USA Pro Wrestling

 

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Wow! Finally MY OWN column for GumGod 

I have b*tched and moaned to GumGod CEO Derek Burgan (ain't that the truth!) for quite sometime now about getting a column on here and he has not listened. Instead, to throw me a bone, he stuck my short piece on WWE DVD's in a column with some other "reader submissions". So apparently I am now an official member of "Reader Submission Holds".

So what happened? Well it just so happens that Mr. Burgan, as we here at GumGod headquarters are forced to call him due to the memo he sent out demanding we do so, showed me his latest Cheap Pops column. After I notified him that it was way too short and that I was waiting for him to add the jokes to it, he let me in on a little secret. He has been burning the candle at both ends with the usual excuse of too many projects and not enough time. Don’t get me wrong, we all enjoy his work for the Figure Four Weekly, the Torch, wingedDVD.com and god knows what other low budget sites he works for, but let's face reality, we want new stuff on GumGod! He then practically begged me to put something out there so GumGod can get updated without having to resort to another unfunny Dusty Giebink column. No offense Dusty.

Now I should have felt a little slighted since Burgan took 9 months to place my DVD bit on the site. I should be pissed since even after my months of near harassment, I have to "share" my space with some other no names. But....I am a cheap whore so I jumped at the chance to write a column here to save Mr. Burgan's ass. So right here, right now, I am going to educate all of you International and nationwide GumGod fans on something you probably do not know about, USA Pro Wrestling!!!

For those who do not know, USA Pro Wrestling is an independent wrestling promotion based in Queens New York run by Mr. Frank Goodman and Mr. Masked Maniac (who is a wrestle). Some people claim that they are one and the same since both have wives, two children and a tendency to both swear and over eat. But I am not too sure about that as I have never seen the two men in the same place at once. USAPW has been running shows for roughly ten years now. The reason you probably have not heard about USA Pro prior to the past few years is simple. Cause their shows sucked balls. Seriously. They had a roster in 1994 that consisted of The Masked Maniac, The Metal Maniac, King Kong Bundy, Tito Santana, Kodiak Bear, Hillbilly Cousin Luke, Demolition Axe, Jimmy Snuka, Sgt. Slaughter mixed together with some no name hacks that are probably dead or retired from the business.

Anyway, when they debuted, they ran a pretty simple formula. They would have shows twice a week (Friday and Saturday) in several different parts of the New York and New Jersey area. For some reason unbeknownst to me, people actually paid money to see Demolition Axe fight Jimmy Snuka even though both men were well into their fifties at the time. These shows drew 500+ people and made money. I am still wondering to this day how R.D. Reynolds did not get wind of these shows as they definitely classified as WrestleCrap. The action sucked. The workers sucked. The angles sucked. But, if you fast forward to 2000, four short years later, USA Pro has become an innovator in independent wrestling. Not only do they stack the show with talent, but the time frame on these shows make Wrestlemania seem like a half hour UPN special.

USA Pro Wrestling has set the standard for quantity over quality on wrestling shows. While they now give you a rash of young, up and coming stars on their shows, they also manage to give you crappy, backyard wrestlers known as "ticket sellers" (more on them later), washed up talent who no longer have "it", solid former ECW/WCW/WWE talent, and a who's who of talent currently on the Indies. What makes USA Pro so special is the fact that an average USA Pro Wrestling show runs about 6 hours. No that was not a misprint or typo. USA Pro wrestling shows are 6 hours in length. MINIMUM. Sometimes they have even hit the 7 hour mark. So by “special” I really mean “extremely long.”

Your usual USA Pro show begins around 7:00 PM on a Friday or Saturday night and ends well after 1:00 AM. The show starts as people are still filing in trying to find a seat. Sure, USA Pro has premium tickets that cost $25 & $30 for front row, but unfortunately Atlas Security - of ECW fame - are there to help keep the crowd in check and not there to help you find a seat. So if you pay $30 for the front row, you better be the first person in line cause people who have $20 will not hesitate to sit in the front row. Welcome to Indy Wrestling kids~!

The show usually opens up with either a women's match as apparently USA Pro likes to limit the amount of women who wrestle on their shows so they put some women out there when no one can see them. Or they start with a "Ticket Seller" clusterf*ck. Now I mentioned I will explain the concept of ticket sellers to you. A Ticket Seller is someone who the promoter uses to sell tickets (usually around 5-10 per show) but has no wrestling experience. When he "wrestles", it is usually in attire that completely lacks any sort of wrestling tights or boots. Most of the time it is either UFO shorts, sweat pants, sneakers & a t-shirt. Selling tickets is the equivalent of "paying dues" in today's age. Instead of setting up the ring or carrying a veteran's bag and driving him from show to show, you sell tickets.

