(Note: Before the final 2CW cards this past December, I had the chance to create and put together a magazine. I am slowly putting the stories here on the blog. Enjoy!)
(Note 2: The first part of this story ran last week … you can see that part by clicking here.)
At the top
Colin Delaney has been to the pinnacle of professional wrestling as he’s wrestled for the WWE.
He also knows what it’s like to be with 2CW.
“It’s not a promotion I’ve worked for once in a while,” he said. “It’s been my home. It’s been a constant for me. It’s weird to think of them not being there.”
With the WWE, Delaney worked with its version of ECW, as well as on the main roster. One of his big angles was that of an underdog, trying to earn his way on the show and get a contract. His WWE run lasted about a year before he returned to the independent scene.
He made his mark in 2CW as one-half of the Olsen twins along with Jimmy “Jam” Olsen. Since Olsen stopped wrestling, Delaney has been shining in singles competition and recently has gone back to the tag ranks, working with Cheech as “To Infinity and Beyond.”
“I always thought 2CW had that original ECW feel,” Delaney said. “Hardcore and passionate fans. Guys were doing something special. It was a common goal to make the best product for those fans.”
Ask many wrestlers who have competed with 2CW and they’ll talk about the experience and how the product differs from other independent promotions, or even the “big ones.”
It’s just a different feeling.
“The locker room. The fans. Everybody is on the same page,” Slyck Wagner Brown said. “Everybody looks forward to going to shows. The locker room atmosphere is unique. Usually, it’s divided. Guys here have their crews, but we all get along. Everybody is laughing and joking and we have fun. That stuff is rare.”
2CW proved how vested its fan base is by being voted the top independent federation for three straight years with PWInsider.com. It also had the top match of the year three times.
In a recent poll on WWE.com, asking fans what independent federations they watched, 2CW was one of the choices.
The reality is 2CW has worked hard to reach the upper echelon of independent wrestling. Part of the reason the company is so well regarded is how people are treated.
“The group of guys – from the wrestlers in the back to the guys in charge – has always treated me well,” Eddie Edwards said. “It’s hard to come by. The guys here are trying to make something special happen.
“For me, personally, it’s been my independent home for eight years,” he continued. “Even with Ring of Honor, and now TNA, I could always count on these shows and these fans. If I was able to be here, I enjoyed it.”
The crowds are strong and vocal and are a part of the show. That makes an excellent ambiance, especially for wrestlers as they perform. When the big-name talent comes in and mixes with homegrown and local talent, it makes for special cards.
Three internet pay-per-views with flawless execution have highlighted the run at the top. Not only that, 2CW has been the top trend on Twitter twice.
Not bad for an independent company based in upstate New York.
“It is everything an independent company should be and then some,” Sean Carr said. “2CW thrives to put on the best product possible. I wasn’t around when they created it, but I was as a fan.”
“The big names drew me in and then I saw these extremely talented independent wrestlers,” he continued. “It’s what a wrestling company should be and you get everything – technical, hardcore, comedy, and big names. Or you’ll get a guy who grew up 10 minutes from you or an independent guy busting his ass off to be the next big star.”
Professional wrestling is a unique form of entertainment where the venue can often add to the experience. Take the ECW Arena for one, or Madison Square Garden.
For 2CW, there are a few that stand out, such as the Pastime Athletic Club, Watertown, and the Binghamton Legion, often referred affectionately to as The Madhouse.
The venues are places fans will always remember about 2CW. Though other promotions have visited some of those buildings, the reality is 2CW is what made those buildings hotbeds for wrestling.
The Pastime Athletic Club is on the second floor of an older building. It gets grossly hot in there any time of the year. A dingy bar downstairs provides libations when needed. The stairway is narrow and the lines can be tough to navigate.
Watertown has run in a few spots, but the crowds are always large and vocal.
Binghamton’s Legion is the Madhouse, known for some crazy incidents over the year, rabid fans and, of course, the leg.
“My favorite is the Legion in Binghamton,” Brown said. “It’s just the energy and the atmosphere. You walk through the curtain and they are into it.”
If you polled the 2CW locker room, this would likely be one thing where the wrestlers would be divided.
And for those who have worked in putting the ring together and taking it down, that sometimes plays a part, too.
“That’s a hard one for me,” Jason Axe said. “I love the atmosphere of Pastime, but loading it is the worst. The trade off is that intimate atmosphere. Binghamton you get the same atmosphere, but on more than one occasion it got out of control. I had a brick thrown at my head. You never know what to expect there.
“Watertown is probably my favorite,” he continued, noting the crowds are usually big and into it.
It’s the beauty of the venues, though. Everybody will have different takes based on personal experiences at each spot. Fans and wrestlers alike have the “spot” they love best.
The outcry on Facebook and Twitter and other spots on the Internet has been pretty high. Why is 2CW closing? Is it financial? Is there something people can do? Why not just sell it?
Simply put, as owner Josh Jeanneret says, it’s time.
Jeanneret and some of his closest people in 2CW met at some time after the Monday night show in Binghamton and discussed the future. The decision was made to shut the doors, but not until they said goodbye the right way – to the fans.
“The interest in the final shows is through the roof,” Jeanneret said. “This is no different than a relationship. People find it. Some lose interest. Until the plug is pulled and we’re done, people are wondering what they can do to fix it. People can’t believe it’s over.
“It will be emotional and sad,” he continued. “We’re giving them an ending. We could have just left it after Binghamton. But we’re doing the last shows for the people.”
It’s not easy running a promotion, though. There’s a ton of logistics as well as the financial aspect. Even issues that seem small to some can be a pain to 2CW management. There are also the things people don’t see – such as setting up and breaking down the ring, setting up chairs, driving home at 4 a.m. after a long show, or putting up and handing out flyers well in advance of shows.
“Wrestling is a legal high,” Jeanneret said. “It’s what makes it hard to walk away. That 10-15 minutes keeps pulling you back in. But nobody wants to put posters up all day. There’s no glory in that.
“Running shows is for people like Sean Carr or Jason Axe or Kevin Graham or Brute Van Slyke,” he continued. “The local guys. To see them and then to hear people say they are as good as anybody else is what it’s all about. It gives them the platform to perform and do their thing.”
The reactions as to closing have been mixed. Nobody is happy about it, but many understand and support the decision.
It’s still not easy to take.
“It’s something I’ve tried to wrap my head around, but I’ve not completely accepted it yet,” Delaney said. “I won’t have words until it’s actually gone. I’m probably in denial.
“It’s sad,” he continued. “I’m still asking where the January show is or if the date is set for Living on the Edge. I’m sure I won’t fully accept it until it happens.”
In wrestling, there’s often politics over who wins and who loses and who wears championship gold.
In 2CW, the final result often is overshadowed by what happens in the ring (or outside of it, at times).
“Josh allows artists to paint,” Jack Trades said. “You’re the artist. Tell me how it’s done. Here’s the finish. The one thing about 2CW is there’s a bar set and you have to be this good to get in.”
“Everybody is complaining about 2CW closing, but people are leaving with some of the greatest memories,” Trades said. “It was magic. That’s the proudest part.”
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