A Shore Special--Through the Curtain: Pro Wrestling Evo makes it's triumphant return after almost shutting down
By Chris Shore
This is part 10 of my series on Pro Wrestling EVO, an upstart independent promotion in Concord, NC. You will find previous parts of A Shore Special—Through the Curtain here. In this article, we learn what has transpired since the ill-fated "Life As We Know It" show, and what to expect from next weekend's "This Is Wrestling (clap clap clap clap clap)".
It had been several months since I had sat down with Pro Wrestling Evo owner Patrick Wright to discuss the state of the organization. It had been late March, and Patrick was seriously considering just folding up shop and going home. After a breakout opening show, his sophomore effort, "Life As We Know It," was a disaster in his eyes. The show, which Patrick would decide was not worthy of a DVD release, suffered from problems across the board. So when he called me with so much enthusiasm, I was shocked.
"You're never going to believe this," he began. "The Cabarrus Arena loves us. They called me and want to work with me to bring Evo there monthly. They are going to pitch in with advertising and equipment. They really want to re-establish a wrestling presence in the Concord to Charlotte area. And they want that presence to be us." I congratulated him on the good news and we talked some minor specifics which cannot be released, but rest assured Cabarrus Arena is, as they say, "doing Patrick a solid."
Patrick went on to lay out the July show for me. He opened his pitch by telling me this would be the biggest show of the year for Evo. I stopped him. Biggest show of the year? You are four months off a show that was so bad you won't release the DVD. What was he going to do to ensure they didn't stink up the joint again?
"Well, a lot of what was wrong with Life As We Know It was my fault. I put people in positions that they weren't ready for, and created situations where it would be difficult for anyone to do well." I asked him to explain what he meant and he continued. "Take the ring announcer from last show. He was terrible. But the truth is that guy is great on the mic. He's a musician and singer and knows how to work that type of crowd. But he's not a wrestling guy. So what he did was great, but not for a ring announcer."
"Or take my color commentator. He was exhausted by the end of the show and his commentary suffered because of it. But why was he exhausted? Because I dragged him to the arena at 8:00 that morning and made him help me set up the chairs and the ring and the entry and everything. I was exhausted at the end of the night, how could I be mad at him for being the same. I realize I was [angry] at the time, and yeah, he could have slammed a couple of Red Bulls. But I did it to him. I can't really be mad for that."
I pointed out those were relatively small issues compared to the look of the show and the talent issues from before. He agreed and said he had addressed all the issues, both big and small. "The important thing is to learn from your mistakes. We're replacing the ring announcer with a brilliant wrestling mind and seasoned professional." We both had a good laugh at the sentence as I am the "seasoned professional" he was speaking about. We had discussed my background in PA work before and had offered my services if needed. Besides, which of you wouldn't ring announce if given the opportunity?
"My color guy is coming back, but [former play by play man] Andrew will not. I will call most of the matches, but both Marcellus King and Jake Manning will each have a turn on the headset once. That's the way [Pro Wrestling] Guerilla does it, and I think it works. It may not be our long term solution, but it's what we are doing for this show.
"To fix the 'look' of the product we are bringing in huge amounts of piping and curtains, and we will kill all the house lights and just use two huge halogen lights that we rented. That will black out everything but what is important, the action in the ring. We will also have a 72 square foot video screen that will show not only ring entrance videos, but promos and the webisodes that have been airing on the website."
Patrick has started a new web show called Pro Wrestling Evo: Underground with the intent of carrying storylines forward from event to event. The first webisode can be found here, and the second will be up on Monday.
I asked about talent again as that had been his biggest complaint. He sighed and nodded before shrugging his shoulders. "Wrestling is a tough business when it comes to loyalty and trust. I can honestly say there are only four guys I know I can book that will A) show up, and B) do a good job, every single time. It's tough to do much when that number is so low.
"But that's also why this is the biggest show of the year. We are bringing in several new guys who I expect to fall into the same category as those other four guys. I've got guys on this show that have been begging me since last year to work with Evo. I'm getting calls from all over the state. Between the success of Evo Eight, these articles, and my absolute demand that this company run like any other business, people have started to take notice. So I'm beginning to scout more talent and maybe even help develop a few.
I told you in our first interview that I wanted to find guys who believed in the product and the company. You can find 500 guys at the snap of a finger who will work your show for the pay and go home. I want guys who would be willing to work for free. Not that I won't pay them, but they believe enough that they would still go on for no money because of the good it can do down the road."
I could tell he believed what he was saying and moved on to the new talent he had mention by asking about the card for This Is Wrestling (clap clap clap clap clap), which Patrick said would continue to be the name of his July show (perhaps adding a "clap" each year!)
"The opening match will be a triple threat match featuring two new wrestlers and one returning. Trevor Lee is back to try and make a better impression, and we will introduce Circo and Arik Royal. Arik wrestles for CWF (where CHIKARA and Dragon Gate USA most recently came to NC) and has been wanting to get on the show for a while. And people who have seen Underground have already had a chance to see Circo. He's a member of the Circus, which Marcellus will unveil at the show.
"Next we have Jimmy Jack Funk Jr. vs. Shane Phoenix. Both are new guys and are looking to become regulars for Evo. The pre-intermission match will be Team Macktion vs. Zack Salvation and a mystery partner. Team Macktion is well known in the area. They were trained by the Hardys and have toured all over the East coast. Zack's partner won't be revealed until the show, but trust me on this one, it's going to be good.
"We only have two matches after the intermission, but both should be stellar. We'll come back with the Manscout Challenge, which by the way is still open at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're still not entirely sure who Jake will face yet, but we do have a favorite. And if anyone really would like to challenge Jake, they will find the email is valid.
"And of course, the main event, Cedric Alexander vs. Joey Silvia for the Evo Heavyweight Championship. We have had some news concerning this match, but we are going to wait and announce that tomorrow on episode two of Underground. It's a pretty big announcement, so I encourage everyone to check out ProWrestlingEvo.com tomorrow to see what it is."
I began my final question in trepidation because I did not want to insult Patrick, but I felt like it had to be asked. "Don't you think you have a little bit of hubris to call your third show ever, four full months after a show so bad you refused to release it, your biggest show ever?"
Patrick nodded. "That's fair, and maybe we do. But here's the way I look at it. There was no WrestleMania until Vince McMahon said there was. There was no "biggest show of the year." But he said, 'Hey, we're going to have a big show and call it WrestleMania, and it'll be so big…it'll be the biggest.' WrestleMania exists out of his force of will, and making people believe in that big show.
"That's what I'm doing, just on my current scale. There cannot be a biggest show ever until we say there is and act like it is. It doesn't matter when you hold it, as long as you make it as big as you can and deliver on your promises. And then next year when we call it the biggest show of the year, people will just say, 'Yeah, its July in Concord. Time for This is Wrestling.'"
Questions and comments to css3238 or on Twitter @the_shore_slant. Join me next time when we learn if This is Wrestling comes off better than Life as We Know It.
You can check out more on EVO and order EVO Eight, the first DVD production from Pro Wrestling Evo on the EVO website.
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