The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Chapter 12

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

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The company was coming apart at the seams at this stage of the game. It had been for at least a couple of months, as I had hinted at earlier, when I wrote about how it seemed my main job with AWE had become that of peacemaker between Hank and Marvin, with my responsibilities in creative, PR and marketing taking a backseat role, just as we tried to keep the company moving forward to the night of the pay-per-view.

In the hours after the show, Marvin told me about a meeting with Hank and a business associate in which he had been read the riot act over his various and sundry personal failings that had led to the disaster that we had all just been a part of.

It was so bad that Marvin said had he had a gun, he would have shot everybody in the room and not cared about the consequences.

I didn’t find out about this meeting until some time later. I was still focused in the immediate aftermath on the show, because In Demand had scheduled several replays, which meant we still had opportunities to get people to buy the show.

It was my job to put together the press releases to send out to the wrestling news outlets to tout a successful show, and also hint at a future for AWE, as unlikely as that might have seemed at the time.

It was also up to me to take the footage from the pay-per-view to make a DVD of the show to have ready to sell basically the moment that In Demand was done with its replays, and no, I’d never put together a DVD before, and no, again, it’s not as easy as it might sound to put together a DVD, particularly if you’ve never done it before.

So for me, I was consumed with Night of Legends for pretty much the next four, five weeks, cranking out the press releases, managing the Facebook and YouTube channels, making sure they had video snippets and other items to sell people both on the In Demand replays and the coming DVD.

And fielding phone calls, texts and social media messages from folks wondering about how the pay-per-view had done in terms of sales, which to this day is information that I’ve not been made privy to.

For months afterward, whenever I would communicate with Hank, about the DVD or other related wrapping-up items, I’d ask if the sales figures had come in yet, and either get no response, or get talked around.

It hit me after a while that the numbers had come in, and they weren’t good, and then went from thinking that to, damn, they must have been horrible.

One thing I didn’t do, until starting this book project a few months ago, was look at any online reviews of the show. I felt as the guy responsible for PR that I needed to take the most positive stance possible on how the show had done, and yes, I assumed the reviews wouldn’t be good.

It was my thinking then, and I think it has been validated since reading the reviews, all these years later, that if I’d read negative reviews, my PR spin would end up just being a series of arguments with the reviewers, basically explaining how the show wasn’t the crapfest that they were telling you they’d watched, and instead was actually a pretty damn good wrestling show that was deserving of your attention, and your dollars.

You might have noticed over the course of these pages how my position on that has evolved. Chapter 1 is me arguing with the reviewers who panned the show, six years after the fact. The wounds are still fresh in that respect. We poured our heart and soul into that show, and that company, and it bothers me to this day that things turned out the way they did, and that people who have never lifted a finger to do anything original or creative on their own were able to snipe at us like they had even a single clue as to how any business works, much less the pro wrestling business.

Diving back through my memories of that night, and telling the story of the nine months that preceded us getting there through the lens of that night, made me realize that the end had been foretold almost from the beginning.

Simply, we got too big, too fast. Awesome Wrestling Entertainment was three people – Hank Fawcett and Marvin Ward, then Chris Graham. Hank had the money and the vague idea that he wanted to build a pro wrestling brand from the thin air. Marvin had the contacts in the business, and the desire to avenge himself from having his in-ring career cut short by making a go at becoming a big-time promoter.

I’m not sure why I was there, honestly, except to say that, right place, right time, for myself and for Hank and Marvin. My job seemed to be to take care of problems, starting with the website that had been months in the making, and I got online by the weekend, to building the brand online and on social media, to the point where the wrestling world began to take notice, to then keeping Hank and Marvin on the same page, or at least in the quadrant of the galaxy, when their personalities clashed and things seemed headed toward disaster even before we flipped the switch to get the TV show live and on the air.

It ended up being too much for three people to bring off, and saying that, I’m not discounting the guys and gals who worked in ring for AWE, the people who rooted hard for our success, those who volunteered their time to take tickets at shows, work concession stands, disseminate posters and flyers and rack cards.

There were a lot of people wishing us success who probably, and rightly, felt that when AWE finally did hit the big-time, getting on TV with a weekly show, and the rest, that they’d have at least a little bit of ownership in it when it did happen.

Tons of folks wanted what we’d launched to become something, and that’s humbling, to be a part of something bigger than yourself, in that respect.

We just didn’t have the resources to make it happen, money- or acumen-wise. I think Hank would have needed at least a couple of additional Hanks committing serious dollars to give us the financial backing we would have needed to make the pay-per-view a success. I mean, seriously, we were trying to sell a pay-per-view to fans on In Demand without having a TV show to build viewer interest in the weeks leading up to the show. We had 125,000 fans on Facebook, a nice number, but to break even, it would take a fifth of them clicking buy the night of Oct. 13, 2011.

Marvin, for all of his contacts, and top-notch creative instincts, should never be allowed anywhere near a corporate spreadsheet, much less a checkbook with a company logo. We negotiated ourselves into several corners both with talent and with vendors that ended up costing us time and energy in addition to money trying to get out of.

One other failing for my buddy: he could never separate business from personal. When Hank would question a talent or business decision, he’d threaten to quit, without fail. Which is no way to run a business, and he was effectively the day-to-day manager. I’ve written already about how much time I spent in the weeks leading up to the show trying to talk him down off that ledge.

Not only did it take up an inordinate amount of my time, but the zap to morale was just as taxing. And others who were clued in to his near-daily resignations were similarly zapped. I dreaded waking up in the morning, it got so bad, because I had so much invested, mentally, financially and otherwise, and it seemed to be on the verge of collapse, all because a guy couldn’t keep his own head on straight.

My main failing in terms of AWE was not feeling I was in a position to be more forceful in dealing with Hank and with Marvin about what I saw happening. I guess I felt that we all just needed to focus on the task at hand, and I had my eyes on the prize as much as anybody, and didn’t want anything to take us off the path toward this becoming a full-time entity sometime after the pay-per-view.

It’s a lesson that I’ve ingrained in myself now, though. Nothing you want to do is going to happen if it’s not done the right way from the outset. You can fool yourself into thinking that the corners being cut will get smoothed over when you get where you’re aiming to be, but in reality, they’re going to just become bigger obstacles to have to overcome before you get anywhere.

It was sometime after the first of the year in 2012 when I last had meaningful contact with Hank Fawcett. The DVD didn’t sell well in the aftermath of the show, and then one day I read online that Night of Legends was debuting on Netflix.

No PR, nothing, just, there it is.

I didn’t hear from Marvin after attending the funeral for his mother, who passed a few days after the show, for maybe a year, when he approached me with an idea for starting a new promotion, to do things on our own, no Hank, nobody else telling us what to do, all gung ho about getting a new start.

That would become a pattern: being all in for a few months, then not communicating for long stretches, to then getting a jolt from above in the form of another blast of breathless fervor about how we can really do it right this time, if we play our cards right.

This, of course, is what every wrestling promoter tells himself, dating back to the carnie days.

We think we’re working the crowds, into thinking that what they’re watching is real, when we’re really working ourselves, into thinking that what we’re doing to ourselves to make the magic happen isn’t.

 
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