XPW Day 2 – Dark Side of the Ring: Extreme and Obscene – Rob Black’s XPW

After yesterday’s Rob Black primer, here’s the review of the show on his promotion, Xtreme Pro Wrestling.

Show starts off with a preview of the death matches the promotion held, sometimes with the stunts going OK… sometimes not. Rob Black is described as a mafia figure who wouldn’t let you leave the “family”. Former star Kaos wonders aloud “What were we thinking?! We weren’t…”.

When the show starts proper, the interviewees are asked why Rob Black declined to be interviewed for the show. Messiah thinks it’s no-win, plus his office employee Sylvia says it’s probably because he can’t control it. Former adult movie star Jessica Darlin takes a puff off her asthma inhaler before even answering. She then talks about how his deal was extreme p*rn and then extreme wrestling.

Rob Black wanted to emulate ECW. The late New Jack fills the role of ECW representative, seeing as he worked for both companies, and describes the ECW formula. Black and Paul Heyman were actually going to work together to bring ECW to the West, but when Heyman got the TNN deal he didn’t need Black any more, which pissed off Black and prompted him to start up a rival promotion.

Kaos talks about his uncle Supreme as a godfather of death match wrestling who got him into the business. Supreme looks like someone shrunk the current era One Man Gang in the wash but forgot to wash him. He brought him into XPW.

Sylvia tells a wild anecdote of seeing so many naked bodies that it was sexier when someone was clothed. An actor was sat fluffing himself up while asking casually how the wrestling business was between scenes. Kaos walked past a girl in a swimming getting peed on one time while eating fried chicken and the logistics manager recalls seeing a girl dressed as the Statue of Liberty getting gang banged by guys dressed as dead presidents.

Everyone was expected to live, sleep, breathe XPW and Extreme Associates, mixing wrestling booking with editing obscene movies, then sleeping in the ring sometimes.

Messiah loved being seen as a “new puppy” by the girls. He got credibility straight away by taking an unprotected chairshot. He was also a waiter at a steakhouse and would be sent home for having gig scars on his head while serving customers. Again, absolute devotion to the business was a way of life for them.

Luke Hawx, aka Altar Boy Luke, did a 450 splash through a tack-covered table on Supreme one time. He picked out the broken pins in his hand with pliers.

Kaos talks about someone getting the wrong lighter fluid for a flaming table spot one time, so Supreme was running around ringside looking like Ghost Rider, unable to extinguish the flames. Kaos pinned him and when he got up he had some of his uncle’s skin on his shirt. Supreme went straight to the hospital and was more concerned about the match quality than his own health.

ECW took Heatwave 2000 to LA, so a bunch of XPW guys went to the show to distribute flyers and sit ringside. They played up during the main event, which led to them getting thrown out and a big fight happening outside. The wrestlers pretty much avoided any damage, while the ring boys took the beating. Messiah thought it was stupid, plus Rob Black was a no-show, so all of his crying for the ring boys seemed insincere.

ECW closed down in 2001, so Sabu, Shane Douglas, and Terry Funk joined the company, plus cameos from guys like Abdullah the Butcher. Sabu laughs at Black’s description of it as “ECW on steroids”, but was happy to work and get the payday. Chris Candido, John Kronus and New Jack joined too, with the latter getting a thousand DVDs out of the Extreme Associates warehouse as part of his earnings.

The violence got more extreme, with Luke Hawx taking a brutal but protected chairshot. Rob Black lost his mind about him putting his hand up and not sticking his neck out. Jerry Lynn said not to worry about it, but at the next show, out of spite, Black engineered a match where Hawx was handcuffed and couldn’t get his hands up to protect himself, leading to a sickening series of shots that led to a serious concussion and a permanent dent.

Messiah was physically beaten up, so handed his notice in. Black said that if Messiah was done, then he was done. He didn’t want the guilt of other people losing their jobs on his hands, so he stuck around. Messiah also fell into the trap of letting Lizzy Borden flirt with him, which led to an affair at the same time as Black was letting girls blow him for videos. Messiah seems really embarrassed about it and regretted it from the moment it started.

Messiah didn’t show up for a match in the XPW warehouse, so Black let the gossip slip. Jessica Darlin admits she was with him too, and he was with a lot of the Extreme girls already. They filmed a goofy video where Black was in the warehouse and Messiah ascended to heaven using special effects and his superimposed face on an image. Black told Messiah on the phone that he had three days to live and had a plane ticket to Michigan waiting for him if he wanted to fuck off, but Messiah wasn’t going anywhere.

