Thursday, November 21, 2013
No new update on the MMWA DVD project. I did get a few emails and facebook messages about my last post, so I wanted to follow up on that. I mentioned in the last post that at the anniversary show for the MMWA if Joe Legends team won then they would name a new owner. A few people wondered who I had in mind for that role. Was it going to be Mike Galloway, the actual in real life owner of the MMWA? The answer to that question is yes and no.
My choice for the new owner of the MMWA was The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.
There was history in this choice. When I book wrestling I follow the rule of 3M. Basically the three most important things in wrestling are Matches, Moments, and Mania.
I believe the first is pretty self explanatory. It's the very basis of wreslting. The reason everything is going on is because of the ring and the action that goes on between the ropes. At the very least, even if there is no purpose past the bell, try to put on a good match. If the wrestling sucks then nobody is going to pay to come see it again.
The second is creating a genuine moment be it Hogan slamming Andre or Piper smashing a coconut over Snuka's head. You can have an average match if the moment after the match is the true selling point. At Kalkaska if you watch AJ Styles vs. Jimmy Jacobs, it was more about the moment than the match. The two were supposed to go mess around for 6-8 minutes then Raven would hit the ring and begin the moment. The moment ends up in Jimmy vs. Raven at the end of the night.
On television this would have paid off two fold. It gave us AJ Styles, the NWA champ, on two weeks of television. It also gave us a small storyline to carry from one week to another with Jimmy and Raven. And thanks to Raven, it also gave me the seeds for a brother vs brother feud with Jimmy and his real life brother Bobby Numbers, but that's a story for another time.
The last is a generalization to fit the mantra. WrestleMania is the biggest event for the WWE. Every company from the WWE down to the smallest indy needs their "Mania". The one event that is a class above all. It gives you a destination to build towards for your stories. The MMWA's Mania was going to be the anniversary shows.
Now that you know the 3M rule, Ted DiBiase was going to be a moment.
Mike Galloway was a HUGE Ted DiBiase fan. He always wanted to find a way to get the Million Dollar Man in the MMWA. The thing was, Ted DiBiase couldn't do much. He couldn't wrestle or take bumps. He was great on the mic and he could do a meet n' greet with fans. That was it. So I decided to weave a storyline that utilized what Mr. DiBiase could do, and give Mike Galloway his memorable moment because his emotion was going to sell it.
The October event was our anniversary show in Cadillac, MI. The next event was going to be our first time in Mt. Pleasant, MI. This is the home of Central Michigan University. It probably was going to be our biggest market. We had a ton of students there that were fans and a huge base for a street team. I wanted our first event to be a big one. The Million Dollar Man was the kind of name that would do that.
After the WarGames match Joe Legend was going to celebrate with his team and then announce that the new owner of the MMWA was "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. He then would tell everyone that the new owner was going to fly in to meet all the MMWA fans at our next event in Mt. Pleasant. We then would promote the next event under the guise of "Meet the new owner" with a pre-show meet n' greet.
Before intermission Ted DiBiase was going to come to the ring to give a "State of the MMWA" address. He would then call out Mike Galloway. The two would have an interaction in the ring and Ted would name Mike the acting General Manager or whatever title worked. I believed this would have been a real special moment for Mike.
DiBiase would then call out Matt Maverick. Ted would give Mike the chance to fire Matt, which would lead to Mike telling Matt to beg for his job. In the end Mike would give Matt a chance to save his job by facing Tommy Starr later that night. If he wins then he's in. If he loses then Mike was going to fire him on the spot. He'd then send Matt to the back and we'd have an intermission where Mike and Ted take pictures together in the middle of the ring with fans.
Of course I was going to have Matt win the match against Tommy. I wanted to kickstart a good feud between the two and felt Matt needed to build back some heat after the WarGames match. I'd always felt that both Tommy and Matt would have a great feud because they both worked an old school style to their matches. They both told amazing stories in the ring.
So to those that asked, that was who would have been the owner. We would have had the ability to bring Ted DiBiase back anytime we wanted and it got Mike Galloway into the position to be the regular authority figure. Plus I thought it'd be cool to have backstage segments where Mike was on the phone with Ted DiBiase. He would have enjoyed that part of his character.
