WXO Wrestling launched (and folded) in early 2000 as an old-school, fan-friendly alternative to the Big Three promotions of the time.
The organization treated itself like a big deal, with the announcers claiming that top wrestlers from around the world were trying to get in on the action. Phones were ringing off the hook at WXO headquarters, we were told. It was just bad luck that a bunch of WWF and WCW cast-offs called first and tied up all the phone lines.
Take Fred Ottman, better known as Typhoon and The Shockmaster. Though he hadn’t been in demand in years, the big man was still doing well enough for himself to show up to WXO in a sports car. Unfortunately, he was too fat to get out of the car by himself.
Ted DiBiase played the role of authority figure, acting as CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of WXO (whose initials were never explained). With the Million Dollar Man in charge, surely there was no way they would ever run out of money. But that’s not to say the WXO was just throwing money around – DiBiase declared there would be no guaranteed-money contracts so that the wrestlers wouldn’t get complacent.
“There are no freebies in the WXO”, said Ted (except, presumably, the tickets).
Another thing WXO would bring back was wholesome family entertainment in an era when WWF, WCW, and ECW were pushing sex, sex, sex (respectively).
Announcer Chris Cruise agreed that DiBiase was “not gonna take any stuff, and he says WXO is gonna be family-friendly!” And if you don’t believe him, re-read that quote.
“Everything else walks, money talks!” said Stan Lane, who along with his broadcast colleague seemed to be on a mission to avoid saying the word, “shit” as often and as conspicuously as possible. Case in point: Chris Cruise describing one wrestler beating “the stew” out of another.
But being family-friendly didn’t mean WXO would be embarrassingly lame. For instance, they had a hard-rocking theme song reminiscent of Raw is War’s. No, it was the incessant reminders about being family-friendly that meant WXO would be embarrassingly lame.
Not that this wasn’t a tough environment. The WXO rings, for instance, were unforgiving. “They call them ropes,” said Stan Lane, “but there’s no hemp under there.” Of course not. This was family-friendly programming.
And if you thought that was tough, try landing out of the ring – Stan Lane said that any wrestler who hit the floor would end up sucking, uh… Well, just listen. They had to come back the next week and clarify that he in fact said, “cement”.
WXO’s first match was a strange, strange tag team bout featuring a long-haired Adam Pearce, future NWA champion and road agent, paired with Tommy Rogers of the Fantastics.
Their opponents were John “Jeeeezus” Zandig, the founder of CZW, paired with Erik Watts of the Tekno Team 2000.
Rogers was known for inventing this move:
Watts was known for inventing this move:
Even though the match opened with the most basic of exchanges, the crowd was PUMPED.
I tell ya, they had never seen such a collar-and-elbow tie-up!
Erik Watts made light of Rogers’s height, but the former tag team champion wasn’t gonna take any stuff at all!
The announcers plugged Zandig’s hardcore wrestling notoriety by mentioning that he had appeared with Ted Koppel. Pearce, on the other hand, was training to be a plumber as a back-up career.
Despite the very basic action, the hot crowd did not let up for a second, except for whatever sections happened to appear on screen. Camera-shy bunch.
See, WXO took “sweetening the crowd” to ridiculous ends, layering on the crowd noise even during the most run-of-the-mill of promos. Only once did they let up with the overdubs, and that was during a replay of a promo that they had previously enhanced, meaning it was just a production slip-up.
One of WXO’s sponsors was Priceline.com (“On the internet!”). The ads wrote themselves: Ted DiBiase would say, “Everybody’s got a price. Now you can name yours on Priceline.com. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
But instead, WXO thought the best, most credible person to sell viewers on a great deal was the Repo Man. It’s gotta be a trick!
(The copy I’m looking at also had a commercial for joint pain relief with Joe Theismann. I hate to break it to you, Joe, but your shin is not a joint. At least, it’s not supposed to be.)
WXO, which seemed to be in it for the long haul, prepped fans for the arrival of Johnny Ace, who Stan Lane claimed had “more moves than Ex-Lax”. That imagery certainly didn’t help Ace and his tag team partner Mike Barton (Bart Gunn), who were known as “The Movement”, and who WXO wanted us to think were the shit.
They showed footage of Ace and Barton at the Tokyo Dome against Kenji Okasomi and Mitsu Arakawa. Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed that this match was not, in fact, held in the Tokyo Dome, nor were their opponents really Kenji Okasami and Mitsu Arakawa – the former having been made up…
…and the latter having died in 1997 at age seventy.
