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Combat Zone Wrestling
Type Public
Founded 1999
Headquarters Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Key people John Zandig (1999 - 2009)
DJ Hyde (2009 - Present)
Industry Hardcore Wrestling
Ultraviolent Wrestling
Products Official distributor
Website CZWrestling.com
Maven Bentley Association LCC.

Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) is an American based professional wrestling promotion, based around the 'ultraviolent' style of professional wrestling. It is currently the second largest independent promotion in North America. In 1999, John Zandig and four of his students, Ric Blade, Lobo, Nick Gage and Justice Pain began to run wrestling shows in New Jersey and Delaware, showcasing a brand of hardcore wrestling dubbed as "ultraviolence". Ladders, tables, thumbtacks, barbed wire, light tubes and fire are common elements of "ultraviolent" wrestling matches in CZW. The company filled a niche for hardcore wrestling fans that had been left open by the fall of Extreme Championship Wrestling. CZW found fame in the The Arena with their Cage of Death 3 show in 2001, the year ECW folded.

Their tightly knit homegrown roster helped establish what became a top independent promotion in later years. The biggest misconception is that the promotion only focuses on hardcore wrestling. Although they are most commonly known for their 'ultraviolent' style, rarely do their shows feature more than one or two ultraviolent matches. In late 2002, they were forced to further tone down their style after the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission issued a ban on the use of fluorescent light tubes (among other things) in Philadelphia.[1] Their annual Tournament of Death show emphasizes the ultraviolent style of CZW and usually takes place in Delaware.

All of their shows are taped and distributed by Smart Mark Video, who releases the shows on DVD via their website. CZW was broadcast on TWC Fight! to viewers in Great Britain and Ireland as part of the "Bloodbath" program until TWC Fight! closed in 2008. CZW continues to run on a monthly base in The Arena. Aside from their monthly shows, they also run shows outside of Philadelphia, where the promotion is based.

Contents

History

Wrestling school

In late 1998 John Zandig opened a wrestling school in New Jersey, where the first student trained was Lobo, who worked with Zandig before their wrestling careers. Nick Gage and Justice Pain were the next two students to be trained by Zandig, and it was only in the forthcoming years that they were unveiled as brothers, Justice Pain being the older of the two. The fourth student and fifth student trained was TCK and Ric Blade, who already had a background in martial arts. The school is still active as of today with free tryouts.[2]

Japan connection

Early 2000 saw CZW establish a connection with the death match wrestling orientated company Big Japan Pro Wrestling, a successor to the Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling organization, credited to have popularized the death match wrestling style that CZW continued to emphasize in the United States, though, dubbed as "Ultraviolence." Both promotions traded talent throughout 2000 and 2001, the company vs company feud was primarily based in Japan. The "CZW warriors" in BJW included Wifebeater, Nick Gage, Trent Acid, Justice Pain, Johnny Kashmere, Nate Hatred, Ruckus, Nick Berk, as well as John Zandig as the leader.[3]

Notable incidents included Zandig turning face in Japan and Jun Kasai joining Zandig as part of his Big Dealz stable in CZW. Kasai competed in a match which was later dubbed "Un F'N Believable," in reference to the shows name. During the match, Kasai was crucifix bombed over the top rope into lightubes, barbed wire and tables, causing Kasai's elbow bone to pop out of his skin, he continued the match after having his elbow taped up.[4]

During 2001 in Japan, the Wifebeater and Ryuji Yamakawa faced off in a match which ended Yamakawa's career after the Wifebeater chokensteined him off the ring apron through a table set up on the outside. In a 'shoot interview' Wifebeater stated communication difficulties between the two was a major factor which led to the incident. Wifebeater pleaded that they should not execute the maneuver, though the move went on and saw Yamakawa's head slam against the concrete. Both wrestlers have stated that it was half of each others fault when Yamakawa did not take the move as it should be performed; back first, though some even blame the Japanese tables, which are smaller, more sturdy and harder to break, the table in this incident did not break and simply slipped from underneath of Yamakawa thus only connecting with his legs, causing his head to take the impact on the concrete.[5]

The reason for the collapse of the inter-promotional deal is uncertain. After a controversial exploding panes of glass match, between Zandig and Mitsuhiro Matsunaga in Japan, 2001, Zandig left BJW with the BJW death match title belt. Many wrestlers of both promotions at the time were confused about the collapse between the two.[6]

Champs Arena, PPV, and Fake You TV

Early 2000 saw the company branch out from New Jersey to Delaware, though mainly in the Champs Soccer Arena, in Sewell.

