Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Greatest Promotion That Never Happened

(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.

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