Joined: 01 Aug 2006
|Posted: Wed Oct 05, 2016 5:50 am Post subject: Kayfabe Commentaries: ECW Timeline Tod Gordon Review
|This was a shoot I was very interested in as Tod Gordon hasn’t been involved in many shoots and I have always found Tod to be an underappreciated figure in the past 30 years of the business. Tod was/is a successful and respected local businessman that happened to get into the pro wrestling business.
Throughout time, I would often hear Tod referred to in a snide fashion as a ‘pawnbroker’ and the ‘money mark.’ While Tod is indeed a pawnbroker, his shop is a high end retail business and he was at one time the leader of the pawnbroker’s association. He was also the director the Variety Club, a big and well respected charity in the Philadelphia area.
As far as a money mark goes…sure, he was a mark for the business and wanted to get involved. But at the same time he had to have small losses and eventually return a profit. As Tod told me long ago and he mentioned here…his goal was to be the Jerry Jarrett of the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and New York areas. Jarrett made a ton of money off the Memphis promotion and Gordon believed there was a market for that in the Philly and surrounding areas.
While I highly doubt we will ever be able to see a local Memphis like territory again, I do believe that Tod spotted the market potential of the Philadelphia area fairly accurately. And he was able to minimize his losses and eventually started running shows that returned a profit. I think a lot of the ‘money mark’ comments were due to him being an outside in the business and the fact that he actually never stiffed the wrestlers and had no problem giving the fans their money back for no shows, etc. Compare that to the Dennis Corralluzzo’s of the world and you have to laugh when Tod was rather quickly getting shows of 1,000 fans at the ECW Arena compared to Coralluzzo literally having 60 fans show up at a truck stop off the Jersey Turnpike.
The timeline series is a sound one where KayFabe Commentaries picks a particular year in question for a promotion and then has a timeline starting in January and ending in December where they point out particular happenings and the guest comments about it. I really hope KC does not become afraid of repeating the same years with a different guest in order to get a different take on the situation, but they seem to be persistent on doing 1 episode for that year.
This was filmed from the old ECW Arena, now called the 2300 Arena. The Arena looks completely different from what it was like in the 90’s. The bleachers are gone and it’s floor seating only. The Eagle’s Nest is gone and so is the old locker rooms and the entrance way for the wrestlers. The original entrance for the fans has been relocated and is actually a nice set of glass doors instead of a storage locker lift opening.
While I’ve heard many people knock the Arena and it’s certainly not in a nice part of town, I don’t think anybody has ever praised the Arena for its beauty and its location. It was more about it being a place that great fans just happened to congregate. I think Heyman failed to recognize this. The ‘product’ was really the ECW Arena shows which were mixed with different styles of wrestling. And they could use those styles against each other to create interesting matches and feuds. ECW needed to be able to carry those Arena shows to other venues. Instead, when they were outside of the Arena the shows were usually very ‘hardcore matches’ driven. And over time, the fans started to work the wrestlers instead of the wrestlers working the fans.
Tod does go into how he came across the Arena. It was owned by Butchie D’Amato, who was big into the Mummers and stored the Mummers floats and other stuff in the building. Where ECW lucked out under Tod was that D’Amato really didn’t care if they damaged the building as long as they paid for the damages and the rent was cheap. The other part was they struck a deal with SportsChannel Philadelphia to air the show and Tod said that the station never watched the show and therefore never had a problem with the vulgarity. Furthermore, they had an excellent time slot at 6pm on Saturdays.
Gordon goes into a wide variety of subjects like how he came into working with Eddie Gilbert, why he became friends with and gave a job at his store to JT Smith, how he got Tatsumi Fujinami to work a show for him and dealing with other wrestlers like Road Warrior Hawk, The Sandman, Snuka, Ivan Koloff, etc.
He also gets into his relationship with Heyman and Gilbert. He addresses the rumors surrounding Eddie and his wife (says they weren’t true), Eddie Gilbert supposedly owning 49% of the company and the entire ‘Mole’ angle and why they went that way. Sean Oliver does his typical terrific job and Tod is good at articulating his points and telling the story. A real fun shoot interview overall.