XPW TV Reviews
Those of you familiar with my posts, particularly in the classic section, know how big of an ECW fan I am. So, naturally, when it shut down more than 16 years ago, I gravitated towards any and every company that I felt remotely captured the essence of what ECW was. I started following ROH (the closest to ECW, IMO, at least in it's early days), CZW, 3PW, Jersey All-Pro, USA Pro/UXW, IWA-MS, CZW, MLW and even PWX and MECW, which only lasted one show a piece. The ECW influence was obvious in each of these promotions. But, perhaps none was more obviously influenced than XPW.XPW TV: Episode 1
XPW was pretty much created out of spite, due to a failed partnership between it's owner, Rob Black, and ECW owner, Paul Heyman. Disregarding the backstory, the bad blood between the two would lead to Black forming his own promotion, with the early goal of simply antagonizing Paul Heyman's brand of (e)xtreme. And Black did just that, even years after ECW had shut down.
But, in spite of the obvious ECW influence, XPW also tried to form it's own identity. Beyond the basic premise of being "xtreme", they presented a product more reliant on violence & sex than ECW had ever presented. Porn stars would become focal points of the show. Deathmatches would become a major selling point of the product. And with both came a more adult oriented presentation, with the tagline "This ain't your daddy's wrestling".
Perhaps history hasn't been too kind to XPW. Beneath the claims of it being a cheap knock off of ECW, maybe there were certain elements of XPW that were compelling. Interesting enough to perhaps, even in hindsight, finally remove it from ECW's shadow. Or maybe it was much worse than we all seem to remember.
I've decided to inch closer to that answer, as I've set out to review every episode (in chronological order) of XPW's weekly TV show. Now, while I'm well familiar with XPW, I've never seen a single episode of their weekly TV show. And I'm not going into this with high expectations. However, I'm not going in totally dismissive of it's potential, as even with it's questionable nature, I do recall certain elements of XPW I enjoyed (The Enterprise, "White Trash" Johnny Webb & Jessica Darlin and the "love affair" between Kraq & "The Hardcore Homo" Angel). We'll see how this holds up. So, join me as I review the history of XPW TV!
So, we start off with Chris Candido defending against Damien Steele for the XPW Championship, which is joined in progress. Kevin Kloss mentions that the title has been taken hostage by Candido, which I'm assuming precedes his arrival in WCW. Well, turns out the match is clipped. Larry Rivera joins in and I'm already regretting doing this, as I always found him annoying (but slightly less annoying than Kloss). These guys are fighting all over the building, including on top of the bar. Candido hits an elbow drop off the bar and pins Steele to win the title. Apparently, this was falls count anywhere. Not sure whatever happened to Damien Steele but, visually, he looks like someone that could've received a look from a bigger promotion. Not sure about him as a worker, though.
As Candido celebrates (awkwardly), there's a voiceover revealing they have a blast from the past for Candido. The lights go out. Suddenly, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas appears. Triple Threat symbols go up. "Cut the fucking music". Douglas embraces Candido & Tammy (who looks good). Tells you a lot about XPW when the opening of their very first TV show is a segment with three notable ECW performers. Douglas basically cuts his usual promo, burying Hogan & Flair, and putting over whatever company he's in at the moment. Not much here, aside from the pandering Douglas has kind of been known for.
We finally get the opening, which is highlights of XPW action. Not a bad opening package but the quality is very amateurish. The opening is also kind of too long, as you could adequately get viewers invested by shaving off 3 minutes or so. And in case you're wondering, the opening video package was over 4 minutes long. Jesus help me.
Finally, we get the two shithead announcers who, honestly, were the worst aspects of this company, in my opinion. No sense of chemistry between the two at all. Kloss says tonight, they'll present a brief history of the company, as they prepare for their biggest show thus far, "And Then, There Were Four". Rivera calls it the hottest promotion in wrestling today. Well, the first 10 minutes might say otherwise. Apparently, I was right. Candido won the title before leaving for WCW, with the storyline being that he has heat with the office for leaving as champion. And now, an in-ring promo with the boss' wife, Lizzy Borden, who is joined by Kronus.
Facially, she's challenged. Anatomically, she's amazing. Verbally, you'll lose your erection. She asks if the fans are ready for some T&A. Their response indicates that they aren't. She calls out Candido and calls Tammy a tramp (hello, kettle, I'm pot). Candido and Tammy who, I'm certain are both FUBAR, are the only ones who even look like they belong in the wrestling business thus far. Candido's dressed like Terry Funk, which I always got a kick out of. Fans are chanting "You sold out" at Candido, despite him only being in the company for a month. He agrees that he did and says if anybody in that lockerroom had an ounce of talent, they would've, too. He threatens to take the belt with him to WCW. He refuses to defend the title but Lizzy tells him he will. And here comes Douglas...again. I'm assuming this is from the same taping, as he has on the same clothes but it doesn't explain why the fans went from cheering to booing Candido.
