November 23, 1996: A Day that almost killed ECW

When a missed check, a lie, and a bad attitude can come together to severely harm not just a person, but a company, it's a big deal.



A lot has been said about Paul Heyman over the years. He’s been called everything from a creative genius to a terrible businessman and a liar. He was the man behind ECW and responsible for some of the most cutting edge television to ever air.

Absence creates a perfect storm               

However, one of the most controversial events ever to take place under the ECW banner did not happen when the cameras were rolling. The Wonderland Ballroom in Revere, Massachusetts held an ECW house show on November 23, 1996. One of the featured matches was Axl Rotten teaming with D-Von Dudley versus the Gangstas, New Jack and Mustafa Saed. When Axl Rotten no showed the event, apparently over a dispute on travel costs between himself and Heyman, a substitute wrestler was found, by the name of Mass Transit.

(A bad photo from the night in question)

Eric Kulas, going by the name of Mass Transit, was going to fill in for one-half of the Nasty Boyz. The thing is, Kulas was only 17. After his father vouched for him, along with an unnamed midget wrestler, he was inserted into the match. He claimed to be 23 and to have been trained by legend, Killer Kowalski. A criminal and civil trial would prove those to be lies.

What happened

The match in question called for Kulas to “get color.” He would ask New Jack to do it for him since he had never bladed himself before. In typical ECW fashion, New Jack hit Kulas with everything he could find at ringside, and from the fans. He drew blood from the young man using a scalpel. He would cut too deep, perhaps on purpose, and sever two arteries in the head on the untrained wrestler. Kulas began to bleed profusely and lose consciousness. Kulas’ father screamed from the audience “he’s only 17!” and “ring the f*cking bell!” Medical personnel rushed to the ring to tend to the teenager. 

New Jack would get in the mic and, in no uncertain terms, profess his hatred for caucasians, Bostonians, and his victim. On his way out of the arena, he would give the crowd the finger. Tommy Dreamer would accompany Kulas to the hospital.

Fallout

The televised news magazine Inside Edition would do an expose on the incident, making ECW out to be the aggressors. This would lead to the cancellation, temporarily, of ECW’s Barely Legal pay-per-view. Criminal charges of assault and battery with a deadly weapon were brought against New Jack, as was a civil suit. New Jack was exonerated in both court proceedings. 

Kulas would pass away years later due to complications from a medical procedure. New Jack would have little remorse for his actions, and even less when he found out about the circumstances of the event in question. Heyman, after a lot of self-admitted begging and pleading, got Barely Legal reinstated and life in Philadelphia marched on after the unfortunate incident. 

While it is every young wrestling fan’s dream to compete in a wrestling ring, there are proper channels to go about doing it. Lying about your age and your training will end well for no one. The most dangerous man in a wrestling ring is an untrained man. This was certainly the case on November 23, 1996, in a suburb of Boston.

Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?

admin