Cageside Seats presents: “Startup promotion of the day: The WXO”

wxo_wrestling-showEditor’s note: This column originally appeared on cagesideseats.com and was written by David Bixenspan (@davidbix).  I thought it was an entertaining look back at a promotion that didn’t last very long.

Over the last 2 decades or so, there have been numerous attempts at creating major wrestling promotions out of thin air.  They’d get a decent cable network contract and/or spend obscene amounts of money for a huge syndicated network on broadcast stations.  Some wouldn’t get past a pilot TV taping that never aired anywhere while others wouldn’t even run a single show.   They came in all types: Promotions that exclusively featured women (in all but one, the majority of the women were models, actresses, and stuntwomen trained specifcally for the show), promotions taped at theme parks, promotions allegedly funded by Nigerian billionaires, promotions announcing the hiring of wrestlers who had been dead for years, promotions airing bootleg Japanese tapes, and more.

We start with the WXO.  They managed to syndicate their show nationally, but they didn’t seem to understand how to find the money to pay for more than one taping and 3 weeks of shows.

WXO debuted during the weekend of January 15-16, 2000, which was a fascinating few days to be a wrestling fan on the internet for other, unrelated reasons.  Announcer Chris Cruise (joined by Stan Lane on color) declared “It’s the best of the new,  the best of the old, and it’s FINALLY gonna be professional wrestling that you’re not embarrassed to sit and watch with your children, as we said,  a new year, a new era, a new millennium in professional wrestling – it’s WXO!”

By the way, it was never explained what WXO stood for.

Featuring a mix of wrestlers who were regulars on WCW Saturday Night, former names, and indy wrestlers from Florida and the midwest, the show, overall, wasn’t bad, but it was very strange at times and the bad stuff was really bad.  Tommy Rogers formed a solid team with Adam Pearce (then a shiny happy babyface), but their opponents were the team of Erik Watts and Zandig.

Yes, you read that right.  Erik Watts (dressed like a drug dealer at a rave) teaming with John Zandig, promoter and star of Combat Zone Wrestling.  It gets weirder.  Set up as the main rival for Dan Severn (who was introduced by WXO figurehead Ted DiBiase) was WCW job guy Al Green.  Dressed like Tazz.  Doing a shooter gimmick.  Wearing a mask.  While still being called Al Green.  Then a guy doing a Kevin Nash gimmick (Scott Nash, dresses exactly like Nash with the same hair) was squashed by Barry Darsow, who did commercials for PriceLine.com during the show.  The show ended with a tag match notable for how they put over the Geeamore, the female valet, as “family friendly” as she exposed the shirt under her jacket.

Viewers who checked out their website (sadly not archived on the Wayback Machine) were treated to a roster listing that included many name wrestlers not at the tapings, most notably including Vader.

Show #2 managed to be just as strange.  They hyped the debut of The Movement: Michael Barton and Johnny Ace from All Japan Pro Wrestling.  This included a shot of Cruise clearly saying “Bart Gunn” as they dubbed new audio and a quick clip of a The Movement vs Jun Akiyama and Kenta Kobashi.  The footage was seemingly taken from a bootleg VHS tape while new commentary was dubbed in that claimed the match was at the Tokyo Dome while not naming the Japanese wrestlers.  Later, Ace cut a promo worthy of Jimmy Snuka:

“Johnny Ace, the man in Japan.  I’m in Tokyo right now, and all’s I ever hear about is this WXO’ what does the “X” stand for? I don’t know, I don’t care, but I’m coming to kick some butt!  On the internet, the media, the press, they keep saying ‘Johnny, are you going to the WXO?’ And the answer is obvious: Yes!. If you don’t got it, get it. If you don’t get it….figure it out.”

Then Fred Ottman got stuck in his car before being freed, only to be interviewed by Jennifer Hart, a woman who seemed to have never been in front of any kind of camera or microphone in her life.  Don’t ask.  There was a rematch from the previous week’s tag, and that was it.

Two shows from the first taping (in Lakeland, FL) down, one to go.  A second taping was scheduled to take place at Universal Studios, but it was cancelled.  When the third show aired, people were wondering what the hell would happen next.  Surely a wrestling promotion couldn’t set up national syndication with only enough money for taping three shows.

The third show was largely uneventful.  The end of the AJPW match was aired (with the Japanese team identified as “Kenji Okasami and Mitsu Arakawa”) (Yes) and another Ace promo:

“Johnny Ace and Mike Barton, my partner (who knocked out Doc), are in the WXO. We made a move from the land of the rising sun to the WXO. And we are the Movement! And when we hit that ring, you’re gonna feel the power! We want the tag team straps, and we are the Movement! Don’t forget it! WXO! What’s the X stand for? We don’t know, and we don’t care! You don’t got it, get it! You don’t get it, figure it out.”

Stan Lane left the announcers’ table to do some investigative reporting, and he was replaced by DiBiase and Hart.  After the main event, the show ended with the camera finding Lane lying in a heap backstage, covered in bruises.

And that was it.  The WXO ran out of money and no further shows were taped.  The website stuck around for a while, “Who attacked Stan Lane?!?!” became a running joke for awhile on the internet, and that was about it.  I never heard why they tried to make a go of this without enough money for more than three weeks of TV, but the fact that it happened that way earned the WXO a place in infamy.  The end.

Until a southeastern US indy brought back the name and logo years later.  No, I have no idea if there were any legitimate ties.

Seeya next time.  While you wait for the next startup profile, you can learn the WXO theme song:

Here we go

Time for the show

Come one, come all

To the WXO!

(Repeat several times)

— David Bixenspan

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