A Pay-Per-View taping for the June 25, 2000 show, was put in place. The event was scheduled to be main evented by Terry Funk and Atsushi Onita in an explosion match. The deal fell through when Onita canceled. Although the show took place and was main evented by Nick Gage and the Wifebeater in the first ever 200 lightubes match in the United States, the show was later called 'They Said it Couldn't be Done'.[7]

On June 8, 2001, the company secured a TV taping for the show 'Take 1.' During the main event as part of a dual 20ft balcony dive, Ric Blade suffered a broken leg after landing on Justice Pain, who laid upon two stacked tables, Nick Gage was to attempt the second dive with Lobo a few meters away, unfortunately Nick Gage slipped and fell from atop the balcony to the ground; fortunately Gage was able to continue, unlike Blade who had to be stretchered out. The spot was cut from TV. The TV tapings aired on WGTW-48, as apart of CZW's very own show Fake You TV, which was available in many northeastern states in the US. After many business changes by the WGTW-48 production team over the years, including a time slot change from Saturdays at 9.00PM to a weeknight at midnight slot, to compete with other promotions, this idea was a failure and Fake You TV continued to strive. CZW continued to endure every business decision that WGTW-48 formulated and executed until the channel decided not to air the June 18, 2004 episode due to its content, through negative affects on the fans and after much consideration, CZW decided to withdraw the show indefinitely.[8]

Viking Hall debut and Indy Wars

Due to their upcoming annual Cage Of Death 3 (COD) show at the end of 2001, the company needed a bigger venue and made their debut in the ECW Arena, formerly Viking Hall and currently The Arena. The venue was the first sellout in the building since the era of ECW, and hundreds were turned away from the biggest show in the promotions history.[9]

Controversy surrounded the company in 2002, when top XPW star Messiah moved from XPW to CZW after a fall out with Rob Black. A few months later the Messiah was attacked in his home and had his thumb cut off by two unknown assailants. The incident was included on an episode of America's Most Wanted, where Rob Black was named as a suspect.[10] Shortly after Rob Black informed his workers that anyone who works for CZW, doesn't work for XPW, John Zandig did the same, and because of these two incidents, heat between the two promotions rose and remained until XPW's collapse in 2003.

Also in 2002, following many violent matches in the arena, the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission issued a ban of fluorescent lightubes in the arena.[11] Some fans blame the ban on an incident which occurred during an XPW show in the arena, when a wrestler from XPW bled on one of the State Athletic Commission's children as a brawl spilled out into one of the bathrooms.[12] Although the match between the Wifebeater and Zandig at 'A Night of Infamy 1' is said to have been the key incident which had initiated the ban.[13] The end of the match saw a kayfabe angle involving Frank Talent (of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission) who stopped the match after the use of a weed whacker.

Several promotions competed for the Northeast fan base that had been left behind by ECW in what became known as the 'Indy Wars." CZW, XPW, and 3PW were the key promotions which revolved around Viking Hall. XPW were given the lease to the arena in very late 2002 after Rob Black offered around $60,000. On December 12, 2002, as part of a triple header of wrestling in Philadelphia Ring of Honor ran shows in conjunction with CZW and 3PW in what was to be the latter two promotions last events in the arena. During CZW's event, Zandig publicly stated that they had offered $32,000 to stay in the arena, but also stating that with the $10,000 a month XPW would need to pay for the building, the lease would not last long.

Accompanied by incidents relating to Extreme Associates and low attendance, XPW later folded in 2003. CZW made their return to the arena on March 8, 2003.

Italy and ECW tribute

Shortly after their return to the arena, on May 10, 2003, the company promoted a show entitled "Then & Now: A Decade of Defiance." The event was a tribute to the last ten years of wrestling in the New Alhambra Arena, or at the time; Viking Hall. The show opened with John Zandig welcoming the fans to the show and played an 11 minute music video highlighting the last 10 years of wrestling in the arena, from Eastern Championship Wrestling in 1993 to Combat Zone Wrestling in 2003, featuring music including the ECW theme, U2's "Where the Streets Have No Name" and White Zombie's "Thunderkiss 65."[14] A low quality version of the video was available on the promotion's website for a limited period of time and still circulates on the internet to this day. After the video finished, Zandig then issued a 10 bell count in memory of those who performed in the building who had died.

