Friday 6/8/01

The following is a republished diary/commentary from ProWrestlingRadio.com.

Friday 6/8/01:

I decided to drive by myself to the show tonight. This was our first ever CZW television taping, and I wanted to be there nice and early. I have always been taught that for television to be there as early as possible, especially if you are part of the broadcast/announce team.

I arrived later than I had expected. I hit a ton of traffic everywhere I turned and arrived around 5:45PM/EST. I am thinking that if I left that early and arrived that late, imagine when the rest of the boys are going to get there. I was equally worried about the fans showing up on time. It is hard to have a television taping without fans in the building.

I walked in and the first person ironically enough I encountered in the locker room was Mac Smack. I recently did a series of columns over on 1wrestling.com introducing CZW. Smack had taken issue with me over something I had written or not written in the column. I will give this guy a ton of credit. He approached me and expressed his issues to me straight up. I had heard rumblings of some others that had issue with similar gripes, but they never said a word to me, nor did they this weekend. We both explained our stances through emails and after all was said and done, I think we both understood where one and the other were coming from. In looking back on it, he had some very valid points. I did not know if there would be any tension this weekend, because that is something I did not like. We are a family there, and while there will be squabbles, we all care about one another, especially the guys with tenure.

I broke the ice and said, “Mac Smack, the guy I have the most heat with in the company.” He laughed and said it was all water under the bridge and we both started joking about the entire thing. You know, when you have a difference of opinion with someone, kindness can be the best weapon, because I felt real bad even more so after this.

Johnny Kashmere yelled my name from across the room and had a big smile on his face. A lot of people misunderstand him. He is super intense before his matches, and some people take that as cockiness. I have never seen that equation myself, but I can see how some people who do not know him would gather that. I went over and hugged him and said hello. He was talking with the SAT’s, Divine, Storm, XL, and Tom Marquez.

It was really weird seeing Tom there. The last time I saw him was when I was in the ECW House Of Hardcore filming the Tazz work out videos for RF Video. Tazz used Marquez, who was a new student at the time as his trainee in the video. I knew he went on to become a good worker, but had not seen him since. I introduced myself to him and told him about my memory of him. Ironically, he remembered me from that day which was about two and a half years ago. He was very polite, which is something I would expect from a Tazz graduate.

I said hello to all of the SAT’s. They are all great kids and have a tremendous future in the business. I said a hello to Ruckus and I gave him a program. I did a spotlight on him in the program and wanted him to have it. Guys like him really have any kind of appreciate for stories written on him. I then ran into Adam Flash and exchanged greetings.

I finally caught up with Jon Dahmer. I knew what was coming next. He asked me to explain the cage match on GLOOW. He told me while in Japan, he taped every GLOOW show so he would not miss a thing. He watched them all since he had been back. He also asked me why my sound was out last week, which caught the Dew’s attention. He asked me the same thing. I told him to sit here and explain the cage match would keep me here until tomorrow. I commented that he looked as if he had lost 10 pounds and he told me there was nothing to eat over there. He told me he got to work a barbed wire match which Dew and I laughed at.

Dew and I were talking and saw Barr walking in. I commented that he looked as if he had just shopped at “Trash R’ Us.” Dew asked me if he had support for breasts with that top. I repeated these same sentiments to Barr and was responded by a, “Shet EP!”

Robby Mireno walked in for the first time in months. He was making a return tonight and the look on his face walking in said it all. Talk about a kid that appreciated being part of something here. I joked about his outfit and said, “Tennis anyone?” He is a welcomed addition back to the crew. He can bring some levity to some tense situations.

I made my way over to the RF Video table. Rob and I said our hellos and just bs’ed for a bit. He had some of the boys over there watching the last CZW show. I feel kind of weird when I hear my voice on the television halfway across the room. The boys all seem to be real into what I say, as some of them will pull their chair right up to the TV. That is extremely flattering.

I ran into Trent Acid and we exchanged hugs and hellos. I cannot express how proud I am of this kid for how far he has come and will go. I also said hello to the Briscoes and asked them how they were feeling, etc. I ran into CZW photographer Craig Pendegrast, who gave me some awesome shots of myself and the Briscoes.

I ran into Whacks, who does photos for the website and is a great guy. He and I had been making arrangements for a commentary set up. Well, after 14 months of CZW employment I am proud to say I got my commentary set up. Believe me when I tell you I bitched and pitched this idea for the entire 14 months, but the set up was awesome. It was everything I wanted and I knew it would improve my work.

I also ran into Derek Sabato. Derek reminds me a lot of me when I was younger, wanting to help out, etc. He agreed to help me sell programs and I was grateful for that. I knew he had a lot to do that night, so I decided to sell them myself for a while.

