Fifteen years ago, independent wrestling was all over the place in Philadelphia, PA. Several wrestling companies vying for the money of paying customers. During this time, there would be some major drama taking place that some fans may not have been aware of.
Back in 2002, professional wrestling fans were looking for an alternative to World Wrestling Entertainment. With both WCW and ECW going out of business in 2001 there lacked competition on a national level. However, if you lived in Philadelphia or the surrounding states on the Northeast, there was plenty of competition.
A handful of wrestling promotions were involved in a heated war to attract wrestling fans to their shows. The most well known of the bunch, would be Ring of Honor (ROH). At the time in 2002, ROH was owned by Rob Feinstein and booked by Gabe Saplosky. The company used many of the top names on the independent level and despite a few ownership changes, has maintained its popularity to this day (2017).
There was XPW, owned by Rob Black. Black, who has a background in porn, had based his company in California. However, once ECW went out of business, Black appeared to be obsessed with taking over Philadelphia. XPW ended up signing an exclusive deal with the ECW Arena, preventing one company from holding shows there.
Two of the major companies at the time were Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) and Pro-Pain Pro Wrestling (3PW). John Zandig owned CZW while former ECW wrestler/personality Blue Meanie and Jasmine St. Claire owned 3PW. The deal did impact 3PW and CZW. 3PW was forced to move their shows to the Electric Factory, which wasn’t a great venue to hold a wrestling show. CZW continued to run shows in Philadelphia, but not at the ECW Arena for all of 2003.
The story of XPW managing to get a promoters license in Philadelphia was one of the first of several notable issues. XPW claimed that they had gotten help from Rob Feinstein, or RF Video, to run the building. Apparently, as it got closer to the date of the first show, August 31, 2002, Feinstein denied allowing XPW to put him down as a reference. XPW was able to hold the show, but tensions were running high.
XPW made it a mission to takeover Philadelphia and they went forward with the idea to buy wrestlers from CZW, 3PW or ROH. XPW reportedly called every ROH wrestler to no-show a show on September 21st, 2002, with Boogalou being the only one not to show up for the show. Eventually, Joey Matthews, Josh Prohibition and Matt Cross all jumped to XPW. XPW tried to sabotage a 3PW show by trying to get Syxx-Pac, Sabu and Dusty Rhodes to no-show, but that wasn’t successful.
CZW, ROH and 3PW decided to make a rule that anyone from XPW would not be welcomed on their show and if anyone left their promotions to join XPW, they wouldn’t be welcomed back. That didn’t necessarily hold true over time.
In an attempt to combat XPW, ROH and CZW formed an alliance on September 21st shaking hands and saying they’d hold shows on the same day, but simply start at different times to allow fans to attend both shows. The XPW invasion didn’t seem to sit well with fans “XPW sucks” was written on the side of the arena.
XPW didn’t last long in the ECW Arena as they didn’t hold a show there after February 14th, 2003. Their last show took place on March 8th, 2003 in Pittsburgh. However, the Philly Indy Wars weren’t over yet.
The issues in Philadelphia continued, but this time between 3PW and ROH. On September 20th, 2003 the fire marshals were called prior to an ROH show. This prevented nearly 200 fans from entering the building due to someone calling them because ROH was believed to have been filling the Murphy Recreation Center beyond the maximum capacity. ROH officials believed the incident was due to 3PW owner Jasmine St. Claire. However, the Blue Meanie provided a statement on the issue. This is transcript is credited to Bob Magee…
“…We have better things to devote our energy to than these childish games that are being played. I’m really disgusted and I am really tired of some of the things people will do to “F” with one another. I REALLY am. Back in January of 2002 we came up with the idea of running shows. One of the many reasons we thought of doing it was to give people MORE work. Not take it away… …Someone out there has nothing better to do than to stir the pot. Someone is probably POed that either 3PW or ROH doesn’t book him or her. Or it’s someone that no longer works for 3PW or ROH. Or it’s someone who got mad when we suggested there asking price was too much money in order to book them. Or it’s someone who would like nothing better than to see the two promotions kill each other. Sadly it’s nothing new. I’m not saying anything that hasn’t happened before. It’s now just come down to someone wanting 3PW and ROH have some spat so they can get off on it. Well I want nothing to do with it. NOTHING! Never have and never will. We have never subscribed to the “Philly Wrestling Wars” or they said this and that. You know why? Because it’s all a crock of ****! That’s why. It’s a bunch of petty high school BS that is beyond old and people need to grow up. People have tried to pit us against each other and we have wanted nothing to do with it. ROH and 3PW have had differences when it came to business decisions and that’s ok. It’s business, not personal. There is no way we would stoop to something so juvenile. Where is the sense in it? Really? There is NONE. The only people who get hurt are the fans, the wrestlers, the promotions themselves and we have had NOTHING and WANT NOTHING to do with it.”
The issues between 3PW and ROH seemingly ended there. 3PW ceased running shows by the spring of 2005 due to Jasmine St. Claire ditching her own company.
Philly Indy Wars were over with as ROH and CZW would later go on to work a program that was highly successful for both companies in 2006.
What are your memories of the Philly Indy Wars? Which companies did you support? Leave your thoughts!
Thanks for reading.