Monday, June 26, 2017

The Reason Why No One Runs The ECW Arena Except For Ring of Honor and House of Hardcore

Thanks a lot, jerks
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Philadelphia is a city inextricably linked to professional wrestling, whether as a loop city for the Worldwide Wrestling Federation in the territorial days, the birthplace of Extreme Championship Wrestling, or as the nexus point on the East Coast for the '00s indie wrestling movement. That facade began to fall apart when the ECW Arena shut out wrestling in 2012 in an attempt to turn exclusively into a concert venue. Gabe Sapolsky swore he'd never run Philly again after his attempt at closing The Arena backfired on him. Chikara attempted to run the Trocadero a few times, and ended up getting wrestling banished from that venue after a singularly rowdy fan broke a glass door in the wake of its ill-fated worked closing. The National Guard Armory in the far northeastern section of the city seemed to be an adequate replacement, but outside of the first National Pro Wrestling Day and one ROH show, no one seemed to figure out where in Philly would make a great venue. Then, predictably but providently, The Arena's concert-only venture went the way of the dodo, and wrestling returned.

And yet, even with the reopening, scant few promotions run The Arena anymore. Chikara hasn't run an event there since Top Banana, eschewing it for the smaller Wrestle Factory for all its Philly dates. Sapolsky hasn't attempted a seemingly lucrative "reconciliation" comeback date yet. The only companies that seem to run there anymore are ROH and House of Hardcore. Interestingly enough, this news tidbit from January of this year flew under the radar1:

That bit of information, taken from the Arena's Wikipedia page and originally reported by PW Spyware (not linked for your computer's protection) is very illuminating indeed, and in the light of other promotions moving into the area, it makes things much hairier for independent wrestling fans who don't feel like trekking even to relatively close East Coast Megalopolis venues for non-ROH/HOH wrestling. For example, Royal Rumble 2018 is going to be at the Wells Fargo Center. Big Four WWE PPVs come with their own circuses that include EVOLVE shows. Even if Sapolsky wanted to end his petty grudge against Philadelphia that he himself caused by busing in mutant fans from New York City, he'd have to find a different venue, unless he went the ultra petty route and ran La Boom in New York and Joppa, MD instead. PROGRESS Wrestling is beginning a full-fledged American invasion, adding a Boston date to its latest American excursion the day after it runs New York City. And hell, what is going to happen if New Japan Pro Wrestling ever breaks with ROH to strike out on its own in the States? Fuck Philly, right?

It would be one thing if ROH were, a) as interesting as these promotions its freezing out and b) not a national promotion that might visit Philly once a year. HOH is a different beast altogether, but man, that promotion went worldwide with its recent tour of Australia. Basically, Philly fans who want to see indie wrestling at the best venue for watching indie wrestling in the city have to suffer through a company that is hemorrhaging top talent and just put its top title on Cody goddamn Rhodes or one of varying providence. I have to admit, I've never been to a HOH show, but the shows never look as interesting as EVOLVE or even Combat Zone Wrestling, which is exiled to run in Cherry Hill, NJ. Wrestling politics are the fucking worst.

1 - A tip of the hat to @KaijuJoe for pointing this out on Twitter the other day.