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  April 7, 1999

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ECW still shut out of Canada

By ADAM BURCHILL -- For SLAM! Wrestling

  Extreme Championship Wrestling will soon be invading the Canadian pay-per-view world with their extreme style wrestling and over-the-top story lines. Or will they? The answer lies in who you talk to.

  Recently at a large cable convention held in New Orleans, one of the topics discussed was the possibility about having ECW run on Viewers Choice Canada, Canada's only Pay-Per-View distributor. While there were discussions about the idea, it's a split decision on how the talks went.

  Steve Karel, Media Director for ECW, led on that things were going very well. When asked about what went on at the conference he said "we've had positive negotiations about bringing ECW to Canada," and was also quick to point out that ECW is "on every major pay-per-view carrier [in the U.S.]," and is not being rejected by anyone because of the content of the programming. However, a different account of the discussions was revealed when SLAM! Wrestling contacted Viewers Choice.

  "I wouldn't call it negotiations at all," stated Bill Custers, Brand Director for Viewers Choice Canada, adding that they only met once. He is however still open to the idea of ECW on Pay-Per-View in Canada. "We're always interested in new pay-per-view events."

  The manager of communications at Viewers Choice Canada, Michelle Marion, said that the company was looking at ECW, just as they are looking at other "niche" events like cricket and snowboarding. All events, she said, are picked up on an "event by event basis," but that there are "no immediate plans to air ECW."

  On April 3rd, ECW held their annual CyberSlam Convention. It was announced by the company's leader, Paul Heyman (aka Paul E. Dangerously) that they hope to sign with Viewers Choice Canada this week. If this were to happen -- which is contrary to everything coming out of Viewers Choice Canada -- the first ECW pay per view available will be Hardcore Heaven '99 on Sunday, May 16th.

  Two Canadian wrestlers with ECW experience are equally frustrated by the lack of ECW in their homeland.

  "Anything should be available everywhere so everyone has the choice whether they want to watch it. ECW's a good company. They've got a lot of good stuff going on," said current WCW star Chris Jericho, who spent time in ECW before catching on with the bigger company. "They deserve to have their shows offered in Canada just as much as WWF or WCW does and let the fans decide if they want to watch it or not."

  Current ECW star Lance Storm shared the same opinion, and was a little confused on why ECW wasn't available in Canada.

  "It's a little disheartening, because I know there are a lot of people who want to follow it and can't. I know in Calgary there's a ton of people who are die-hard ECW fans because ECW so closely resembles Calgary Stampede Wrestling and ECW could expand on those lines."

  ECW's recent financial difficulties appear to have cleared up with an influx of funds from Buena Vista, a division of Disney, to fund pay-per-view events.

  Either way, it looks as though fans will have to wait to find out more. It's an outcome the Canadian wrestling fans have been interested in for the last two years. Should anything change, SLAM! Wrestling will be among the first to know.

  -- With files from Kevin Nielsen, Chris Gramlich and Greg Oliver