MY BACKGROUND IN THE WRESTLING BUSINESS
A lot of you have been asking me lately about how I got involved in the wrestling business and asking for my background in it, so I decided to just post it here in my column so everyone could read it. I’ve been involved in the professional wrestling business since the early age of 16 years old. I have promoted hundreds of wrestling events through out the years, including tons of live events and wrestling conventions.
When I was a freshman in high school, I overheard a few kids in my class talking about a wrestling radio show that was on later that night. Of course, my ears were glued to their conversation. I grew up the biggest fan of wrestling and my parents would take me all of the time to the Meadowlands and Madison Square Garden to see it. Anyway, I got the information from them and later that night I tuned into 88.7 WPSC FM to listen to
I couldn’t wait every week to come home from school and listen to this show, as they broke kayfabe on the show and talked about the inner workings of the wrestling business, which at that point I had never been introduced to before. I was finding out outcomes of matches before they happened, who was coming and going before it hit the TV, etc. For a huge fan like myself, it was amazing to hear.
They had a contest on the show to win a chance to be they special guest co-host for the week. Sure enough, I won the contest. Through this radio show I learned about dirt sheets such as the Observer, Torch, and Chatterbox. I subscribed to all of them and actually began writing my own newsletter called Ringside Wrestling Newsletter. I began interviewing wrestlers for the newsletter and just began learning more about the wrestling business. I actually went on to run Who’s Slammin’ Who as my own wrestling radio show.
I then went to John Arezzi’s Weekend of Champions convention in New York and it was a dream come true. It was like walking into a wrestling heaven. Tons of wrestlers were there signing autographs and taking pictures, tons of wrestling merchandise was being sold, and hundreds of fans were talking to each other about the sport they loved most, wrestling. After leaving this convention, I thought to myself if Arezzi could run an event like this, why couldn’t I? I had a few phone numbers of wrestlers from interviewing them for my newsletter and thought maybe I could run my own convention. Sure enough, at the age of 16, I did. It would be the first of many wrestling conventions I ran through out the years. Besides John Arezzi, I was the original wrestling convention promoter. This leads us to my 15th Anniversary Fan Slam Wrestling Fan Festival on June 21st in Totowa, NJ at the Holiday Inn.
I then went on to begin promoting wrestling shows. At the time myself and Crowbar were best of friends. Crowbar had been trying for a few years at that point to run an independent wrestling show at his high school, Rutherford High School. Crowbar finally got them to agree to run the event and asked me to be the one to run it. That would be the first of hundreds of wrestling shows I’d promote, which were ran under Independent Superstars of Professional Wrestling, ISPW. ISPW was one of the hottest Independent promotions in the country in the late 90’s. In the summers of 1998 and 1999, I ran weekly events at the Wildwood Convention Center in Wildwood, NJ. Some of these events were the biggest indie shows to this very day.
I learned the inner workings of the wrestling business from the late, great Dennis Coralluzzo. Dennis was the top promoter in the United States at the time, and he met me at one of my wrestling conventions and took a liking to me. He was impressed that someone so young ran such a successful event. At that time, ECW screwed Dennis with throwing the NWA title to the ground at the NWA Heavyweight Title tournament at the ECW arena. Dennis was planning on holding his own tournament to crown a new NWA Champion and wanted to run a convention in the day time. He asked me if I wanted to go partners with him on the convention/show. I jumped at the chance. I went on to co-promote many shows with Dennis for the following few years. I was actually partners with Dennis on every Eddie Gilbert Memorial show he ran. We’d always do the convention in the day and the show at night. There was no one in the world like Dennis and he was like a second father to me. I still think about him all the time and will never forget him.
