The Mass Transit Incident was an infamous event in professional wrestling that occurred on November 23, 1996 in Revere, Massachusetts.
An aspiring 350-pound (158.7 kg) wrestler named Eric Kulas, who used the pseudonym "Mass Transit", convinced Extreme Championship Wrestling president and booker Paul Heyman to allow him to fill in for Axl Rotten, who was scheduled to work a tag match with D-Von Dudley against The Gangstas, New Jack and Mustapha Saed at a house (non-televised) show in the city.
During the match, D-Von and Mustapha brawled outside of the ring while New Jack and Kulas fought inside the ring. The match was very one-sided with Mustapha easily isolating D-Von outside while New Jack severely beat Kulas with foreign objects such as chairs and toasters. The end saw New Jack bladed Kulas deeply. It sparked a series of incidents that saw New Jack get arrested and ECW's impending first pay-per-view show threatened with cancellation.
Authorities later determined that Kulas had lied to Paul Heyman about his age and experience. Kulas was 17 years of age, not 19 as he had said, and he had absolutely no formal training as a professional wrestler. Kulas' father, Stephen, even vouched for his son.
Three years after the incident, Jerome "New Jack" Young was tried on charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and later sued by the Kulas family. After hearing about Eric Kulas' request to New Jack to make him "get color" (bleed), a jury acquitted Young of all charges in the criminal trial and he was later declared not liable in the civil trial. But, the incident also had more immediate consequences: ECW's planned first pay-per-view, Barely Legal, was canceled by pay-per-view provider IN DEMAND. Paul Heyman, by his own admission in The Rise and Fall of ECW documentary, begged and pleaded with IN DEMAND and was finally able to convince the company that they had been misled and were placed back on the schedule some time later.
Performers who testified at Jerome Young's trial stated that Eric Kulas was extremely arrogant and demanding backstage prior to the match, and, when told he'd have to bleed as part of the match, Kulas had asked Young to do it since he had never done it. They testified that Stephen Kulas began berating The Gangstas and screamed, "He's only 17!" and "Take it easy on him, he's just a kid!" when they isolated his son from D-Von Dudley and double-teamed him. When it came time to actually blade Kulas, Young claimed that Kulas flinched during the process, causing the exacto knife blade embedded in a piece of wood he used to cut deeper than he planned. Two arteries in Kulas' forehead were severed. The wound took fifty stitches to close. Young later stated, in Jeremy Borash's unauthorized documentary, Forever Hardcore, that it was a surgeon's scalpel.
Video footage showed New Jack asking Kulas: "You alright?" This prompted some to consider his actions moments later as part of the show and not representative of his true feelings. After the blading, the Gangstas proceeded to work Kulas over even more, prompting Stephen Kulas to scream, "Ring the fucking bell, he's 17!"
As medics rushed into the ring to aid Kulas, New Jack grabbed the house microphone and exclaimed, "McMahon, Bischoff, look at this motherfucker! As far as I'm concerned, that fat piece of shit can bleed to fucking death, because I don't give a fuck". New Jack later stated in interviews that after he found out about Kulas' duplicity, he didn't have any remorse for what he had done.
The match was not televised as it was a house show. But a fan did record the event on a camcorder and, thanks to the Internet, the video spread among the wrestling community.
Eric Kulas died on May 12, 2002 at the age of 22 due to complications from gastric bypass surgery.
In the WWE book, "The Rise and Fall of ECW", Paul Heyman states that Kulas's dubious credentials as a student of Killer Kowalski were endorsed by a then-known midget wrestler who was with Kulas when he and his father approached the staff about getting Eric in.
The book also states that as the medic crew carried him out, he was escorted by Tommy Dreamer, who held Kulas's hand. Passing by the audience, Kulas began giving them the finger in an attempt to continue on "being the bad guy".
- WrestlingGoneWrong.com - The Mass Transit Incident
- http://gumgod.com/derek_shoot_newjack3.htm - 2004 interview with wrestler New Jack
- http://www.wrestlingencyclopedia.com/transit.html - Internet Wrestling Encyclopedia entry on Mass Transit