XPW Fire Mishap Avoidable
by Marty Goldstein on 2001-06-30
wrestler Supreme ended his Saturday night passed out on
painkillers after being taken to a Los Angeles hospital
with second degree burns.
Until the flaming table spot went awry, the hard-luck story
of the night was the pre-card shoulder separation suffered
by Steve Rizzono, whose heel faction was involved in prepping
the stunt, and whose injury influenced events as they unfolded.
During pre-show mini-camps in the ring, Rizzono and his
entourage was to go over his match and a later angle. First
they went over the angle in the semi-windup between Supreme
and heel Koas. Basically they were to cut off Supreme as
he set up for his frogsplashy finish, pound on the babyface
and toss him through the table. "Who is going to light the
table?" I asked and I was told- "Veronica".
Caine is the valet for the Enterprise, made up of wrestler
Rizzono, and 2 manager types, TJ Rush(the tall guy)and GQ
Money( the short guy). All three are pleasant people who
are from other entertainment businesses and are just breaking
in. They are not experienced in either wrestling or stuntwork.
It didn't seem to me like a good idea.
A while later, Rizzono hurt his shoulder trying to learn
to take Johnny Webb's Welfare Check Slam. Rizzono was to
do a job and get his heat back by costing Supreme the Death
Match. Rizzono had a lot of help from his entourage in getting
to the new finish, and did the job. But it also meant he
was limited in helping his inexperienced cohorts with the
spot. And they were a little nervous. And so was the office.
readily admitted to being unsure of the stunt and was worried
her ponytail hairpiece could catch fire. One thing was for
sure, the office wanted the table to burn.
As for the office, during intermission one of the honchos
was asking for help to figure out how to get the fire extinguisher
under the ring incognito. I thought that was a little late
in the game to start thinking about that precaution.
From the opening bars of "Enter the Sandman" and the appearance
of "call me Hak" the crowd felt they were part of something
special. Sandman arrived as the new sheriff of XPW, saved
Major Gunns from heel promoter Rob Black's wife Lizzie Borden
and caned their Japanese hitwoman,who of course, bled. The
fans want it to be like ECW West.
Along with San Franciscans Rizzono, Pogo and Kronus,luchas
Halloween and Damien, Japanese wrestlers, former ECW star
New Jack, Vampiro and ICP,and the local LA talent like Homeless
Jimmy, West Hollywood swishboy Angel and hardcore hero Supreme,
LA fans were probably seeing the best indy show on the continent
one of the worst angles that ever happened in ECW was the
night Terry Funk caught fire, and the story of how a mark
in the front row caught fire from Funk's burning shirt was
retold. In trying to recapture the ECW niche market, XPW
almost suffered a terrible setback.
The bout itself was a gorefest of extreme wrestling. Besides
75 flourescent bulbs, one at a time, in taped up formations
or in a bed, a top rope powerbomb thru a table on the cement
floor spot almost went awry when Supreme's feet hit and
busted the table an instant before Kaos was driver thru
There was glass and blood and tacks everywhere.Each shattered
bulb flung towards the floor sent more glass shards flying
thru the lights or towards the marks, and this is a very
ECW-Philly bloodthirsty crowd.
The emotional level was quite high when the sneak attack
that led to the tragedy unfolded.
Veronica doused the table but it is now believed that the
type of fluid used was too heavy duty for the stunt. It
lit but was slow to spread and the house began razzing the
angle. Rizzono with his right arm in a sling poured more
fuel and the flames erupted off the table. Rather than wait
for them to receed Supreme was launched by the managers.
has been accurately reported on other websites that while
Supreme, burning alive, hit the floor running for help,
a security member was in the ring, putting out the table
rather than the burning bloody wrestler.
Supreme's wife and small son were in attendance, having
brought him a snack in the locker room earlier in the evening.
She hopped the rail to provide expert medical care with
EMT's, LAFD and others.
The imagery is harsh but it was much worse than this to
witnesses. Veteran performers who had worked similar spots
before safely in other promotions were irate with owner
Rob Black for poor preparation.
Those in the back watching on the monitors asked those of
us at ringside how he was.(Some graphic reports indicated
2nd degree burns to the neck or face, chest and hands but
he never lost consciousness.)
about 30 minutes Supreme was carted off to hospital and
the Main Event,a 3 way thrown together when Violent Jay
and the ICP walked out after he was clotheslined by Pogo
the Clown in the opening angle was anti-climactic. XPW Champion
Messiah beat legendary Sabu and Vampiro for his biggest
career victory but the crowd was spent and the crew was
The obvious mistake was not stationing one of their legion
of security to stand at ringside and focus only on Supreme
after the spot.Everyone saw that goof. But the fans didn't
see that even at intermission there was no clear safety
plan. This compounded the lack of experience of the participants.
In his condition Rizzono could not quarterback the angle,
but he was never asked to anyways, which is odd considering
he has 10 years experience and his entourage has about 10
Veteran wrestlers and experienced promotions have always
been careful with fireballs and fire stunts. One worker
emarked that Rob Black underestimated the stunt because
"How often do they use flaming tables in porno films?".
seems to have been too focused on getting an angle over
on a night full of hightened expectations. It had to be
spectacular or the house would turn on the booking. The
heels tried to deliver, which is their job. But it was the
office's job to make it safe for Supreme, and with busted
glass, tacks and other debris, an inexperienced crew, and
the wrong equipment, they were asking for bad trouble if
the spot was not perfect. It wasn't.
If the XPW office had more experience in the wrestling business,
they would have seen the danger more clearly. Rob Black
has extensive resources. I'm sure that he will take care
of Supreme's medical costs, which may include skin grafts.
I'm also sure that in his quest to build an extreme and
hardcore loving audience, he will remember to balance his
art with the lives of his performers.
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from the boys:
Ed Moretti says "Relax there kid. Who's calling this match...them or us? They bought the tickets to see us, not the other way around".