On this day in 1996, 17-year-old Eric Kulas was allowed to wrestle in an Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) match at the Woodland Ballroom in Revere, Massachusetts. The match led to assault charges against Jerome Young, aka New Jack, and is one of the most disgusting moments in wrestling history.
When Axl Rotten was unable to compete in tag team match with D-Von Dudley against The Gangstas (New Jack and Mustafa Saed), Kulas convinced ECW owner Paul Heyman to let him fill in for Rotten. Kulas was 5’10” and 350 pounds and told Heyman he was 23 and was trained by the legendary Killer Kowalski. Heyman claimed that Kulas’ father also vouched for him. Regardless, his father let him wrestle.
ECW was never for the faint of heart, with its hard-core violence and heavy bleeding, and no place for a 17-year-old. As the character of Mass Transit, a Ralph Kramden-like bus drive, Kulas was basically brought in to be a punching bag like all wrestlers are in their early matches. Young stated after being pummeled by crutches and a toaster, Kulas asked to be cut. Young obliged with a scalpel. Kulas freaked out and so did his father, who repeatedly screamed, “Ring the fucking bell. He’s 17!” Following the match, medics rushed into the ring. The match was a house-match and was not televised, but a fan with a camcorder captured the match and it s below.
Young was charged with assault, but when the jury learned of the Kulas family’s duplicity in putting him in the ring, he was acquitted. Sadly, Kulas died in 2002 from complications from gastric bypass surgery.
Below the video of the match are interviews from Young and other ECW wrestlers recalling the event and showing how brutal a sport it actually is (Warning: They contain graphic language and violence).