Also, Zandig stated that he had invited Tod Gordon and Paul Heyman to appear. Zandig noted that Gordon didn't want to show "so he didn't care" and that Heyman didn't return his calls "so he doesn't give a fuck about this place anymore". Zandig said that he called Tommy Dreamer to make an appearance but Dreamer was unable to due to World Wrestling Entertainment commitments but was honored he was asked. The promotion did not invite anyone to attend the show until the last week prior.[15]

On October 25, 2003, the promotion made their debut in Italy, later on March 27, 2004, the company returned for another event which featured Sabu in a tables match.[16]

IWA-MS Invasion

On June 14, 2003, mid-south based promotion Independent Wrestling Association Mid-South (IWA-MS) invaded CZW as part of a kayfabe angle which led to an inter-promotional feud throughout most of 2003. During the night of the initial invasion, the crowd was so riled up that they began hurling chairs into the ring at Ian Rotten, Corporal Robinson, and J.C. Bailey of IWA-MS. The Delaware wrestling commissioner, who was in the ring at the time, was struck in the side of the head. The feud was based in both promotions and a major part led into CZW's Tournament of Death 2, five IWA-MS wrestlers and three CZW wrestlers entered into the 8-man single elimination tournament. The semi-final saw two CZW wrestlers John Zandig and Nick Mondo compete in a 2 out of 3 lightube log cabin match, a match which is said to have ended Nick Mondo's career. Towards the end of the match Zandig Mother F'N Bombed Nick Mondo off a 40ft rooftop as both Zandig and Mondo crashed into tables and a lightube log cabin contraption. Mondo suffered an injury to his back that doctors referred to as a "gun shot wound."[citation needed] He continued the Tournament with 3 broken bones in his wrist and won the tournament after defeating Ian Rotten in a 200 lightubes final.

Zandig hanging incident

During John Zandig's feud with heel stable the HI-V, Zandig was suspended in the middle of the ring by meat hooks from the roof of the arena. The incident lead into the setup of the main event at Cage of Death 2003, where a cage was suspended from the roof, the event was called 'Cage of Death 5: Suspended'. The aftermath of the incident was negative, many fans even vowed never to attend a CZW show again.[17] The company remained successful that year and had a sold out crowd for their annual Cage of Death show.

Later years

During 2005, CZW established a connection with local promotion Chikara, which established into a joint training school known as 'The Wrestle Factory' in the New Alhambra Arena, with head trainers Chris Hero and Mike Quackenbush. During 2007, CZW departed from the training school to form their own, much like their older school.

The company remained strong in the forthcoming years with new booker, Mike Burns, who was responsible for one of the best runs in the promotion's history, especially in 2005. Pancoast Productions, a company which for many years was responsible for a lot of the company's media logo and Titan Tron work, among other things, briefly departed from the company in late 2005 after an altercation between Pancoast Productions owner Mike Pancoast and John Zandig.

At their Cage of Death 7 show at the end of 2005, former CZW Ironman Champion Chris Hero cut a promo challenging American Dragon Bryan Danielson to a match at the next show, backstage, Zandig was furious. Zandig did not know about the deal that CZW booker, Mike Burns arranged with Ring of Honor (ROH) Booker, Gabe Sapolsky. The news of CZW working with ROH made Zandig go into a frenzy. Zandig was approached backstage by Mike Pancoast, Zandig told him not to raise his voice at him, after a very vocal argument Zandig pushed him down a flight of stairs, one worker quoted Zandig saying, "Make sure to grab the rail on your way down."[18]

Zandig was mad at Mike Burns for setting up a deal with ROH, without telling him first, this lead to the departure of Burns, it is not known if Burns quit CZW or was relieved of his duties by Zandig. Though SmartMarkVideo still continues to tape their shows, along with Pancoast Productions who are all still actively working together. Mike Burns & Smart Mark Video have come under scrutiny as of late due to several wrestlers revealing that Burns & SMV have not shared royalties from the sale of hundreds, if not thousands, of DVD & VHS releases. Despite this, Smart Mark continues to film live events & distribute shows via DVD.

Maven Bentley Association

The Maven Bentley Association (MBA) is a sister company run by Maven Bentley, which is an entertainment company that specializes in pro wrestling entertainment. The MBA LLC is the sole owner of the Maven Bentley character. It provides promoter services to independent wrestling companies as well as the character Maven Bentley for acting and other entertainment endeavors. As well half of the roster are mainly from CZW.[19] The MBA LLC has provided services to all the top names in the wrestling business such as Ring of Honor (ROH), World Xtreme Wrestling (WXW), World Sumo League (WSL), and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA).[20]