The announcers reminded viewers that Japanese fans were much more quiet and reserved than their American counterparts, especially WXO fans who were too raucous to even let Ted DiBiase speak. Yet that didn’t stop WXO from adding tons of crowd noise to the Japanese match in post-production anyway.
Johnny Ace cut two promos promising to kick some butt and win the tag team titles in WXO, despite not caring what the X stood for. One of these promos would even make it to air on Raw as part of CM Punk’s feud with Big Johnny…
…whose catchphrase of “If you don’t got it, get it. If you don’t get it, figure it out” never really caught on.
Other, lesser-known talents in WXO included Scoot Andrews…
…who, years before Offset came around, went by simply, “Black Nature Boy”.
Maniac Manny, who believe it or not was not a character on Exposed: Pro Wrestling’s Greatest Secrets…
…faced Shawn Hill, whom Stan Lane described as “Hot & Sexy!” (“…emblazoned on his tights”, he clarified, to keep things family-friendly).
Their match ended when Manny crotched himself on the top turnbuckle, laughed, and did a flying headbutt anyway.
Manny was very fond of kissing men. Silly goose! You’re supposed to kiss women.
Tastefulness had always been a top concern for Stan Lane.
With interviewer Jennifer Hart covered from the neck down in black denim…
…and Geea appearing to wear a life vest under her suit jacket…
…they left a lot to the imagination, and boy did the announcers mentally fill in the details! Cruise and Lane couldn’t stop gushing about how gorgeous Jennifer and Geea were, especially when the latter flashed a little collar bone.
The uncomfortable fixation on their female colleagues didn’t stop even when Jennifer joined the announce team. If this promotion had lasted any longer, I expect Chris Cruise would end up telling Jennifer Hart she was doing a great job, but she was not using all her assets.
While the male announcers could spot a sexy dame from a mile away, neither of them could figure out who this broad-shouldered man in a sweat-soaked sweatshirt could be.
Of course, it was John Stossel.
No, it was Dan Severn, who was soon confronted in the ring by a masked man.
“I’ll tell you who that is,” said Cruise. “He’s wearing a mask, but it’s Al Green.”
How could the same announcer who couldn’t recognize a former UFC and NWA champion, immediately recognize Master Blaster Blade even with a mask on?
Better question: Why put on a mask if you’re just going to use your real name?
Green got in the face of Severn, who put him in the ankle lock as his fellow heels looked on. Somebody needed to make the save for Green, and that someone was – you guessed it…
…Barry Horowitz, whom Chris Cruise referred to as, “this kid”. He was 40.
I mentioned the Master Blasters, the old WCW team consisting of Al Green (“Blade”) and Kevin Nash (“Steel”). Believe it or not, Nash was in the house for the first episode of WXO!
Scott Nash, that is. Yes, WXO actually hired an impostor Kevin Nash, and not even the most famous impostor Kevin Nash.
This knock-off was best known for jobbing to Randy Savage on Nitro the previous summer while wearing a dress for some reason.
Medium Sexy’s opponent, Barry Darsow, had the match well in hand until this sneak attack by Mike Enos. This blatant interference occurred in plain view of the referee, who then awarded the match to the bootleg Kevin Nash by countout, and no detail in that previous sentence gave the incurious commentary team the least pause.
Broadcast journalists, they weren’t.
The following week, they used the exact same finish, the ref again disrespecting the rules. The AWF would be spinning in its grave!
The promotion’s first main event was interrupted by a fan, upon whom all four wrestlers proceeded to pound away (some more enthusiastically than others).
The fan’s twin brother rushed through the crowd to fend off the attack – good thing most of the seats were empty.
The future Gymini fought off the Heartbreakers and the two teenaged Jeff Hardys and would wrestle later in the taping.
That first WXO taping ended with a cliffhanger, as Stan Lane was found beaten up backstage. However, the group never held another taping.
After WXO ceased operations, The Shane Twins would go on to fame wrestling as giant penises…
…Ace Steel would go on to fame wrestling as Donald Trump…
…and Johnny Ace would go on to fame as patriarch of the Bella family.
The three existing episodes of WXO were nonetheless aired in syndication, leaving fans with many unanswered questions:
What did the X stand for?
Who attacked Stan Lane?
What did the W and O stand for?
And most importantly, What did the X stand for?