(Note: Before the final 2CW cards this past December, I had the chance to create and put together a magazine. Over the next couple of weeks, I will be putting the stories here on the blog. Enjoy!)
They’ve often been described as rabid.
Some have tattoos with the 2CW logo.
Some tailgate before shows like it’s an NFL game.
Others bring items – such as a prosthetic leg – with the hopes of it being used as an object during a match.
Some of the “crazies” in the crowd are just as much part of the show as the wrestlers in the ring.
One might wonder what the hell somebody is talking about with all of this, but if you’ve ever been to and experienced a 2CW wrestling show, you’ll understand every bit of this.
The fans have a certain vibe when they come to a show and deliver to make it one of the best atmospheres in wrestling. There’s a reason fans voted the federation the best independent promotion for three straight years.
“They remind me of going to watch ECW in the early days,” Slyck Wagner Brown said. “The same group of fans supports the company and the product. That’s cool. People invest into this. They dress in gimmicks, they tailgate and they know all about the wrestlers.”
Yes, the action in the ring is great. Yes, the names on the card are usually stellar. But if you had an empty building or had fewer than 100 fans sitting on their hands throughout the card like other federations get, you wouldn’t have 2CW.
The fan experience is top notch.
“They have this desire and thirst to make their home promotion great and they did it,” said Eddie Edwards, who has competed for 2CW for many years and has become internationally known, “People tailgate and have a good time. There are chants like ‘use the leg.’ These fans make it special and they do a great job.”
Fans cover all walks of life at a 2CW show. But when in the building, an echoing “2CW” chant will eliminate much of the boundaries between people.
Fans travel, too. It’s not a shock to see people drive for several hours to see a card.
Mathew D’angelo travels from Aylmer, Quebec to see shows. That means going across the border every time he wants to get his 2CW fix.
But since 2012, he’s been attending shows. He hasn’t made as many as he’d like because of work and other obligations, but it’s been a place where he’s had the chance to experience some cool things.
D’angelo, who makes figures and drawings for wrestlers, said it’s hard to know 2CW is closing. On his birthday, he had the chance to stand in the ring with the Young Bucks and Mike Bailey.
“I know things like this happen and people have to do what they have to do, but I am going to miss traveling to shows,” he said. “I am going to miss the gang. It was the one place where I can see the Young Bucks so often. The atmosphere is special. The people from promoters to staff to crew to talents to fans are special people.”
Leanne Walker, of Gatineau, Quebec, was brought to the shows by D’Angelo.
“We are the crazy Canucks from up north,” Walker said. “We shout and scream like the best of them! I am also the hugger of the group. It isn’t a show until I give out at least 20 hugs.”
D’Angelo and Walker are just two of many faces one can see at 2CW shows. The gimmicks are all over and depending on which venue you are at, it can get a tad crazier.
2CW has made a mark on many people’s lives, including the 2CW Viking.
2CW saves lives
For Brian Burton – the Viking – 2CW means way more than just a wrestling show.
Burton worked as a professional chef. Cooking was his passion, but when he became extremely ill in 2004, his career came to an end as he was put on disability.
“I was beyond depressed and I was miserable,” Burton said. “I didn’t care if I died or not. It didn’t matter anymore.”
In April 2006, Burton attended the inaugural 2CW card and discovered he was having a good time. He was laughing again and chanting with everyone that was there. In the matter of a few hours, he started feeling like himself again. He found a new passion. Following that show, he dived into 2CW becoming one of the biggest fans.
He hasn’t missed many shows as he’s been to 110.
“The 2CW family and fans made my life awesome,” Burton said.
He is also one of the fans who have a 2CW tattoo and is also one of the members on the 2CW Fancast podcast.
Though Burton’s story may be rare, the reality is fans of 2CW are very into the product and it can be an energetic and fun way to escape reality for a few hours.
“You have to really love something to mark your body,” 2CW’s Jack Trades said. “That’s commitment. I like that we are centered on wrestling. They found 2CW and I understand the passion – it’s a testament to what we are doing. We’re nothing without the fans.”
Fans of all ages
Don’t think that 2CW only attracts the hardcore fans. It’s far from that, actually. With a wide array of abilities in the ring, there’s something for everybody. If you like technical wrestling, you’ll get it. High-flying? Check. Hardcore? There’s that, too. Comedy? You know it.
Therefore, it’s just as possible to see a family of five there as it is to see the wrestling fans who go to every show possible.
Take Dave and Roo McCormick of Syracuse. The self-professed 50-something couple has attended more than 30 shows since 2011 after Roo McCormick’s sister won tickets to a show in Watertown. She couldn’t attend, so Roo and Dave went and they’ve been attending ever since.
“2CW got Roo and I interested in wrestling again,” Dave McCormick said.
That’s probably a good thing, being pro-wrestling is what brought the two together. Back in the late 1980s, Dave and Roo were subscribers to the Wrestling Observer newsletter. Dave reached out to Roo when he was in Watertown on business to maybe trade tapes. A few years later, they were married.
Alas, as the business changed, the interest in wrestling started to go away. 2CW changed that.
