New England Championship Wrestling

Gateway To Greatness

Description: New England Championship Wrestling is one of the longest running and most successful independent wrestling promotions currently running shows in the United States. Unfortunately they have become somewhat of a well kept secret to wrestling fans around the world. As they enter their seventh year of existence they are getting into the growing wrestling DVD market with their first home release, dedicated to some of the wrestlers who passed through NECW on their way to greater fame. Hence, the "Gateway to Greatness."

Match #1 - "The Anarchist" Doug Williams vs "The Alpha Male" Justin Powers: At this point, Doug Williams had already made a huge splash in Ring of Honor. I was never a big fan of Doug Williams, which is strange because I like a lot of wrestlers with the same style. Justin Powers gets points for making a clever name.. get it Austin Powers? Still a very good match ( 6.5 / 10 )

Match #2 - Chris Harvard (Nowinski) vs Aaron Morrison: Watching this match reminded me how much I miss Chris Nowinski. He was the most promising contestant on the first WWE Tough Enough and I was thrilled when he kept at it and achieved his dream of wrestling for WWE. Obviously this match took place between Tough Enough and his debut with WWE. His opponent reminded me of the character "Randy" from the Trailer Park Boys (if you don't know what TPB is, you will soon). A more relevant comparison would be to Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart. Even at this early stage in his career, Chris Harvard showed amazing natural ability. It's a real shame Christopher Nowsinski's wrestling career was cut short by post-concussion syndrome ( 7 / 10 ).

Match #3 - Mercedes Martinez w/Joel Gertner vs "The Heartthrob" Kurt Adonis: Mercedes Martinez is near the top of my list of favorite female wrestlers so it was great to see a match from when she wasn't as polished as she is now. The guy she was wrestling actually looked like a girl so it didn't really feel like an inter-gender match. Kurt Adonis had a backstreet boy gimmick and the crowd was more than happy to see him get beat up by a girl ( 6.5 / 10 ).

Match #4 - Antonio "The Promise" Thomas vs Zaqary Springate III: Antonio Thomas would eventually gain fame as one half of the "Heart Throbs" in WWE. It was the reputation he built on the independent circuit that got him to the big time. In many ways, his work on various indy shows prior to his signing were greater than his disappointing stint in WWE. As usual, WWE blew an opportunity with a talented worker ( 7 / 10 ).

Match #5 - Johnny Idol & J-Busta vs Ace Darling & Matt Stryker: Shame on NECW production for mixing up Matt Stryker and Matt Striker! On the box and on the screen they called him Stryker but this was definitely Striker, the same Striker who would go onto the WWE and eventually be a big part of the new ECW. Ace Darling is one of those guys who has been on the independent circuit and has never been given a break. The most interesting part of this match was that it was NECW Tag Team Champions vs ECWA Tag Team Champions and both championships on the line. This made for a very unique and controversial finish ( 7 / 10 ).

Match #6 - "The Fabulous Freebird" (Beth) Phoenix vs Stephanie (Trinity): This was before Beth Phoenix signed with WWE and became one of the top females in Ohio Valley Wrestling. This was before Trinity got a big head working in TNA, and long before her skank transformation into ECW. And it was long before either of their enhancement surgeries. Phoenix was the star of this match, as she truly is an amazing athlete and phenomenal wrestler. She has some size to her and an obvious body building background. I am a huge fan of Beth Phoenix and thank God for old wrestling footage so I can actually watch her "wrestle!" ( 8.5 / 10 ).

Match #7 - "The Wonderkid" Jonny Storm vs "The Phoenix" Jody Fleisch: Two of England's youngest and brightest stars traveled to the United States to make a series of appearances in promotions like NECW, TNA, XPW, and CZW. They are very fast and exciting to watch but their matches usually turn into crazy spot-fests, which is something a lot of people enjoy! These two have wrestled so many times it's virtually impossible to have a bad match and this was no exception ( 9 / 10 ).

Match #8 - "The Prototype" John Cena vs "The Future" Frankie Kazarian: This was the obvious selling point of the DVD, seeing the universally famous John Cena before he achieved major celebrity status. His prototype gimmick really is one of the most entertaining gimmicks in the history of wrestling and should be enjoyed by everyone at some point. This match took place just before John Cena was scheduled to report to OVW, which led to a developmental contract, which led to being called up to WWE, and the rest is history. Prototype's opponent, Frankie Kazarian, is no push-over himself. He made a name for himself in TNA a few years ago before making the big mistake of jumping to WWE, where he was wasted and then discarded like a piece of trash. Kazarian is one of the most under-rated pieces of talent right now and deserves a lot better than what he's received in the last few years. It was a very entertaining match and proved to be a worthy selling point ( 9 / 10 ).

Bonus Footage: There is some bonus material included with this DVD featuring a short promo by Dusty Rhodes, followed by an NECW championship match between Alex Arion and Bob Evans, who is managed by former WCW referee Scott Dickenson. This match is evidence that NECW regularly provides great action at all its events in and around the New England area. There is also a trailer for another NECW DVD soon to be release featuring World Women's Wrestling, a sister-promotion to NECW featuring some great women's wrestling matches.

Final Thoughts: This is a great wrestling DVD and would fit into anybody's collection. Like I said before, NECW is very under-rated and deserves your support. NECW promoter Sheldon Goldberg provided his unique commentary for all the matches.

Reviewed by Brad Dykens.

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