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WRESTLING COLUMNS

ECW: The Mass Transit Incident
May 23, 2005 by Steve Brinn


When shocking wrestling events are thought up, one thinks of many names. Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Hulk Hogan, but few think of a jobber named Mass Transit. Mass Transit was a portly kid that showed up at an ECW show. Had he known what would happen that night, he probably would have stayed home.

It was November 23, 1996 in Revere, Massachusetts. It was a stop on ECW's tour of Northern part of the country. The semi-main event was The Gangstas vs D-Von Dudley and Axl Rotten. For whatever reason, Axl Rotten could not make it to the show. Enter, Eric Kulas. He was a kid that wanted to make it big as a wrestler. He had no previous training, but he thought it would be his big break. He did have some in ring experience, wrestling midgets. He went by the name Mass Transit and he went to the ring wearing a bus driver's suit. Now not only did he have this against him, but he was terribly out of shape, weighing in over 350 pounds. Having talked to Paul Heyman, he was given a chance.

The boy was only 17, but had a fake ID. Not only that, but his father vouched for him. Kulas had told Heyman that Killer Kowalski had trained him. Heyman, with enough proof for him, had him replace Axl Rotten later that night. Kulas was fine with this, even after being told he had to blade. Kulas told New Jack that since he didn't know how to blade, he'd have to do it for him. New Jack agreed, solving that problem.

Like quite a few jobbers, Mass Transit was not taken kindly by the fans. They were furious that they saw this fat kid instead of Axl Rotten. Mass Transit yelled back, not endearing himself to the fans. After a few minutes into the match, Kulas was left in the ring with New Jack. D-Von was a factor in the match, he just never was able to help Kulas. Like most matches from The Gangstas, they were gonna focus on one man with every weapon they had. Nothing new, except for how far it went.

At first, New Jack hit Mass Transit with a crutch a few times. This, of course, was nothing new. Next came the guitar, a favorite of New Jack's. A toaster was used next, hitting Mass Transit over the head. The crowd cheered seeing Mass Transit laying across the mat. New Jack pulled Mass Transit up by the hair, and sat him up. Taking his trusty Exacto knife, New Jack cut deeply into Transit's forehead. Much deeper than it usually and should be. Mass Transit screamed, pulling away from New Jack. Blood pooled across the mat. Of course, being bloodthirsty and all, the ECW fans ate it up.

To finish the kid off, New Jack tries to scoop slam Mass Transit, but he's too heavy. Laying him down, New Jack gets to the top turnbuckle with a chair and crashes into Mass Transit's head. Blood was literally squirting out of his head. New Jack goes for the pin, but there's no ref around. Unofficially over, the paramedics come out and try to stop the bleeding. As more medics come out, New Jack gets on the mic and insults Mass Transit. At a nearby hospital, Kulas would get 50 stitches into the head.

This shocking event was recorded on tape by fans. It was sent to Pay Per View providers and the television debut of ECW was cancelled. It was eventually rescheduled, but several providers refused to show it. ECW's problems would not stop there. In July of 1998, the Kulas family sued ECW and New Jack for physical AND psychological damage. The family claimed that Eric did not know he was going to be in a hardcore match, and he also claimed that he was almost killed in the ring. ECW claimed that it was a match that got out of hand but nothing illegal had occurred.

In the trial, Kulas claimed that he did not know that New Jack would blade him. He denied that he knew he'd be treated the way he was in a match against The Gangstas. He also claimed that Paul Heyman told a reporter that it was an initiation for him into the ECW family. On the flipside, New Jack claimed that Kulas did know what was going to happen. He also said that Kulas said it was okay for him to get bladed and that Kulas' father knew of what was going to happen from talks backstage. New Jack claimed that you can see Kulas puffing his cheeks, a way to increase the bleeding. Jerome Young, aka New Jack, claimed that his first to attempts to blade did not work. This is due to the fact that Kulas had never bladed before. When he tried again, he accidentally pushed too deep and that caused the massive bleeding.

Evidence used against New Jack was his mic claims and a shoot interview he later did. Young claimed that on the interview he was working in character. That his New Jack character loved to inflict pain and violence. Adding to ECW's case, although Kulas claimed to be scarred, no scars could be seen. Also, Kulas was reportedly walking around backstage and talking to wrestlers before being taken to the hospital. Supposedly he was only suing after he found out he would not be an ECW regular.

In the end, ECW and New Jack were acquitted of the charges and Kulas would not get any money. Kulas could not keep his story straight, which severely hurt his case. On May 12th, 2002, Eric Kulas died at the age 22.

There will always be the question on who is to blame. All parties are partially to blame, but I think the one who shares the most blame is the father. He should have known what his son was getting into beforehand. Also, he should not have lied for his son. Lets say he didn't know the ECW product, he should have known that his untrained son was in no shape to be in the ring.

by Steve Brinn ..