In 2007 saw CZW had short lived feud with the MBA, who's been running amok in CZW for the past few months with the power mad Bentley abusing his authority. Maven Bentley "hired" a few of CZW's own wrestlers to help him take over the company. Those wrestlers included Diehard Dustin Lee, Scotty Vortekz, Brain Damage, & DJ Hyde. Bentley himself died as he was scheduled to face Lobo in a lumberjack strap match, which he yet lost at Cage of Death 9. The MBA had returned to the CZW Arena for its "Economic Crisis" event on January 31, 2009.[21]

Popular media

The Wrestler

The Wrestler is a 2008 movie based around a fictional, once-prominent pro-wrestler (played by Mickey Rourke) in the heights of the 1980s, now left to drive from town to town for cheap pickup bouts and the rigorous dangers of leagues like CZW.

On December 8, 2007, Scott Franklin, Darren Aronofsky and Mickey Rourke visited CZW's Cage of Death IX in December and committed to the venue. On February 9, 2008, as a part of CZW's regular February event, filming took place in the New Alhambra Arena for the upcoming movie which included many CZW alumni, along with the Necro Butcher, who wrestles Rourke's character "Randy 'The Ram' Robinson" in an ultraviolent hardcore match.

Zandig's hope is that The Wrestler, along with CZW's first worldwide distribution deal for its DVDs (through LocoMotion Films) will take the ultra-violent sport to the next level.[22]

G4 Underground

CZW was Featured on G4's TV Show G4 Underground which talks about things that other networks don't. It shows Danny Havoc getting ready for his match at Total Havoc against Thumbtack Jack in which he did win.[23]

Time Warp

CZW's appearance on the Discovery Channel's Time Warp program debuted April 22, 2009 as part of a special 60-minute episode. The program included footage of Combat Zone's top stars Zandig, and Nick Gage at the Discovery Channel studios in Boston.[24]

Annual events

Event Year (s) Active Notes
Cage of Death I 1999
CZW Best of the Best 2001
CZW Tournament of Death 2002
Déjà Vu 2002
Night of Infamy 2002
Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Show 2005

Cage of Death

CZW's biggest show is the year-end Cage of Death. It always features the "Cage of Death" match, a steel cage with various weapons and objects. Electrified cage walls, cacti, tables, light tubes, glass, thumbtacks, baseball bats, and barbed-wire have been used in it. Matches always include high risk wrestling bumps. The Cage of Death also has different formats and stipulations: singles, tag team, or gauntlet.

Mark Young of Wardust Design, Designed the 2007 Cage of Death Poster.[25]

Tournament of Death

CZW's yearly death-match tournament features the use of fire, weed whackers, light tubes, and other weapons. Previous winners include Wifebeater (TOD 1 and 3), Nick Mondo (TOD 2), Necro Butcher (TOD 4), Nick Gage (TOD 5), Drake Younger (TOD 6), Danny Havoc (TOD 7), and John Zandig who gave the trophy over to Thumbtack Jack who lost the Tournament of Death trophy at Best of the Best to DJ Hyde (TOD 8). Due to the incidents at TOD 8 another Event named TOD 8.5 Rewind took place in the same year which was won by Thumbtack Jack.

Best of the Best

CZW's yearly tournament that differs from other CZW events in how it emphasizes athleticism more than the use of weapons. The Best of the Best tournament is, by design, a Junior Heavyweight Tournament. In 2005, however, the tournament was formatted as an open weight tournament. The next year, it returned to its original format. Previous winners include Winger, Trent Acid, B-Boy, Sonjay Dutt, Mike Quackenbush, Ruckus, Joker, Sabian, and Egotistico Fantastico in that order.

Chri$ Ca$h Memorial Show

As of 2005 CZW annually run a memorial tribute event to Christopher "Chri$ Ca$h" Bauman. The show originally started as a double header afternoon show, with another CZW event taking place later in the evening. Many former CZW trainees have made appearances on past events, including longtime friend GQ, who has wrestled on all of the events.

Roster

Championships

Current champions

Championship: Champion(s): Defeated: Date Won: Location:
CZW World Heavyweight Championship Jon Moxley B-Boy February 13, 2010 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CZW World Junior Heavyweight Championship Sabian Greg Excellent February 13, 2010 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CZW World Tag Team Championship The Best Around (TJ Cannon and Bruce Maxwell) 2 Girls 1 Cup (Beef Wellington and Greg Excellent) March 14, 2009 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CZW Wired TV Championship Tyler Veritas Adam Cole December 12, 2009 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CZW Ultraviolent Underground Championship Adam Polak Thumbtack Jack January 17, 2010 Oberhausen, Germany

