The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Chapter 7

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

Worked shoot?

Before I tell you that story, I’ve got a few other stories to tell you, because as with everything else that involves the wrestling business, the backstory is much more interesting than what you end up seeing in the ring.

So for me, this story has to begin with me meeting Marvin Ward in 2011. And actually, we’d met several years prior. Going back to 2002, Marvin had begun putting on a charity fundraiser show that he called Night of the Superstars, at Waynesboro High School in Waynesboro, Va. I had just started a news website, Augusta Free Press, after leaving my job at a weekly paper in Charlottesville that was about to go out of business, hoping against hope that somehow this web news thing might work out for me, and thinking with nearly 100 percent certainty that it wouldn’t.

(It did, of course. With lots of luck in addition to hard work involved.)

I caught wind of that 2002 charity show, and hooked up with Marvin to get a couple of interviews for the website to help promote the show, and also, for me, chances to interview pro wrestlers, assuming people would want to read whatever I wrote afterward.

He put on a few more Nights of the Superstars, but by 2011, honestly, Marvin Ward was out of sight, out of mind, until he reached out to me as he was promoting another show at Waynesboro High School.

This was for a new outfit that he was fronting, Awesome Wrestling Entertainment. I interviewed Marvin about AWE, the plans for it to become a regional promotion, maybe moving into TV at some point down the road, and then afterward, he asked me if I knew anybody in the web-design business, because he was having issues getting a new AWE website finished.

Augusta Free Press was still in business, nine years after its launch, in large part because we figured out that running a news website by itself was never going to make money, but using it to sell professional services like graphic design, web design and video production could make decent money, at the least.

So, yes, in fact, I did know somebody who could help in the web-design sphere, and it happened that this guy was also a huge wrestling fan.

Funny thing is, the interview slot with Marvin was from 2-3 p.m. the afternoon that we were meeting, and at 3 I had another meeting slated with a local business developer who had reached out to us about a new website that he wanted to get going.

My wife, Crystal, and I never let her live this down, but she actually interrupted Marvin and I as we were discussing his website issue to tell me that I needed to get down the hall to the next meeting, because the developer and a team of people he had engaged to be part of the project were waiting on me.

Needless to say, that project never came to fruition, but Marvin and AWE had their new website by that weekend, at which point Marvin asked me if I could help promote several upcoming AWE shows.

I didn’t know then, but do know, that Marvin Ward is an enigma wrapped up in a riddle slathered in maple syrup. Over the course of the next six years, we would call, text and email each other several times a day for long stretches bouncing promotional and booking ideas off each other, then not speak for months. I even had to sue Marvin once over $5,000 that he borrowed and didn’t repay, and we actually got to the court date before he apologized, asked me to drop the case and agreed to repay the money, which he did, $200 at a time, but he repaid it.

After that, we got back together enough to promote what might have been an even bigger show than the Night of Legends pay-per-view, a house show in 2013 that had Kevin Nash, Sean Waltman, The Rock ‘n Roll Express and Mick Foley headlining, then a separate show featuring Shawn Michaels.

Then, didn’t hear from him again for nearly three years, before he engaged me to help with another fundraiser show in 2017, which was a sellout, and was to launch into a show in the fall that we laid out in great detail.

Before Marvin once again cut off communication, to the point of unfriending me on Facebook, for no reason that I can discern, other than that I think the guy might battle some, let’s call them demons, not of the satanic nature, but definitely of a mental-health nature.

Back in 2011, I could have known none of this. All I knew then was that he was launching this new promotion, had a money guy in California who seemed intent on having it go big-time, and was offering me a chance to be a part of it all.

I suspect that maybe part of Marvin’s issues with demons could have to do with how close he may have been to something bigger happening with his involvement in wrestling. His first match as a pro came when he was still in high school, and talked his way onto a WCW house show down the road in Roanoke when a jobber no-showed, and Marvin, fresh out of a couple of sessions at a local training school, convinced the booker that he could fill in.

