Beaver County Times – December 3, 2000
By Brian Knavish, Times correspondent
Last spring, Steel City Wrestling closed its doors forever.
Steel City Wrestling was regarded by many to be the best independent wrestling promotion in western Pennsylvania.
SCW has existed in various incarnations since the early 1990s, but it wasn’t until January of 1998 that it became a full-time, highly regarded wrestling promotion.
McKeesport funeral director Norm Connors, 28, has been a Pittsburgh area wrestler/manager/promoter for almost a decade. He formed Steel City Wrestling in the mid 1990s, but then he only ran shows occasionally.
During 1996 and 1997, SCW was on the back burner as Connors spent most of his wrestling time in Pro Wrestling Xpress, another local promotion that would later become his primary rival.
At a show at Carlynton High School in April of 1996, Connors met then-LaRoche College student Andrew Lazarchik, a wrestling fan who was attempting to break into the wrestling business as a manager/commentator.
“We got to talking,” Lazarchik recalls. “I told him that I really want to get into this, I wanted to do anything to get involved.”
Connors and Lazarchik hit it off and immediately became good friends. The two began working together regularly as Lazarchik became a color commentator for PWX’s late-night cable television show.
But as 1997 drew to a close, personality conflicts began brewing within PWX. Lazarchik and Connors had similar beliefs and feelings about what a professional wrestling product should be and thought they could put on a better product in their own promotion.
On Jan. 18, 1998, Lazarchik and Connors left PWX to resurrect Steel City Wrestling and start putting on shows regularly.
To say it was a success would be an understatement.
For much of the next three years, Lazarchik and Connors built SCW into an independent wrestling promotion regarded as one of the best on the East Coast by many within the business.
Connors was the owner and president. He booked the wrestlers and wrote the majority of the storylines. Lazarchik, a 24-year-old graphics designer from Irwin, handled the advertising and assisted in drawing up the shows.
Both men were also performers. Connors was “Notorious Norm,” the promotion’s evil owner, Lazarchik was “Hot $hot” Drew Lazario, a heel (bad guy) manager.
Current national stars Stevie Richards, The Blue Meanie, Christian York, Joey Mathews and Julio Dinero first made names for themselves in Steel City.
SCW often booked big name stars to appear at its shows such as Mick Foley, Raven, King Kong Bundy, Reckless Youth and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and mixed them in with local icons such as T. Rantula, Dennis Gregory, and Lord Zoltan.
Everything was peachy and profitable for Connors and Lazarchik. But there was a factor that would disrupt the SCW locomotive.
At that time, Connors was in mortuary school. Since he was still in school, his evenings were free for wrestling.
But last summer, Connors graduated mortuary school and became a full-time, practicing funeral director. In that business, Connors obviously would not know more than a day or so ahead of time if he would have a given evening off. As a result, he could not plan wrestling shows.
In an event filled with multiple plot-twists and plenty of action, SCW held its “last ever show” last summer.
At the end of the show, an almost teary eyed Connors gave a shoot (out of character) interview in the center of the ring. He was surrounded by his entire roster (good guys and bad guys alike), and thanked each of them, the fans, and, of course, Lazarchik.
For the next year, Lazarchik continued to perform as a manager, primarily with Dennis Gregory, in wrestling shows across the East Coast.
But on Oct. 25 of this year, there was a reunion of sorts. For the first time, Lazarchik booked his own show.
Technically it was a Far North Wrestling show, but, in reality, it was a Steel City show. FNW is another local promotion owned and operated by Munhall’s T. Rantula, a friend of Lazarchik’s.
It’s T’s promotion and T’s ring,” Lazarchik said, explaining that T. Rantula had a promoters license from the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission. “But I booked the show. It was basically a Steel City show with Steel City wrestlers.”
Lazarchik gathered many of the old SCW mainstays and put on an impressive show at Blazer’s Family Fun Center in Irwin. Three of the East Coast’s most highly regarded performers – Reckless Youth, Mike Quackenbush and Don Montoya – wrestled in the main event. Area wrestling fans breathed a sigh of relief as the top-notch SCW product was back.
Lazarchik isn’t done. He will again put on a FNW show in Irwin on Dec. 13. The show will again be loaded with former SCW mainstays and some of the East Coast’s top performers.
In the main event, Reckless Youth, who spent much of the past year in the WWF, will face Adam Flash.
For tickets and more information, call (724) 864-5888