I ran into the boss as I made my way to the back. I showed him the program and he seemed to like it. He joked that it was the “Justice Pain story.” Justice walked in and he held up the program to him and repeated those same sentiments. The boss and I talked over some of the plans for the evening’s event. He asked that I stop mentioning on the commentary about other people’s schools and trainers, now that we are on television. I can see his point 100%, and I always tell him to give me feedback positive or negative, so I can improve. I am always looking for improvement and I would much rather someone tell me if I am doing something wrong or an idea, than to keep it to themselves.

I next said my hellos to Lou E. Lou E. and I had some heat for a while, which was buried a few months back. He and I go way back and I am glad he is a part of CZW. When I was told about the idea for him, I said that I loved it and he is great for it. It was something that was either gonna work or it wasn’t, and I think it will.

I saw John House next. I commented on his horrible looking goatee. Hey, some people can grown facial hair and some people can’t. It looked like someone painted it on with mascara. He snickered back at me. We talked a little about what we were going to do that night.

I made my way outside to sell some programs. Two fans told me that they had driven up all the way from Chicago, IL. I think that is awesome and I thanked them for making the drive and told them we would try the best we could to make it worth it. I think that is very flattering. I walked around and talked to the crowd in line. Most of them, I knew from my radio show or just past shows. I sold a program I think to everyone in line, which was great. The point of the program is to get the characters and the storylines over. Trust me when I tell you I did not make a dime on them this weekend, but I did not lose one either.

I started getting with all of the boys about their matches that night. I really put a lot of work into what I do with the company. I think you really need to talk to the wrestlers to understand what kind of story to put over on the announcing. I think especially with today’s wrestlers and all of the new moves that they are doing, you have to talk to them for names of the moves as well, to sound somewhat intelligent. Not many of the more famous announcers even call a move anymore, other than the finisher. Reckless Youth is awesome for this kind of thing. He will not only tell me the name of the move, but the transition of how it will come so I can be prepared for it.

I talked with the SAT’s about their match and also to Divine, Storm, Marquez, and XL. I asked them all for backgrounds as well. I try and put over the backgrounds, establishing these guys as true athletes. They all did the best they could with names, transitions, etc.

I asked Wifebeater if he was doing anything new tonight, which is now our running a joke. He told me was going to do this move, where he picks the guy up and slams him and he likes to call it a bodyslam. I asked him about his Mexico tour coming up. He said that they still had not received their passports and he was beginning to think it was a rib. I told him that the company was advertising him, but he seemed to think he would not be going.

I talked to Johnny Kashmere for a few also about his match. He explained to me the psychology of the match and how he wanted it to come across. I wish more guys would do that as well, or knew where they wanted to go with it. Trent and I went over his moves as well. He told me about some key points he wanted to get over and was looking for a name of a move. I joked that he call it by someone’s name I won’t mention here and he popped huge for it.

I talked to Ric Blade for a little bit as well. He told me what he was going to do, but that he was not going to do anything I haven’t called before. He is another guy that really focuses before his match.

It was show time. John House and I got prepared for the night. I arranged all of my many notes in the order in which I would need them. John, who I guess thought he was a star that night started snapping fingers at Derek thinking he was our runner. I told John to leave him a lone and that he was the time keeper and it was more important we had a time keeper than a runner. Rather than run through every match, I will just go over some particulars. The opener with Barr Cam, was outstanding for him. It was his debut after two years of training and he was nervous as hell. This was his shot, and who better to be with than Eddie Valentine. Barr Cam did great, nothing looked sloppy and I don’t think I have seen many better first matches. The kid has a great head on his shoulders and an awesome attitude. He is super quiet and always offering to help where needed. He reminds me of an old school rookie.

Zandig and the crew did an opening out of character thanking the fans for their support. It was a real emotional moment for someone like myself who has been there for a long time, as I am sure it was for others, fans included. The attendance was way down this night and not what you would want for television. Between the sixers, the season, and running here on a Friday we had everything working against us. Lou E. came out and cut a promo and was super over. Good job on his part. John also set up tonight’s main event which was more a tribute to the four guys in the match than anything else. A match between the first 4 graduates and students of the CZW Wrestling Academy.

The SAT’s match was outstanding for what it was. I love those guys, but I think it was a little too much in my opinion. It was just move after move after move. At intermission Quiet Storm asked me if I called his finisher. Honestly, I missed it and I told him that. He seemed pissed off and I told him, “brother, you had 500 freaking moves out there with no set up for your finisher, I am sorry for missing it, but c’mon.”

