Pro Wrestling Unplugged (PWU) has been one of the best Indy wrestling promotions since its inception in 2004, but for some reason it never gets the spotlight. There isn't even a Wikipedia page on them! That’s where I come in. I’m hoping that by writing this article, people will get interested in the company and check it out online, or even go to a show.
PWU has the best of both worlds. It’s similar to Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) in many ways because of it’s hardcore roots, but it also hosts some of the best technical and high flying wrestlers on the circuit. It’s primarily based in Philadelphia, where it has been held in the original ECW arena on many occasions.
There have been a plethora of quality superstars that have one time or another called PWU home, including:
2 Cold Scorpio
Jay and Mark Briscoe
Jake “The Snake” Roberts
“Primetime” Teddy Fine
The Insane Clown Posse
Diamond Dallas Page
The Nasty Boys
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
These wrestlers are some of the best in the business, and there are plenty more wrestlers that are constantly emerging in the promotion.
PWU was first founded in 2004 by Indy wrestler Johnny Kashmere, but the start of this great wrestling promotion can actually be traced all the way back to 1999.
Kashmere had always wanted to create a promotion that was unlike any other. One that was run by wrestlers, for wrestlers. So in 1999, with the help of several friends, Kashmere promoted his first ever wrestling event under the name “Renegade Rasslin’”.
The show was originally supposed to be run on a regular basis, but it folded after just the one event. It did, however, give Kashmere an insight into promoting that he would need later on in life.
PWU as it’s now known, stemmed from a dispute between Kashmere and his tag team partner Trent Acid, against the promotion they were then working for, CZW, and it’s owner John Zandig.
Kashmere and Acid made their debuts for the company one month apart in the middle of 1999. They were part of a clique of wrestlers from the Philadelphia area that had been trained by The Pit Bulls from ECW. Soon after, other members of the clique decided to join CZW too, including the “king of WWE dark matches” Nick Berk.
Kashmere’s influence in the company grew to a level where, by early 2000 he had promoted a CZW show, and had a small part in the creative decisions that were made. Kashmere’s future in the company was looking bright until an event took place in September of that year that would strain the relationship to a point that it couldn’t recover.
By September, Kashmere and Acid were two of the top wrestlers in the promotion, largely due to their popularity as the tag team “The Backseat Boyz” (they later competed in Ring of Honor under the same name). They had teamed together at previous shows before, and they had a running feud with the team of Ric Blade and “Sick” Nick Mondo.
At CZW’s second Cage of Death event, the two teams were booked to face each other as single competitors. Acid was booked to wrestle Mondo, and Kashmere was supposed to face Blade. The show was held outdoors, and Kashmere was wary of wrestling as it got later in the day.
By the time his match was due to start, Kashmere felt it was too dark to wrestle in such a dangerous match. Added to that was the fact that Blade, Kashmere’s opponent, wore glasses but was able to wrestle without them, which also made Kashmere nervous. Kashmere had also been suffering from a niggling neck injury for over a year and didn’t want to risk his health, so he refused to take part in the match.
Zandig (CZW’s owner) was furious at Kashmere’s decision, and a huge argument erupted between the two, ending up with Kashmere quitting and going home. Kashmere eventually returned to the company in November, but it just wasn’t the same as before. Over the next few years, Kashmere and Zandig would argue on multiple occasions, and it all built up into a big argument unlike the previous occasions.
In February 2004, Kashmere and CZW would have their final dispute, this time over a range of issues including the creative decisions that were made in the promotion. Kashmere walked out on the company, and was closely followed by Acid. The pair then went on to do an interview with RF video where they buried Zandig, the CZW staff, the wrestlers, and more.
Acid did make some more sporadic appearances for CZW, but ended when he didn’t show up for the Best of the Best tournament in 2004. Ironically if he had showed up, he was booked to win the CZW Heavyweight Title.
Pro Wrestling Unplugged:
PWU has it’s first official event on November 5th, 2004. Even though the card wasn’t stellar, it definitely provided a good platform for the promotion to build from. Some notable wrestlers on the show included Psicosis, Human Tornado, Prince Nana, Trent Acid, and Juventud Guerrera. This was the first stop on the way to building a successful promotion.
It was over three months until the second event that was held under the PWU banner. There were 175 fans in attendance, and the main event of Trent Acid vs. Devon Moore vs. Drew Blood alone was worth the price of entry. To this day it is one of the best matches in the company’s history.
It wasn’t until June 24th, 2005 that the first ever PWU Heavyweight Champion was decided. An eight man tournament took place to finally crown a worthy champion. The participants in the running for the title belt were Homicide, Trent Acid, Nick Berk, Abyss, Elix Skipper, Mana, Sonny Siaki, and Tom Carter.
By the end of the event it was down to Homicide and Trent Acid. After a hard fought battle between the two superstars, Homicide came out the other end as the first ever PWU Heavyweight Champion!
Since then there have only been a select group of men that have won the prestigious championship belt. John McChesney, Adam Flash, 2 Cold Scorpio, Devon Moore, and Teddy Fine have all been the PWU Heavyweight Championship.
