The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever: Chapter 9

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 AuthorThe Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever

 

Go big, or go home

We had already laid out a plan for where we’d wanted things to go from where we were. We’d shoot some videos with a back-and-forth between Marvin and Ricky, then end with the insertion of Nash into the feud.

The interesting bit with the sympathy being expressed online for Marvin after the attack gave us some extra juice to play this out a little longer. The attack video went up in early May, and we decided to try to ride that story out into the middle of June, roughly four months out from the house show, to give us more time to build the story, and interest, and still leave us plenty of time to start selling tickets.

The first response video with Marvin had him with another quick sit-down with the movie makeup artist to give him a big-league black eye. He sobbed through that interview about how embarrassed he was to have been beaten down, and how sad he was that Ricky Morton, whom he had considered a mentor and life-long friend, dating back to his days as a wrestler in WCW and Smoky Mountain, would resort to such tactics.

Ricky’s videos took on a taunting tone, basically slapping Marvin on the wrists for his carelessness in the remark from the earlier video interview with me in which he had called The Rock ‘n Roll Express overrated, and challenging anyone else out there who thought the same thing to dare to do it to his face.

As the back-and-forth played out, Marvin started to get his feet under him, feeling increasingly emboldened to stand up to Ricky, who took offense at the sniping and finally challenged Marvin to a tag match against the Rock ‘n Rolls, assuming he could find a partner.

Hank flew Nash in for a day of interviews. I was working with a college summer baseball league as a radio play-by-play guy, and we had a game that night, but otherwise the day was clear.

The first video was at Augusta Expo. I was working the camera, and literally didn’t see Nash until the moment he appeared on camera in our first and only take on the scene, which had Marvin accepting Ricky’s challenge, then walking dramatically to the door of the SUV where Kevin was sitting, and opening the door.

I’d say the video worked. To date, it has generated more than 16,000 views on YouTube. We filmed seven additional videos that day, basically writing the script for the back-and-forth between Nash and Morton on the fly.

The important thing to both was that it come across as real. As Kevin kept saying that day, Ricky Morton had been talking trash on him for 15 years, so what would make Kevin Nash finally respond after all this time had passed?

The ultimate answer was NSFW. Nash told us that the only thing he could think of that would make him want to get Ricky Morton into a ring would be if Ricky would say on video that the only reason Nash was made the world champ in WWE was because he was sucking Vince McMahon’s dick.

“He says that, and it’s on,” Nash said.

Marvin got Ricky on the phone to get his input. It was a quick conversation, but Marvin nodded in the affirmative, and we had our angle.

Early the next week, we had Ricky in for a series of video shoots to get his responses to Nash lined up. When we got to the one where he had to say the line about Nash, the WWE title and McMahon, Ricky didn’t seem so sure.

“That’s easy for you to say to just say it. Y’all don’t have to get in the ring with that seven-foot sumbitch,” he said.

With the videos in the hopper, we planned a schedule for rolling them out, basically following the timeline that you’d expect if you were using what we had on a weekly TV show like “Raw” or “Smackdown.”

It was hard to be as patient as we needed to be, because we literally had 15 videos queued up and ready to go, and we all knew where the story was going, but just had to wait to see it play out, and how fans would respond.

More shock, more awe, was how I’d characterize our reaction to how the fans started to eat up what we were serving. The Facebook page started to grow a few hundred fans a day, then a thousand a day, and some days we added 5,000 new fans to the page.

I remember getting excited after building the page back in February when we hit 300 fans. We soon passed 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, 50,000, and there was no end in sight, seemingly.

Keep in mind that this was at a time in wrestling, if you think back to 2011, when CM Punk was throwing out his first Pipe Bomb promo, taking fans behind the curtain for a glimpse at how TV shows and pay-per-views were put together behind the scenes.

We were putting our stories together for what turned into the Nash-Morton feud back in the spring, so the timing was interesting that WWE was moving in the same direction that we were. Marvin and I thought of it to ourselves as bringing a sense of reality back to wrestling.

On paper, Morton, and by extension Robert Gibson, were the heels in our storyline, because it was Ricky who got it going with the parking-lot attack of Marvin. But, then, that means Nash, who in the storyline accepted as fact that he had gotten Morton fired from WCW, was one of the faces, alongside Ward, yet another promoter who had no business being anywhere near anything going on a ring inserting himself into a story as an active competitor.

We ran the risk of being too cute by half, but the fans, judging by the response to the videos on Facebook and YouTube, were eating it up, and actually, we found out as the story was playing out online that the boys were buying what we were selling as well.

This, we discovered, that day we had Ricky over to my office for a video shoot, and Bobby Eaton expressed surprise when Marvin answered his phone.

Ricky said he was getting questions from guys in locker rooms every weekend about what was really going down. Most assumed Ricky was going to shoot on Nash when the time came for the match, the size differential be damned, but Ricky was smarter than that. He assumed that the match was going to make him money for at least the next year, and that was before we all found out about the show becoming a pay-per-view TV event.

