What is it?: Wrestling Show at the Manhattan Center (9/26/02)
Price: $35 (ringside and near ringside), $25 (floor level), $20 (balcony)

by Tom Edwards , Editor-In-Chief,

    Let me first start off by saying that I'm a wrestling fan.  I have been a wrestling fan for 15 years now, and have watched the product hit high and low spots over that time.  Currently, we're facing a low spot... one that is starting to near the one that nearly destroyed professional wrestling in general back in 1991.  Vince McMahon's WWE (note the "E" now... it stands for "ego") has managed to buy out all its major competition (namely Ted Turner's WCW), and watched as competetors with better ideas but less financial backing went bankrupt trying to get their product exposed to the mainstream.  In doing so, for lack of a better term, Vince and the WWE have gotten lazy.  Without competition, the WWE has gone on "cruise control", buying up all the major talent without having the ability to put them on display, and people formally working main events are being asked to lower their stature for others, causing for an ugly dressing room and a group of uninspired workers who know that they'll never see the main event, so why should they risk injury to put on a good product?

    That results in the wrestling currently seen on (most) televisions today.  There are a few groups out there that are putting on independent shows that are good quality, but not necessarily on television.  But, if anyone remembers, that's how ECW got started, so I decided to check out what looked to be a promising show put on by Major League Wrestling at the Manhattan Center.

    Getting tickets for this thing were easy enough, if you cared enough to get them.  Tickets were originally announce to be on sale the end of August, either on their website or through Ticketmaster.  Well, several reschedulings later, tickets went on sale nine days before the show was to take place.  Not a good sign for the gate, and it made me wonder if I'd ever see MLW in the area again, because I figured the promoters would take a bath.

    To MLW's credit, they kept the show interesting.  Going with a mix of traditional indy wrestlers (such as Sabu, Steve Corino, Jerry Lynn, Chris Candito, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels, CW Anderson), lucha guys (La Parka, Shocker, and Super Crazy), and "I remember you from TV" names (Terry Funk, Vampiro, and Steve Williams), they had a little something for everyone.  Plus, they brought in the added attraction of two wrestlers from Japan, in Satoshi Kojima and Taiyo Kea, which you just don't get to see in New York.  As days passed and tickets sold slowly, they also added on a ECW staple - the fan convention.  MLW offered a "meet and greet" with the MLW wrestlers for all who bought ticketsto the show.  The meet and greet was to take place an hour and a half before the scheduled start time of 7:45.

    The show was held at the Manhattan Center's main ballroom, which is a large open area with a stage.  The stage was set up at the backstage area, complete with walkway to the ring, with the ring set up in the middle of the floor.  Chairs (the non-folding variety, to the wrestlers dismay, I'm sure) were set up around the ring, with seating available in the balcony.  The place is comfortable, and easy to get to by train, as it's across the street from Penn Station.  It's also the same place where the WWF used to film Monday Night RAW before the wrestling boom and the live shows from across the country took place.

    Due to my original travel plans (and partner) changing at the very last minue, we ended up there 45 minutes late, and I could hear Joel Gertner being... well, Joel Gertner.  When I actually got to see him, though, he looked totally different.  Apparently, getting away from ECW meant also getting away from the buffet, as Joel looks like he's lost 50 pounds since the last time I saw him.  Dressed in a dress shirt and slacks, Joel looked like a human being (or at least as much of one as Joel Gertner can look).  But alas, I can hate him, because he was acting as manager to the tag team combination of "Dr. Death" Steve Williams and "Fear Factor" P.J. Friedman.  Friedman is trying his damnest to be a Gary Albright clone, but he's greener than an old Devon Storm outfit.  Doc is... well, Doc.  He does a decent job for a guy who has been wrestling as long as I've been watching, and turned out to be kind of entertaining in this match.  Their opponents were supposed to be Samu and L.A. Smooth - the Samoan Island Tribe, but they were nowhere to be found.  No major loss, except that their replacements were Tim Arson and Eric Adamz (note the "z", thanks to for that tidbit).  Don't know who they are?  Neither did we.  It didn't really matter though, because they were there to do a job, and do a job they did.  As heel jobbers, they could have been a hell of a lot worse.  Their mannerisms, especially the blond one (like I know who they actually were), played off well, but they were lost in the match, and that's when Doc took matters into his own hands.  Doc just pretty took his opponents and sold very little, and stifffed the hell out of them.  Even P.J. Friedman looked a little lost, holding out his hand for tags and not receiving them, as Doc threw people around.  We didn't see much of P.J. (probably a good thing), and Doc killed non-blond jobber to death (he got both the Stampede and the Backdrop Driver-ooo) to end the match mercifully.  Shouldn't have gone as long as it did.

