Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Booking Out Of A Bind

Good news, I got the green light from the man who holds the rights to the MMWA footage to put together the shoot interview/DVD package. Also Dod March, MMWA play by play man, has told me he has much of the footage already that we can use to put together this collection. So now it is figuring out how to present everything, and sitting down to record a shoot interview.

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.

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