I also did a little managing on independent shows while I was taking a break from promoting ISPW events. It was fun to do, but my heart has and always will be for promoting. I’m proud to say that I was the first person to ever work with WWE superstar Batista. At the time Batista was just breaking into the business at Afa The Wild Samoan’s WXW. I was there as the top heel manager having my ISPW invade their promotion. Afa had a battle royal that came down to two of my ISPW guys and the debuting Batista, who was called Khan at the time. Batista eliminated both guys to win and I came in the ring and hit him from behind. Batista went on to spear me to the delight of the crowd. Looking at how big he is now in the business, it’s pretty cool to say I did that. I also tried to join Too Cool at the Gary Albright Memorial Show. I came out dressed as Tommy 2 Cutie and tried to convince then WWF Tag Team Champions Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay that I was “Too Cool” material. I tried out for the group, including showing them my dancing skills, however, I didn’t make the cut. I also wrestled in a pair of six man tags opposite Afa The Wild Samoan. I was the first one to get him out of retirement in many years. Pretty cool.
I can also proudly say I took part in a WrestleMania as well, as I was dressed as one of the police officers that arrested The Big Show in WrestleMania 15. If I never achieve my dream of one day working for the WWE, I can always say I was in a WrestleMania, which is pretty amazing when I think about it. How many millions of people out there wish they can say that they were a part of a WrestleMania? Even though it was only thirty seconds, it was still a dream I had always had since I was a little kid. Pretty cool.
I’ve had a list of whos who appear on my wrestling events through out the years. Just a list of some of the guys I’ve worked with through out the years include: Ted DiBiase, King Kong Bundy, Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Jimmy Snuka, 2 Cold Scorpio, Chris Candido, Tammy Sytch, Rick Martel, Terry Funk, Abdullah The Butcher, Eddie Gilbert, Rock & Roll Express, Raven, Jim Neidhart, Demolition Ax, Jim Duggan, Missy Hyatt, Matt Borne (Doink), Marty Jannetty, Bushwhackers, Gangrel, Droz, Albert, Headbangers, Sensational Sherri, Road Warrior Animal, George Steele, Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Viscera, Afa The Wild Samoan, Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Captain Lou Albano, Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, Buddy Rose, Bruno Sammartino, David Shultz, Missing Link, Bam Bam Bigelow, Bart Gunn, Ricky Steamboat, Paul Orndorff, Samu, Sid Vicious, Little Gudio, Joey Mercury, Steve Corino, Crowbar, Nova, Simon Diamond, Val Venis, Al Snow, Jim Cornette, Tito Santana, Paul Roma, Jim Powers, Ox Baker, Bastion Booger, Gary Michael Cappetta, Spike Dudley, Dawn Marie, Danny Doring, Axl Rotten, Public Enemy, Gillberg, Earl Hebner, Hillbilly Jim, S.D. Jones, David Sammartino, Lelani Kai, Jerry Lawler, Jerry Lynn, Blue Meanie, Goldust, Terri Runnels, Tracy Smothers, Dan Severn, Sandman, Tatanka, Virgil, Kevin Von Erich, J.J. Dillion, and many more.
I also once wrote a daily column several years back for 1Wrestling.com, which at the time was the hottest wrestling news site out there. My column was called Tommy’s Daily Take and I would give my thoughts and views on the world of wrestling, along with storyline ideas on how I would book WWE. I really enjoyed writing about the business and coming up with storyline ideas on how I would book their product. I would get hundreds of E-Mails a day giving me feedback on my columns, including several WWE employees. It’s something I really enjoyed doing and something I’ve been having the itch to do again lately. Which leads us to my Booking Wrestling 101 column right here on WrestleZone.com
My goal is to one day work for World Wrestling Entertainment’s Creative Team, as I feel as though I am an extremely creative individual, especially when it comes to writing storylines for wrestling. It’s something that just comes natural to me. I know this business, understand this business, and respect this business. I grew up in it.
I actually applied for a position on WWE’s Creative Team several years back when I was writing my daily columns for 1Wrestling. At the time I was coming up with some really good stuff, and it caught the attention of someone who at the time was on their creative team. I don’t want to say who it was, just that this person was an “EXTREMELY” creative person, probably the best mind in the wrestling business today. I had so much respect for him and he was actually E-Mailing me putting over my ideas. It was the ultimate compliment.
He told me I should contact Stephanie McMahon and try and get a job working in Creative. I actually thought I had a pretty good chance of landing a job, but in the end, I was turned down. I was crushed, as I knew my ideas were much better then what they were presenting on their programs. Instead of trying again to get a job with them, I simply gave up on my dream.
