ECW Doc Filmmaker Dicusses New Film, Favorite ECW Memories, How Fans Can Help
|By Raj Giri||September 18, 2012 | Comments|
WrestlingINC: Were you a wrestling fan growing up?
John Philapavage: Yes. From the time I was about 6 or 7, my earliest memories are probably the Hulk Hogan Rock 'N' Wrestling cartoon. I was a kid, so I was like, 'Wow. Hulk Hogan is cool.' I distinctly remember seeing the magazines -- the Apter mags as they're called -- from the PWI family. They always had big wrestlers on the covers with bloody photos.
I always tell people it was like the first time you go to New York and you see a prostitute in Manhattan somewhere. You're scared by it but you can take your eyes off of it kind of a thing. So, yeah, I was a fan from the time I was very young.
WrestlingINC: With ECW, when did you start watching?
Philapavage: I found it a few times. Their flagship channel was Sports Channel Philadelphia. We get a lot of Philadelphia media here in Allentown, where I live. I was kind of waning on wrestling at that point, Wrestling was kind of at a low point in the early '90's. I wasn't sure I was that interested anymore. Then, I found ECW.
I would say that sometime in '94, I saw pieces of it here and there. I became an avid watcher, week to week, in the summer of '95.
WrestlingINC: Basically, when Paul Heyman took over is when you really became a fan?
Philapavage: Yes, yes.
WrestlingINC: At that time, there was nothing like that. WWE, WWF at the time, was very PG at the time. It was borderline G at the time. WCW was using a lot of WWF old ideas but not really doing a lot on their own at that time. Did you feel like ECW was on the verge of something big?
Philapavage: You nailed it. That TV show completely broke the paradigm of wrestling for me. I was born in '81, so when I first saw it, I would have been 13 and I was 14 when I started watching every week. Their presentation was just so different, so interesting. The promos that were outside of a wrestling venue. The length of the promos, now it's common place, but at the time... They had lengthy promos and they would reference people from other promotions which you just didn't do.
They would curse. Their characters were different. You didn't even know they were necessarily wrestlers other than that they were cutting a promo. So, that kind of clued you in. [Laughs.] But, they didn't look like cookie-cutter wrestlers, they didn't have cookie-cutter gimmicks.
The whole presentation was mind-blowing and I've always been into niche products, anyway. Essentially, in the end of it, ECW was sort of a niche product. Just, it's influence spans greatly throughout the industry by the end.
WrestlingINC: How did the idea of the documentary come about?
Philapavage: Well, it was a poor idea at first. Not a poor idea, but a fluffy idea. I was obsessed by the ECW Arena. I had to get there. Three years when you're a teenager is a really long time. I watched ECW for nearly three years before I got to the arena in January of '98.
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