AS I SEE IT 1/23: Thoughts on closing of the ECW Arena

Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

This week, some news on where CZW is going next after last week’s final show at the ECW Arena.

First, I have to get this off of my chest.

Last week pissed me off. Not because of the reason it apparently did for so many people; namely the angle at the end…because it was designed by Gabe Sapolsky to go forward with Sami Callihan’s character in EVOLVE. Like it or not, that’s how a promoter has to think….and apparently a lot didn’t. It would also be logical, denials from EVOLVE or not, to assume that there is some tie-in with the Extreme Reunion project, who will be running a show at the Northeast Pennsylvania National Guard Armory. If there isn’t, there should have been.

It pissed me off because January 14 saw 19 years of wrestling history being taken away by Stein and Silverman (the two center city lawyers who actually own it); and concert promoter Joanna Pang, all of whom appear to have little or no real interest in that history.

(I do want to make special note that the following paragraphs are my OWN opinion. They were not solicited by anyone involved with Combat Zone Wrestling, CHIKARA, EVOLVE, Dragon Gate USA or anyone else in the wrestling business; and they are not aware of what’s been written below.)

We all know that legends ranging from Terry Funk, The Sheik, Abdullah the Butcher, Ric Flair, and Eddie Guerrero to Japan’s Jushin Liger, Manami Toyota, and Aja Kong, and a thousand more, all the way to the two current WWE champions CM Punk and Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson; all those have performed at the ECW Arena. This change to a concert venue is going to take place, even though the neighborhood has previously made clear that they do not want a concert venue in their neighborhood (in meetings several months ago); and also made this clear back in 2002 when the adult film company sponsored XPW promotion had an exclusive lease on the building and announced plans (presumably with the permission of Stein and Silverman) to run concerts there, as well as XPW wrestling shows.

So they were ready to deal with an adult film company. They also seem not to be especially concerned about others they deal with as well.

In an 1991 Philadelphia Daily News article found at this link; it was reported that they had to stand before a federal judge in Philadelphia; in a case that saw them nearly forced to forfeit two mortgages worth $100,000 that were given to them as collateral for a loan. U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III eventually found that “attorneys [Stein and Silverman] didn’t know they were dealing with drug traffickers” when they accepted the mortgages from South Philadelphia drug kingpin-turned- informant Nicholas D’Amato and his brother, Carmen ‘Butchy’ D’Amato as collateral for a $39,000 loan. They were told the loan was to build a modular home on a lot in New Jersey. But the judge did find that the two “were less than meticulous in the handling of the loan transaction,” noting that the firm “never inspected the two properties and waited almost a month before recording the mortgages.” In other words, they had no idea if it was really for the stated purpose.

Then there’s Joanna Pang, who is the new leaseholder. In August 2011, Pang and the Trocadero Theatre under the corporate umbrella of Joon Associates Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; specifically citing Ticketmaster fees as the reason for the move as noted at this link, among many sources.

So adult film companies, drug traffickers (with knowledge or not), and a concert promoter whose venue recently declared Chapter 11.

But they don’t seem ready to deal with wrestling promoters such as DJ Hyde who have not just allowed Toys for Tots to hold collections at their largest show for the last seven years, but have actively promoted the collections and given money out of their own pockets; or Mike Quackenbush of CHIKARA Pro Wrestling, who for years has allowed numerous people with special needs to attend shows for free…and has never mentioned that fact, or attempted to use it to put himself or his promotion over (and also allowed Toys for Tots collections for the last two years).

As for their lack of interest in the building’s history, Silverman has claimed publicly he “is under the impression that wrestling will remain at the arena.” He said in an article in the Temple University News that “I have been quoted in the Daily News saying that I do not like wrestling,” Silverman said. “But that does not mean that wrestling won’t occur in the arena. Our goal is for the arena to be used as much as possible so we will do what is best for everyone.”

So, Mr. Silverman; are you prepared to publicly state that the new venue will alllow wrestling shows to be held, without limits (beyond what the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission has); and that you will do whatever possible to assure rents for said events are not as unreasonable as many fear they will be set at?

As for Ms. Pang, she has stated that she is “not opposed to pro wrestling in the venue”. So is she willing to state publicly that she will keep rental prices for independent wrestling shows at affordable prices so that shows can actually be held at the building? I’m not holding my breath waiting for such an assurance anytime soon.

The ECW Arena as we know it no longer exists. What change will this fact bring? A lot.

CZW, EVOLVE/Dragon Gate USA, and CHIKARA Pro Wrestling will need to find new permanent homes for at least the foreseeable future.

They are still searching for a permament home in the Philadelphia market. If you think you know of one, e-mail DJ Hyde at .

CHIKARA’s previously announced February ECW Arena show has been removed from their website. They have no Philadelphia area events listed on their website, and there is no mention of the annual King of Trios weekend, which had been held at the ECW Arena for the last several years. They have not responded to e-mails sent to them asking about this thus far.

There is also no word regarding a Philadelphia venue for EVOLVE or Dragon Gate USA shows.

So…now to at least some positive news.

CZW, at least, has taken some positive steps forward toward securing venues for the next two months. Here is the release they sent regarding their venues for the next two months:

February – On Saturday, February 11th, CZW will present its 13th anniversary event at the Flyers Skate Zone. This venue is located at 601 Laurel Oak Road in Voorhees, NJ (approx. 25 mins. from the Arena). This will be a homecoming of sorts for the Combat Zone, CZW was founded in the Garden State. This event is also part of a huge weekend for the Combat Zone as CZW will be appearing at the Philadelphia Tattoo Arts Convention at the PA Convention Center in Center City from Feb. 10th – 12th. Complete directions to the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees are listed below. Complete venue information can be found at Drew Gulak will compete in a match for the CZW World Championship against whoever the CZW World Champion is after our Indianapolis event on February 4th.

Venue address: The Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone at Voorhees, 601 Laurel Oak Road, Voorhees, NJ 08043

From I-95: Take the Walt Whitman Bridge into New Jersey. Stay on Rt. 42 South. Exit onto I-295 North. (Second exit from bridge) Take I-295 North to Exit 32 (Haddonfield/ Voorhees). Make a right off of the exit onto Haddonfield-Berlin Road. Follow several miles to Laurel Oak Road. (Just past the Eagle Shopping Plaza). Make a right onto Laurel Oak Road. Facility is ¼ mile on the left. (Across from the rear of the Ritz Theatre)

From NJ Turnpike: Exit turnpike at Exit 4. Follow signs to Rt. 73 North. Take Route 73 North and exit onto I-295 South. Take I-295 South to Exit 32 (Haddonfield/ Voorhees). Make a left onto Haddonfield-Berlin Road. Follow several miles to Laurel Oak Road. (Just past the Eagle Shopping Plaza). Make a right onto Laurel Oak Road. Facility is ¼ mile on the left. (Across from the rear of the Ritz Theatre)

March – On Saturday, March 10th, CZW will be live at the Boyle’s World Gym located at 11000 Roosevelt Blvd # 19 in Northeast Philadelphia (approx. 30 minutes from the Arena, and is on the Boulevard between Red Lion and Woodhaven Roads). This is also another huge weekend for the Combat Zone as CZW will be appearing at MonsterMania Con 21 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ from March 9th – 11th. Complete information about Boyle’s World Gym can be found at

Non-drivers will probably need to find a way over to the show. or take PATCO to Lindenwold station and take a cab ride to the venue, as NJ Transit buses are fairly infrequent on weekends, and the venue is two bus connections away from the Lindenwold PATCO station.

March’s show can easily be reached by SEPTA by the 14 bus.

Until next time…

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