Chances are ticket sellers have little to no training in a ring and have not been on shows before. Each ticket seller's job is to get people to come to the show who usually wouldn't come to a USA Pro show. For example, if you were a ticket seller on my show, you would bring your mom, your girlfriend, your brother, your neighbor, your math teacher, etc. Each of them buy a ticket from you at $20.00 a pop. They come to the show to see you wrestle. After you wrestle, they leave. It doesn't matter to the promotion as they already have your $20, plus you have freed up a seat for a hardcore wrestling fan to sit in when they get to the show for the meat and potatoes (9:00 PM) portion of it. So if you have 20 ticket sellers on the show who each sell 10 tickets at $20.00 a pop, that equals $4,000.00 right there.

Anyway, the ticket seller clucterf*ck is a match that involves a lot of ticket sellers. It is either a Royal Rumble type match or a gauntlet match. These matches tale about 20-30 minutes in time and are filled with blown spot after blown spot and lacks anything remotely resembling wrestling psychology. The winner of this match is 99.9% of the time, the person who sold the most tickets. That way, his family and friends are fooled into believing that he is going to get a shot at the World Title soon and come back to the next show to watch him wrestle in another ticket seller match. Occasionally a ticket seller will get an opportunity to move up the card if he stays loyal, does what he is told and shows improvement. Then they will cut down the number of tickets to sell in half and eventually stop making them sell tickets at all.

The formula of USA Pro is almost always the same. The opening match is one of the two listed above. 6 hours after that is your main event which involves the USA Pro Champion (usually a former ECW/WWE/WCW star like Raven, Balls Mahoney, Shane Douglas and currently Al Snow of WWE fame). And he will defend that title against the Former ECW/WWE/WCW Superstar (D-Lo Brown, Sabu, Sandman, Bam Bam Bigelow, etc). Sandwiched in between those matches are more of the same. You always have 1 hardcore blood bath (usually featuring LowLife Louie Ramos) which people use any weapon you can think of and bleed gushers. You always have another former ECW/WWE/WCW star (Crowbar, Chris Candido, etc) vs. another ECW/WWE/WCW star (Norman Smiley, Axl Rotten). You have a match involving a former ECW/WWE/WCW (See above names) star against an up and coming Indy star (such as Homicide, Xavier, Low-Ki, Amazing Red). Gotta throw in a cruiserweight/X-division type match up that is just two small people who look like you could take them in a one on one in the street jumping around doing the flippity flop wrestling and sick looking moves (Jay Lethal, Red, Deranged, Quiet Storm, Grimm Reefer). You got your 15 minute Masked Maniac promo followed by him wrestling in the most god awful, sh*ttiest match you can imagine. Then you got your token angle where USA Pro tries to create a story that is hard to complete since shows are so far apart and in different parts of NY so the fans who see the start of the angle will not be around for the finish of the angle (an example would be the Mike Kruel/Becky Bayless wedding or the Billy Reil/Dana Dameson statutory rape angle).

You say you want tag team action? You got it since there are usually more than one tag team elimination match on the show featuring any number of teams (The SAT, Dirty Rotten Scoundrelz, Christopher Street Connection, etc). You want four corner elimination matches, no problem. USA Pro has that too. How bout title matches? Well considering USA Pro has the World (Al Snow), US (Chris Candido), NY (Tim Arson), Xtreme (Slyk Wagner Brown), Women's (April Hunter), Tag Team (Christopher Street Connection), and at onetime a ticket sellers title (now defunct), then you have enough of those too. Plus, every belt is defended on every show. Basically all in all, there are somewhere in the ballpark of 20+ matches on every single show involving in the ballpark of around 80 wrestlers. Most matches, with the exceptions of the main events are decided the day of the show.

Now backstage at USA Pro, that is a different atmosphere all together. Backstage you have a locker room which is a very social and fun place to be. No one separates themselves from anyone else. You are bound to see several Veteran names socializing with younger stars. Everyone of the big stars is accessible for advice on a match or angle or even just to chit chat. People are planning out matches in the corner while the booking staff discusses changes to matches, certain aspects that they want the wrestlers to emphasize during specific matches, any last minute promos or angles they want done, etc. It is almost certain that Simon Diamond will be debating the Yankee roster with some non-Yankee fan. A definite at any USA Pro show is "M-Tizzle" Mike Tobin doing a biting and dead-on impersonation of a former WWF wrestler such as Macho Man Randy Savage or The Honky Tonk Man. An atmosphere probably unmatched in most dressing rooms as everyone is friendly and respectful.

Now the kicker to all this is that even with a 6-7 hour marathon of match after match after match….after wasting money on watered down beer and rubbery hot dogs….after sweating your ass off in a building filled with rowdy drunks and hot ring rats USA Pro Wrestling still manages to draw 600+ to 1,200+ people per show. An amazing feat considering all of the above factors. Which is why in my opinion, USA Pro is the number one Indy fed in the tri-state area and should be number 3 or 4 in the entire US if they didn't have 7 hour marathons.

 

Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.