I realize now that if you want something bad enough, you must never give up on it. I plan on applying for a position on their Creative Team in the future, and want to use my Booking Wrestling 101 columns as a tool to show not only WWE, but the wrestling fans around the world that I have my finger tip on the pulse of the wrestling business. I want to show WWE that you don’t need to hire some hot shot Hollywood writer that doesn’t know the difference between a wrist lock and wrist watch writing your programs. The wrestling business needs change. Giving away all the money in the world isn’t going to get ratings up. In the end it’s still the same people writing the same show. You need new people with new visions.
If you’re bored, insulted, or simply not entertained by what you’re currently watching on WWE programming, you have come to the right place. I will do my best to entertain you with my ideas and storylines that I would come up with if I worked for WWE Creative. Hopefully my columns will open up the eyes of someone in Stamford, CT.
Welcome to my journey of one day working for World Wrestling Entertainment’s Creative Team.
HOT NEW CONCEPT FOR WWE
I like the concept of the WWE Draft. Wrestling fans get excited when they know things are about to change and wrestlers are going to be switching brands. It freshens things up and makes things more interesting. I thought of a concept that I think could bring big business to the WWE product. It’s something that has never been done before. It’s something that I feel blows “WWE’s Draft idea” out of the water.
How excited do baseball fans get every year when a player’s contract has expired and they have the chance to go to their favorite team? It’s interesting to follow how much the players are making and how long they have left on their contracts. Call me crazy, but how entertaining would that be if it were WWE superstars in the same situation? Batista’s contract is about to expire. Will he go to Raw? Could he be heading to ECW? Or will he stay where he’s at on Smackdown? Fans would be glued to their television sets to see which decision Batista makes. Multiply that by fifty guys and you have just created the hottest new concept in the wrestling business.
The talent contract.
Raw, Smackdown, and ECW begin signing all of their talents to contracts that will only allow them to appear on their respected brand. There will be no more jumping from Raw to Smackdown for a special match. No more Finlay appearing on Raw. No more Jeff Hardy appearing on Smackdown. No more Smackdown and ECW co-branding. The wrestlers are signed to contracts for their brand and that’s where they stay put. Some wrestlers sign for three months, some for six months, and some up to a year.
After everyone has signed their deals, they are all posted on WWE.com for the entire world to see. Triple H signs a one year deal at $3,000.000. Shawn Michaels signs a six month deal at $1,800,000. Jamie Noble is locked down to Smackdown for four months at $136,000. Tazz is under contract as an announcer for ECW for one year at $350,000. So on and so forth.
So now the entire world can see how much these guys are signed for and when their deals run out. Lets take a Chuck Palumbo for example. He has a three month Smackdown deal at $85,000. When his contract expires, he’s free to talk to Raw and ECW. It would be kind of different seeing him show up at Raw and having a meeting backstage in a suit and tie and negotiating a possible deal to sign him to Raw, wouldn’t it? I think wrestling fans would be interested in watching contract negotiations, since that is a part of the wrestling business they haven’t had the chance to experience yet.
By the wrestlers staying on their respective brands and never appearing on another show, when the finally do jump ship to another brand, it will mean a million times more than it does now. This concept would recreate the WWE and make it seem fresh again. It would be fun to follow all of the wrestler’s contracts and when they run out. It would be fun to see the general managers try and outbid each other to secure the services of a particular talent.
There is also another big concept for this idea. Trading.
The Raw GM wants Rey Misterio to switch over to Raw and has offered Smackdown Umaga, Carlito, and Cody Rhodes for him. Will Vickie Guerrero accept the offer? You would have to tune into Smackdown to find out. Armando Estrada wants the services of Mr. Kennedy on ECW. Would the Raw GM take Tommy Dreamer, Elijah Burke, and Kelly Kelly for him? How about trading Chris Jericho for Batista? Edge for Triple H? CM Punk for Rey Misterio? It would be fun to be able to see talents be traded from show to show as well.