I'll keep you updated on the DVD project, so check back often for details.
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I've been jotting down notes for the shoot interview. I'm a professional talker and I know it is important to create a road map before you start jabbering on. I could talk and tell stories for hours. If I'm unscripted, and probably drinking, then I'd talk forever with all the tangents I'd go on. Somehow we'd start talking MMWA then detour into my hatred for a variety of things before taking a brief stop to wax poetically about the NFL draft and end on the MMWA. I'm pretty sure nobody wants that.
Don't worry the shoot interview won't be ten hours long. I'm aiming more for two.
As I write down notes, I figured I'd share a few things here on the blog. It'll help me weed through the thoughts. The biggest one I am tackling right now is the problem I faced when taking over the booking for the MMWA. That being the evil owner angle that had taken center stage since the first anniversary show in October of 2003.
It's maybe the most common angle in indy wrestling. A wrestler or authority figure challenges ownership for control of the company. That person is usually a bad guy. He, or she, wins the feud and the company is changed forever under their cruel rule. The large flaw that always gets overlooked is how do you resolve the situation in a believable manner. The same went for the MMWA.
Let me rewind things a bit.
I was put on the booking committee just before the anniversary show. The plans for the takeover angle had already been locked up. Talent was booked. I was brought in to help plan out the fallout. I can remember the big booking meeting we had at Jim Hall's fortress of solitude (A.k.a. MMWA Video Production Dungeon). Myself, Jim, Dod March, and MMWA owner Mike Galloway huddled together to plan out the next few shows.
We started putting together January, February, and March (which later became May). We knew that Matt Maverick and his stable, Magnificence Inc, would have control of the MMWA. We also had "Spyder" Nate Webb as champion, who was going to be in & out for the promotion with him traveling overseas to wrestle for Big Japan. We needed to get the belt off him and onto Matt quickly. That is where Shane Douglas came in.
As stated in an earlier blog, Shane Douglas was booked for the January show. At the time I thought this was a great get. Now that I'm older, I know that was far from the truth. Don't get me wrong, Shane was awesome. He did everything we asked and was great for our locker room. There was just no way he was going to draw anywhere near what his his price tag was. It was our fault for not booking for our market.
In any business you need to know your customer base. If you are running a business in a town where everyone is allergic to peanuts then you're going to go broke selling snicker bars. Snicker bars are awesome, but nobody will eat them in this fake town. Northern Michigan was the same way with Shane Douglas.
To that crowd ECW never really existed. Some people through the internet knew about ECW but it wasn't on their TV like old 1980-90's WWF was. Shane wanted over a thousand dollars plus trans & hotel to come up to Cadillac for the event. I was asked what I thought about it and at the time I was 100% behind it. That was my fault for not knowing the market. That mistake costs us huge.
For that price tag we could have booked two former WWF stars. I could have gotten Mr. Hughes to drive up from Atlanta & booked a local former WWF star like Pat Tanaka. I'd worked with Mr. Hughes in the past and his character would fit what we had in mind for Shane Douglas.
The way the angle played out was Shane wrestled MMWA champ Nate Webb for about 10 minutes before getting disqualified when he bashed Nate's head in with a chain wrapped around his fist. He then grabs the mic and talks about how he has always been about the money and the reason he was at the MMWA was because he was paid to do a job. Shane then puts on a referee shirt and announces Matt Maverick will be facing Webb right now for the title. We could have done the same with Mr. Hughes.
I'd bet, knowing what I know about Hughes & Tanaka's price tag at the time, that we still would have saved about 35% booking both former WWF stars than what we paid in total for Douglas. It's decisions like this that helped bring down the MMWA. Not only would it have been cost effective, but in the market it might have drawn better because of them both being former 90's WWF stars.
See a tangent just happened. Now back to the actual topic of this blog.
Matt had taken control of the company. We got the belt on him as it should have been. If you're the evil power hungry wrestler that just won the company you're next goal is the title. Now where would we go? He can't just keep torturing baby faces. We needed to build towards an end game. Our choice for his challenger, and MMWA hero, was Joe E. Legend.
