The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Chapter 10

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

Money mark

I haven’t seen Hank Fawcett since the night of the pay-per-view, technically the early-morning hours the day after the pay-per-view, when he met my wife and I to give us a really big check to catch up on what he’d owed us for our work.

Marvin, if he’s reading this, will hate me for saying this, but I always liked Hank. Easy for me to say, right? Hank didn’t do well by Marvin, low-balling him on what he paid him for his work, and talking him down the night of the pay-per-view for putting the company in an untenable position with the many logistical issues that he thought Marvin was supposed to have taken care of, and didn’t.

None of that involved me. Hank paid me what he owed me, and he gave me a chance to get on what turned into a nearly year-long ride near the top of the wrestling business. As far as life experiences go, this is one that ends up in my obituary, so, thanks due.

From what I’ve been able to glean, Hank was a mark, the derisive term that those in the business use to refer to fans, who are willing suckers for the staged entertainment they’re told is a legitimate athletics competition. I think mark better suits Hank than even smart mark, because his knowledge of wrestling both as a cultural touchstone and as a business seemed limited to me.

What Hank brought to the table was money, which is why Marvin continually referred to Hank as the “money mark behind AWE.” The money, from what I was told, by Marvin and Hank himself, wasn’t his, but rather an inheritance, money that he had hoped to turn into big money a few different ways.

Hank told me that before wrestling, he had tried financing a movie, which hadn’t worked out. With the wrestling, he was also pitching a reality show, on the behind-the-scenes to building a wrestling company. And after the wrestling venture flamed out, he kept his hand in the reality show cookie jar, filming a couple of pilots that I was able track down on YouTube.

Not being critical there at all. You just read my bio a few pages ago. I have almost literally tried everything, from print journalism to TV and radio to politics, and done well at most of them.

I admire people who aren’t afraid to try things, and aren’t afraid to fail at things.

That said, this effort with AWE was destined to fail, once Hank decided that the house show that Marvin and I had been building with Facebook and YouTube needed to be a live pay-per-view TV event.

Even going the iPPV route, basically taping a live show and then making it available as a pay-per-view on tape delay, made more sense than the live show, at least because you wouldn’t need a truck and a satellite hookup with an iPPV. You wouldn’t even need the live on-site announce crew; you could just dub it later in a studio, as the footage was being pieced together in an edit bay.

An iPPV costs about a fourth or less what it costs to put on a live pay-per-view, but the potential return is also much less, in part because the dirt sheets have already spilled what happened in the form of spoilers, in part because, admit it, there’s a trainwreck appeal to watching a live fight show. With live wrestling, do guys botch spots? Does somebody grab a live mic and say something they weren’t authorized to say?

That was something we were writing in with our finish to the main event. More on that a little later.

When it’s on tape delay, eh, it’s already happened, and sanitized. Hank didn’t want that, and being the guy with the money, it was his call, obviously.

I got the sense that it was nowhere near life-and-death for Hank, as it was, in a manner of speaking, for Marvin, whose in-ring career had flamed out due to injury, and was looking at AWE as his chance to make up for lost time.

I wouldn’t want to suggest that Hank wasn’t invested in the success of AWE, because he was as much as anybody, certainly money-wise. But being a money guy, he was careful not to put all of his eggs in one basket. He’d already failed at financing a movie, and if wrestling failed, he’d move on to something else.

The internal dynamic was akin to tiptoeing through a minefield, and I was in the middle of the two warring factions. Marvin derided Hank as being too Hollywood, not at all knowledgeable about the wrestling business, or business in general, while Hank had clear contempt for Marvin, who attended important business meetings in gym shorts and T-shirts hanging together by the thread and sometimes felt comfortable enough in formal surroundings to go without shoes, a point of contention also brought up to me by Nash later on.

I don’t want to try to position myself now, years later, as a sort of glue keeping these guys connected together, but as I went through my notes and emails from the era, there was an awful lot of politicking going on with me reaching out to Hank and reaching out to Marvin to keep everybody on the same page, or at the least in the same library.

This, on top of managing the egos of alpha males like Kevin Nash, Ricky Morton, Terry Funk. I’m reminding myself right now, right this second, why I wasn’t all that sad when it all came to its inevitable end.

It was, in a word, exhausting. I don’t know how many times Marvin quit in the weeks leading up to the pay-per-view, and how many times Hank called or emailed me to threaten to fire Marvin over some or the other transgression.

One thing I don’t know, and doubt that I ever will know, is what the source of the friction was between them, because there’s no way that it was what it appeared, just related to the pressure of trying to pull off a big event.

For Hank, who was introduced to Marvin after he reached out to Earl Hebner, the former top WWE referee who after retirement dabbled in promoting, maybe it was a feeling that he had gotten sold on a business partner who wasn’t so much a businessman, because Marvin is not a good businessman, as he is a deft wrestling storyteller who did the business stuff because he had to in order to be able to have the fun with creative.

For Marvin, I think his frustration was having been so close to making it big as an in-ring performer back in the 1990s, then having that cut short by a stupid mistake in a match with a green rookie, only to have a shot at making it big again as a promoter in a company that was on the verge of going big-time, and realizing that the guy writing the checks wasn’t who he thought he was, or able to write the checks that he said he could.

Again, me, I’m just Malcolm in the Middle. Remember that I said I’d worked in politics for a few years before this opportunity fell at me out of the sky. Both experiences, running my own city council campaign, then running a local party committee, ingrained in me the importance of just moving the ball downfield, even if you don’t end up scoring the touchdown on the drive.

On my city council campaign, there was no pleasing everybody, but there was money to raise, there were positions to take on the issues of the day, endorsements to seek, doors to knock on. With the party committee, and in my case, specifically, it was the local Democratic Party committee, my first year as the head honcho being 2008, the year of the first Obama presidential campaign.

Meaning, damn, we had volunteers coming out of the woodwork, but I had to find things for them to do, and of course, even though they were all Democrats, they didn’t all like each other, because some of them were conservative Democrats, since, yes, those types still exist, while others were hardcore liberals, and then the younger liberals wanted to be thought of as progressives, because that was different somehow.

It was my job in both scenarios to try to keep everybody happy and keep things moving forward. I even made that my city council campaign slogan: Moving Waynesboro Forward.

I could have adapted the slogan for AWE. Anything and everything we could do to keep Moving Awesome Wrestling Entertainment Forward, we needed to do.

 
Continue reading. Go to Chapter 11.

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