Former TNA Employee Talks St Louis PPV & “Electrified” Cage

Bill Behrens

Former TNA Production Manager, Randy Ricci, sent me this story about the TNA St Louis PPV and the "electrified cage".

It is also posted here:  http://nawf.com/blog/?p=318

Randy writes:

Someone asked me for my version of this story and I’ve been putting him off way to long so, here it is:

I’ve touched on this catastrophe in some of my earlier blog posts. Someone requested more detail so here goes!!

There are and were many battle lines within the infrastructure of TNA. I mean it was to the point where the different departments were counter productive!

Here is a “RANDIPEDIA” on some of the key players

Gregg Horne TNA art director: South African Caucasian. He is currently based out of Nashville. Very gifted!! You have seen his work on Ford commercials and several mainstream movies.
SIDENOTE: He has NO wrestling back ground of any sort!!! Culturally different.

Chris Despensa is the lead carpenter: Central Florida native. Somewhat “Country.”
Creative and talented as well! Able to multi-task like no one else!! Has worked with Nickelodeon and other Universal Studio partners.
SIDENOTE: Verges on being a “hick”. Can’t understand the cultural difference’s that may come with working close to people from other countries.
He is RESOURCEFUL to a fault!!

Both have VERY important positions w/TNA! Neither get’s what they need when they need it!

At the time they absolutely “HATED” each other!! Mostly because Chris’s brother Mike Despensa tried to run Gregg over with his car on the Universal lot because he supposedly “disrespected” Chris!

The problem here was NO ONE stepped in to establish a “pecking order” and neither knew who was the others supervisor. As a result of this, the more dominant personality, Gregg, assumed the role. Chris went along with it but, sub consciously carried, in the back of his mind, that this may not be the case??

Chris had SOME inkling on how wrestling sets, props, etc were different than any other industry he and Gregg may have worked with but, not full knowledge by any means!

At the time, TNA pay per views outside of the studio was a new concept and they had only done one up to that point in Detroit (at least this team). Since Gregg was pretty pissed still by Chris’s brother’s attempt to make him “road pizza” there were even more communication problems and long story short, he was out to get Chris! He wanted him gone!! Or at least under his control.

Chris was frustrated because, Gregg would consciously or sub-consciously “ham string” Chris! Thus costing Chris income because the items he could build for TNA would be subbed out to other companies. This was NOT good for anyone involved as TNA learned the hard way by buying that $10,000 piece of “electrified crap”!!!
Gregg, went to another company that understood even less than he did the difference in wrestling props and other props for movies and studios.

I wanted the cage to arrive in Orlando first, so we could “dry run” and see what the hell we were getting!! This, for what ever reason couldn’t be done and as a result the cage arrived in St. Louis, at only the SECOND pay per view TNA ever did from the road, the DAY OF said event!!

It was first discovered by TNA CFO when he tried to merely step up on one of the cage sides that was leaning against a bleacher that there may be a bit of a problem!! Probably because the God damned rung “snapped” with about half of his 160 lbs on it!

I’d say this was first realized about 3 hours before doors were to open for TNA’S “BIGGEST PPV OF THE YEAR”!!!

Gregg turned “white as sheet” as he tried to “saddle up” his rental car to find an open Home Depot on a Sunday evening in St. Louis. And turned even “whiter” when he backed into the rental truck that brought in half of the sets etc, smashing the rental car as well!!

I wasn’t really sure how he planned on saving the day with Home Depot products anyway.  While he “took off “the CFO and Chris armed everyone and anyone in the venue with grey gaf tape, tin snips, and roll’s of wire!  There was talent, security from the building, stage hands, Knock outs, interns, office people, all trying to “JERRY RIG” the cage in record time!! People in suits, wrestling gear, I think there were even some cops involved scampering to help!!

The whole time, this was being observed from the best seat in the house by Bob Carter, Dixie, and other “key” employees from Panda and TNA who did look quite concerned!!  The talent looked quite concerned as well!! Especially the larger guys who were expected to actually climb on this thing!!!

It really was “bush league” and embarrassing!! The sad part is that, up to that point, this was the largest “paid attendance” TNA had seen. You should have heard the crowd when the “electrified” cage was plugged in!! That catastrophe should’ve killed the company!!


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