The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Afterword, Acknowledgements, About the Author

Foreword | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6
Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12
Afterword, Acknowledgements, About the Author
 

The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View EverAfterword

Marvin Ward and I have continued our on-again, off-again schedule of work, putting on three shows in 2013 – one a total bomb in Lexington, Va., with a business partner who promised the world in terms of upfront money and media push, and offered nothing in the way of either; the second, a sellout crowd of more than 1,900 for a house show featuring Kevin Nash, Mick Foley and The Rock ‘n Roll Express; and then a fan meet and greet with Shawn Michaels.

Then, nothing, until I got a phone call in March 2017 asking me to help out with a charity show that Marvin was doing, a bit scaled back in terms of the names, and which did reasonably well.

The one thing I can say about Marvin is that his heart is always in the right place, even if his head rarely is.

Ricky Morton, who I adore, having gotten to know him from working out the back-and-forth with Nash back in 2011, and who I think should be heading up creative for WWE, Impact, ROH, somebody, anybody, with a weekly TV presence, finally got admitted to the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year, along with Robert Gibson.

During the acceptance speech, Ricky offered special thanks to Nash, seated in the audience with fellow Kliq members Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Sean Waltman.

Ricky doesn’t thank Nash in his WWE Hall of Fame acceptance speech without AWE booking them.

And there you go; that’s our legacy.

There are days that I wonder where I’d be now if things had worked out the way we had dreamed they would. Most likely, had things proceeded from where they were to a weekly TV show, that TV show would have gone on for a short time, then petered out.

Sorry, but that’s reality; TV is a cruel, expensive business. We would have worked hard, put more of our heart and more of our soul into the effort, and come up short.

Maybe, there’s a sliver of a chance, it would have made it, and we’d be in something resembling the existence of TNA/GFW/Impact, afloat, moving forward, but still the subject of countless insults from the Internet wrestling community, jabbing at us for poor production values or not paying somebody on time or whatever other cardinal sins they could conjure up for us.

Maybe in the course of doing the good work that we’d have been doing, Marvin or I, or Marvin and I, would have gotten a call from the folks at Impact, or even WWE, and invited to be a part of their creative teams. Which would have been an absolute blast, obviously, but then … OK, that would have been Marvin’s dream job, though I’m not all that sure he could handle it, the pressure, and the criticism from people higher up, considering how he couldn’t deal with Hank Fawcett in our AWE days.

I don’t imagine that you need to threaten to quit to Vince McMahon more than once before you’re done as far as he’s concerned.

For me, working creative in wrestling isn’t my dream job. Now, yes, I’m not an idiot, either. I’d do it, given half the chance, but it would be in line with what I’ve always said would be my dream job: being a play-by-play broadcaster for a Major League baseball team. And I wouldn’t want to do it for more than a few years, because there are other things that I want to do.

Maybe that’s my big issue, personally. At this writing, I’m 45 years old, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I’ve written a pro wrestling pay-per-view, published five books, been a color commentator for ESPN college football and baseball broadcasts for the past three years, run for political office, started and run my own media business, run three marathons – and I still have barely scratched the surface for what I want to do before it’s over.

That’s probably why I was drawn to the opportunity with AWE in the first place. Pro wrestling, at its best, is an escape from the real world. The vast majority of those watching know it’s a work, that the heel really doesn’t think Waynesboro, Va., is a town full of losers who smell like hog crap, that the face isn’t necessarily a hero, fresh off saving a kid with cancer from a burning building on his way to the gym for the main event, that the combatants aren’t really trying to kill each other with body slams, suplexes, figure four leglocks and the rest.

But for two or three hours, however long it goes on, they suspend that disbelief. They hear the smack of a hand on an opponent’s body, and … ooh. Then hear a body crash hard down on the mat, and … aah. A wrestler flies over the ropes onto an opponent on the floor, and they say out loud, Did he really just do that? The face wins the main event to cap the night at the matches, and they cheer and leave with a smile.

The real world is outside the door, but it will have to wait its turn.

For the better part of nine months, wrestling was my real world.

And I lived to tell the tale. Lucky me, on both counts.

 

Acknowledgements

Brian Gochenour has been my best friend since second grade. He was a wrestling fan long before me, and I remember having arguments with him about “that fake stuff.” Then, around seventh grade, I was at his house one afternoon, and ESPN was on in the background, and the 4 p.m. weekday hour in those days was dedicated to AWA and World Class.

I started to get into it, and then discovered Mid-Atlantic on Saturdays on WTVR, Channel 6 out of Richmond, one show at noon, the nightcap at 11:30.