A slight detour, with New Jack booked for a scaffold rematch with Vic Grimes, the man who permanently injured him in their first one. Jack was adamant that Vic was taking the bump. Free Fall was the event and the insurance aspect for the massive scaffold was incredibly difficult, so the office manager admits he printed off a generic insurance document, whited out some of the specifics and replaced them with their details in order to run it.

Both guys got to the top of the rickety scaffold, which was swaying. Jack pulled out a stun gun and zapped Grimes, then threw him off the top. He hit a table, but then bounced back into the ring, probably saving his life and even more serious incapacitation. Hitting the floor would’ve seen him go splat. Sylvia said it was a sign there was a God that he didn’t get hurt worse. Jack left after that because he’d gotten his revenge on Grimes.

Back to Messiah, who boasted about his affair at an independent show. He heard Black was keeping tabs on him. Kaos said to just let it go, but Messiah wanted to shove it down Black’s throat. So, one day he showed up at a show and joined in heckling the match from the crowd. Black through a tantrum backstage and Messiah got a call to leave from one of his buddies.

Then one day, two guys walked into his apartment and he assumed it was two friends of his roommate. They assaulted him and got him in a choke, while the other used clippers and cut off his right thumb. They wanted to get his left too, but he kept it inside his fist. They hit him with the fish tank and he crawled for the door to get out, but couldn’t unlock the door. They threw a few more punches at him and Messiah caught one in an armbar, but they got away, running out of breath. He got a cup of ice, placed his hand in it, then passed out.

The story got captured on America’s Most Wanted. Everyone knew who was behind it (Rob Black), but couldn’t prove it. Black himself had gone to Kaos and Supreme’s place to “hang out” while the beating was going down, which was out of character for him as he never did that. He later told Kaos that if he heard anyone was friends with Messiah that they might get their arm cut off. Sylvia couldn’t take it working in that environment any more and left.

Messiah returned to wrestling and showed off his thumb stump and said it wasn’t going to make any difference to him because he could still do what he wanted to do. Black was getting his hands full with bigger worries, as the adult movies were getting more extreme and unsettling, with people like Darlin dropping out. The company was featured on Nightline and Black antagonised John Ashcroft while claiming freedom of expression in the vein of Hugh Hefner and Larry Flynt. This led to an FBI/postal raid at the office, with the government coming to get him. Everyone knew Black had bitten off more than he could chew this time.

Black, in recorded comments, knew his big mouth had gotten himself into trouble. They released the films of concern as the Federal Five, and despite claims of it all just being for show between paid actors and actresses, it was common sense that he couldn’t get away with doing videos where girls were pretending to be underage and trying to seduce guys. Black and Borden faced fifty years in prison and millions in fines. XPW had to close down because of the costs, then the adult industry didn’t come to his support, so that side went down too, leaving bounced cheques aplenty. The government just threw shit at the wall until something stuck.

Black and Borden took a plea deal and got a year and a day in prison each. Nobody felt sorry for Black, and while Borden was hardly innocent it was a case of her name being bandied about in the wrong circles that led to her downfall. Once they served their time, the wrestling venture was dead.

Despite all this, everyone involved would do it again and loved their XPW days. Kaos and Sylvia fell in love and married. Supreme died in 2020 and is very much missed by those who knew him. Kaos wishes people had let him know how much they valued him when he was alive. Messiah wouldn’t change a thing either, because it led him to his wife and children. New Jack says that XPW will pop back into the consciousness for a little while, then disappear again, then throws in that the one thing everyone will remember is him throwing Grimes off the scaffold.

Sylvia offers an epilogue for Black, who is apparently remarried, has a couple of kids and runs a hamburger shop back in the East. She wonders whether Rob Zicari is the same guy now as Rob Black was back then.

Melting it down: This was one that on the first watch I thought was OK, but massively improved on the repeat. Similar to the FMW episode, you could’ve done two episodes on the Rob Black story, so rich in content is that story, but of course the big missing piece is Black. Do I think he’s changed? Call me a sucker, but probably. The pieces of evidence I looked at yesterday would be what I used to support my beliefs, I think a part of him regretted what he caused, but at the same time I believe that like the others around him he wouldn’t change a thing even though it led to some really bad things.