Chewin the Fat
by Bay Ragni
Barbed Wire City ECW Arena Premiere
Well after 13 years in the making the big day finally arrived and dreams come true. A documentary that took longer to make about a wrestling federation that only lasted 9 years. A wrestling federation that in 9 years’ time changed the world of professional wrestling and now 12 years after its doors closed there is still people talking about it and remembering the days that left a special place in everyone’s heart.
That federation in case you didn’t know was called ECW.
ECW the Philly based promotion that started running shows in 1992 out of a local sports bar and graduated to a Bingo Hall which became the most famous wrestling venue in the world, onto a national platform with TNN Television as well as PPV.
Through the course of time that the ECW Crowd grew a local fan from Allentown who started to become part of the revolution fell in love with all that was ECW. That fan was John Philapavage.
John became a die heard ECW Fan, and decided in the late 90’s that he wanted to make a documentary about ECW, and the whole cult like culture that went along with it. John and his longtime best friend and soon to be business partner Kevin Kiernan worked together for the past 13 years to turn this into an incredible tribute and experience for anyone and everyone who was there at some point during ECW’s 9 year span.
April 20, 2013 after a 13 year journey all the dreams of John and Kevin and this project came to culmination they hoped for with the debut screening of “Barbed Wire City” where else, but the ECW Arena.
On Hand were both John & Kevin, some of the old ECW Crew like Shane Douglas, The Blue Meanie, Don E. Allen, Chubby Dudley, Big Sal, John Finnegan, Bob Artese, as well as some old ECW Staff, Atlas Security members, and Wrestling Journalist, and of course some of the ECW Hardcore fans.
The film was a well done tribute, which probably wasn’t the original plan since ECW was still in operation when it was started, but showed the chronological history of ECW, as well as an up to date look at the ECW Spinoff of Extreme Rising which features many of the ECW mainstays.
Watching this showed, and explained what the truth and reality behind ECW was. ECW was the land of misfit toys, where it was a place for wrestling talent of the past, present & future to join together as one. One family, one cause, one heart that all beat together and worked together to make not one person a star, but everyone a star.
This film showed exactly that, how all pieces worked together. The pieces of the ECW Workers & Staff, the ECW devoted fans, and the ECW Arena which started a craze in Philly, and started to see people travel worldwide to the famed ECW Arena to see what the buzz was that was being heard around the world.
Barbed Wire City shows the slow rise to the peaks and the death of ECW. It shows the good times, the bad times, and also the sad times. ECW had highs and lows like any business. ECW though as much as it had high times, it seems the low times always won out, whether it was money problems, talent problems, drug problems, some type of problem brought down the good times, but as you see in this documentary ECW never stopped fighting for its life, or for its time in the sun.
If you were at any time in that 9 year period of ECW, part of the crew or staff, part of the crowd, or just a casual fan this documentary is a must see. Where it gives you an uncensored look to what the truth of it all was and what was really going on behind the cameras, and curtains and hotel room doors that many people just didn’t know.
You also see a lot of classic fan cam footage that was taken throughout the years, where you see a lot of ECW crew that sadly are no longer with us.
As I watched this in the ECW Arena, I was filled with emotion. As I was able to be part of ECW in its original days from 1992 – 94, and be part of their Original crew who got the TV deal, and work under one of my wrestling idols Eddie Gilbert, to come back in 1995 – 96 as one of the Dudley Boys, and be part of that ECW Crew that changed the world of wrestling and share a locker room with many of the top names in the business today, and names that I looked up to, who influenced me, and who I had the chance to watch and learn with and from.
This night and this movie were special as I got to share with my wife and children what I was part of, and where all that magic happened. The reason I met my wife and I even have my children and the life I have today, which my daughters didn’t really understand what I was part of, and now wonder why I was part of it.
So to watch this last night, I sat there at times with a smile on my face, and at times tears in my eyes, but the whole time proud to know, I was part of this and thank you to John & Kevin for making this dream a reality and sharing with the world that ECW was truly something special, and a once in a lifetime thing that cannot be recaptured as much as people want to try, it just won’t happen.
I cannot wait to watch my copy of the DVD so I can see it again and see it myself to feel all those feelings again.
Go to BWC’s website to order your copy.