Over the last five years, the PWU landscape has changed for the better. Plenty of home grown talents have made a name for themselves, going on to main event the shows, and several notable names have joined the company in some capacity. Ted Gordon, former owner of the original ECW, became heavily involved with PWU as a manager to several wrestlers on the roster before becoming a financial backer for the company.
Bill Alfonso has also appeared on PWU on two separate occasions. The first time he was introduced as the surprise referee in a PWU Heavyweight Championship match between 2 Cold Scorpio and Adam Flash. On the second occasion, Alfonso accompanied Z-Barr to the ring in a match against "Pitbull" Gary Wolf and his manager, Tod Gordon.
The crowd figures have slowly increased over the years. They have risen from only 100-150 people up to 800+ at it's peak. However, in early 2008 there was a series of decisions that lead to the crowd numbers taking a drastic nose dive, and the promotion has never fully recovered.
There was a falling out between Johnny Kashmere and Roger Artigiani, the general manager of the old ECW arena, and Kashmere was subsequently banned from appearing at the arena. Due to the fall out, Kashmere was also released from PWU, and Tod Gordon took over 100% ownership of the promotion in an effort to keep it afloat.
Since then, Kashmere took back the reigns of PWU after the retirement of Ted Gordon. Also Kashmere and Artigiani have put their differences aside, but Kashmere has vowed never to return to the arena.
In an interview with DOIwrestling, Kashmere said "PWU has no interest in ever returning full time to The Arena (as it's now known). It's a way overpriced venue and the spirit of ECW isn't there anymore. In my opinion the spirit lives on in the Indy wrestlers of today, not four walls and a ceiling".
PWU made sporadic appearances in the first couple of years of existence, sometimes having up to three months between shows for one reason or another. They are currently on another one of their breaks which Kashmere puts down to being burnt out. He is now fresh and fully dedicated to making PWU bigger and better than ever.
PWU - Wrestle Reality:
Wrestle Reality is the newest incarnation of Pro Wrestling Unplugged. In an effort to connect on another level with the fans, PWU are striving to make the wrestlers more fan friendly.
It will be announced when wrestlers will be at their local gym for autographs and pictures etc. Fans may also get the chance to get in the ring during an event! If they volunteer, then they could be interviewed about their thoughts on PWU, or even the current state of professional wrestling in general.
The biggest change will be the format of the show itself. Not only will the roster continue to put on excellent matches, but the fans will be able to watch them in their real life. We'll get to see them at home, work, and even with their families.
There has also been an overhaul of the championship belts in PWU. From now on the women's and tag team title belts will no longer exist because of the lack of depth in those divisions.
There will now be three championships for the wrestlers to compete for. The PWU Heavyweight Championship will still be in the promotion. The other belts will be the Wrestle-Reality American Title and the brand new Super Heavyweight Championship.
PWU-Wrestling Reality is a not for profit organization that donates all profits from shows to local charities. It’s a place for wrestlers to make a name for themselves and wrestle just for the love of it.
PWU is home to some of the most entertaining and unique matches that you'll ever see on the Indy scene. Included in those innovative matches is the "Crazy 8 match". What is a Crazy 8 match? I'm glad you asked!
Imagine a wrestling match that was competed under hardcore rules. Anything is legal. Now add to that a scaffold, one side of a steel cage, two trampolines, several rope swings, a championship belt, and three participants, and you've got one hell of a match that we've come to know as the Crazy 8 match!
Another match that you'll only find in PWU is the cuffed + caged match. It is somewhat similar to a Lethal Lockdown match in TNA, but with a few small differences.
Two teams of five wrestlers take part in this match. One member from each team starts the match inside the steel cage, with another person joining the match from alternating teams at certain time intervals.
The main differences between this match and a Lethal Lockdown, is that in this match wrestlers are eliminated until only one man or team stands. Wrestlers can be eliminated by pin or submission at any time in the match.
Whether it's at the start of the match when there's only two men in the cage, or if it's sometime later in the match, a wrestler can be eliminated at any time. Once a wrestler is eliminated they are handcuffed to the outside of the ring.
Here are a few videos from PWU that you should find interesting. The first one is a highlight package of the best rivalry in the promotion in recent years, 2 Cold Scorpio vs. Devon Moore.
The second video is a general highlights package for Pro Wrestling Unplugged that includes a few spots from a Crazy 8 match, which also includes 2 Cold Scorpio and Devon Moore.
Anyone reading this article, please do yourself and PWU a favor. Watch a few matches to get to know the storylines. Buy a DVD or two. Go to a live event in the Philadelphia area. Do your part to support a truly underappreciated wrestling promotion.
After taking their most recent break, PWU will be returning at a special 5th anniversary show on September the 26th. It promises to be one of the best PWU shows yet! So far it has been announced that Johnny Kashmere will be announcing a new general manager, the first ever PWU: WR hall of fame will take place, and the first ever Super Heavyweight Champion will be decided.
Stay tuned to http://www.wrestlereality.com/ for updates on the event!
I'd like to thank the following sources:
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