A Shore Special--Through the Curtain: How Pro Wrestling EVO's inaugural event "EVO Eight" was booked
By Chris Shore
This is part five of my series on Pro Wrestling EVO, an upstart independent promotion in Salisbury, NC. You will find parts one through four of A Shore Special—Through the Curtain here. In this article, I found out how Pro Wrestling Evo's inaugural event "EVO Eight" was booked.
The ring was almost down as we broached the final topic for how Pro Wrestling EVO had come to present "EVO Eight" that night. "OK, we know what it took to get to this night. We know who you chose to put out there tonight and why. And we know what you wanted to present tonight. That leaves how. How did you get the product you presented tonight? Walk me through booking EVO Eight."
EVO promoter Patrick Wright instantly warmed to the idea. "Well first we had to decide where we were going. I told you already that we were going in one direction and decided to go with Cedric [Alexander] as our champion. So with Cedric as our number one babyface and champion, we next focused on who our top heel would be. Zack [Salvation] was an easy choice because he has the experience and skill set."
"Wait a minute," I interrupted. "Who exactly is 'we'?"
"Well obviously I have the final say. But I'm not a dictator. I listen to ideas and I bounce ideas off of several people. But ultimately it is my final say." I nodded and he continued.
"So once we knew what our direction was, we worked back from having those two guys in the main event. But we also wanted to get as many of these guys over in the first two shows that we could. So we wrote the story of Jake's involvement. Well really that story wrote itself with his great gimmick. And then we picked Marcellus [King] and Joey [Slivia] as our semi-finalist and decided to let them have a number one contender's match on our second show. So we can get five guys over in two shows."
"How far in advance did you tell guys who they were facing?"
"Most of them had been involved with the creative process to some degree, so they had an idea of how it would go. But you're getting ahead of things a little bit. You skipped a step." He let me sit there perplexed for a moment before saying, "We started booking on the Internet first."
I shook my head for forgetting, "Yeah, you had some great videos coming into this."
His pace quickened as he talked about the vignettes. "So once we had the structure, we went to the boys and helped them cut promos so that people who came to our show would know who they were. And it allowed them a chance to get their character over before the fans really had a chance to see them.
"You will see more of these videos as we go along because that is my strength. I'm a video guy. And I said from the beginning we would have a classy looking product. We're not going to have guys standing in front of a curtain with a microphone talking about beating somebody up next week. Who believes that? Old school is cool and all, but it has its limitations.
"We want to go for a more realistic feel to our promos. So you'll see more candid looking shots, and more staged promos than other companies do. And that's an advantage for us because I can shoot a promo in a one bedroom apartment and make it look like it was done on a soundstage. So that was what we did next."
"Since you mentioned promos," I cut in, "let me ask how much you script promos. Did you let these guys run wild, or did you script every word out of their mouths or somewhere in between?"
"I believe in letting guys be their own characters and deciding for themselves in what direction they want to take them. But I also need them to say the things I need them to say. So I start out by letting them know a couple of points I need them to make and then I let their character say those things the way they think their character should.
"If it works for us, that's a wrap. If it doesn't, I'll make some suggestions and work with them to get what I need. I don't ever want to have to write a promo for someone else because I think it's better to have the guy in touch with his gimmick enough to make it work, but I'm not above doing it if necessary."
Satisfied with that answer, I turned back to booking EVO Eight. "OK. So you had your structure, and you laid your ground work with the pre-show videos. What next?"
"Well from there we developed the script for the night and handed them out to the guys when they came in today. They put their matches together and we had the show." He sat back like that explained everything.
"What do you mean 'they put their matches together'? You just let them decide everything I saw out there tonight? I don't buy that," I challenged.
"Well of course not," he said. "The script had two endings on it: the end of the Cedric/Manning match, and the main event. Every other match on the card said 'OPEN'. I let them come up with their finishes and they ran them past me. I offered suggestions where I saw fit, but I believe in letting the guys set their work. It's why I have the [match of the night] bonus. If they create it, they buy into it, and I get a better product. It's a win-win for everybody."
I was impressed with his thought process, and with the latitude it gave his workers. I asked the final question of the night, safe with the knowledge that it would not be the last time we talked. "After all of the doubt, all of the questions, all of the planning, all of the risk, all of the stress, was it worth it? Are you happy with what went on out there tonight?"
Patrick looked at me more serious than at any point in our conversation. "You know, I've thought about this moment for a long time. What it would be like after running my first show. Would it be a success? Could I draw a crowd? Could a put on a great show that would create a buzz? And most importantly, would I be happy with it?
"I think I can say yes, I'm very happy with EVO Eight, and everything we have done. And it's not because I proved any doubters wrong or anything like that. It's more that I can say I did the right thing tonight. I treated the fans, the boys, everybody involved like they should expect to be treated. And in return, they treated me in a way I never imagined. It was worth it for sure. And that makes the idea of the next show so much more."
Questions and comments to css3238 or on Twitter @the_shore_slant. Join me next time when the first major hiccup in the road hits EVO.
You can check out more on EVO and order EVO Eight, the first DVD production from Pro Wrestling Evo on the EVO website. Don't forget the promocode DOTNET (all caps) to save $3 off the DVD price!
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