The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Chapter 8

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

It’s on

Kevin Nash, we didn’t know at the time, will do anything if his price is met, and his price wasn’t out of reach on this one, not with Hank fronting the money.

What we laid out to Kevin was flying him to Virginia to shoot a series of interviews for video to help sell the match, then a house show in September to get video of a staged confrontation with the Rock ‘n Rolls, then the payoff in October at the big house show.

Kevin was good, as long as the checks cleared.

Next we had to sell Ricky. We assumed the hard part would be getting Nash on board, but it took some selling to get Ricky to agree.

“You’re not the ones who have to get in the ring with that seven-foot bastard. I am,” was his reasoning, worrying that Nash would shoot on him for his years of spouting off about how Nash had orchestrated his departure from WCW.

Finally, a little more money, plus the idea that a match with Kevin Nash could do wonders for his bookings thereafter, convinced Ricky to come on board.

And so, there we had it. Kevin Nash and The Rock ‘n Roll Express agreeing in principle for Oct. 13 in Virginia.

Where things started to get a little off the rails, in retrospect, was in the next decision, in the form of who Nash’s tag-team partner would be.

Marvin raised his hand, saying he’d always wanted to come out of retirement, and now, here was his best chance to have it be meaningful.

Which was fine in terms of it being an idea, but at this stage, Marvin Ward was nowhere near the 225-pound chiseled high-flyer that he’d been in the 1990s. He was closer to 325, and not a good 325, like an NFL nose tackle 325.

He was just … 325, no cardio, no muscle mass or definition, and by the time we had all this together, we’re talking being six months out from the show.

Marvin insisted he could do it, got Kevin and Ricky (also speaking for Robert, we presumed) to sign off on it, and so, it was on.

My criticisms here are all in retrospect, I need to emphasize. At the time, I had no reason to believe that Marvin wouldn’t be able to will himself back into wrestling shape, that it’s hard enough to pull together a huge house card without having to also lose 100 pounds to be able to perform in its main event.

By this point, I wasn’t just the web designer helping with marketing. I was a member of the two-main creative team bringing this show to life, and with the money being laid out for Nash and the Rock ‘n Rolls, we needed it to come off big-time to even just make the investment in the show budget back.

What we decided on was a plan using social media to build a storyline like you see built on weekly episodic TV wrestling all the time. Which is to say, we didn’t want to just announce, Kevin Nash and Marvin Ward vs. The Rock ‘n Roll Express will be our main event on Oct. 13. We wanted to use YouTube, Facebook and our AWE website to logically build toward everybody coming together to make the main event seem organic.

We started with something very subtle: an interview for the website with me (in a suit and tie) interviewing Marvin about the fact that AWE was planning a show for Oct. 15. He gushed about how significant it was that AWE was growing the way it was, and then we pivoted to a discussion of some names that he might be reaching out to, to flesh out the card.

This led to a discussion between the two of us about legendary singles wrestlers, then legendary tag teams, who could be good fits.

The plant was for me to bring up how much I was a fan of The Rock ‘n Roll Express growing up, which was totally true, but Marvin’s response was to have him say, eh, sure, they were good, but were they really all that good, or was it maybe the case that The Rock ‘n Roll Express was “overrated”?

He did his job, the video went out, roughly 30 minutes of us talking about the Night of Legends, maybe a minute of that, tops, talking about The Rock ‘n Roll Express, but the seeds were planted.

A week or so later, we had booked a day with Ricky to drive up from Bristol to spend with us filming the next stage in our storyline walkup to the announcement of the Night of Legends main event. It was our homage to the memorable Four Horsemen parking lot attack on Dusty Rhodes in 1985, where the newly-formed Horsemen kayfabe broke Rhodes’ arm to instigate what became a long-running feud.

Our version had Ricky, wearing a mask, with a group of masked henchmen, attacking Marvin in the parking lot at Augusta Expo, slamming his head into a car, finishing with Ricky punting Marvin in the head, while taunting him about being “overrated.”

The idea was to make it obvious – for example, we shot the video starting inside the car with Ricky, as the Horsemen attack video had started as the guys drove up to Dusty; in our case, Ricky already wearing the mask, but talking to “brother,” implying that the driver was Robert Gibson (it wasn’t, but we wanted you to think it was), and then making sure he talked loud enough and with enough Southern twang to make it clear that this was Ricky Morton kicking the shit out of Marvin Ward.

The shoot was … interesting. One, the car that Ricky slammed Marvin’s head into: mine. (Actually, my wife’s.) Two, Ricky wanted to make sure that we got the angles we needed, so he insisted that we do multiple takes, including on the boot stomps, which may have connected a bit more than he’d intended.

We found this out when we celebrated the day with lunch at the local Wendy’s afterward, when Marvin sat staring at his food for a couple of minutes, clearly concussed, before being told that his food was getting cold.

There was one more element that we needed to get before we could go live with the video on YouTube, Facebook and the web. Marvin arranged with a local volunteer fire company to have them load him on a backboard and place him in an ambulance in exchange for a nice donation from AWE, and to make it look more real, I arranged for a movie makeup artist that I had just written about for the print magazine that Augusta Free Press was putting out to make him look completely and utterly beat down.

It took about an hour, but the makeup made Marvin look like a guy who had just had his face used as a battering ram on a car before getting curb-stomped, and then some.

The makeup artist, Marvin, a young wrestler from an AWE training camp and I drove out to the volunteer fire department, shot pictures and video, then got back in the car for the drive back to the office, about a 15-minute commute, and of course a funny thing happened on the way to the forum: in the form of a State Police roadblock.

Now, yes, picture this. Four people in a car, me driving, Marvin, looking like a hostage that the other three were getting ready to finish whatever we were doing to him before burying him in a shallow grave, and two people in the backseat, and the State Police, checking IDs.

Yeah, we’re all going to get arrested, except for Marvin here, I remember saying, more than once, as we awaited our fate.

Like, sure, we were going to be able to explain this all before the State Police ordered us out of the car at gunpoint.

Dude asked for my driver’s license, looked at it for maybe a second, then waved us on, at which point Marvin was suitably offended.

“If y’all were trying to kill me, that guy wasn’t going to stop it,” he said, and yes, to this day, I don’t feel good as a taxpayer that the guy didn’t look up, though, yes, I’m also quite damn glad he didn’t.

The plan from here was to throw the video up online, use the photos and video that we shot at the volunteer fire department, and, um, I guess hope that people would react.

We had no idea how people would react, or even if they would react. AWE had a Facebook page at this point with maybe 1,000 fans, a website with about 100 unique visitors a day, a YouTube channel that barely registered, but these were the means that we had at our disposal.

Looking back on it, it’s awfully rich that we expended all this time and effort getting Kevin and Ricky on board, getting the videos and photos shot and edited, without having any plan for disseminating them other than, you know, throw it out there and see what happens.

We were all surprised, amazed, utterly shocked, at the initial reaction. The video went live on a weekday afternoon, and the response on Facebook was immediate. Some so totally bought into what we were selling that they were calling the local hospital to try to find out more on the condition of Marvin. We found that out when we read the comments on the video on Facebook throwing shade at us because they’d called, and the hospital had no record of a Marvin Ward being a patient at that time.

Not having anticipated that level of reaction, I quickly went into spin mode, answering that Marvin had asked that the hospital protect his privacy, and we went live with the photos of him being put into the ambulance a little sooner than we’d expected.

Other than that bit of damage control, we had a clear hit on our hands, and a wave to ride as far as we could.

Turns out we’d ride it all the way to seeing our house show turn into a live TV pay-per-view.

 
Continue reading. Go to Chapter 9.

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