“We had a blast at the Watertown show, met Mick Foley and Sunny, and talked about checking out future shows,” Dave McCormick said. “The rest is history. We have gone to most of the company’s shows since then, loaded our shelves with 2CW, Barbershop Window and Pro Wrestling Tees shirts, and started attending the PWHF inductions. We have ventured out to see a couple other independent promotions and for the first time, will be going to the Cauliflower Alley Club inductions in Vegas this April. We owe 2CW a debt of gratitude.”
Talk to enough 2CW hardcore fans and you’ll get many stories like this.
The personal touch
Though all companies may try and say they are fan-friendly, 2CW takes it to another level.
Tammy Angiolillo has been attending 2CW shows for more than three years.
Angiolillo’s aunt Pauline has stage-4 cancer and she has a bucket list called “The What Cancer Cannot Do Tour.” She wanted to do things she had never done before, so the two of them and a friend attended a 2CW show.
When arriving, they had an obstructed view. Trades was working to help them and started talking to them about the What Cancer Cannot Do shirts. After getting them their own row, he came back later and said Matt Hardy wanted to meet them. He also came back to give them tickets to a show and then got them to the front of the line to meet Hardy.
“2CW has touched my life in so many ways,” Angiolillo said. “First it was entertainment. Then it became a place where I could make memories that my aunt, friend and I will never forget. Then they became my friends. Now, they are my family.”
She’s also cooked dinner for the wrestlers as a thank you for how her and her family has been treated. It’s happened more than once.
“I know to some people it may sound a little weird to be sad that a wrestling show is closing, but they don’t know 2CW,” Angiolillo said. “These guys show heart, soul and amazing skills in all of their performances. I had just been to a WWE show before that and I was floored how much better this show was. I watched as the wrestlers greeted every fan that came up to them, especially the kids. They treat them with gratitude and respect. Even if I get to see some of the guys at other shows there is nothing like 2CW.”
Hardcore and passionate
Long-time fans of 2CW are easily recognizable, even if you might know their names. They dress in gimmicks. They know the wrestlers. They have their chants.
2CW champion Sean Carr has been on both sides of the coin – first being a fan of the company and now being the top guy.
“There’s a lot of passion,” Carr said. “To this day, I’ve never performed in front of fans as passionate as 2CW fans. I was a fan chanting ‘2CW’ and watching Samoa Joe take on Wagner Brown. Ten years later, I’m on the other end of it. I got to see it on both ends of the spectrum.”
Tyler “Dash” Walton of Syracuse has been to more than 100 shows, first attending an event in 2007. Ask him and he’ll tell you he’s a loudmouth in the front row – and if you’ve been to cards, you’ve likely seen Walton getting in the face of more than one wrestler, usually with a smirk on his face.
“When I think of 2CW, all I can think of is magical moments,” said Walton, who pointed to the time Terry Funk came out and pinned Slyck Wagner Brown, the Binghamton “incident” and Sean Carr recently winning the 2CW title as incredible moments in company history.
“The aura in the Legion in Binghamton was surreal when Sean Carr’s yearlong pursuit of the 2CW heavyweight title came to a climax,” Walton said. “When his family embraced him in the ring, I don’t think there was a one dry eye in the house. Pure magic from 2CW.”
Another front-row member is Kelly Nolan of Granby, who usually is dressed in a Dick Justice sort of outfit, has attended 117 of 121 shows with 2CW.
“For the past 10-plus years, 117 of those days for me were guaranteed to be amazing and unforgettable and I can never thank them enough,” Nolan said. “Next year there will be a huge void sadly no one will be able to fill.”
April Baron, of Watertown, has been attending events since 2008. She’s seen a lot and said she’s devastated the company is closing.
“Every moment in 2CW is special,” she said. “2CW has taught me to understand the true meaning of wrestling. The passion and love of independent wrestling forever began with 2CW. As a dear friend said ‘It feels like I’ve lost a member of my family.’”
The appreciation the fans show the wrestlers is one thing, but wrestlers feel the same way back.
Take Jason Axe, who isn’t quite a crowd favorite.
“It’s interesting because I have an old-school mentality,” Axe said. “I never signed an autograph for five years because I played the character. I’ve loosened up on that. I will always be in character. The fans certainly respect how long I’ve been there and they can applaud the effort, but they hate me.”
Colin Delaney is a bit different. For a long while he was pretty hated, especially during his run as tag team champions with Jimmy Olsen. But since then, he’s been a bit more on the good side of the fans. He has fun with them.
“At this point, I don’t think I could be heel if I tried,” he said. “I know many of them by name. They know me. It’s an interesting relationship. I don’t have that elsewhere. These people are just as much a part of the show as the guys in the locker room. They have personalities. We remember the fan moments, just as much as we do those in the ring.”
The appreciation will go on well past the final card for 2CW. Fans will continue to remember and talk about 2CW, especially in this part of New York State.
“It’s very sad for me, but it’s one of those situations where you try to not be sad that it’s ending but be happy that it happened,” Walton said. “As a lifelong fan of professional wrestling I will be hard pressed to find something that consistently puts out quality products the way 2CW has since 2006.”
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