For those that went to the bathroom during Joe's run with the WWF, he played the character Just Joe. I kid, I am forever grateful to have worked with him. He not only was great in the ring but an amazing sounding board behind the scenes. He had a mind for the business and was always looking for the best way to have angles make money.
In fact on the booking sheet for Kalkaska in the notes section I simply wrote "Joe Finish". It pissed off Matt cause he thought I was changing the finish for Joe to win or make Joe outshine him. When we sat down and I let Joe explain his idea, everyone was on board. It was the finish that was going to help us draw going forward.
We started gearing our TV to help build Joe up as the challenger and Matt look like the evil boss. He would set up obstacles and Joe would conquer them. This led to their first match at Kalkaska Karnage.
That night I made the decision to put the match on last because for 3 months our TV was all about Matt avoiding Joe. This was the first time Joe was going to get his hands on Matt for the title. That meant Joe vs. Matt was following Raven vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Petey Willams vs. AJ Styles (the first time those two had met). At the time AJ was the NWA champ and Raven was his #1 challenger in TNA. Needless to say a lot of people thought I was crazy for putting Joe & Matt on after those two matches.
Those matches were awesome. I'll go deeper into both on the shoot interview. Both had really special moments. Yet the most pleasing was Matt and Joe. Their match started and the crowd was into it. For months this had been building and we got the payoff we wanted. Every person wanted to see Joe take the strap from Matt.
Of course Matt found a way to keep it. Joe was thwarted by outside influence. Matt pinned him clean in the ring. The crowd was hot for all forty minutes from entrance to end bell. Then we had our tag champs, the Bump-n-Uglies, come out for the save post match. They backed Joe for a rematch in June. To persuade Matt to give it to him they would put their titles on the line. If Joe lost they would forfeit the belts.
This is when the promotion ended. We were too far in the red to go on and the owner was burnt out. He had a family to think about. Nobody should go to the poor house for pro wrestling. Yet I had already written the rest of this story.
During the Kalkaska show, which was supposed to be a TV taping, I began working on a story with Jimmy Shawlin. He was a great lovable goofball. He was part of Maverick's stable. So I had him be the reason his team lost the tag belts. Then I made him the reason his partner lost the Marquee belt. Finally he almost cost Matt the title in the main event. These events would have played on different weeks on TV painting Shawlin as the weak link of Team Maverick.
In June as the event started Matt was to come to the ring and announce some special guests for the main event. Jaime D would be the guest time keeper, A-1 would be the guest enforcer, Frankie the Face would be the guest ring announcer, and Jimmy Shawlin the guest referee. Each of course is a member of Matt's stable.
In the main event they would keep taking advantage of Joe as he fought against impossible odds. I had this great vision of goofy Jimmy Shawlin covering his eyes as Matt & co kept cheating. Eventually the Bump-n-Uglies would try to help but be outnumbered. This would lead to "Death Dealer" Tommy Starr coming out of the crowd.
Tommy was a crowd favorite before I got to the promotion. After Matt took over in the anniversary show, he fired Tommy in story line. Tommy would come back in June to help Joe and the Uglies. I wanted a funny scene of Shawlin pressing his face in the turn buckle as a brawl was going on so he didn't see anything only for Starr to come out and cane everyone including Maverick. Then when Shawlin peaks his head up and turns around the Uglies & Starr would have fought Jaime, A-1, and Frankie to the back leaving both Legend & Maverick laid out.
Legend would be the first up and pin Matt. Jimmy would be forced to fight counting but eventually do a really slow count. Matt would kick out at 2. I wanted Maverick to yell at him for that. Then the two would team up on Legend. Matt would get the belt and try to slam it into Legend but almost hit Shawlin. As Matt turned around after the near collision Legend would load up a superkick that Matt ducks and it hits Shawlin. Matt then rolls up Joe with a fistful of tights as senior ref Art Mendez hits the ring for a two count. Joe & Matt wrestle for a minute and Joe hits his finisher. He pins Matt as Art makes the three count.