He went on to stints as a jobber in WCW and Smoky Mountain, even made it to the annual Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 500 list, and seemed to be on his way.

An indy booking back home would do him in. A show at a local dragstrip featured him as a top draw, against a local talent who had seriously overstated his experience in the ring.

When Marvin called a move where he would miss an elbow from the top rope, the opponent panicked and didn’t move.

In mid-flight, Marvin saw that he was headed straight for the opponent, and calculated that he wouldn’t be able to stop his momentum enough to not seriously injure the man lying face-up on the canvas.

So, he diverted, and landed awkwardly, and hard, on his shoulder, leading to a separation that he didn’t know then would end his career, just as he was about to take the next step up the ladder.

It would take him a few years to make his return to the business, with that first Night of the Superstars show in 2002, which had him trading in on his connections from WCW and Smoky Mountain to put together cards as a promoter.

He ended up connecting with Hank Fawcett through another connection in 2010, and the two laid out plans for an aggressive push in 2011 with a series of house shows culminating in an October house show at the 2,500-capacity Augusta Expo that both hoped would lead to bigger and better bookings in 2012 and beyond.

This is when I stumbled into the company, or the company stumbled into me. They were already working on something bigger, and after getting the website situation fixed, in short order, literally a couple of days, I got together with Marvin, and he told me more about what they were planning to do.

Realizing that I was more than just a web guy with some experience in marketing, and was all that plus a lifelong wrestling fan, Marvin started engaging me in the planning for the big fall house show, to get my thoughts on where things should go.

I remember when we first started planning the show, the working main event was going to be something along the lines of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. The Rock ‘n Roll Express, all guys Marvin had worked with previously, both as a young wrestler and then later as an indy promoter.

He’d already booked the venue for Oct. 15, so he threw the date out there to the guys, and I can’t remember who it was, but either Lawler or Rhodes couldn’t make the date work, so we were back to square one, with the other plus the Rock ‘n Rolls theoretically available, but who else?

I was renting a house in the downtown district of Waynesboro at the time that had a suite of offices downstairs, and a residential component upstairs with a big living room that we’d outfitted with a larger-than-life big-screen TV.

As we struggled with how to book this Oct. 15 house show, we started zeroing in on the Rock ‘n Rolls, because we had them committed, and they were perfect for our working title, Night of Legends. Who out there would be a good opponent for Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson that could also draw at the box office?

We hooked up a laptop to my big-screen – this is before any of us had heard of Roku – and scoured YouTube for clips of matches that we could maybe borrow from.

One video stood out. The title: “Ricky Morton Hates Kevin Nash.” It wasn’t a match, but rather a shoot interview with Ricky Morton, one of those type things where a guy gives a wrestler a few hundred dollars, if that much, in exchange for a poorly produced interview in which the wrestler answers questions about behind-the-scenes maneuverings, the allure to potential viewers being, maybe he’ll say something bad about wrestlers x, y, z, et cetera.

Well, in this one, Ricky had a lot to say about Kevin Nash, mainly about how basically Ricky and Robert lost their jobs in WCW when Nash, Scott Hall and Hulk Hogan got together with Eric Bischoff as bookers at the height of the nWo frenzy and ran off the old school WCW guys.

Whether Nash and Co. were directly responsible for guys like Morton and Gibson losing their jobs, there was a good bit of housecleaning done as WCW shifted its attention from its old school past to a literal new world order present.

To the best of our recollections, Morton and Nash had never crossed paths in the ring, and there was a clear beef to be exploited for box-office draw purposes – Morton beefing with Nash over his WCW career coming to an end, Nash ostensibly having a beef of his own in seeing a guy who was probably on the down side of his career anyway blaming him for the inevitable.

The next question for us didn’t need to be asked. Marvin had gotten to know Kevin well from their time as fellow WCW jobbers.

No guarantees, but he could at least make the ask.

 
Continue reading. Go to Chapter 8.