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ECCW's TV show renewed
By FRED JOHNS - SLAM! Wrestling


Vid Vain is taped at a TRW TV taping.
- Photo by Fred Johns

Success in independent wrestling is usually measured in small ways: increased attendance at house shows, a rise in merchandise sales, the decrease in the amount of money lost to put on a show. But for the West Coast promotion Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling, success is being measured in a much larger way: the renewal of their TV show.

The show, which has currently run just over 40 episodes on KVOS-TV, was always a risk. Wrestling is a niche market to start with and had the somewhat unfortunate distinction of being given the Saturday 1pm time slot. Typically, Saturday afternoon shows don't even register on the ratings system, but something strange happened: ECCW's show began to register, even reaching .3 on the ratings scale, something TRW producer Kevin MacDonald says is more or less unheard of.

"That's pretty amazing," he told SLAM! Wrestling. "KVOS seems to like the show. They find it fun and hilarious." One of the prerequisites ECCW had to maintain was keeping the show family-oriented and MacDonald said that standard has been held up. "It's not like a traditional wrestling show," he said. "And we didn't want to be that. It's got drama, some comedy -- a little bit of everything."

There are several reasons the show has been renewed for a second season, one of which is fan support. "The fans have really jumped on board with us," MacDonald said, referring to an extensive letter-writing campaign the ECCW fans embarked on. "If the fans hadn't written to KVOS to tell them how much they liked our show, it'd be off the air."

ECCW owner Dave Republic said the fans have always been an integral part of the promotion, so it only makes sense they would have such an impact on the television show. "That's where the success of ECCW has always been -- the fans," he said. "Our fans are pretty vocal. They want to see live wrestling and now they want to see it on TV. It is because of their support that we're still here after ten years and now for a second season on television."

One of the other reasons the show is being renewed is because it is a locally produced show that showcases local talent. "It's not just a wrestling show," MacDonald explained. "It's a locally produced show that fills a demand, which is very significant because it fulfills KVOS' FCC mandate." (Even though the show is broadcast in Canada, the station is in Bellingham, Washington.) That mandate requires KVOS air a certain number of hours of local programming - programming like Top Ranked Wrestling, for example.

But Dave Republic's vision of the show expands further than just one station. A recent road trip to Vernon, B.C., makes his case. "The TV program doesn't reach Vernon, so that's a market we could perhaps build in," he said. "We'd like to see the show attain a wider audience and to have it broadcast in other markets in Canada and the U.S."

One of the reasons that might happen is that the show does not cost a lot to create and produce. "We run on a shoestring budget and if we can provide the programming very inexpensively to other stations, they're going to take it. At the end of the day, though, we just want to get our product in front of the fans so they can see it and support independent wrestling."

Indications suggest the fans love the show. A recent weekend of televised wrestling in Surrey and Vancouver featured packed houses. Part of that may have been because former WWE Women's Champion Ivory was on hand, but that only shows the strength ECCW is gaining.

"We have no illusions," Republic said. "We know we are part of the independent wrestling scene. There are no explosions or bright lights. We're out there doing the best we can and more often that not, these guys put on some pretty spectacular wrestling. We accentuate the positives like our fan interaction and this past weekend we brought Lisa Moretti/Ivory in so I think that shows we can still do a lot to surprise our fans and keep interest high."

The fans do seem to appreciate their efforts. "I love the show," Bill Cunningham, a longtime fan of ECCW said after a recent TV taping. He's been a fan of wrestling for nearly 50 years and remembers the last time local wrestling was on TV -- and that was 20 years ago. "It's great to see independent wrestling back on television," he said. "Especially with these guys." He smiled. "It's like old times."

RELATED LINKS

  • Dec. 8, 2005: ECCW buys TRW in BC TV deal
  • June 14, 2005: B.C. promotion scores TV slot
  • www.eccw.com
  • Visit KVOS' official website at www.kvos.com

    Fred Johns is one of those pseudo-journalist types that likes to think he knows a thing or two about the West Coast wresting scene. Feel free to argue with him -- editor@somethingcool.ca.