    A friend of mine from college was working the street team for MLW and told me what I had missed.  Basically, the show ran 30 minutes late, the meet and greet consisted of two people, La Parka and Terry Funk (there's an interesting duo), and the opening match was a hot one between Super Crazy and Fuego Guerrera, who I'm hearing was The Amazing Red.  Wouldn't know, never seen Red before.  He also told me Low-Ki wouldn't be working the show tonight, due to injury.  Add onto that we weren't actually sitting in our seats, because they had been given to someone else by one of the MLW employees.  When I asked the guy where we were supposed to sit, he told us to take whatever seats were available.  Not sure why I bought tickets, but oh well.  The show's really not looking good right now.

    We ended up standing, which wasn't too bad, because I was talking to my street team friend and my friend that I went with to the show was making his way close by making friends with ringside sitting people.  Next match was "1000% Guapo" Shocker vs. La Parka.  Shocker's not a small guy for a lucha guy, and has a good look to him.  Not sure how his English skills are, but he seems to have a decent charisma about him that could work in the US.  La Parka came out, and the crowd popped like mad.  Well, as much as 300 people could pop.  La Parka was wearing a white suit over his wrestling gear that looked to be about two sizes too small and stolen from Graceland.  It was, well, rather entertaining.  He did all of his signature spots, and the two wrestled a good match.  Nothing spectacular, although there were some good spots to the outside and some strong chair shots.  Parka won it by doing his twisting simersault press off the top, reminding me that La Parka actually had a finishing move, something I had forgotten after having to watch him lose constantly on WCW Nitro.

    Next match up was a six man match, which came as a surprise, because there was no mention of a six man match in any of the press MLW had sent out.  I assumed they were scrambling because of the Low-Ki injury, but after seeing Doc and P.J.'s opponents, I was dreading seeing who Daniels, Hidaka, and DICK~! would be facing.  It ended up being a pleasant surprise, because out came the SATs and Quiet Storm.  I had heard of the Maximos before, but I'd never heard of Quiet Storm before, but at least I figured that they'd be able to put on a good show.  They did, by all means.  The action wasn't a spotfest, but instead had a little bit of psychology.  The Japanese contingent even brought out the old Kaientai DX spot of two members holding the dazed opponent as the third member climbed on his back and began posing.  Marked out for that when I saw Kaientai DX do it at Barely Legal, way back when, and marked out again when I saw it.  Memories are good things, kids.  Daniels ended up using the Last Rights on Storm, which capped a lucha-esque "everyone try their finishers near the finish" finish.  DICK~! may have screwed up his ankle, as he looked to be in pain at the end.  Overall, very good match whhich the crowd was hot for.

    So, coming off a Japanese/lucha style six man match, who do you put in the ring?  CW Anderson.  Poor CW.  First, he gets knocked down the card because Candito, who he was supposed to be up against, is wrestling Terry Funk.  Then, he gets put on after a highspotted speedfest.  Now, CW's a good worker, but he's no high flyer, by any stretch of the imagination.  He's facing unannounced worker #6 for the evening, better known as Devon "Crowbar" Storm.  Devon lives in New Jersey, which is why it was assumed he was readily available.  The two, for all intents and purposes, put on a decent match, but after seeing the six man match before, the crowd was dead for this one.  They kept the match competitive, which seemed to be a theme of the night, the end coming after Devon took two brain-scrambling chair shots to the skull, then caught a CW spinebuster onto the chair.  Looked painful, and I'm sure it was, but the crowd got into it after the chair got involved, and gave the two a decent pop at the finish.

