Shane Douglas is risking his reputation as a promoter by banking on Sabu again. Photo via Tabercil on flickr.
The biggest independent show of the year so far, Shane Douglas' Extreme Reunion event, was a complete debacle, thanks in part to scheduled headliner Sabu being hospitalised before the event due to intoxication and not recovering in time to wrestle. Douglas seemed to have quickly learnt his lesson about relying upon the most unreliable ECW alumni for future shows, claiming that after the dark spots that blighted his first event he would radically overhaul the roster and remove all toxic elements from his locker room. But next weekend, in the first return events since the Reunion, Douglas is set to roll the dice again by using two performers with a checkered history of substance abuse problems.
In quite the turnaround, Sabu has now been added to lineups for the Extreme Rising events in Corona, NY and Philadelphia, PA on June 29th and 30th, respectively, which is probably an attempt to drive late ticket sales and walk up business. Douglas, had prepared the ground for Sabu's surprising return by telling Dave Meltzer in this week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter that he was open to the idea under certain provisos:
Regarding Sabu, they said that at their urging, Sabu went into a rehab center on the West Coast in May. They said Sabu was very apologetic and is in regular contact with both Shane Douglas and Cody Michaels, who are running the show. They said he asked for another chance after an apparent overdose that hospitalized him the afternoon before the first show. They said if he completes the program and if his doctor okays it, they are open to using him in the future. They said he is not scheduled for the next set of shows, but it is possible he could be added.
Even if Sabu has met these conditions, it is still a risky strategy for the promotion to bring him back so quickly, as relapses of drug addiction are all too common and Sabu hasn't even performed once since his drug overdose. One couldn't blame them for using him again if he had built up a track record over several months of staying clean, but this smacks of a desperation move due to a poor advance.
Before Sabu was booked, Douglas raised eyebrows by choosing Matt Hardy, of all people, to headline the June 29th show against Jerry Lynn. It would take an essay to recount all the drug related insanity Hardy was involved with in 2010 and 2011, so I'm not going to cover over old ground here. Hardy hasn't had any reported problems this year, but the spotlight hasn't been shone on him as intensely as it will in front of a tough unforgiving crowd of old ECW fans. Douglas better hope that both Hardy and Sabu bring their A games, otherwise he'll be in for another couple of hostile nights.