Ricky wasn’t bent on revenge, though he sold that he was so well in the videos. He was thinking about making himself more valuable to promoters, and increasing his $500 booking fee.

As much as he might have really wanted to get one good, clean shot in on Nash, Ricky had his eyes on the prize.

Marvin did, too. I don’t think his eyes were on the same prize. He wasn’t thinking about making an in-ring comeback beyond the one match, though he hadn’t thought through the mechanics of the match very well, because if he was thinking Nash was going to carry him in a tag match with them as faces, no, sorry. Marvin was going to be the Ricky Morton in that one, and Nash was going to get the hot tag and be the Robert Gibson.

Which meant Marvin needed to get himself in shape, and fast, but it was clear from the outset that wasn’t going to happen, and anyway, his focus was on showing Nash his acumen in terms of booking and creative, not so much to simply impress a wrestling legend as to impress the wrestling legend so that the wrestling legend could tell his wrestling legend friends, particularly the one whose name rhymes with Triple H, about this guy in Virginia who should be working in creative in WWE.

The dirty little secret that Marvin and I both held from everybody around us was that we were pretty sure all along that the AWE thing wasn’t going to work out in the end. Yes, we told everybody, the boys, friends, family, our wives, and sometimes ourselves, that it was, and we allowed ourselves at times to buy into the vision that Hank was selling, that he was pitching the idea of a weekly show to several TV networks, and had bites, and that the pay-per-view was just going to be the launch of the brand, the first show of many, many to come.

But then there was reality, and as with everything else, reality had to do with money, as in, not enough money. Hank was continually late with his monthly invoices to me for the work that I was doing, and for several months AWE was about as close to a full-time job as I’d had since leaving the daily newspaper business back around 2000.

His arrangement with Marvin was terribly one-sided, to the point that for Marvin, for whom AWE was definitely a full-time job, he was getting pennies on the dollar for a guy who juggled multiple roles running a company about to put on a live TV show.

We had issues with vendors, talent, you name it, and this was months before the expenses would ratchet up practically exponentially with the live TV broadcast.

There was nothing either Marvin or I could do with the money stuff, so we focused on what we could control: doing our jobs the best that we could, and if in so doing AWE caught fire and there was a future after the pay-per-view, great. And if not, but folks up in Stamford or down in Nashville noticed that we’d done a great job, and wanted us to continue doing good work, on their behalf, then so be it.

I’d say that was Marvin’s dream. Part of me shared the dream, because, I mean, come on, how cool would it be to work in creative for a wrestling company, for a few months, for a few years, whatever. I was having a blast doing what I was doing in AWE, after all.

But, OK, honestly, no, this wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life. I was surrounded by people who had done this for years, for decades, and for whom this was all they’d ever wanted to do.

Me? I was a wrestling fan as a kid, loved watching the matches with my grandfather, tracking down show from all over the country and all over the world on his satellite dish when I stayed the night on the weekends, but wrestling wasn’t a life’s dream, or anything close.

I was already doing what I wanted to do in life, in a manner of speaking, running for a seat on the local city council three years before getting hooked up with AWE, running a local political party unit for two years after falling short in that campaign, writing several books, winning multiple awards as a journalist, hosting radio and TV shows.

There isn’t enough time in a day, days in a week, years in a lifetime for me to do all that I want to do.

My thinking from Day 1 with AWE was, have fun while it lasts.

In that context, now, yes, if it led to some time with an AWE TV show, or if somehow somebody at WWE or Impact would come calling, I’d be smart enough to follow the gust of wind.

The motivation for the other big player in our little troupe, Mr. Nash, was simple and to the point. As long as the check cashed, he was good with whatever. I remember that first day working with him, being a little starstruck, because Nash was one of my favorites in the mid-1990s, at the height of the Monday Night Wars. I loved his promos, even though his in-ring workrate sucked, but that’s the case for pretty much everybody, aside from Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair and A.J. Styles.

Back to Nash: in between takes shooting our run of videos, he talked about the business, and what got him out of bed in the morning. He had to take a couple of phone calls that afternoon, because his agent was negotiating for him a role in an upcoming movie, that turned into “Magic Mike.” I shit you not: Kevin Nash was negotiating “Magic Mike” sitting in my office.

He said he had begun seeking out movie roles years before because a Screen Actors Guild membership came with health insurance, and his SAG card paid for the birth of his son. He also talked about how when he was breaking into the business, back in the Vinnie Vegas days, an unnamed superstar pulled him aside and told him not to spend the gobs of money that were about to come his way on stuff to go up his nose, but to instead save his money and buy a house, with cash, because that would be one thing the business could never take from you.

As much as I would later come to loathe the man, I have to begrudgingly admire his attention to detail in that respect.

For too many, including most of the guys in the business, taking bumps night after night, driving from town to town, they can’t get over the glitz and glamor of being a pro wrestler. One thing they could all lean from Kevin Nash, sumbitch that he is, would be to realize that it’s a business, and you’ve got to get yours, because everybody else is getting theirs.

 
Continue reading. Go to Chapter 10.

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