The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Chapter 11

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

The Main Event

We’d started with Kevin Nash and Marvin Ward against The Rock ‘n Roll Express, but when it became clear that Marvin wasn’t working himself into shape to be able to perform in-ring, we wrote him out of the match with a storyline injury at the hands of the Rock ‘n Rolls suffered at a house show a month out from the pay-per-view.

That gave us the opening to add “Diamond” Dallas Page to the tag main event, though we never intended to use DDP in the ring. Page hadn’t been on TV in a while, dating back to his brief run with TNA back in 2005, and I remember being shocked when he walked into the dressing room.

I had heard that he had gotten big into this new form of yoga, but, damn, he looked like a living, breathing scarecrow, maybe 200 pounds hanging on his 6’5” frame.

He’d made clear that what he was willing to do for his paycheck was pretty limited, basically a promo and a Diamond Cutter, which was fine for what we needed.

After the beatdown at the house show that took Marvin out of the tag match, we announced via social media that he was going to be replaced by a mystery partner, the idea being to use the mystery to maybe boost pay-per-view buys by letting folks speculate.

Could it be … Scott Hall? Maybe Hulk Hogan? DDP was a logical choice as well.

I still go back and forth with myself on the wisdom of going the mystery partner route, and then having to pay DDP a nice chunk of change to walk down to the ring, stand on the apron, then get taken out of the match to make it a one-on-one with Nash and Morton.

It didn’t work, clearly, in the sense that the mystery didn’t bump pay-per-view buys, and the move earned us a fair show of post-show critics, and I get that.

And then there’s the matter of … had we gone with a tag match, and given Nash an actual working tag partner, it would’ve been a better match. The Rock ‘n Rolls are a few years older than Nash and DDP, but both guys can still work. Nash couldn’t work when he was at the top of the business, and that was before all the issues with his knees and quads.

He looked the part, to his credit, and was in awesome shape for us for the pay-per-view, not because he was doing our show, but because he was heading back to WWE and also making the “Magic Mike” movie, but despite looking the part, he was like a knight weighed down by his armor, barely able to do more than punch, unconvincingly, and do his powerbomb finish.

In retrospect, maybe we should have gone with Sean Waltman, who we actually did work into a rematch of sorts for a 2013 house show, which had a main event of Nash and Waltman against the Rock ‘n Rolls. That one was a couple of weeks after Waltman had torn his anus in a match, if you remember that awful-sounding episode involving a botched Bronco Buster that nearly killed Waltman when he didn’t realize right away the extent of the injury, and almost bled out.

We had told Waltman and Nash the week of that 2013 show that we could work out something else, either make the match a singles with Nash and Morton, maybe find Nash another partner. Nash insisted that Waltman would work the match, leaving us with two guys on a tag team that wouldn’t be able to work, but the live crowd wasn’t displeased, because they got to see the nWo and The Rock ‘n Roll Express in a match.

Afterward, Nash and Waltman, apparently bored with the lack of nightlife in Waynesboro, went on a Twitter rampage against us, claiming that we hadn’t paid them, and then, after I emailed a copy of the canceled check to wrestling news websites that had picked up on the tweets and posted story items about how we’d stiffed them, and demanded immediate apologies, the guys actually backed down, sorta, kinda.

Nash still sent me dozens of emails over the next week threatening to sue me, then hinting at doing what he could to get his buddy, Shawn Michaels, with whom we’d had an autograph signing scheduled for later in the year, to back out on that gig.

It’s been four years, but I’ve still got the emails, in case I ever need them.

Thinking back to 2011, then, it’s probably a good thing that we hadn’t gone with Nash and Walton against the Rock ‘n Rolls at Night of Legends, though what we ended up with, Nash vs. Morton in a singles match, ended up being a trainwreck.

But that’s because we let the inmates run the asylum, and the blame there lies squarely on us.

Dating way back to April, when we hatched the idea for Nash and Morton in a feud, the idea was to build to a finish that would at the least get people talking. And then when it became apparent that the house show that we’d started with was going to become a pay-per-view, with a TV show perhaps coming later on, down the road, the planned finish was going to help us get pay-per-view buys on the second and subsequent runs, and give us something to launch the new brand.

Without any further adieu, here it is, the match that we had laid out.

Remember that this had started with Marvin calling out Ricky by saying in an interview that The Rock ‘n Roll Express had been overrated in their heyday, Ricky responding by beating down Marvin in a parking lot, then Marvin upping the stakes by bringing in Kevin Nash to help him fight his battle.

The tag match that had been planned gets scrapped because The Rock ‘n Roll Express injured Marvin at a house show that conveniently had cameras on hand to record the incident for later broadcast.

Marvin shows up at the pay-per-view with his shoulder in a sling, announces to the live crowd and worldwide TV audience that the tag match is a singles match between Nash and Morton.