Joe grabs the belt and leaves the ring. Matt at first would demand the belt back. He would say he is stripping Joe of the belt. In his fury he would blame Shawlin, who is finally back to his feet, for the loss. Then fire him for it.
Over the rest of the summer Matt would demand that Joe give the belt back. I wanted to do a reverse stolen belt angle. Normally it is done where the heel takes the face's belt. I wanted the face to steal the belt here and not give it back. Then have Joe do the lawyer bit that a heel would normally do that says he is legally entitled to the belt. Basically stopping Matt's power from forcing a belt stripping. They would then meet for a rematch that Joe again would win in August.
In August Tommy Starr would also beat Frankie the face for the Marquee title. That means Joe, the Uglies, and Starr would hold all the belts. This needed to be known going forward because it plays a huge roll.
All of this sends Matt off the deep end. At the September event he would announce at the start that since he can't have the belt, and he can't strip any of his champions because of fear of legal action, then nobody will have a title. He does have the power to end the MMWA. He would say this is the last MMWA show.
That brings out Joe, the Uglies, and Starr. The four men say that the fans deserve for the MMWA to go on. Joe offers to have an all or nothing match at the 2nd anniversary show in October. If Matt's team wins then he gets to keep the company and all the titles. If Joe's team wins then they get to pick the new owner of the MMWA. He then proposes a 5 on 5 WarGames match.
They've got their five and Matt could find his fifth. In fact Matt will meet Joe's fifth member tonight when they face off later. Of course Joe's fifth man was going to be Jimmy Shawlin, who was fired months earlier. The two would face off in a match that ends in an all out brawl between the groups. Where the 5 faces chase off the four heels.
This is where Matt says he has found his fifth member. He will keep his company and get his gold even if he has to make a deal with the devil, and that is exactly what he did. Next month their fifth member will be "The Taskmaster" Kevin Sullivan.
I'd worked with Kevin in the past a lot. We had a good relationship at the time and I was already working on getting him up for shows before our May event. He would have been great in the WarGames environment and it was the kind of match where it would highlight his strengths and hide his weaknesses. Plus his team could lose without him taking the loss.
I would have done the Matt vs. Jimmy match on the September card before intermission so we could go into the break hot. I'd then hand out flyers as people left after the event with Kevin Sullivan on the event flyer promoting WarGames.
That was how I had it booked to get out this bind. I don't know if it would have worked, but I would have liked to see it.
It will be stories like this that will be on the shoot interview. I'll keep people posted on the progress. Keep checking back for more details.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
One of the things mentioned was a territory style touring schedule to help keep the houses up for the promotion. As I stated, Northern MI towns probably aren't big enough to support a monthly wrestling promotion. They are big enough to support an annual event. The fact that the MMWA would come to a city only once a year would add a bigger feel to the promotion. Add that with the television show, and we might have looked/seemed like a bigger deal than we actually were.
I have been digging through my old stuff lately. I keep a tackle box full of old notebooks, pictures, and misc crap. This is kind of what sparked this whole trip down memory lane. In those notes I found what I was going to pitch for a tour schedule to begin in late September of 2004. For those that wanted to see a glimpse into my vision for the MMWA future here is that schedule. (Note: Just in case you're confused, these are all cities in Michigan)
Late September: Big Rapids
November: Mt. Pleasant
Early May: Traverse City
Late May: Petoskey*
June: Sault Ste Marie*
August: Escanaba (UP State Fair)*
Early September: Marquette*
*"MMWA Sunshine Slam Tour"
There is what I was hoping to do from Late September 2004 to Early September 2005.
I front loaded the schedule with three big cities for the MMWA. Big Rapids and Mt. Pleasant would have been great towns because of the college atmosphere, but also because we got huge responses from people in that area when it came to our TV. Mt. Pleasant probably would have been a huge draw for us because we had a great base for a street team there. Cadillac in October was must to celebrate our anniversary shows.
I put some of the small towns in the middle because colder months are easier to bring people into a events. You're not competing with outdoor activities and most high school sports are during the week. Manistee really showed how strong those cities could be with a little effort on our part to get the word out.
