A Shore Special--Through the Curtain: Does adversity aid evolution?
By Chris Shore
This is part five of my series on Pro Wrestling EVO, an upstart independent promotion in Salisbury, NC. You will find previous parts of A Shore Special—Through the Curtain here. In this article, serious adversity strikes Pro Wrestling Evo just weeks before their next show.
Note: Some names have been changed by request.
It is a well-established theory in evolutionary science that adversity aids and speeds evolution. In fact, "survival of the fittest" implies that there is some problem that requires "fitness" for the organism to survive. So it was no surprise that a group that has branded itself as "the evolution of wrestling" would face adversity along the way. What was surprising was how hard and fast the adversity came, and how it almost cut the legs from under Pro Wrestling Evo.
As I have written about Evo these past few weeks, promoter Patrick Wright has kept up with the series. He has provided helpful feedback on the articles, as well as provided additional information and quotes that have been woven into the previous articles. We have spoken at least once a week, every week, since their debut show.
So when he called me last week to say they were going to do something revolutionary in the wrestling business to separate Evo from the pack, I was excited to hear what he had to say. Late that Saturday night, Patrick and I were joined on a conference call by his friend Andrew. It was explained to me that the revolutionary change was Andrew's idea, so it made the most sense to have him present it to me.
Part of the agreement with Evo to do this series was not to release any booking decisions before they played out, a reasonable expectation, so I cannot say here what exactly this creative idea was. But I can assure you it is very revolutionary. So much so that I initially recoiled from it. I felt it was too revolutionary.
I spent the better part of an hour trying to shoot holes in the idea. Andrew had obviously spent a lot of time on this idea because he had an answer for every question I had. Not all of the answers were adequate, but by the end, I told them both that I thought the idea would work. They would have some clunky story problems to work out, but none worse than a typical TNA story arc. I wished them luck, and even began soft selling it on Twitter for them ahead of the announcement, which would take place at their next show on March 12.
Two days later, I received a call from Patrick. "Listen, you know that whole thing we talked about? Well keep that under wraps, 'cause we're not going to do it."
I wasn't entirely sure I had heard him correctly so I asked him to repeat what he said. He replied that again, they were not going with the revolutionary idea. When I asked why, there was no mistaking the frustration in his voice, "Andrew."
I asked to explain further. "I started thinking about some things with the idea. I was concerned that the work we put in at 'Evo Eight' would somehow be discounted. I was concerned with the storyline matches we had already announced for the show. And I was concerned about the direction as a whole because it is so very different.
"I called Andrew and told him we would go with his idea, but we would put it off a couple of months and run [these stories] to build to that point. And he shit all over it. He said it would screw everything up and he wasn't going to have his idea ruined. I tried to explain to him that I liked his idea, I just didn't want to make the hard swerve he wanted to, but he wouldn't listen. He told me we did it his way or we didn't do it at all.
"It occurred to me at that point that I was violating my first rule. This is a business. And nobody is going to tell me how to run my business. You can offer suggestions; you can even be passionate about your suggestions. But I'm the one with $10 thousand invested in this. Nobody is going to tell me what I can and cannot do with my business. So I told him fine, we weren't going to do it.
"Well then he tells me that if we aren't going with his idea then he doesn't think we can work together at all. He said he could work the March show, but then we would go our separate ways. I told him if he couldn't help past March, then I didn't need him in March. And that's how we left it."
Stunned at what I just heard, I immediately assessed what this meant. Besides a voice in the creative process, Andrew held some very important duties at the shows. With less than three weeks until March 12, I asked Patrick what he would do.
"We'll figure it out. We'll adapt. I guess we evolve." Patrick laughed at the pun. "I told you from the start, this is a business. It's not a wrestling promotion where me and my buddies hang out and put each other over. Nobody is irreplaceable, not even him. I will do whatever we have to do to make sure the show happens."
I hung up with Patrick encouraged that he would find a way to replace Andrew both short and long term. It was nice to see that he was able to roll with the punches and not let it get him down. His next phone call, however, would prove to be a tougher challenge. Both in effect, and in difficulty in solving.
Fifteen days before "Life as We Know It" was to happen, I answered my phone to find a very disconcerted Patrick. "The Black Box Theater canceled on me."
The Black Box Theater was where "Evo Eight" was held, and where the March 12 show was supposed to be held. Patrick explained that the retail insurance policy they had would not cover a wrestling event because they might use pyro. He argued that they had already held a show and had not used pyro, and had no plans to use pyro. The insurance company still said no. He offered to purchase a standalone one night policy, but the Black Box wasn't interested. With two weeks to go, Pro Wrestling Evo had an event with no venue.
I asked Patrick what he would do. "I guess we'll find a place or we'll postpone. There aren't really a lot of options here."
I asked where he would go, and his mood seemed to darken. "Well there's the armory. I'm sure I can get it if there isn't anything else going on. But I don't want to setup in the armory. Every little promotion in the world runs shows in the local armory. It's a cliché. We're better than that. My talent is better than that. They're stars, and stars don't wrestling in armories."
I asked when he would postpone the show to if it came to that. "I guess April. But I can't postpone. How many fly by night companies have there been in this industry? I postpone one show and I look like all of those 90 plus percent that fail the first year. No one will take us serious again. Postponing essentially means quitting. I'm not a quitter."
I hung up that day worried for Patrick. Overcoming a venue change just two weeks from a major event is not an easy thing to do. He had to not only promote the new location to Robbie and the other fans who would return, he had to hook new fans to the new location. And he had almost no time, and no ROH show to piggy back off of like in January. Things looked slightly bleak for Pro Wrestling Evo.
Except that the darned theory of evolution appeared again. Just as it has millions of times in nature, adversity created a need for change. And change occurred. Fast. The very next day, my Tweet Deck revealed the following tweet:
"Nobody knocks us down. EVO is debuting at Cabarrus Arena on 3- 12"
The Black Box Theater seats maybe 100. The Cabarrus Arena seats close to 500. Now that's evolution.
Questions and comments to css3238 or on Twitter @the_shore_slant. Join me next time when we look at the final build to the March 12 "Life as We Know It" event.
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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