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Kayfabe! – Timeline: The History of ECW – 1992-93 with Tod Gordon

October 18, 2016 | Posted by Mike Campbell
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Kayfabe! – Timeline: The History of ECW – 1992-93 with Tod Gordon  

Timeline: The History of ECW – 1992-93 as told by Tod Gordon

I always seem to praise KC for getting the best possible guests for their Timeline editions, and this is another example of that. Is there a more fitting person to discuss the origin, and early days, of ECW than the person who founded the company? Tod occasionally got physically involved in angles, but he wasn’t getting cracked upside the head with a chair night in and night out, so his memory is pretty much intact, well, as much as can be expected after nearly 25 years. Unlike the B2TT series, there is plenty of subject matter available as far as ECW history goes, but, they all pretty much start with Paul Heyman taking over in late 1993, with the early days glossed over.

As far as production goes, KC made sure to go all out for this one. Instead of being held in their headquarters in New Jersey, this is held in Philadelphia, at 2300 S. Swanson St. Sean even has them turn off the AC (in August, with them both wearing suits) for the authentic ECW Arena experience. They even cap things off with a little tour of the building. The only thing missing was a trip to the bathroom, when I first went to the arena in 2011, I was explicitly instructed to use the bathroom elsewhere, because of how nasty the bathrooms in the arena were.

The interview starts off with Tod and Sean discussing the folding of the TWA, which was led to Tod starting ECW. Philly was always a great wrestling city, with fans that appreciated a great product. The NWA always ran in Philly, even though they drew poorly in most other Northeast markets, because Philly always drew well and the crowds were always lively. When the crowds stopped coming after Turner took over with WCW, TWA filled that void, and then Goodhart shut down, and Tod (who was helping fund TWA) decided to give it a try himself. This leads to Tod talking about starting up ECW, and running shows in bars and strip clubs, while using most of Goodhart’s old crew, and slowly filtering some of them out and bringing in bigger names who would become regulars, like Jimmy Snuka and Don Muraco. He tells a funny story about preparing his first show, and being told that one of the rules to him running in the bar is that he can’t use the Sandman. He’d been banned from that bar after spitting beer on a waitress. Tod had to tell him he couldn’t work the show, and eventually Sandman apologized to the waitress and was allowed back. He was still doing the beach bum character at this time, so there isn’t a punch-line of him getting drunk during the show and spitting on her again. ECW’s first show running the Chestnut Cabaret strip club caused Tod to lose his ass, when nobody under twenty-one was allowed in, and they drew a crowd of seventeen people. Tod originally had Larry Winters as the booker, but, he did an angle that Tod specifically vetoed (painting JT Smith white), so, Tod just did the booking himself.

Sean brings up most of the usual suspects who went through ECW during the early days, and Tod gives him impressions of them. Tod’s way of checking ego at the door was that every big name, who wanted to come in would do a job their first night, and if they had a problem, they didn’t come back. He tells a funny story about getting a phone call from “Bob Marion” asking to come in, and when Tod asked his ring name he answered “Bob Marion” – it was actually “Barbarian.” ECW even had a little coup at the end of 1992, getting the British Bulldog for a show between his WWF and WCW runs. Kerry Von Erich made a shot before he passed away, he was supposed to be a surprise, but the masked man come out wearing a robe that said “KERRY.” Sean asks about Gabe Sapolsky, and Tod said he started out doing a newsletter, and then moved up to being a coffee boy. He was a college student who asked Tod about doing the newsletter, and Tod said sure, and they split the proceeds 70/30. ECW ran one show in Maryland, but the commissioner told them that if anyone bled, he’d stop the show, so that was the last time they ran Maryland.

Of course, one can’t talk about ECW during this time period and not bring up Eddie Gilbert. He was originally just another big name that Tod brought in, in order to draw a crowd, but, he loved working the area and offered to help Tod out getting the new ECW TV show on SportsChannel Philadelphia off the ground. Tod and Eddie became fast friends, and Tod tells some funny stories about him, such as him once booking Tammy Sytch just so he could get laid, and how Gilbert’s obsession with being Jerry Lawler was completely true, right down to Eddie crowning himself as the King of Philadelphia. Eventually, people complained about the ECW TV show being the ‘Eddie Gilbert show.’

Tod sheds some light on Eddie’s leaving ECW, and shatters the myth about Heyman taking over for him. In short: Heyman and Jimmy Crockett were planning on some joint venture in NY(Heyman talked about this on his WWE DVD), and Gilbert got it in his head that Tod was joining up with them and was going to shut him out, so, he quit a week before Ultra-Clash. Eddie had a change of heart two days later, but, by then Tod had replaced him on the card. Eddie was going to come out and tell the fans goodbye, but Heyman cut the mic on him, even though Tod had okayed it (Note from Mike, this was probably for the best, considering what Eddie in Japan). Heyman didn’t take over booking right away, Tod went back to it for a bit, with Heyman helping him out. Then, some months later, Tod decided to let Heyman do it himself, with the condition that Tod had to approve everything, otherwise Paul would have burned down the building in the first year. Tod says that there weren’t any hard feelings with Eddie, and that he got Christmas cards from him every year until he passed away.

They close things with Tod talking about selling out to Heyman in 1995, and how Heyman had told Tod that he had secured advertising on Sunshine Network and MSG Network, and had none, so they were on the hook for $5,000 a week for that. Sean asks Tod for his side of the ‘mole’ story, and Tod simply tells him that there isn’t one. By 1997, they couldn’t afford to keep guys compared to what they were making, and with Heyman linked with Vince, Tod decided to call his friend Kevin Sullivan and see if he could get a better deal for the guys. That’s all it was.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
Both "Forever Hardcore" and "The Rise and Fall of ECW" glossed over this period, and, between his funny stories and the insane research that the KC people do in preparing these interviews, it's hard to understand why. This is a must-have for any ECW fan, or those who generally like hearing about wrestling history.

article topics :

ECW, Tod Gordon, Mike Campbell