I decided to close the schedule with Alpena and Traverse City because those are two big anchor towns for Northern MI. I believe each would benefit from a year of TV building towards the events. Alpena was a market I thought could have been a corner stone for the MMWA.
The Sunshine Slam tour was just a marketing tool to make our trip into the UP and the far north of the LP sound special. Really I picked those times because it would have been easier for talent to travel and those areas have festivals & fairs around that time to help bring people into the area. We could tape some TV and use these towns to help build new stars going into year two of the tour schedule.
I've had more talks with the MMWA folks who own the footage. Things seem to be moving forward nicely. I'll let everyone know more as I know more. This project is looking up as we speak.
Keep checking back for more details.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
(Jimmy Jacobs, MMWA Play by Play man Dod March, and Jimmy Shawlin)
It has been a long time since I pulled out the digital quill and ink. I guess there are two reasons for this.
One, pro wrestling has sucked lately. Oh how bad has it sucked. I don't even watch regularly. When I do tune in I find myself tuning out minutes later. It just sucks. No need to mince words. Sucks pretty much covers it all.
That goes for both WWE and TNA. I don't get RoH in my television area, and don't have the attention span to watch on the internet without surfing over to other sites minutes later. This means the world of televised wrestling as a whole is just a big ball of suck.
The other reason I haven't written is in June my mom lost her battle with cancer. I guess it is hard to be creative when your heart isn't into it. I have put a lot on hold the past few months as I took time to grieve. I think now it is time to be gettin' on with life. I would say my creative fire finally got it's pilot light ignited again.
I don't know if this happens for everyone, but during this time I took a look back at life. The good, the bad, and the shitty. One of the times I looked back on was my days in pro wrestling. Talk about a time full of accomplishments and regrets. My time with the MMWA was full of both.
I've been thinking about this time a lot, and I think I want to do a detailed shoot interview going over this time. Indy wrestling fans seem to enjoy seeing the behind the scenes stuff even if it isn't WWE. It'll be good for my soul to tell these tales.
I am currently working with the people who own the footage for the MMWA because I don't want to just release a shoot interview of me on a couch talking wrestling for two hours. I want to put together a package that includes the final MMWA show that features Raven, AJ Styles, Jimmy Jacobs, Petey Williams, Joe Legend, and many more. I also want to put together a best of DVD to go with it that shows all the great talent and matches the promotion had like Chris Hero, Chris Sabin, Monty Brown, Jerry Lynn, etc.
I hope this happens but right now it is too early in the process to give any updates. I literally just facebooked the people involved last week with this simple message, "Hey, I've got an idea". There is of course money involved and the fact that most of the people had checked out of the world of wrestling years ago.
Fingers crossed kids.
May 1st, 2014 will be the ten year anniversary of the last show that the MMWA ran. It originally was going to be a TV taping for MMWA Rampage, but ended up being the swan song show that we sold as a stand alone DVD called Kalkaska Karnage.
I was the head booker at the time of this event. It was my second show where I was leading things for the MMWA creative team. I was 23 and looking to make my mark on the scene with this promotion. Jim Hall had handed the reigns over to me after the January show and I thought I could put out all the fires that had popped up.
The thing is I should have been putting out these fires in August, not when I took over in January.
I'll cover all of this in the DVD set. I want to tell the story from the start. From when I walked in the door. Go from being put on the booking team to heading it up to the plans I had post May 1st. There is a lot of behind the scenes stuff that never made the light of day. A lot of blame to go around for everyone involved, myself included.
To me there were three things that could have changed the outcome of the MMWA. I'll give you a taste of what will be on the DVD with these.
1. Should Have Taken The Money
MMWA Rampage was on Fox 33. That station covered all of Northern MI from Mt. Pleasant to the bridge. A lot of people don't know that we were offered two options when it came to MMWA Rampage. The first option was that we got to sell our own ads. The second was that the television station was going to offer us $150 per episode and they would handle ads. It's a basic syndication deal.
Of course you can make more money if you're selling the ads, but there is a lot more work involved. The owner at the time had sales experience and thought he could make a mint on ad space. Turns out it was like pulling teeth. Instead, if you do the math on how much money we made in ads vs. money that could have been made on a 13 episode syndication run, we ended up losing money.