Douglas puts over his friendship with Candido, calling him one of the greatest wrestlers in the business. But, he says if Candido is, he should defend his title tonight. Douglas whispers something to Chris & Tammy, prompting Chris to accept defending his title but refuses to defend it against Kronus (when was that even suggested). I think everybody in the ring right now is high on something I have a feeling I'm going to need to get thru this, as Bacardi doesn't seem to be enough. Candido says he'll defend the title against Homeless Jimmy. Okay. Jimmy's basically the white, homeless version of New Jack, coming to the ring with a shopping cart full of weapons and from what I recall, isn't too good of a worker. Candido introduces his insurance policy and best friend, Shane Douglas.
1. XPW Heavyweight Champion Chris Candido (w/ Tammy Sytch & Shane Douglas) vs. Homeless Jimmy
The match is clipped. They go back and forth, until Jimmy makes it hardcore. Candido takes it back to wrestling, hitting his stalling suplex and a piledriver. Jimmy counters another and makes it hardcore again. Then, Candido tosses Jimmy thru a table. Douglas interference backfires and due to the referee being out of position, Jimmy only gets a nearfall. How the fuck was the referee out of position? Tammy distracted him, so Douglas could hit Jimmy with a baking sheet, only to accidentally hit Candido. That would make sense...if it wasn't for the fact that Jimmy had already used weapons, in plain view of the referee. Another major problem I have with XPW and while I'm at it, ECW. What's the purpose of distracting a referee if he'd already witnessed the rules being broken and ignored it because...THERE ARE NO RULES! Now, Douglas tosses Candido a chain and the referee is distracted again, which is enough to get the win over Jimmy. Not going to bother giving it a rating, as it was clipped to all hell and even then, was horrifyingly bad, due to issues with logic.
After the match, Candido starts beefing with XPW "officials", who don't agree with the way he won.
Back to Kloss & Rivera, who talk about a double cross taking place and asking "who screwed who". Excuse me? I'm clearly missing something but Kloss says they'll show the aftermath later on. Not digging this structure at all. Kloss gives us the history of the XPW Heavyweight Championship, with the first encounter being a cage match between the aforementioned Damien Steele and OG Dudley member, Big Dick Dudley. Steele wins and soon forms a stable with Nicole Bass, Jake Lawless (whoever the fuck that is) and the psychotic John Kronus called "The Hiearchy". Eventually, they turn on Kronus, which eventually leads to Big Dick winning the title but he then gets stripped, due to Borden proclaiming that an ex-convict couldn't be champion. I actually like this, as it's cross-promotion continuation of Big Dick as an ex-con, based on the reality of Alex Rizzo as an ex-con. Somehow, Jamin St. Claire gets involved in the storyline, resulting in The Hiearchy embarassing her, resulting in the debuting Chris Candido & Tammy making the save. Steele claims he's the real XPW Champion, says he'll get it back and will defend it against Candido. However, Borden makes a match between Hiearchy members Mike Modest (who wasn't even mentioned thus far) and Jake Lawless for the vacant XPW Title. Lawless wins, after Steele's accidentally hits Modest with a chair. Afterwards, Steele cuts a promo saying he knows Lawless likes to have a good time, hands him some cash and asks how much fun he could have with that. Son of a bitch. Lawless just sold the belt to Steele! This leads to Candido vs. Steele, which Candido wins, only to be informed by Borden that it was non-title. Fucking bitch. Catfight between Borden & Tammy. Eventually, Candido wins the title.
Next, Kloss says we'll take a look at some of the business' most hardcore wrestlers, including Supreme.
Kloss shills some XPW merchandise, which looks a lot better than I expected but not good enough for me to wear. Apprently, XPW also had a wrestling school. Wonder who came out of that? Weird how you're advertising this on your debut TV show, which has yet to demonstrate why anyone should want to be taught how to wrestle here, of all places. They also have a hotline.
Now, we get the hardcore shit, with Kloss mentioning Terry Funk, Terry Gordy and Mick Foley, before saying Supreme will soon be added to that list (LMAO). Kloss says Supreme has sent a few XPW wrestlers packing (probably because of how shitty he was as a worker). We get a bunch of Supreme highlights, which Rivera completely buries, saying he wants to be a wrestling announcer, calling this type of "wrestling" garbage and leaving. Starting to warm up to Larry, although I'm certain that will change.
We get footage of XPW's first King Of The Deathmatch tournament, where Supreme faces The Messiah, the guy who would eventually have his thumb cut off in a hit for allegedly sleeping with the boss' wife, who I remind you is a porn star. That's right, the boss allegedly put a hit out on someone for sleeping with his porn star wife. Perhaps if Nancy was in the business of drinking piss and getting fucked in every hole, things would've played out differently, huh? I apologize...Anyway, more deathmatch stuff that isn't very noteworthy, as Supreme wins in the finals against Kronus, in a no rope barbed wire, "beds of everything" deathmatch to become the first King Of The Deathmatch champion. Okay, so for your very first TV show, we're 40 minutes in, you haven't given me one complete match, yet you're trying to sell me on attending your wrestling school? Jesus...
