The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Chapter 1

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 Ever

A Night That Will Live in Infamy

I’d had no idea how I was part of something “infamous” until I consulted Wikipedia for information on a pro wrestler named Jamin Olivencia for a piece I was writing for my online news website, AugustaFreePress.com.

Toward the end of the Wikipedia entry, it is reported that Jamin “appeared on the infamous Awesome Wrestling Entertainment Night of Legends event on October 15, 2011 defeating Sonjay Dutt.”

Cue spit-take. The “infamous” Night of Legends?

News to me, six years later.

Full disclosure: I’d avoided the reviews in the aftermath of the show, because, yes, things had not gone as planned. For starters, the ref mistakenly counting out a fall on Terry Funk seven minutes into his street fight with Tommy Dreamer when the match was supposed to go 20, throwing off the timing of the rest of the show.

And then there was the main event, which Kevin Nash rewrote on the fly into one of the more nonsensical conclusions in televised pro wrestling history.

And no, I’m not forgetting about how Lita and Baby Doll ended up on the pre-show because we were told by the TV producer that we wouldn’t have enough time for them on the main show, which ended a half-hour early because, as it turned out, and as we had been saying all along, we had more than enough time, not even accounting for the ref screwup in the Funk-Dreamer match.

Or how we had to improvise an injury angle in our match with Fit Finlay and Alex Silva to stretch what we had left, again, with what happened with Funk-Dreamer, and what the producer decided against our advice in the production meeting morning of, and even then it ended a half-hour early.

Yeah, yikes.

Being part of the two-man creative team, along with my sometimes-friend, sometimes-adversary Marvin Ward, a former wrestler-turned-promoter, that had built the show literally from the ground up, waking up and going to bed every night for six months trying to get this thing to come to life, it was beyond frustrating seeing things turn out the way they did.

But our focus in the immediate aftermath wasn’t on the critics. There was, ostensibly, still a company to run, for starters.

The talk behind the scenes, initiated by the money folks in California, was that the pay-per-view was going to springboard AWE into a regular TV series. At least that was the goal, and no, it’s not hindsight talking when I say that it defies logic that we put on a live, In Demand pay-per-view without already having a regular TV series to help sell it.

We had: a Facebook page. With around 125,000 fans. Seriously. That was it.

In addition to creative, it was my job to feed the Facebook page with regular content to keep the base happy and, ideally, push growth in the numbers, to give us a fighting chance to get enough pay-per-view buys to prove viability as a TV product.

To this day, I don’t know what the buyrate was, and yes, I get asked that question all the time.

Also just to get this out there: the fact that I was never made privy to the numbers absolutely does have to speak volumes about how poorly the show had to have done.

But that’s hindsight talking. In the days and then first few weeks after the show, we kept our hopes high. OK, sure, the show had its issues, but what live pro wrestling show doesn’t have issues? Not totally dismissing whatever the critics had to say, but at least nobody got hurt in a botched spot, the graphics guys didn’t spell anybody’s name wrong, the broadcast team did its job selling the matches as we’d scripted them.

Right?

The worst thing you could say about the show, if you ask me, was that it was a decent-on-paper indy house show that for some reason somebody decided deserved to be broadcast as a live pay-per-view.

Funny thing about that: if that would have been your hot take, I’d have agreed with you, because it was a decent-on-paper house show that for no good reason I can think of ended up being broadcast as a live pay-per-view.

That said, even six years later, I was hesitant to get the Google machine to spit out results for “awe night of legends review,” because, I mean, come on, Wikipedia has the show being “infamous.”

Oh, well. Time to get my feelings hurt.

“It’s definitely not a good show or even a passable show, but there are far worse shows out there,” was the opinion on KB’s Wrestling Reviews. “This is much more forgettable than terrible, which makes it less entertaining. It’s not worth seeing or anything, and this isn’t going to be remembered in any distant time in the future.”

“It wasn’t enjoyable in a car crash kind of way. It was more like a tedious fender bender,” Leonard Hayhurst wrote at 411Mania. “It was alright for an indy show, but not for a pay-per-view. I would put all the matches around a star and half to two stars. The main event was just kind of weird and didn’t seem to really resolve everything. The Finlay and Silva match was way too long for what it was. For those expecting Heroes of Wrestling, it wasn’t that bad, but in that way was boring and not that much fun.”

“There were a ton of name talent(s) on this show, with a couple of guys I’ve never seen before mixed in, but the talent wasn’t the real story of this show; it was the booking. Some of the matchups were very odd choices, and the finishes of most of the matches were even odder. They drew a good size crowd, who was fairly responsive, but I doubt by the end of the night many of them went home happy,” Lance Storm (yes, that Lance Storm) wrote on his blog, Storm Wrestling.

Those reviews, incidentally, are as good as it’s going to get for us.

