AS I SEE IT: RIP Frank Iadevaia Bob Magee Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets PWBTS.com
This week brought a stunner for a lot of us in and around independent wrestling on the east coast, as longtime Jersey All Pro Wrestling promoter Frank Iadevaia died suddenly Wednesday night in his sleep. Iadevaia had been working hard to build for Jersey All Pro Wrestling’s 19th anniversary show, to be held on November 14th.
Jersey All Pro Wrestling was started in April 1997 by Frank and Angel Surita, made up of what’s been described as “misfit wrestlers not used in other promotion”. JAPW was an early home for talent such as current Ring of Honor Champion Jay Lethal, Homicide, Low-Ki, The Amazing Red, Charlie Haas, The S.A.T’s, and even D-Von Dudley and Big Dick Dudley (under other gimmicks). JAPW was one of the two hardcore promotions of the time, along with Combat Zone Wrestling. The promotion’s heyday was 1997-2002, before busybody New Jersey state politicians interfered with the hardcore style of the earliest shows, headquartered at Charity Hall in Bayonne, NJ and later, the Rahway Recreation Center.
They moved to a hard hitting style, featuring talent like Low Ki and Da Hit Squad, The Briscoe Brothers, Dixie, Insane Dragon, and Deranged.
JAPW later became the first promotion to co-promote a show with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2011, which included Jushin Thunder Liger and, Satoshi Kojima defeated Kenny Omega, Prince Devitt and Ryusuke Taguchi, Gedo, Jado, Shinsuke Nakamura, Yujiro Takahashi, Tetsuya Naito, Toru Yano, and Kazuchika Okada. The show WAS noted for the creation of the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, won by MVP (then working for NJPW), which has since been owned by two of New Japan’s top stars Shinsuke Nakamura and Hiroshi Tanahashi.
The shows weren’t financially successful, though, and in 2012 and 2013, JAPW only ran anniversary shows. The next show, as said above, was scheduled for November 19.
Frank was first, a fan. Frank was (for a while) even one of those fans in the front row at the ECW Arena. In some ways, he was as big a mark as any of us…even though by then he’d been working in the ring by that time under various gimmicks.
One more thing you need to know about him: Frank liked to have FUN. With a capital F-U-N. He understood that at its heart, wrestling and life are supposed to have fun in them. He liked his food…and cooking for himself and others. His BBQs were legendary among his North Jersey friends.
Here are some of the online condolences from those he knew best:
* Jay Lethal: The man who gave me my start in wrestling has passed away.
A part of me is gone. He was known to many as “Fat Frank”. I love you! RIP FF
* Charlie Haas: “I am in complete shock as write this. I am totally numb and sick to hear of your passing Frank Anthony. You were a true friend and brother. My condolences to your wife and kids. If it was not for you, Pierre, and Jeff there would never have been the “Haas Brothers”. You believed in us when no one else did. You gave us our first break, and pushed us to be better, and to chase our dream all the way to the WWE. I will forever be grateful and will cherish our moments with JAP and Charity Hall forever.
I will always remember and hold close to my heart when JAP threw the “Russ Haas” benefit show, and the video you created of him. I still and will always show that to my kids.
I will miss you and I love you my friend. I hope you and Russ are reuniting right now and reminiscing of the good times we all had with you. You will truly be missed.
* Co-promoter of JAPW Pierre Pilger: “I’m so numb right now I wish this was just a dream but instead it’s a nightmare. Frank Anthony you were more then a best friend, you were my brother. No matter how bad shit got you always made the best of it. Who is going to call me 1:00 clock in the morning ass when shit is going so bad for me. You always knew how to cheer me up.
You were one of a kind, and I promise you Kenzie will know who her godfather was and the amazing man he was. I will carry every last memory good or bad in my heart for the rest of my life. No matter what no one will ever replace you. You will always be my man-wife. How will the three amigos (Me, You, Jeff Shapiro) ever survive without you?! I promise to be there for your wife, Jenn Cirelli Iadevaia, and kids till my very last breath. I will never say goodbye, but until we meet again…. I Love You Brother Rest in Eternal Peace”
* Dan Maff: “Heart Broken… Frank Anthony “Fat Frank” i will miss you my friend…… Rest in peace my friend, see you on the other side….. I lost my friend, a proud father, a husband, a man that would make me laugh and one of the most unique human beings i have ever known….. I am heart broken, sad, crushed and in disbelief! I will miss you my friend, “Ooooooink” See you in the other side. Goodbye…..”.