The announcers hype Supreme's KOTDM title defense against Axl Rotten in a Japanese style deathmatch. Rivera is back to bury the concept of deathmatch wrestling. Kloss calms him down, saying this is XPW, where it's about violence and sex, which segues into the sex portion of the show...
In the form of two sluts shilling XPW merchandise, in the least sexiest way imaginable. Perhaps if I was 13, when all this first took place, I'd be rushing to find some lotion. Now, it's meh. They aren't that hot anyway.
Speaking of hot, we get a Lizzy Borden video package, which is basically a fairy tale version of her ascension from ring girl to the most powerful woman in the company. Lot of major moments in her development are "matter of factly" acknowledged (such as her marriage to Rob Black and feud with Jasmin St. Claire), so it's pointless for me to even talk about. What I will talk about, however, is how, despite not being a great promo at all, she has TONS of potential, largely based on her "rags to riches" story, which I'm intrigued by. Now clearly, I'm missing a lot here, as XPW does a piss poor job of recapping their history, but she's not convincing as a performer at all, which is a MAJOR drawback. Hopefully she improves over time, as she doesn't seem to be too comfortable doing anything besides fucking & sucking. Did I mention she was a porn star? Given the type of porn she and her husband where charged with producing, perhaps it's best if I didn't. Now, we get Lizzy announcing she wants Kristi Myst to be her personal love slave. And I don't blame her. But, apparently Lizzy changes her mind. Jasmin St. Claire, Chris Candido & Tammy appear and I have no clue what Lizzy said, as XPW's production thus far is horrendous, but it results in Candido taking out Jasmin with a clothesline. I'm very confused by all of this, as I have no idea who the faces and heels are.
Kloss promises to show the exchange between Lizzy Borden & Kristi Myst next week, provided the censors allow it. Have a strong feeling this will be a major letdown.
Hype for "And Then, There Were Four", with Shane Douglas promising to take the title off Chris Candido. Excuse me but I thought they were friends? If the aren't, why the fuck didn't you show us the turning point in their relationship, instead of wasting four minutes on a video package that did fuck all to get anybody over? Maybe I needed to drop acid in order to have somewhat of an idea of what the fuck is going on here, because Kloss & Rivera haven't done shit to fill me in on anything. They also advertise a bunch of matches featuring guys they have not once mentioned throughout the first 51 minutes of this show. Good way to convince me to buy a ticket.
Next week, we get more of the history of XPW and highlights of the first KOTDM tournament, which I'm certain we already got on this show and, again, the Kristi Myst-Lizzy Borden footage you do not want to miss (provided the censors allow it).
Oh, so now, we see the dissension between Douglas & Candido. Douglas cuts a promo that, between the censoring and bad audio quality, I'm not even going to attempt to decipher. Basically, he guarantees Candido will lose the title at "And Then, There Were Four". Also, Candido seems to be dead and apparently, XPW doesn't have paramedics or a stretcher, so they carry out Candido on a table. In other words, the same officials from earlier that were pissed about him taking the title hostage are now concerned with his well being. Makes sense...but what doesn't make sense is why. And maybe that's a question I should avoid asking going forward, as I'm certain I'll never get an answer.
We then get footage of not only what we saw already this episode but something we already saw in the previous segment, with Douglas turning on Candido. In other words, we have a recap of recaps. I'm about to lose my fucking mind. Douglas hits the Pittsburgh Plunge on Candido, who Rivera says just broke his neck. They then replay the same Douglas promo from less than a minute earlier, which is more coherent, shown from a different angle but the same level of interesting. "Cut my music. Shit, fuck, fuck...you're losing the title. Hit my music." Perhaps Candido is legitimately hurt, as he's yet to move and they've began taking apart the ring. Even more weird, the man he beat for the title, Damien Steele, has come out to help remove him from the ring. Somebody off camera cuts a promo about a cage match and the show randomly ends.
Overall: This show was beyond awkward. And I get it because it was the first, so you gotta work out the kinks. But, it wasn't the best way to introduce the product. The majority of the show was spent focusing on two guys who aren't even going to be around much longer, with the storytelling of the angle being poorly structured, as Candido went from being a face to heel with no explanation why until the end of the show, with that explanation being that Douglas has a foul mouth. Even worse, Lizzy Borden appears early as the (seemingly) heel authority figure, although it's later in the show that the backstory is explained, which didn't make her much of a heel, considering she was first introduced in a segment with the "heel" champion, who had taken the title hostage. That said, she was easily the best thing of the show because, despite being challenged on the mic, it's something about her that convinces me she might go on to become a highly entertaining part of the show, depending on who her first major protagonist is. The deathmatch portion was totally skippable, as it was nothing more than an infomercial for Supreme, who I found to be very uninteresting until the formation of The Enterprise (which I can't wait to get to). Final Grade: D-. Only reason it's not an F is because I see potential in Lizzy Borden. I've seen some of the major XPW shows but I've never watched their weekly TV. So, I'm going into this kind of blind, with hopes that she can improve as a performer and the booking can step up and accommodate her in her role, as I can't recall what she was exactly like as the company progresses.