Joe L. wrote:
This was truly a scary moment and the one mistake that nearly destroyed ECW from the beginning. Personal feelings aside, I think New Jack is an idiot, an incompetently rotten bastard that takes pleasure in hurting people and demoralizing them on the mic. Forget his lack of wrestling...he is a moron, a bully and a heartless monstrosity to our society that has no business step in a wrestling ring, let alone try to legitimately injure people regardless if he's a wrestler or not.
phil haller wrote:
This incident will always be controvercial but what annoys me is even if Mass Transit didnt agree to blade what the hell would you expect if you are in a match with some of ECW's most sadistic man. Its like going into a match with Abdullah The Butcher and not expecting to get stabbed in the head with a fork and bleed. Or its like going into a match with Mr. Pogo and not expecting to get a Sickle or a knife into your head or back. Mass Transit wanted this match he wanted to be in ECW at anycost and he wanted to be in the mainevent he obviously knew what to expect from a match with the gangstas if he knew ECW. Also according to New Jack he told him backstage that he wanted New Jack to bust him open, put him through tables etc. The reason he filed the lawsuit is because according his dad apparently did a claim when he was younger so probably pressured his son to do this. I think Mass Transit would probably be wrestling in the Deathmatch scene today if he had of kept wrestling. I dont really blame Mass Transit and i certainly dont blame New Jack if anybody is to blame it is the father.


Dustin Gould wrote:
When discussing the incident in question, and choosing to lay blame at one's feet, I think it's imporant we not lose sight of the facts. Which the sum total clearly point to Eric Kulas and father, bearing the majority of the responsibility.

Both conspired in their misrepsentation to Paul Heymen, and the perfomers they would be working with that night, when they outright lied about Eric's supposed previous ring experience, and age. With Eric's unusual size and appearance, the fact that he was even able to fool even a seasoned professional like Heymen, is enough to absolve Heymen of any supposed wrongdoings completely. Both knew Paul Heymen was stuck between a rock and a hard place, with Axl Rotten being able to perform that night, and would quite possibly feel obliged to take them up, on the offer of their services. Both knew exactly what what was likely to occur during the course of the match. As they not only knew beforehand, that Eric would be bladed (something both father and son agreed upon), but also, that an intensely physcial match would inevitably transpire. Something that could be almost construde as "pre-required", in a match involving New Jack. Being obvious fans of wrestling themselves, unless they lived under a rock, it is entirely inconceivable, that they would have not known what was involved. Even after the incident, the fact that Kulas took time to make conversation with the perfomers backstage, shows he's obvious apathy to what occured that evening. Despite his injuries.

Regardess of whether you like or dislike him personally or professionally, it is impossible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, that New Jack deliberately bladed Kulas too deeply on purpose. On principle alone, you cannot gauge intent, because you are unable to read his mind. Mistakes and miscalculations occur frequently in professional wrestling. It happens even to veterans in the sport. So why would we be so quick to exclude this from happening to New Jack" It's the price you pay for its physicality, and the understanding you agree to, before venturing into the sport.

These are the facts.
Tyler Swain (Massachusetts) wrote:
I remember hearing about that incident on the ECW Rise and Fall DVD and I was dtermined to find out more about it. I don't believe New Jack did anything wrong at all. The company of ECW is Extreme Championship Wrestling and New JAck was extreme. Offering to blade for the kid was in his mind was a kind act to make sure that he didnt hurt himself doing it on his own. Though he did hurt him greatly the kid probaly would have been more injured if he had attempted the blading himself. The father had said he was trained and Paul E. wouldn't have let him wrestle if the man had not lied about his age. I feel terrible for New Jack for being blamed because it could have been anyone doing the blading New Jack should not have been imediatley targeted. I have sympathy for the Kulas because Eric was injured but it was partially the fathers fault to allow him to wrestled
Morgan Wolff wrote:
The Mass Transit Incident further confused the line between scripted professional wrestling and some kind of psycho barbaric free-for-all. This gray haze is where New Jack makes his living. New Jack has no problem being hated and to a level feared. This incident was his crowning achievement. Yes, if you listen to New Jack speak, everyone should be scared. But remember, there are numbers of wrestlers who will tell you that Jack is a professional and you are in good hands. The Mass Transit Incident almost never happened. From beginning to end this was an absolute hardcore match. The only problem was a blade job that was too deep by millimeters. This sick and demented act changed New Jack. Quite frankly I think it's cheap heat. He takes advantage of a partner and the crowd wonders what the hell he is going to do next time! Since this "incident" there have been problems with New Jack too many times for it to be chance. Jack has found an act that makes him money. Unfortunately... If you are wrestling him. You might become part of it.
Trent Scott wrote:
The column said New Jack tried to scoop slam him, it was actually Mustafa Saed, also, the reason why he was cut so deep wasnt New Jacks fault, it was that Mass Transit paniced and flinched causing the cut to go deeper than what he was supposed to
wrote:

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