Ian, Kashmere, and Mondo was changed due to Menace being stuck in a snow storm. I think it may have been a better match, only because Mondo and Kashmere have a really good chemistry that I don’t think we take advantage of enough. They are both super over as heel and face, and together seem to click. Ian did a tremendous job for his lack of experience as well. I am sure he must have been a little nervous, but that kid has the look and the ability like his other classmates. A real good match, and Kashmere is another guy that is getting a chance to shine more in singles matches as of late. I was very impressed with the Greg Matthews.

He had just has back surgery, so there was some thought about him taking it easy. I assumed that he would let his partner work the bulk of the match, and he would come in during spots. That was not the case at all. Greg worked most of the match and was on time and crisp with everything. Rose and Flash are also two vets and maybe the most underrated and unrecognized tag team on the indies today. I worried the fans would crap on “Billy Beater,” but they did not seem to care and the kid took a hell of a beating. I think we struck gold adding Greg to the roster and he is a total fan of CZW. If he keeps this up, he will be getting called back to Titan Towers in no time. I think he has better chance of excelling in the long run than Chris or Josh. Here, he can learn about promos, working a program, and the fans love him.

The tag team 3 way was very good as well. Gage and Hatred are just an awesome tag team. They may be the best created tag team that CZW has ever put together. Hatred and Valentine brought a whole new meaning to the word stiff. Hatred has a rep for being a hardcore guy, but he can work his ass too. The Outlaws have a great chemistry with both teams. The match told a good story and allowed Gage and Hatred to get some heel heat back. Zandig-Osbourne satisfied the fans screaming for blood. Zandig brought the barbed wire back to CZW. As I said before, anytime Zandig and Lobo are with each other, anything can happen. You have two guys with no regards for their body or well being. Zandig went into the match with an injured back, but you could not even tell. The match was short, but nobody seemed to care. It accomplished what it was supposed to do. The promo that Lobo cut in the ring after the match was the best in ring promo I have ever seen anyone in CZW cut ever. You know, when the whole Lobo angle was though up some questioned if he could pull it off through promos. He was never really a strong promo guy in the ring, but outside of the ring he definitely had the personality to do it. It was just a matter of channeling the two talents. He has exceeded everyone’s expectations in that department. I watched the promo in the back he cut for television, which was even better. I was kind of disappointed in the 3 way juniors match. Sometimes three is a crowd in a match and I think that was the case. I also think a huge problem was that you had the incredible match last month with Ruckus and Acid. I think if you had this match first, and than the singles match it would have worked out better. The two just set a standard that made it almost impossible for three to top. The bit with the scale at the end worked out well, and I think the way John and I put it over on commentary will explain it a little more for the TV and tape audience. Now, onto the main event.

When I heard about Messiah being the opponent for Pain, I can’t say I did not question it. I consider myself a smart and knowledgeable fan, but even I have never seen Messiah. I had always heard about the XPW rep for work rate, and I was worried that the fans would groan with the choice of Messiah. I had never seen Messiah work, so I had no idea what to expect. I was confident all along that the match would be good, because I knew how much Pain was dedicated to having a great match. He felt robbed so to speak of his moment last month by the debacle at the end of his match. He wanted to go out there and have one hell of a show. Knowing that, I was certain the match would be good. But, I had no idea how good it would be. I was mega impressed with Messiah on all levels. He was professional and super cordial in the locker room. He was so happy to be here and was excited about returning after the show.

I talked to him a little after his match and he said he really never had the opportunity to work a match like that in XPW. I think the match did a lot for his own confidence as well. I never knew how well respected he was by the fans either. The day after the show, I read all kinds of message boards that all went crazy that Messiah was in CZW. I pose the same question to XPW that I do about Jim Kettner and the Briscoes, how the hell did you let this guy go? Now, I know why they let him go but this guy is the real deal. I also think being away from XPW he will really start to get some more attention and respect world wide. I talked to one journalist the next day and I asked him why Messiah coming to CZW was not reported as a big story. He said that to him, Messiah was no big deal and just one of the guys that ruined the ECW pay per view in California. Well, once anyone sees the tape of the match with Pain I am sure their opinion will be changed.

The match was just awesome, and both guys were as good as you will ever see. It was everything a title match on this level, with this kind of story should be. Messiah is going to be a huge asset to CZW. As you know from my last column, I am a huge Pain fan. Anyone that doubts his or Messiah’s ability needs to see this match. What more does Pain have to do to be recognized? The next day I also saw for the first time on the Death Valley Driver boards that fans were starting to recognize Pain as the underrated talent I have said he was. One fan referenced my last diary column, so I am glad I am able to help the cause. The match was just great and will be on CZW Fake You TV in two weeks. So, make sure you catch it or just order the tape to see it in it’s entirety.