Brian, I recall, liked to extoll the virtues of Brad Armstrong and Tim Horner, both very technically proficient scientific wrestlers whose style was still way, way too boring for me.

(And apparently, everybody else. Good guys that they were, Armstrong and Horner never got beyond lower-midcard status.)

If not for Brian pushing me for years to start watching that fake stuff, I don’t devote countless hours to building encyclopedic knowledge of pro wrestling personalities and storylines that eventually paid off with my brief foray into working behind the scenes with so many of the stars that we had grown up watching.

Thanks, Brian.

I also need to thank Marvin Ward, who found a kindred spirit willing to commit hours at a time to dreaming up feuds and related scenarios, most of which never got beyond the idea phase, but, hey, what the hell, right?

I wish for his sake that we had hit it bigger, either with AWE or with one of the TV companies, WWE or Impact. We put together a couple of nice proposals that we assumed were going to end up in the hands of decision-makers in Connecticut or Tennessee, and if they did, well, their loss.

I do hope for my buddy that he finds peace on a day-to-day basis. Marvin can be way up, and way, way down, almost from one day to the next. You probably know people like that, and know the frustrations of trying to help them when they’re way, way down, and don’t want to have anything to do with anybody at the moment that they most need something from somebody.

Finally, and I’m leaving a lot of people out saying finally, but I’d risk writing a second book just for the acknowledgements if I don’t cut it off at some point, let me thank my wife, Crystal.

Poor, sweet Crystal. When we first fell in love, young kids way back in 1999, she had no idea what she was in for, in myriad ways, but for the sake of this discussion, pro wrestling was a shock to her system.

As many fans have experience with, no doubt, I used to try to watch wrestling shows on the sly, afraid what my new love, a college-educated graphic designer, would think of me.

One day she caught me, and all she had to say to let me know what she was thinking was: “Wrestling? Seriously?”

From that, she ended up being intimately involved in the wrestling business for several years, providing graphic design services to AWE, then pitching in when Marvin and I went out on our own in 2013.

Her wrestling claim to fame is that she helped Goldust out of his costume, which is basically a wetsuit, skin-tight, and the kind of thing that you need help getting into and getting out of.

Oh, and it’s smelly.

Crystal was the only person backstage after Goldust was done with his match, so …

Wrestling? Seriously?

Yes, wrestling. Seriously.

We’re still married, so her tolerance level for my nonsense is Olympic-level.

 

About the Author

chris graham espnChris Graham, the editor of AugustaFreePress.com, will mark his 22nd year in the media industry in 2018. An award-winning journalist and editor, Chris has also hosted local TV news programs, a syndicated sports talk show and worked as a commentator on ESPN3 college football and baseball broadcasts.

A 1994 graduate of the University of Virginia, Chris has covered Virginia politics actively since 1997, conducting interviews with Virginia governors George Allen, Jim Gilmore, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Bob McDonnell and Terry McAuliffe, and political newsmakers including former Congressman Tom Perriello, UVA political-science professor Larry Sabato, ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl and Fox Business host Lou Dobbs.

Other notable interview subjects have included author John Grisham, ESPN TV personality Dick Vitale, sportswriter and author John Feinstein, Weather Channel anchor Stephanie Abrams and musician Bruce Hornsby.

An author of five books, Chris also co-wrote a book on the history of University of Virginia basketball, Mad About U: Four Decades of Basketball at University Hall, which was published in 2006.

Chris has covered University of Virginia sports since 1995, and is a credentialed member of the press box and press row at UVA football, basketball and baseball games, covering the ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament, the NCAA Tournament and Virginia’s run to the Sweet Sixteen at Madison Square Garden in 2014, and also covering the UVA baseball team in the ACC Baseball Championship, Regionals and Super Regionals.

From 2009-2014, Chris was the play-by-play voice of the Waynesboro Generals, a team competing in the Valley Baseball League, a premier college summer baseball league affiliated with Major League Baseball and the NCAA.

Chris is currently in his third season as a color commentator for ESPN3 broadcasts of VMI college baseball and football games, and has served as the radio play-by-play voice for VMI football for the past three seasons.

The former co-host of “ACC Nation,” a syndicated radio show that ran for four years, ending in 2007, Chris is currently a contributor to “The Mark Moses Show” on 95.9-The Fan in Melbourne, Fla.

He is also the former co-host of “Viewpoints” on WVPT, a weekly news affairs TV show that aired from 2016-2017.

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