Saturday Night with ECPW

A friend of mine invited me to go to a local wrestling event on Saturday. I can’t say that I was apprehensive because I am a big wrestling fan and I haven’t seen him in a while. We drove to the ECPW headquarters in Lake Hiawatha, N.J. Upon arrival we entered into the “backstage area” which houses a practice ring and all the guys are warming up there. I first thought that the ring I saw was the one we’d be witnessing the event in, and thankfully I was wrong. As we made our way to the actual event area, I noticed that it looked like a basement from the 70’s where random Kenner Star Wars toys should be strewn about. The concrete walls were painted black and one wall was spray painted with the word ADRENALINE in green. Spotlights were shining on the ring and there were families and girlfriends of the wrestlers in the audience. After seeing the guy with the DV cam, and being reminded by my friend, I realized it was a TV taping. This event was to air as several separate shows on public access. The show was introduced by Dave Cunningham, the capable ring announcer.

The wrestlers that came out were, of course, no match for the guys you see on WWE every Monday night, but they were on the right track. Some of the characterization needs more originality considering that they have a Canadian faction that appears frequently. The Canadian Outlaws are decent in the ring, but I think it’s an overdone gimmick. Kevin Apollo is the all American baby face who definitely needs to improve his mic skills but he kept my attention and he has good in ring ability. Surprisingly, the crowd roots for him even though he’s shameless about being “the nice guy.” I’m a fan even though he’d get eaten alive in WWE. Same goes for Jay Santana although his top notch ring skills overshadow his “Ariba” screams. Gil Quest is a stellar athlete with a great theme song : “You’re the Best” from the Karate Kid. It’s painfully obvious that Playboy Marcus Shields stole his gimmick from the Rock. It’s also pretty apparent that Vincent Valentine is one of the more talented on the roster. He’s a great talker and he’s definitely effective as a heel in the Army of Darkness. I kept calling the other member of the army Maxx Payne and Man Mountain Rock because that’s how he looked regardless that his name is Legion. The Hot Shot Mike Reed looks like a cross between Kip James (The Ass Man) and as my friend Steve said former Chicago Bear, Jim McMahon.

The tag champs The Owens were getting some negative feedback from the crowd, but they are a hard hitting tag team who remind of a young Hart Foundation minus the great technical skill of Bret. I really enjoyed the Jedi tag team (The Next Generation) who come to the ring wielding light sabers and when in need of a tag simply tell their partner to “use the force.” I’m not sure if they are being serious or not because it comes off hysterical.

The managers of ECPW are quite memorable. Padrone is an stereotypical Italian manager of the probably un-Italian Dan Mandini who’s no relation to the Mortal

Kombat/WuTang/Marijuana mark the Great Blazini. The Creeper, is just that, a little creepy guy who carries around a rubber rat. Leaving the building I even saw the pompous and arrogant manager Doug Devito get into his Cadillac while still puffing on his cigar.

Considering the production qualities aren’t the best the show was still fun. Watching a show like this brings me back to the basics. The focus isn’t on the owners daughter, or necrophilia, or running someone over with a Bigfoot truck. The focus is on wrestling, and the spectacle of having many different personalities team up in the squared circle to put on a show. The competitors showed that they were dedicated to the sport, they got most of their spots right, and they stayed in character. Run by wrestling veteran Gino Caruso, this wrestling organization reminds me of how WWE was when I was growing up. With time, and with their public access show, the ECPW is bound to take off like ECW did. Check them out at, it’s a chance to see some future wrestling stars while they’re still accessible.