In 1999, World Championship Wrestling was on top of the professional wrestling world. After years of being perceived as a distant second-rate competitor to the World Wrestling Federation, WCW turned the wrestling world on its collective ear with the formation of Hulk Hogan’s New World Order faction in 1996. For the next few years, WCW triumphed over WWF, beating them in television ratings for 88 straight weeks and developed some of the biggest stars in the industry – and yet two years later, it was all over. In March 2001, WCW was purchased by the WWF and basically closed down. Even in the world of professional wrestling, the rise and fall of WCW was beyond imagination. The current downward spiral of Apartment Championship Wrestling might prove even more unbelievable.
In early 2001, ACW was on top of the world. Under the reins of Tanako X, the promotion was venturing where no other apartment wrestling/catfighting company had ever gone, inking merchandising deals around the world and gaining unprecented worldwide exposure. ACW competitors were being featured prominently in mainstream ad campaigns as well as launching their own website and media marketing campaigns. Everyone was basking in the promotions success and in an instant… everything began to change.
In May 2001, Taylor Wilson went on record with a number of allegations against the promotion regarding favoritism and sexual harassment. These allegations were dismissed as simply the vindictive words of a disgruntled former employee. In September of that year, however, many of those allegations was repeated by then champion 00Heaven. The champion, in the midst of a contract dispute and suspension specifically focused on ACW Founder Tanako X, citing several alleged incidents in which she alleged she was sexually harassed and coerced. X vehemently denied the charges and the case was later settled. The genie had been let out of the bottle, however, and X was put on notice how tenuous his reign on the top was as well as how vulnerable he was personally as the head of the promotion.
Over the course of the next three years a quiet buzz has ebbed throughout the promotion, with whispers circulating regarding the earlier allegations. In early 2004, a series of photographs and videos began circulating which purported to show X engaged in intimate behavior with a number of ACW competitors. In an attempt to insulate himself from personal liability in potential legal proceeding, X transferred a significant portion of his financial holdings in ACW to his trusted nephew Masahiro X. In August, Masahiro attempted a coup.
In June 2004, Diane Hunter defeated Daniella Cartier, ending Cartier’s two year reign as ACW champion. Cartier was seen as a favorite of Tanako X, having represented the promotion without controversy. As such, however, it was perceived that she would remain loyal to him in the face of any possible move against him. With the title belt off of her, Masahiro and his associates made the move against Tanako, forcing him out as President and rendering him virtually powerless within the promotion. With Diane in place as the new champion, Daniella was placed on suspension leaving X with few, if any, allies.
With Masahiro X and Diane Hunter in place as the new faces of the promotion, the promotion promised to go in a new direction. In the two months since the coup, however, it appears that things will not move so easily… nor does Tanako seem to be fading easily into the background.
As many visitors to this site know, the site has not been updated since August. The site (www.apartmentwrestlers.com) is an independent venture that has been fully funded by Tanako X. In its charter, the site was specifically created with the proviso that reporting would be unfettered and independent. Despite Tanako funding it for a full 10 years, the writers and editors would have full editorial control over the content within the site as well as with the video and audio footage produced in the ACW Video Series. Thus, despite what would appear to be an apparent conflict of interest has been dispelled by the constant critical commentary and reporting regarding Tanako and the allegations aimed at him. Privately Tanako has chafed at the reporting. but has not violated the terms of the charter by attempting to censor the sites messages.
The same can not be said about Masahiro and his regime. Masahiro directed the editorial staff to cease publications of all investigations into the Summer takeover. He also attempted to limit access to most of the promotions stars in order to allow him to “kayfabe” the information published on the site. When the staff members refused to abide by his mandate, he did what he threatened he would do… He shut down the site.
On August 30, 2004, Masahiro obtained a temporary injunction from the Fourth District Court of Illinois, preventing publication of the September 2004 update to the www.apartmentwrestlers.com site. The temporary injunction lasted until November 1, 2004 when the court struck down the parts of the injunction which pertain to the www.apartmentwrestlers.com web site (the injunction is still in effect as it affects production of the ACW Video Series and will be considered in an upcoming hearing). The result is that the November 2004 update of the site has now occurred.
- Tanako X personally owned a number of the trademarks used by ACW and thus had the right to licence them to www.apartmentwrestlers.com
- The www.apartmentwrestlers.com site is an independent publishing venture outside of the control and purview of current ACW management
- The site has been funded by X for a period of ten years (with three more years left on the agreement) and that www.apartmentwrestlers.com can not negotiate or be a party to any offers from current ACW management regarding content or editorial control of the site.
- That current ACW competitors are required per their contracts to cooperate with www.apartmentwrestlers.com for interviews and features.
Where this fight will go next can only be speculated upon. What is clear is that Tanako X may be down, but he is not out. His fight to reclaim ACW may be bolstered by a number of steps he has taken over the years to shelter himself from takeover attempts such as the one he is dealing with now. Likewise, Masahiro promises not to back down and vows to keep Tanako tied up in court for months to come.
Former champion Daniella Cartier has been a vocal supporter of Tanako and has just come off of suspension and vowed to regain her title. Current champion Diane Hunter while not specifically coming out and saying she supports Tanako’s ouster, has taken a number of pointed shots at him. She has also formed her own faction within ACW which she calls the Old School Posse (with current members including Taylor Wilson, Donna Dixxon, Candy Sommers, Daisee Douglas and Dominique LeMonde).
It would appear that for Tanako to regain control over the organization, it will be paramount for him to gain the support of many of the women who worked under him in the promotion. When asked how he plans to accomplish this, especially in light of the allegations that many have made against him, he laughed and said, “I may surprise you… I can be very charming!”