    I went out to grab a soda and check out the stuff at the Highspots table (, excellent stuff, I'll plug them again), when "Back In Black" pumped over the PA.  I assumed it was either the Ribera Kid or Chris Candito, and this being the real world, I went back to see if I could get some Triple Threat action.  The last time I saw Candito, he was making a grand return to the ECW Arena, fought Taz(z), and ended up going up the bleachers and backing into me.  Surely, I wouldn't be running into Candito again... right?  As I went back to whatever was to be my seat for this match, a bad thought went through my head.  "Tammy's here."  Now, last time I saw Tammy Sytch, it was at that same match I mentioned before, and she looked awesome.  However, that was at least two years ago, and I've seen photos of her recently, and she ain't the woman she once was.  Well, Tammy came out, just as I was prepared for (as "Sunny"), but in fact, I was not prepared.  Let me start off by saying that if I had seen Tammy Sytch that night without ever having seen her before, I wouldn't have thought her to be a bad looking woman.  If I hadn't seen her near a wrestling ring and instead seen her as a fan or in the workplace, I would have thought she was a good looking woman.  But, I saw her in 1998.  Hell, I saw her in 2000.  That seemed like 300 years ago.  Tammy came out in a short gray one piece dress - a sundress type thing.  She did her usual "sexy valet" mannerisms, which seemed like straight up satire at this point.  She bent over entering the ring, allowing her dress to ride up enough so that you could see something which costs $24.99 to see elsewhere, and I think I went blind for 15 seconds.  Cellulite and... you know how people slow down for car wrecks for no reason?  That's why people kept looking.  I felt bad for her, I felt bad for people who had to see it... I felt bad for Candito, who used to be the proudest sonofabitch parading that trophy piece around, and now still has it.  I SO wanted "Desperado" to play.  But it didn't.  "Bad To The Bone" did, which was kinda upsetting.  I guess I had just gotten used to "Desperado" as Terry's theme song, even though it's technically a horrible theme song.  It's more of a song that makes you feel bad for Terry, knowing that his prime passed probably 20 years ago, he's running on fumes, but he's doing it because he loves to do this so much.  I don't know.  So, as I was feeling bad for Terry, feeling bad for Candito, feeling bad for Tammy, and feeling bad for the fans, the match actually started.  Candito was wearing trunks like Terry's, causing me to recall the feud they had in ECW way back when.  I wondered how long it would take for the "She's A Crack Whore" chant to start, and if you had 7 seconds in the pool, collect your money.  Anyway, it was your typical ECW-type match, with brawling and Funk taking most of the punishment.  Funk started bleeding like a... well... Funk, and eventually, the action spilled outside.  Once Terry got the upper hand, they went to the outside again, and outside of the better judgement of New York State, Funk threw Candito over the barricade, and into... you guessed it, me.  They pretty much brawled, nothing special, then Tammy got involved.  Oh no.  Tammy actually took a nice bump from a Funk DDT, but ended up getting her ass bitten.  Damn, Terry... you're braver than I thought.  Funk ended up getting the win, with Candito attacking after to get his heat back, I guess.

    Paying attention, as I often do, I saw earlier Laurie Fullington sitting up on the stage area with several other backstage-type people.  Least, I thought it was her, and seeing kids running around that general area, I took a guess that one was Tyler, of ECW angle fame.  I started to hear in my mind Joey Styles, in his most dramatic voice, telling us that Tyler Fullington, the Sandman's own son, had become a member of Raven's Flock.  High drama.  Anyway, that gave me a safe guess that unannounced worker #7 was going to be the Sandman.  Well, that, and my friend from the street team told me that he was backstage.  SPOILER!  Anyway, for the next match, Steve Corino comes out, and I'm reminded of one of the reasons I came out to see the show.  I became a Corino mark when he first started becoming a regular in ECW, getting killed at the hands of Ballz Mahoney.  I loved the whole "old school wrestling" gimmick, even if it seemed a bit familiar to me.  Vampiro came out, and there's a surprise.  There used to be a time, back in the good ol' days, when Vampiro was a scary lookin' guy.  The white face, the long, nasty dreadlocks... he had a great look to him.  Well, he cut them.  His hair is carefully cut, I guess for his other career as a stockbroker or something.  Anyway, I think Street Team Chris said it best.  "He looks Canadian now."  Corino grabbed the stick as Vampiro came out, talked about coming to see an old school streetfight.  (Yay!)  He also managed to mention that ECW was dead.  (Boo!)  But that we were in MLW now, and MLW is going to be the future of wrestling.  (Yay!)  But look at this pile of crap that is Vam-PIRE-o.  (Boo!)  I mean, I understand the concept of not necessarily having true heels and faces, but come on Steve, my head's starting to hurt.  Corino then went into how Vam-PIRE-o was sitting back and collecting Ted Turner's checks, and as Vam-PIRE-o tried to be witty back, "Enter Sandman" introduced the Sandman to ringside to start up the match.  Corino and Vam-PIRE-o attacked Sandman before his music stopped, which I thought was against the law.  The three pretty much had a garbage brawl, which saw Corino get busted open early (there's a shocker), and Sandman stumble around.  Corino carried the match, getting nailed by a killer superplex spot by Sandman that saw him land backfirst on a ladder.  That's why Tommy Dreamer couldn' tmove for two years, Steve.  Vam-PIRE-o pinned Sandman after that spot (because, as Sabu has taught us, moves usually hurt the deliverer more than the opponent.)  Corino and Vam-PIRE-o brawled for a bit more, with Corino eventually getting the pinfall after an Ace Crusher-type move off the top rope.