I can tell you that I have never been as excited for the next CZW show this early since the Cage of Death 3. I think the line up for the next show is the strongest we have ever had and should sell out the arena. Gage vs. Pain is just going to be off the hook. There is a reason you have not seen them go one on one in a CZW ring since March of 2000. This has been a build up a long time in the making. The two stole the show in the same building at Break the Barrier in 99′. Both wrestlers have come so far and I expect them both to have their best match ever. Lobo and Zandig alone I feel could sell the place out. Lobo already promises the most violent match ever. We have built this feud and this match for a long time and I would hope that the fans are as interested in this as I am. Violent does not necessarily mean blood. It could mean a sick bump and both guys have taken some of the sickest bumps ever in CZW. It will be a test for Lobo’s clavicle, but he is ready to go. As a matter of fact, he has been wanting to go for a while so this should be awesome. We are going to do some awesome build up on television for both matches.

I think part of the drop in attendance Saturday was the poor buildup we did on television. The way we built up the COD on TV was perfect. It was a big asset in drawing the house. We learned from our mistake and this show will be built up differently on television. Messiah and the SAT’s are returning which is good news for a lot of fans. VD-Backseats should be a very hard hitting match and allow both teams to show off their skills. It will also allow fans to take a break away from the Ruckus-Acid feud and generate some more interest for the next show. Other positives were that the ticket lines ran smoothly and there was no chaos. The show was three hours long and ended at a reasonable time of 11:30. We did start a half of an hour later, but that was only to allow fans coming from the Eagles’ game enough time to get to the show. I thought that was more of a fan friendly move than anything else. This is definitely a show you want to reserve your tickets for. Tickets are moving a lot faster for this show than the last.

On other notes, I watched Smackdown last week and a thought occurred to me during the Scotty 2 Hotty and Albert vs. Billy and Chuck match. The WWF is very stale and quite honestly boring these days. The big talk is of splitting the roster into two companies. I am not ever in favor of anyone losing their jobs, but at this point I think it is really time to do a huge house cleaning. Get rid of the dead weight, because it is obvious some guys are getting used just to be used, which is allowing more talented and marketable guys to get very little or no television time at all. Allowing some of these guys to get back on the indie market would also give them a chance to rejuvenate their batteries. They are only human, and maybe some of them are not as motivated anymore.

Splitting the roster into two groups is not the answer at all. You can only have one main event on a pay per view, and now with the NWO coming in things are going to get worst before they get better. It is not like if you cut these guys, that another promotion will pick them up and compete. These other supposed competitors do not have television and will be out by the summer with enough losses on pay per view. They do not need 200 guys under contract. It would make for a much better product and the shows could be fun again.

RF Video added Steve Corino to their Ring of Honor. Talk about guys floating around out there with talent. They say he will not wrestle for them. What does that mean? It could mean anything. Corino has a variety of talents and is equally good at all of them. I am sure those guys and Corino have one hell of a plan for the former ECW champion. Of course, you can get all of the latest info over at http://www.rfvideo.com .

You know one thing you hear about in wrestling all of the time is people cashing in on someone’s death. Isn’t a promotion pushing a guy only because his brother just died the same thing?

Alright, I have to comment on that whole XPW debacle. You know, it would not have been so bad if they did not draw all of that attention to themselves. They became very cocky recently and challenged websites and journalists to cover their product more. Cocky or not, it worked. With all of the eyes on them, they just completely dropped the ball. I do not know what they expected. They are saying the guys that they had scheduled all no-showed. I can tell you that even if they did show up, they would not have changed wrestling forever. I think XPW just needs to take the attention away from themselves if they are going to pull some kind of stunt like that. Maybe, they actually are very smart after all. Think about this. The last two days, every site and newsletter has covered this story. They received more coverage from this story than any of their previous shows. Everyone is going to be expecting some kind of surprise to make up for all of this on their next show. In reality, maybe they are smarter than all of us.

I missed the Eagles’ game for obvious reasons but I am psyched for this Sunday’s game. However, the pattern the last few years has been a decisive win in the wild card round and than a decisive loss in the next round. Honestly, I do not have a lot of confidence in Andy Reid going up against this Chicago defense. I think our defense is going to have to win the game. I think Miller may be one of the most overrated QB’s in the game today. I think he is a lot like Jim McMahon where he allows his defense to win the games and does nothing to lose them. If the birds can put some pressure on him and hold them out of the end zone, they can really have a shot here. I am tired of the last ten years of two and out in the playoffs. It is about time the team improves and goes at least to the championship game. Anything short of that is a failure. with a more personal side of myself for those interested.

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