I know what you’re thinking. I’m just another former CZW staff member complaining about CZW. This is not that column. This is a look back at some of the highest & lowest times of the company. I worked for CZW from their first TV taping on June 8, 2001 doing odd jobs to being a referee and finishing up on June 12, 2010. Almost 9 years for the company…of course off & on if you know my history with the company. What this column will be about are the backstage stories and things that were either planned to happen, were in talks to happen, stories from the shows and ideas that were brought up and never used.
[adinserter name=”366 left”]I plan on working backwards as it just makes it easier for my memory. I’ll be talking about “Lines in the Sand” as that was the last show I worked. It didn’t start off well for me as I got to the building after leaving work and not seeing my name on the lineup. Mike Burns who normally runs the shows was not there as he was at a marathon. I go up to CZW’s “esteemed” Owner DJ Hyde and he let me know I was not on the show tonight and that he had texted me the night before that I wasn’t to be on the show. I let him know I never received this text message and he shows me he had texted my phone number but the last digit was entered twice so it never made its way to me. I let him know if he would like to let me work since he was going to be paying me regardless as I was never told I wasn’t booked on the show.
He was “nice” enough to let me work and I refereed two matches. One was a normal tag team match between Team Macktion and Irish Drivebay and also a 3-way tag team match between The Best Around, AR Fox & Jon Gresham and the A-Team. The 3-way tag team match had rules no one could make sense to me and I was the referee so it was just called with 3 people in the ring at once…including 2 people from the same team could be legal at a time. I could care less of being made to look like a fool considering DJ did a very good job of that earlier in the night. They did their match and that was it.
Later that night they ran an angle after Eddie Kingston & Drake Younger faced Masada and the recently departed Brain Damage where Cult Fiction beat up security. Let me paint a picture for you if you’ve never seen the show (and I doubt many have.) You have Eddie Kingston…former World Heavyweight Champion…Drake Younger…former World Heavyweight Champion…they were at the time the CURRENT World Tag Team Champions. They sneak over Masada & Damage and then the heels were to get their heat back by beating the ever loving shit out of Kingston & Younger. They were quite successful at accomplishing that goal. Now Masada and Damage were (and in Masada’s case still) intimidating men to begin with but when they’re in the ring they’re much more intimidating. Kingston and Younger are on the mat down selling for a large amount of time. Why? Because as Damage & Masada were laying waste to the security staff (which were actual security from CZW and CZW students) the security staff…WERE GETTING UP. Watching it from the crowd level where I was at it was astonishing to watch. One student got hit so hard the whole crowd went “OHHHHHH” and he had a lump on his head after the show. Didn’t stay down and continued to get beat up. Kingston & Younger were made to look like fools as people that are not known as wrestlers were showing more strength than two former World Heavyweight Champions. Obviously this didn’t go over well with Kingston and that’s why he left the company shortly after (well part of…Mike Burns left after this show). The level of unprofessionalism in the ring that night was what happens when you put either untrained or very inexperienced people in a ring.
[adinserter name=”366 right”]Later that night my very small pay was chopped for whatever reason. I agreed to come back to CZW at a smaller than usual rate because Burns sold me on coming back and helping out. I got my envelope…saw that my pay was chopped and just headed home. When I contacted DJ about it he said he would give me what was owed if I came to the school that Tuesday. Crossing the bridge from Jersey to Philly was going to cost me $4 so that seemed pointless to do so I let him know moving forward if he had no plans on using me that we could use as the final goodbye.
I liked DJ when he was a student. He was always helpful and would do as he was told except he offered his opinion a little too much about things he shouldn’t. He was very excited to buy CZW from John Zandig and I thought he was surrounding himself with good people to move the company forward. He went from being a wrestler to being an Owner and found himself gaining enemies quicker than he probably even imagined he could. He would talk down to the wrestlers. He would talk down to the staff. He generally stopped being a likable person and turned into a tyrant.
Next week I’ll be back to talk about the disaster that was Fist Fight where John Zandig faced Brain Damage to get into Tournament of Death 9…which neither were at.
Derek Sabato is a former backstage member of Combat Zone Wrestling. He is a current on-air talent for CHIKARA Pro. He operates and writes for The High Phive…a Philadelphia based sports blog with news & opinions at www.HighPhive.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DerekSabato and he can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].
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