A Shore Special: Through the Curtain - "Life As We Know It" goes on despite many problems before and during the show
By Chris Shore
This is part eight 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.
This series normally runs on Sundays, but was delayed so that some of the information revealed in this and the next article could be discussed between the promoter and his workers first. In this article, we look at how Evo's second show "Life As We Know It" went.
March 12 was supposed a big day for Pro Wrestling Evo. It was the fledgling company's second show. And in spite of all the problems in the previous few weeks, things had played out rather nicely. Evo promoter Patrick Wright had secured the Cabarrus Arena after the sudden cancellation of their previous home, and had even managed to make peace with his play by play guy after a creative disagreement initially sent them in separate directions. Combined with the hype these articles were creating for the promotion, everyone involved expected great things.
Joe and I arrived to the Cabarrus Arena about two hours before bell time. The arena was certainly bigger than the theatre Evo had run their first show in, with space for seating of about 500. Patrick had acquired an entryway and setup a video screen on the top of it, and set out about 250 chairs in the hopes of hitting the magical breakeven number of 150 paid. As workers began trickling in, I spoke with the guys who were in the original Evo Eight tournament: Cedric Alexander, Jake Manning, Marcellus King, Zack Salvation and Logan East. I also got my first look at newcomers Caleb Konley and The Kings of the Carolinas, KC McKnight and Charlie Dreamer.
Everyone was in a good mood, and seemed loose and ready to perform. I watched a few match run-throughs and setup interviews for after the show. Joe was running the camera that night due to a last minute cancellation, so he took time to get his information while I spoke with Marcellus King's wife about how she should brand results as she live tweeted the show on Twitter. It was one hour before bell time, and the wheels began to come off.
Patrick wife called and said she was running late to the show. More importantly, she had forgotten to go by the bank and get change for the ticket booth and souvenir table. Since tickets were priced at $12, there was a desperate need for ones. Joe and I volunteered to try and find some change from the local convenience stores and restaurants. After rushing around the few stores in the area, we were only able to get $25 in ones and arrived back at the building just 15 min before the scheduled start.
But we weren't the only ones cutting it close. Evo Eight semi-finalist Joey Silvia arrived to the arena just minutes before the scheduled start. This complicated matters even worse because he brought the two guys who were there for their tryout, Trevor Lee and Chiva—more on them in a moment—and they were scheduled to go on second. Add this to the fact that ticket sales were not meeting expectations and things were certainly not starting off the way Patrick had hoped.
After delaying the start for 15 minutes, the lights went out and play by play man Andrew entered the ring as the opening hype video played on the Evo-tron. The lights came up and Andrew screamed into the mic to get the crowd of around 80 people hyped up. Instantly the room felt different than it had during Evo Eight. The room was too big, the crowd didn't fill it, and it lost the intimacy that had made the Black Box Theatre so special. But the show had to go on.
Andrew turned over the mic to the guest ring announcer who began to introduce Logan East. Before he could finish, Zack Salvation came through the curtain and cut him off. He cut a promo and argued with a fan at ringside as any good heel should. Robbie, who was indeed back with his family for a second show, launched into a tirade of boos as his arch-nemesis spoke. But again, it just wasn't the same.
Logan and Zack had a very good opening match. The premise was that Zack had seen something in Logan in their first match at Evo Eight and he wanted to see the young man again. As promised by Zack before the doors opened, there was not a single arm drag in the whole match, something I had never recalled seeing before. The match did exactly what it should have; it got the crowd hot but didn't burn them out.
The next match featured the two new comers to Evo who were there for their tryout. Trevor Lee played a Rick Rude type character who went around grinding his hips and rubbing his body, even to one of the two grandmothers who would later play a major role in the night. Chivas was a goat. Well, not literally a goat. But he wore a goat mask and a Chivas soccer jersey, a gimmick he had used in CHIKARA. The kids in the audience instantly loved it.
Trevor and Chivas put on an OK match. They did not watch the first match, apparently, and ended up doing a lot of the same spots that Logan and Zack did. There were also a couple of blown spots; including one scary moment where Chivas had his feet hit the top rope on a dive and ended up getting powerbombed on the concrete instead of landing on Lee. Lee did his best to cover, but the rotation was short and the splat sound on the concrete was alarming. Chivas made it back to his feet without any problems and ended up hitting a 630 senton for the win. All the kids mobbed him after the match, and I had to ask him to come back out during intermission because a few kids missed him.
Next up was the pre-intermission main event where Patrick Wright and Cale Crosby had their final grudge match of their careers. Fans of the Weekend Promo have seen footage of one bump in this match and Patrick and Cale put on a solid 15 minute performance that heated the crowd back up after they had cooled some from the second match. This match also saw a scary moment when Patrick didn't rotate all the way around on a slam and landed hard on his neck. He was able to finish, and true to his word about not putting himself over, jobbed to Crosby after a backdrop was reversed into a flip piledriver.