The thing is we still could have sold advertising on the TV while taking the $150 per episode, just not in the traditional sense. We had a great segment with Mt. Dew called the "Mt. Dew Slam Of The Week". Also there was an interview area that could have been sponsored. These types of ads wouldn't have violated our deal and would have given us the chance to make more cash on our TV deal.
Had this been the way we went I believe MMWA could have survived. It would have freed up the owner from the pressure of chasing advertisers, brought in a steady cash flow, and established a successful model to pitch to other networks to expand the brand. We did our own video in house from taping to editing. It was at a professional level by 2003 standards.
2. Book A Different Building
In January the MMWA ran a building in Cadillac that the WWE runs when it does house shows. I should have stood up against this. Some people wanted to be big fish in small ponds and decided running a local armory or high school gym wasn't good enough. They needed to have the MMWA name up on the same marquee as the WWE. In the end it probably cost the company everything.
I don't know what the rent was for the arena. I wasn't privy to financials at that time. I mean it is the same exact arena the WWE runs. There were cheaper venues by far. If these venues would have been used then not only would it have saved the promotion money, but probably wouldn't have put the MMWA in a deep debt that it couldn't escape.
On that same show we booked Shane Douglas as the headliner. I gave this the thumbs up. Knowing what I know now this was a waste of money. Not to say Shane wasn't great to have, but Northern MI is an old school area. We would have been better served paying half the price of Shane for an old WWF name like Greg Valentine or Big Boss Man (who passed suddenly 9 months later).
The same building problem goes for the final show in Kalkaska. We ran this huge ice arena and used maybe 1/6 of the space. It could hold thousands of people, and we didn't need that many. The thing about this show is we had a local business man helping us out. He was connected to everyone. We had access to a smaller gym that would have been dirt cheap to rent. Had we run this gym, and not this massive arena, it would have made a four figure difference in the final tally. As the head booker that is on me for not drawing a line in the sand on the arena choice. I should have known it would put us behind the 8 ball.
Put both of those building decisions together and maybe the MMWA is here today. Add it in with 600 dollars in syndication money each event would have been worth (4 shows tape per event), and maybe the MMWA is actually making money monthly. Again I don't know for sure.
3. The Territories Aren't Dead
In wrestling most people run one town once a month. In Northern MI this couldn't happen. Most people up north aren't shelling out the money to take their family to wrestling each month. I grew up in that kind of area. When something rolls around once a year then you come out cause it's a unique event. Think about local carnivals coming in the spring/summer, would they make money if they came to the same town every month? Probably not. Wrestling in Northern Michigan is the same way.
When I took over booking, I was pushing for a new territory model to the MMWA. Thanks to the TV coverage on Fox 33 we had a huge area of potential markets. I was putting together a touring schedule that would have taken the MMWA to at least 14 different cities during the calendar year including the large four in the TV area: Cadillac, Traverse City, Mt. Pleasant, and Big Rapids.
We could have popped each town then let it simmer for the year while watching our TV and then come back again a year later to pop them again. Rinse, repeat.
I was even working on booking Rick Steiner for a loop run with us. Most promotions couldn't bring in big names for 4-5 straight shows. The allure of the name usually wears off in a market after the first appearance. Yet with the touring territory model it would have been his first appearance at each show. It also would have allowed for our TV to have the presence of Rick Steiner as an MMWA regular. I wanted him to feud with Conrad Kennedy III (most know him as Krimson now).
I believed this model of touring would have kept attendance numbers up but the challenge would have been getting a building in each city, selling sponsorships, and getting the word out.
If we could have put all three together: TV money, booking proper buildings, and a touring schedule. Then I believe that the MMWA would have stayed in business. This didn't happen because of a lot of people, but it was also because of me. I let these mistakes happen. I'm as much to blame as anyone else.
It is things like this and other stories that I want to tell on the DVD. I want to talk about how we got Raven for Kalkaska on a sweet deal. I'm talking bargain basement cheap.
I'll let you know more as it builds. I hope this project comes together.