* Carmine Sabia: I just found out from Christopher Ford that a man I admired tremendously has passed away. Jersey All-Pro promoter Frank Anthony AKA Fat Frank. I don’t know what to say but I’m gonna give it a shot.
JAPW was the gold standard in NJ indy wrestling for many years. They discovered so much talent. Talent you see today on WWE, TNA and internationally. Frank was a trend setter. Broke all the rules and was successful doing so.
More than that he was a good man.”
May that be said of us all when we die.
After 9/11, I remember him telling me so sadly of the view at Liberty Park in Jersey City, NJ. This was the place he proposed to his wife, Jennifer, because it had such a beautiful view of New York and the Twin Towers, and that gave him joy. After 9/11, he said it would never have the same happy meaning again.
That area has now been memorialized with the New Jersey 9/11 memorial, the Empty Sky Memorial. In the same way, our own sky is a bit less bright and more empty today.
Frank Iadevaia was 43 years old.
Condolences to his wife Jenn, his many, many friends, his son Jake, and daughter Gianna.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions for Frank’s children can be made to Go Fund Me at this link.
To conclude on a better note…here are more holiday wrestling shows benefiting Toys for Tots, food pantries, and other causes. There are a number of others waiting to be announced as well, which you will read here in coming weeks.
* Chaotic Wrestling will do one of its two annual Toys for Tots shows, first on November 13 in Woburn, MA at the Elks Lodge, 295 Washington Street, Woburn, MA.
* Wrestling for a Cause will run The Fight for Matthew on November 14 at the Owasso Sertoma Club, Owasso, OK (7:00 pm belltime) . 100% of the show’s proceeds go to the family of a child with cancer.
* DJ Hyde has agreed and tentative plans are underway for the annual Toys for Tots collection (in conjunction with the Marine Corps Reserve) to take place for the eleventh year in a row with Combat Zone Wrestling’s 17th annual Cage of Death on December 12 at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ.
* The originator of Toys for Toys events in the Philadelphia/South Jersey region, United Wrestling Coalition, will be doing the same on December 5 at Kelly’s Bar/Banquet Hall, 14 Railroad Avenue, Wrightstown, NJ
* ECWA Pro Wrestling will hold its annual Toys for Tots show on December 5 at the Woodbury Heights Community Center, Woodbury, NJ
* Wrestling for a Cause will run The Fight for Haylie on December 12 in Pryor, OK (7:00 pm belltime) . 100% of the show’s go to the family of a child with cancer.
* Brew City Wrestling will run its annual Headlock for Hunger on December 9 at the Knight of Columbus Hall in West Allis, WI. The show features a food drive for local food pantries.
* Chaotic Wrestling will do its second Toys for Tots show of the year on December 11th at the Woburn, MA at the Elks Lodge, 295 Washington St, Woburn, MA.
* Hoosier Pro Wrestling will hold the annual Columbus Firemen’s Cheer Fund Toy Drive show at the HPW Arena/ 4-H Fairgrounds on November 7, featuring Wildfire Tommy Rich. Toys can be donated beginning at the October 3 HPW show.
* Great Canadian Wrestling presents Season’s Beatings ’15 on December 27 at Harmony Creek Community Hall, 15 Harmony Rd. N, Oshawa Ontario. This is the annual Christmas show for local food bank. Fans are asked to bring donations for Harmony Creek food bank. No matches yet announced.
Between all of these over the years, thousands of children have been able to have a Christmas or Hanukkah. Please help your local independent promotion do the same, or encourage them to schedule an event soon for the Holidays if they haven’t already. If you’re a promoter, PLEASE email me and let me know of your holiday charity themed plans (fund-raisers/collections for clothes, food pantries, Toys for Toys, etc.) at wrestling or MMA events to [email protected]
If you have comments or questions, or if you’d like to add the AS I SEE IT column to your website, I can be reached by e-mail at the address above.