Intermission happened next and I spoke with the guys backstage. Everyone seemed happy with their performances, though nobody was over the top. Patrick was sore but seemed to be OK, as was Chivas, and everyone looked forward to the second half of the show. I thought they had rebounded nicely from a clunky start. But the first signs of real problems began here.
Play by play man Andrew found me to ask my opinion of the Trevor Lee vs. Chivas match. I told him I thought it was good. They had a few moments that were less than spectacular, including some botched spots, but that I thought they had real potential. Andrew gave me his astonished face and then quickly changed it to one of disgust. He felt the match was too long, and that the goat gimmick was beyond stupid. I told him I thought it got over OK but I was about to talk to some fans and see what they thought. He mumbled something about the goat again and shuffled off.
The fans seemed content, if unimpressed, with the show so far. I felt the same way, but chalked most of it up to the feel of the arena. The small crowd in the big venue was not helping matters at all. But the top of the card was coming, and the crowd was anticipating the second half of the show. Even the concession stand workers were interested in what came next.
Up next was the first tag team match in Evo history as new tag team the Kings of the Carolinas faced new Evo wrestler Caleb Konley and a mystery partner. The KoC were out first, and let me assure you, it has been a long time since I have seen a more pure heel than KC McKnight. They weren't even in the ring before he was jawing with some fan. Within 30 seconds, he had the fan super angry and the crowd as hot as they had been all night.
There had been a couple of different ways they were considering going with Caleb's partner, and they went with what I thought was the most interesting. Zack Salvation's music hit as Caleb's partner was about to be introduced and said that he had made sure Caleb's partner did not show because he wanted to give Logan yet another chance to impress him. He called Logan out and ordered him to join Caleb in the ring while he sat in the crowd. The match started with KC threatening to beat up the same fan and his wife if the guy didn't shut up. The couple's son, around five or six, was in tears by the time he was done. Like I said, pure heel.
The match was good, but not great. The babyfaces controlled much of the early action and the KoC never really established themselves as the badass heels they needed to. In fact, the best part of the match might have been when Robbie's grandmother headed toward the ring to fight KC. Her family actually took her outside to calm her down. Logan ended up taking the pin for his team, but it felt mostly flat. The KoC cut a promo that put OK heat on them after the match, but there was more interest in the argument that occurred between Caleb and Zack post-match than the KoC. Not the best start to the post-intermission action.
Next came the number one contender's match featuring Marcellus King vs. Joey Silvia. I had high hopes for this match after hearing about this thirty minute classic they had in South Carolina a couple of years ago. Maybe the bar was set too high, but this match didn't deliver at all. There were some great spots. King gorilla pressed Silvia and threw him into the third row of chairs, and even managed to make a different grandma, the one Trevor Lee did the grind if front of, come after him and tell him to "kiss her ass." But the match ultimately did not deliver.
The end was very good with Silvia hooking a surprise roll up for the win. The guest ring announcer promptly stood up and said, "Ladies and gentlemen, your new number once contender, Marcellus King!" That's not a misprint, but it was a mistake. King played it off like he had won until the ring announcer corrected his mistake, at which he acted even more upset and threatened Silvia.
The main event was Cedric Alexander defending the Evo Championship against "The Manscount" Jake Manning. This match did deliver what I expected. Manning is a fantastic heel, and as silly as his gimmick sounds (and to be fair it is silly), it is also a great heel gimmick. He created good heat for the hero Cedric to build off of, and Cedric won convincingly, sending the crowd home happy.
Cedric was mobbed after the show by little kids, and then attacked by Marcellus King. Joey Silvia ran out to make the save, and he and Cedric had a cool moment when they both picked up the belt at the same time and looked at it and then each other. They shook hands and hugged to end the show.
I grabbed Robbie real quick before he left and asked what he thought. He said he liked the show, but couldn’t say which one he liked the most. Several fans I spoke with said they enjoyed it and would be back for the next show, whenever it was. Joe and I helped put chairs away while Caleb, Jake and Cedric (primarily) took the ring apart and loaded it on the trailer.
We joined Patrick, Caleb, Marcellus, and Cedric for a late dinner at Applebee's and all agreed while it wasn't as good as the Evo Eight show, there were a lot of things to be happy about. We parted ways just as Daylight Savings Time kicked in, and Joe and I took the hour drive to discuss the show. We both agreed that while it wasn't as good as the first, but it wasn't a complete sophomore flop.
So when Patrick called me on the Monday after the show, I was stunned by his frustration. But I was totally unprepared for what he dropped on me in that conversation, "I'm not releasing the DVD."
Questions and comments to css3238 or on Twitter @the_shore_slant. Join me next time when we look at what Evo promoter Patrick Wright didn't like about the show and all the things that happened that led to his decision not to release the DVD.
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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