    And on we go, with no intermission.  Apparently, I missed the intermission, as it led off the show.  I've had a prejudice against Sabu for a while now.  I watched him in his last year with ECW as he blew spot after spot, eventually leaving, joining XPW, and making me pretty much not like him.  As for Teiyo Kea, I hadn't seen him since he was Maunakea Mossman on some old All Japan tapes.  Coming out with a shaved head, he reminded me of Keiji Mutoh's new look, which would make since as they're allies in All Japan right now.  Kea has a great look to him, and as Sabu came out, I was hoping that he could carry Sabu to a good match.  Turns out that Sabu didn't necessarily need the help.  Sabu looked very good, as good as I've probably ever seen him, but then again, it's funny what happens when you're relatively healthy.  Bill Alphonzo was there, which was made all the more entertaining because my friend Tony kept talking to him, and Bill kept listening to him.  He gave him a high five and greeted him early in the match, which made me realize that maybe my friend Tony is internationally known, as believed to be in the past.  The two wrestled a good paced match, and it made me wonder if the two had ever worked against each other in All Japan.  Kea's got decent size and a good look, and if his interview skills are halfway decent, he'd make a good look for WWE.  But, then again, there's no room for him there.  Kea ended up dropping Sabu with a Hawaiian Smasher (called the Hawaii 5-0 on the MLW website) once, then inverting it a second time to get the pinfall, making him the #1 contender for the MLW Title.

    But who would be champion?  It would be Jerry Lynn against Satoshi Kojima for the MLW Championship, vacated by Shane Douglas when Shane, I guess, didn't feel like working for the company anymore.  I was really looking forward to seeing Kojima in the ring, in person, an opportunity I might never have again.  What I wasn't prepared for was the reaction Kojima would get.  I expected a polite reaction in contract to ECW favorite and better known Jerry Lynn.  That wasn't the case.  Kojima was totally over, getting "KO-GEE-MAH" chants as he came to ringside and as he entered the ring.  There was a "Jerry" chant as well after the initial Kojima one, but it wasn't the same.  Kojima seemed to be totally enjoying himself in the match, and enjoying the positive reaction he was getting, often looking out into the crowd with a smile on his face after every move he performed.  The two wrestled a strong, Japanese-style match, with Kojima going over with a lariat to win the MLW Championship, setting up an eventual Kea/Kojima matchup for the belt.

    All in all, if you look at the show in comparison to a WWE show, you got a hell of a lot more going to this show.  The setup was nice, the card was full of quality wrestling, and the small atmosphere reminded me of the glory days of ECW, before everyone and their cousin knew about it.  In contrast, MLW really dropped the ball in terms of selling this show.  they screwed up the deal with Ticketmaster to get tickets sold, causing a lot of time to sell tickets to go down the drain.  In trying to compensate for that, they offered a meet and greet which wasn't apparently thought out, since only two people participated.  If the workers weren't going to participate, then it shouldn't have been offered in the first place, or at least have been advertised differently.  The implication given would be that there would be several MLW wrestlers to be met.  ECW conventions allowed you to meet and have pictures taken with 10-20 ECW wrestlers, not two.  If this had been the incentive I had for buying my tickets, I would have been pissed.

    Another thing that was bad about the show was the seating arrangements.  I guess in a panic about having empty seats in the first rows on a show they're going to have pictures taken of and footage taken of, they decided to let people sit in those seats.  But when the ticket holders show up, what do you do?  Still, seats that are bought are seats that are bought.  Obviously, the people sitting there had seats somewhere else, tell them to sit where they're supposed to, not just tell actual ticket holders to find other seats.  That's a bunch of crap.

    Outside of that, it was a good show.  I went to the show to see wrestling, and that's what I saw.  I saw the type of wrestling that made me like wrestling in the first place again, back in 1996 and ECW.  But I'll be a bit weary next time about what they're offering.  You're on my good side for now, MLW, but don't cross me again.