“Yes, this is bullcrap. To dig into my (thankfully) short-lived turd rating system, it’s 5 turds and 2 side helpings of apathy,” offered up Erick Von Erich on DaWrestlingSite.com. “The apathy being the Saturn and Dutt matches. Yet, this is about par-for-the-course for these types of shows. Is this worse than any other North American start-up or indy promotion? Can’t say that it is. Dig up some old talent to get the publicity, then sprinkle in the younger and lesser-known guys. Having ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan on the marquee will sell more tickets than having Sonjay Dutt up there. Just a lackluster show, top-to-bottom. My curiosity led me to check this out, but it was quite a chore to sit through this, and I hope to never see any part of it again.”

“Man alive, I’m livid,” opined Caliber Winfield, at Rantsylvania. “That show as without a doubt the lamest, most pathetic, most amateurish bullshit I’ve ever seen. I’ve been reviewing WCW from 2000 for almost a year now, and any one of those shows blows this away by a thousand miles. This was beyond insulting. The fact that people paid to see this show should be charge enough to have this company shut down for good.”

“I’m a complete glutton for punishment. That or I’m a complete idiot. There can be no other reason for having sat down to watch this abomination of a pay-per-view,” Patrick Scattergood wrote at Curiosity of a Social Misfit. “I can’t even call it a wrestling pay-per-view because I’m not even sure if you can call what’s on offer here wrestling. This has seriously got to be one of the worst wrestling shows that I have ever seen, and I have seen a hell of a lot of awful shows. I think it’s going to be a long time until I find one as bad as this.”

I’d been hearing for years that we’d been savaged by reviewers on Netflix – not sure how it happened, but the DVD ended up on Netflix.

Savaged might not be the right word.

“I’ve been a professional wrestling fan my entire life. I’ve watched shows in barns, backyards, used car lots, little league baseball fields and everywhere else you can imagine. This is the worst show I’ve ever seen.”

“This is the worst wrestling event I have ever seen. They can’t wrestle indy style, they can’t wrestle old school, and they can’t wrestle like the Fed. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop them from trying all of the above. You’ll get a better show from your local guys for a $5 ticket or for free on Monday nights on TV.”

“This should have been named The Washed Up Wrestlers PPV. There was so much ring rust flying around, I’m surprised the ring stayed together.”

“This was the biggest pile I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve seen wrestling at its worst.”

“Matches were boring, confusing, and otherwise just terrible. The sound quality of the interviews kept deteriorating throughout the entire thing. It was just bad.”

“This was one of the silliest wrestling pay-per-views of all time. I truly feel bad for anybody that paid to see it, at the arena or home on TV. The AWE is truly a farce of a promotion. WWE and TNA have nothing to worry about.”

“I would rather sit through a two and a half hour movie of Mean Gene crapping in a bath tub than watch this again.”

Not sure what Mean Gene did to deserve that one.

The Netflix takes weren’t all bad.

“This was an embarrassment. What’s sad is, I’m behind this idea. I want to see a return to traditional wrestling rather than this PG-era soap-opera crap we see today. Unfortunately, AWE is not the organization to take us there. They have a long, long ways to go and probably should have waited before doing this embarrassment of a PPV. Because now, any credibility they would have eventually had is all out the window.”

I’m actually counting this one, on the grading curve, as a decent review because, take the word “embarrassment” out, the analysis is close to spot on.

We should have waited. We, Marvin and I, specifically, wanted to wait.

The decision to plow ahead was above our pay grade, unfortunately.

The only actual good review: “OK, yes, this is a high-dollar independent show. No debate from me there, but it’s not a bad production. If you’re a casual wrestling fan, and the WWE is the only version of the product that you consider good, you may as well pass this up. But if you are a genuine wrestling fan, and you can get past the fact that they don’t have the budget of a WWE, or TNA, for that matter, then it’s a good view. The matches are pretty good, they tell a good story, and they try to introduce some new talent to you along the way. Isn’t that what wrestling has been all about? Give it a try.”

So, this last guy here isn’t the one responsible for the “infamous” tag on Wikipedia, at least.

You can tell that I’m still not over that. “Infamous.” Interesting word choice. I found six detailed reviews using the Googler, none of which were positive, sure, but we’re not talking about guys writing on websites that, let’s be blunt here, more than a handful of people actually reads.

The harshest of the website reviews, from Winfield, at Rantsylvania, was the only one to elicit even a single comment from readers, and much of the back-and-forth there was the writer and the editor of the site arguing something unrelated amongst themselves.

Those six detailed reviews, plus 26 mini-reviews on Netflix, add up to “infamous.”

OK, so admittedly, I feel like an idiot for avoiding diving headfirst into the reviews for all this time. Marvin had told me a couple of years back that he’d looked at the reviews on Netflix,  and that ‘they were bad, man, real bad,” and I just decided, you know, so be it.

But the more times I read them, and I tend to read and re-read things, just as a sort of personal tic, trying to let things sink in, the more I came to an unexpected realization.

Yeah, things didn’t go the way we expected them to go. No, we hadn’t wanted to do the pay-per-view in the first place. And no, I don’t like seeing people crapping all over something I put a lot of time and mental energy into any more than anybody else does.

But when you get down to it, there’s one thing these reviewers can’t say that I can say: that I’m on a very short list of people who have written and produced an actual live pro wrestling pay-per-view.

Want to know how it all happened?

 
Continue reading. Go to Chapter 2.