Defunct championships

Championship: Champion(s) Final Champion(s) Date Won: Location:
CZW Death Match Championship Nate Hatred Nick Gage August 9, 2003 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
CZW Interpromotional Hardcore Championship Nick Gage Lobo June 5, 2000 Sewell, New Jersey
CZW Iron Man Championship DJ Hyde Egotistico Fantastico July 11, 2009 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

See also

References

  1. ^ SMagee, Bob (2002-11-18). "Pennsylvania Tax Dollars "At Work" Telling Fans What They Can See.". Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets. http://www.pwbts.com/columns/b111802.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  2. ^ "Combat Zone Wrestling History". 2004. http://www.freewebs.com/andy_czw1/history.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  3. ^ "Combat Zone Wrestling History". 2004. http://www.freewebs.com/andy_czw1/history.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  4. ^ "Combat Zone Wrestling - CZW Un F'n Believable". 2001. http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/results/czw/010414.html. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  5. ^ "Combat Zone Wrestling History". 2004. http://www.freewebs.com/andy_czw1/history.html. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  6. ^ "Combat Zone Wrestling History". 2004. http://www.freewebs.com/andy_czw1/history.html. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  7. ^ "Combat Zone Wrestling - CZW They Said It Couldn't Be Done". 2004. http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/results/czw/000625.html. Retrieved 2009-09-12. 
  8. ^ Sabato, Derek (2004-06-20). "CZW announces losing its Philadelphia TV time slot.". Wrestling Observer. http://www.wrestlingobserver.com/wo/news/headlines/default.asp?aID=10650. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  9. ^ Magee, Bob (2001-12-17). "Recap of Cage of Death 3.". Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets. http://www.pwbts.com/columns/b121701.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  10. ^ Fallon, Robert (2002-06-22). "Recap of The Messiah on America's Most Wanted.". Lords of Pain. http://www.lordsofpain.net/news/2002_/articles/1032670940.php. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  11. ^ Magee, Bob (2002-11-18). "Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission issues ban on Lightubes". Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets. http://www.pwbts.com/columns/b111802.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  12. ^ Magee, Bob (2002-11-18). "XPW bleeding incident in Viking Hall arena.". Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets. http://www.pwbts.com/columns/b111802.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  13. ^ Magee, Bob (2002-11-18). "Concerns over use of lightubes in the arena.". Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets. http://www.pwbts.com/columns/b111802.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  14. ^ Johnson, Mike (2004-12-09). "Then & Now: A Decade of Defiance music video.". Pro Wrestling Insider. http://www.pwinsider.com/ViewArticle.asp?id=6820&p=17. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  15. ^ Johnson, Mike (2004-12-09). "CZW Decade of Defiance Live Report". Pro Wrestling Insider. http://www.pwinsider.com/ViewArticle.asp?id=6820&p=17. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  16. ^ "Apocalypse 5/1/2004 Sabu, Messiah, Adam Flash vs Wifebeater, Trent Acid, Nick Gage". 2009. http://www12.brinkster.com/czwdb/wrestlerinfo.asp?. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  17. ^ =Rose, Mark (2003-09-15). "Combat Zone Wrestling Crosses the Line.". Online World of Wrestling. http://www.onlineworldofwrestling.com/columns/markrose/06.html. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  18. ^ McCaffrey, Sean (2005-12-13). "Major Altercation At Cage Of Death VII Involving Fights & ROH.". Wrestlingwire. http://www.wrestlingwire.net/indy/archive.php?Action=ShowNews&NewsID=10865&action=results&poll_ident=222. Retrieved 2007-09-28. 
  19. ^ "MBA F.A.Q.". http://www.mavenbentley.com/faq.html. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  20. ^ Maven Bentley. "Maven Bentley Association". http://www.mavenbentley.com. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  21. ^ "The MBA had returned to the CZW Arena for its "Economic Crisis" event on Jan, 31 2009". http://www.pro-wrestling.com/displaynews.php?area=4&sid=23682. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  22. ^ A.D. Amorosi (2008-02-13). "There Will Be Blood ... and Weed Whackers.". Philadelphia City Paper. http://www.citypaper.net/articles/2008/02/14/there-will-be-blood-and-weed-whackers. Retrieved 2008-02-14. 
  23. ^ "G4 Underground". http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd2HT-U7tBg. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  24. ^ "CZW on Time Warp". Pro-wrestling.com. http://www.pro-wrestling.com/displaynews.php?area=4&sid=25799. Retrieved 2009-07-12. 
  25. ^ www.myspace.com/wardustdesign

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