All of that actually happened as scripted. Well, OK, there were some modifications, after it became clear that Marvin wasn’t going to be able to work the match, but in essence, once we accounted for that, back in the summer, things worked out the way we wanted them to, and honestly, him not actually being able to work made what we had in store next much better, on paper.

The match between Nash and Morton was set up to be a massive beatdown, basically a squash match, and that part played out the way we’d schemed it. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t sell Ricky Morton, all 5’8” and 210 past-his-prime pounds of him, getting in much more than a shot or two against a 7’1”, 265-chiseled-pounds Kevin Nash, and make it seem believable.

But where we had things twisting was in reminding the fans that they were still watching professional wrestling, not a street fight or MMA.

There would be a ref bump, conveniently, and then a run-in from Gibson, distracting Nash, and allowing Morton to come at Nash from behind with a low blow.

Marvin would make his way to the ring, and you’re assuming that he’s intervening on behalf of his tag partner.

Except … he grabs the mic, cuts a quick promo on Nash, who tries to reason with him, and gets powder in his eyes for his trouble.

Morton comes from behind with another low blow, Marvin takes the sling off to reveal that he hadn’t been injured in the attack at the house show after all, and then, after quickly appointing himself to serve as referee, counts the 1-2-3 on Nash, before celebrating with the Rock ‘n Rolls.

But that’s not where we start the graphics and begin the fade to black. As Marvin and the Rock ‘n Rolls leave the ring, Nash, recovering from the low blows, grabs a mic and starts laying into Marvin for the doublecross, then proceeds to start tearing up stuff, in a clear homage to the Montreal Screwjob.

We were also paying homage to the wrestling tradition that the guy leaving town, and Nash was leaving town, heading to WWE full-time on Monday, after his brief stints interfering in matches at the past two WWE pay-per-views, loses on his way out the door.

We were helping him save face by having him lose to two low blows and a screwjob from his would-be tag partner, and letting him tear the place up on the way out the door.

For us, thinking ahead to the launch of our own weekly TV, hey, you’d want to watch a company that could think up these kinds of storylines and have them play out, right?

If we could get them to play out.

This is where you need to remember that wrestling is basically sports combat theater, written and staged like Broadway, with one caveat: that the actors in a Broadway production aren’t known for going into business for themselves, whereas in wrestling, well …

It’s a live show. You’ve gone over finishes before the lights go on, and then when the first bell rings, it’s one emergency after another for three hours until it’s over.

For us on this night, it started with Marvin’s attention being elsewhere with his mother in the hospital, then the odd early finish to the Funk-Dreamer match, and trying to account for that, finally getting caught up with the injury angle in the Finlay-Silva match, and the addition of the match that had been slated for the pre-show right before the main event.

Somewhere between the talent meeting and the main event, Morton and Nash decided to go into business for themselves, and rewrote the finish.

And when it happened, when Nash grabbed the mic during the match and started cutting a promo on Morton, talking about letting bygones be bygones, the two guys who had written and nurtured the story for six months found out the same time everybody else did.

I remember looking at Marvin thinking that he had authorized this without me knowing, and wondering what the hell. I also remember him looking at me realizing that he knew what I was thinking, and him shrugging his shoulders, basically gesturing, This isn’t on me.

On Broadway, an actor goes rogue, they can pull the curtain, cue some loud music, turn the lights on, tell the audience that we’re in another intermission, and you can correct for things to some degree, and of course, that actor is never going to work on Broadway again, so congrats on that.

If wrestlers go rogue on a live TV show, being put on by a company that nobody has ever heard of, that doesn’t yet have a weekly TV deal,  meaning you might not ever hear of them again, what is the recourse?

They’d already been paid, and you’re not going to take guys to court over that amount of money.

Nash was already heading to WWE, so why would he care if an indy was mad at him over rewriting a finish to a match? Though, karma, you might remember that Nash’s run in WWE got cut short, culminating just two months later with a loss to Triple H in a sledgehammer match.

And then, Ricky, dear, sweet Ricky. I suspect he went along just because he could see the writing on the wall, that AWE probably wasn’t going anywhere, despite all of our greatest hopes and dreams, and his eyes were squarely on future bookings, basically, where he could continue to wrangle $500 a night to work high school gyms on Fridays and Saturdays.

So, Nash wanted to cut a promo mid-match, then powerbomb him before leaving the ring to lose by countout? To Ricky, that’s, hey, I get a win over Kevin Nash in the main event of a live TV pay-per-view. Maybe I can start charging $750 a night.

I’d like to say this was the beginning of the end of AWE, because that’s what I was thinking before Nash had even made his way back through the curtain at Gorilla.

But in all honesty, it wasn’t the beginning of the end; it was the end of the end.

Nine months earlier, the company didn’t even have a website or Facebook page. We built an interesting worked-shoot storyline that drew literally more than 125,000 people to follow our every word throughout the spring and summer, and convince the folks at In Demand that we were worth three hours on a Saturday night.

That kind of growth is what every new business aspires to. Overnight success.

Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

 
Continue reading. Go to Chapter 12.

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