The Briscoes match was a real good angle. I think CZW needs to do more angles, and right now the only program with any angles are the Briscoes vs. Dewey, Gage, and Hatred. The angles are superb also, thanks to the participation of the Briscoes’ parents. The mother is a natural for this kind of thing and Dewey has the tools to work anywhere right now. People talk about this wrestler and that wrestler as possible mainstream stars someday, but the Dew may be the most polished at what he does right now. John threw me for a curve ball here though. He came out into the match as John Zandig promoter, rather than Zandig the CZW wrestler. I start putting him over on commentary as a heel and he came in and babyfaced the crowd. At intermission I told him he swerved me with that one. We both laughed about it and he expressed that right now he is in a real hard position as a character and the promoter.

At intermission I also made sure to congratulate Barr Cam on his match. Everyone likes to be praised, and he deserved it. He was very humble in accepting my praise. I also got with some more of the boys about anything else later on that night. We were set for round two here, at Take One.

The second half was better off never happening. It started off great with Reckless Youth and Fujita. They had one hell of a match, maybe the best on the show in my opinion. Reckless showed a new heel side and it really got over. I have seen the “heel” Reckless at JAP before, but I think CZW will give him a better platform for that.

The main event was an absolute nightmare for any company or human being. The biggest risk of putting your biggest stars in one match together is one or all of them getting hurt. That rarely happens, but tonight would be the night. It is sad to say, but with all of the high risk action, I am shocked nobody has been injured yet. That of course is because these are not untrained backyarders in there, but trained pros. Lobo was hurt minutes into the match. Most people watching would not be able to tell. He finished the match and did everything like a true warrior. The nightmare came on what was going to be the closing moments on our first television show. Ric Blade and Nick Gage were going to do a Swanton and Frog Splash at the same time off of the entrance way, which is about 20 plus feet in the air through Lobo and Justice Pain as they were on tables.

The first sign of a problem came when Nick Gage slipped off of the entrance way and fell backwards. From my vantage point, I could not see what happened, but I was told later that is what happened. Ric was able to perch himself on the entrance, which he has done many times before. I think we all take for granted how hard it is to really do something like that. Ric over shot his swanton and landed in a bad way on the floor. I could not see at all from where I was, what was going on. The only thing I could see was a bunch of EMT’s all huddled around Blade. The other three stopped for moments to make sure Ric was still alive. They got back in the ring and quickly finished the match. The fans attention was all on Ric Blade at this point.

I made my way to the back and it was not what you would expect after a company that has been through as much as we have, completed their first ever taping. One of our brothers was hurt and it was serious. I did not realize how serious it was until I walked in the back and saw him on a stretcher receiving oxygen and his neck sustained. I became really scared at that point, whether it was one of the boys or a complete stranger it was frightening. I am not as close to Ric as I am to some of the others, but I have the highest regard for his work ethic and do have a good relationship with him and his wife. We even hung out in a group last year on July 4 weekend, which we were all talking about doing again. His wife is expecting a baby, and it is like this guy is cursed. Right after he got married last year, he took a real bad bump at a show in PA, and I even did a column about it. What was more disgusting was that there were a ton of people around him and would not even give the kid some air. Of all of those people, I don’t think any of them were the actual boys. The boys were becoming frantic and yelling for people to move, but to them it was like seeing a car crash, but to us it was one of our boys down and he needed air. It is times like these where the locker room needs to be regulated and in a bad way. I thought it was more respectful to stay as far away as I can, rather than go over and check on him. I told the other three guys that they all had a ton of heart and more than I had ever seen. Ric was stretched out of there to a standing ovation from the crew and the fans.

As for the show itself. I don’t think it was one of our best shows, and probably the worst of our last bunch for television. Between the injuries and the light crowd, I don’t know if any of it will be used on television. As for myself, I was real happy with what I did on commentary. I think I did everyone justice and people that would be watching the show for the first time will understand where they all came from and why they are in the ring together. My voice was shot by the end of the night. It is funny, because I was able to call 4 hours of Best of the Best without blowing out my voice, but this was different. When I call a show, I start out slow and build up to the final matches. At a television taping, you never know what is gonna air and when, so you have to put them all over as if they were that week’s main event. The sad part is I had another show tomorrow and a little voice. With whatever voice I had, I was determined to call a good show the next day. If these guys can go out there with battered bodies and brains and exhort that kind of effort so can I. Talk about inspiration.

I said my good-byes to everyone. It was not the usual happy good byes we usually exchange. Everyone was in a somber mood about what had happened. Hartog told me to give him 5-10 minutes to situate pay, and I told him to take his time. Brian Logan, Barr, and myself started talking about traveling, etc. I mentioned that I had a GLOOW show in CT. that I was planning on doing. We talked about the travel to CT. I said my usual thank you to the boss at the end of the night. We talked about the night and the show for a while. He was very disappointed with the show, and the light crowd. I gave him a tape, which brought a smile to his face. It was about 12AM/EST time now, and 90 minutes to get home and up tomorrow at 10 AM/EST. for Smyrna.
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