The best part of all of this for the WWE is that all of this information would be posted on WWE.com for fans to check out. You know if a concept like this was done, fans would be going to the website every single day to see if there are any new updates on talent trades, contract negotiations, and when their deals run out. It would generate a ton of more traffic for their website, which hopefully for them will translate into extra revenue.
This idea would just make the WWE so much more entertaining to watch. It would completely turn business around in my opinion. I really think doing this idea would make the wrestling business hot again. When older fans hear that wrestlers are now being signed to contracts where they can’t leave their respective show and you can view how much money they are making and how much time they have left on their deals, they will no doubt check it out. Wrestling fans want to be involved in the show as much as they possibly can.
Doing something like this would make wrestling fans so excited. They can now learn how much money their favorite wrestlers makes and how much longer they have on their contracts. When that contract expires, they will be so excited to see if he or she could get a better deal elsewhere or if they stay on that brand. It would make the wrestling business fun to watch again.
Talent contracts is the next hot concept for WWE.
I read Disco’s column last week and found it interesting to say the least. I just wanted to let him know that I wasn’t booking Mr. Kennedy and CM Punk as the biggest stars in this business, I was trying to create news stars for when guys like Triple H, Shawn Michaels, and Undertaker have to step down. These two guys are great picks in my opinion and I do think Kennedy will be the top guy in this business one day. I see more and more of Steve Austin coming out of him each and every week. While on the subject of Disco Inferno, he’s someone I am really surprised never had a run in WWE. I was always a fan of his gimmick and always thought he could get over huge in the WWE. He still could. He could be a wrestler, manager, or even host a talk show. I think he is one person that WWE missed the boat on. I think the Disco Inferno character would have worked well in the WWE. He could have been the modern day Honky Tonk Man. Like I said above, he still could be.
“FREEBIRD” BUDDY ROBERTS ADDED TO THE 15TH ANNIVERSARY FAN SLAM WRESTLING FAN FESTIVAL; LESS THAN THREE WEEKS AWAY!
The 15th Anniversary Fan Slam Wrestling Fan Festival is less than three weeks away on June 21st at the Holiday Inn in Totowa, NJ. “Freebird” Buddy Roberts has been added to the event, presented by K&S Promotions. K&S has also added George Frankenstein (the former valet of Randy Savage) to Fan Slam. They will also be having current TNA Knockouts Awesome Kong and Angelina Love at their booths.
The official line-up of guest for Fan Slam include: TNA Superstar Tomko, Al Snow, Scott Taylor (formerly Scotty 2 Hotty), Nick Dinsmore (formerly Eugene), Bill DeMott (formerly Hugh Morrus), Daivari, John Cena Sr., Head Shrinker Samu, Kevin Kelly, J.J. Dillon, and Axl Rotten.
Other guests appearing at Fan Slam via different vendors include: Legendary WWE ring announcer Howard Finkel, Jerry Jarrett, Balls Mahoney, Missy Hyatt, Crowbar, Nicole Bass, Danny Inferno, The Zombie, and more.
There will also be a ton of different activities at Fan Slam, including the first ever Pro Wrestling Tricky Tray with over 50 unique autograph items up for grabs. There will also be The John Cena Sr. Show, Developmental Debate with Al Snow and Bill DeMott; Live Shoot Interview with Tomko, So You Think You Can Book contest where the winner wins lunch with J.J. Dillon, Worm Contest with Scott Taylor, Pro Wrestling Jeopardy hosted by Kevin Kelly, and much more!
WrestleZone will also be airing the convention live for the entire world to watch! Never before in the history of wrestling conventions has there been one that was not only broadcasted on the Internet, but live none the less. This is a very exciting concept and I’m really excited to be working with WZ on this. Be sure to keep checking back here on WZ in the upcoming days and weeks to learn more about the live show. I can announce here for the first time that I am giving WZ exclusive access to the Tricky Tray, Pro Wrestling Jeopardy, and Worm Contest. You will be able to watch all of this live here on WZ if you can’t attend live. We are currently working on several other special features for the live show. Keep glued to this website and column for further information.
For all the latest information on the convention, please visit: FanSlamWrestling.com
Thanks for taking time out of all your busy schedules to read my columns. I hope you keep coming back for more!