A Shore Special--Through the Curtain: Who are the EVO Eight?
By Chris Shore
This is part three of my series on Pro Wrestling EVO, an upstart independent promotion in Salisbury, NC. You will find parts one and two of A Shore Special—Through the Curtain here. In this article, I sit down with Patrick Wright, the man responsible for picking and booking talent.
After discussing what it took to get Evo Eight off the ground, the next logical place to go was to the talent he had decided to book for his show. But before I could half get the question out EVO CEO Ralph Fitzpatrick cut me off. "For operations you have to talk to Patrick Wright. Patrick is the other half of my brain, if you will. His industry knowledge matches my design and business knowledge. Together I think we are a great team."
Ralph left so Patrick and I could talk. Patrick had wrestled in the tournament, which was of no surprise. A lot of indys have active wrestlers as their booker. Usually that guy also ends up the number one guy in the promotion. But Patrick had had his ass thoroughly kicked by Marcellus King in the first round. This was certainly an interesting development.
"I booked myself to save costs," said Wright "But my purpose here is not to put me over, it is to do business. That's the deal around here. We do what's best for business." Even in a business where people "lie" for a living, it was plain he was speaking the truth. "That's what I told all these guys when I asked them to come aboard. I'm friends with every single one of these guys. And I told them, 'I will not put you over because you are my friend. If I put you over, it's what is best for business.' I think they understand, and that gives us a great core to work with."
I could tell the back story of these guys was going to be interesting. "OK," I began, "Tell me why you booked these eight guys as your core." Patrick opened his arms wide and said, "I have to start with Joey Silvia. Joey is a machine. There are two clear memories I have of watching Joey work. I saw Joey and Marcellus King have a 30 minute match in York, SC that was one of the best matches I have ever seen. The second was a cage match where he took a back cracker from top of cage. The guy is unbelievable.
Now don't get me wrong, he's not a stunt man. Quite the opposite, he's very smart and is using his raw talent to hone his craft. He understands how to tell a story in the ring, and he is so very physical. He reminds me so much of AJ Styles in that both what he delivers and sells is just on another level. Joey Silvia is a star. I want to make sure people see him."
Patrick shifted to Zack Salvation. "I remember when Zack Salvation was nothing but a fat backyarder. And I say that with all the respect in the world because I would put him up against any worker in the Southeast. You've seen video of the match he had with Bryan Danielson? Zack gives all the credit to Danielson, and that guy is unbelievable, but he couldn't have had that match with just anyone. Just watch Zack and you'll see why he's on my roster: great look, great body, and still always tries to get better. Between me and you, it stuns me every day Zack Salvation isn't on somebody's roster somewhere.
Plus he's constantly thinking outside of the box. Look at his Team Salvation gimmick. Sure, plenty of guys have done the MMA thing, but he really wants to build a faction much like is really done in MMA where the veterans take young guys under their wing and train them. He's always there with fresh ideas for us to chew on. He makes me the happiest being on the roster."
Patrick smiled the smile of a fan as he turned his comments to Jake Manning. "The Manscout gimmick is the funniest gimmick I've ever seen. And it gets over so much! And here's your real insider info: Jake Manning is an actual Eagle Scout. How cool is that? In all seriousness, Jake is genius in this business. I bet he probably doesn't even realize how much he knows. By working at Highspots he gets access to legends and all kinds of people who have been all over this business. And he just flat learns from those guys. And he shares that knowledge every chance he gets.
You know, it's funny. I hated Jake when we first met. He's brutally honest, but when you deal with people in this business you kind of have to be. But once you get to know him, you realize his passion for this business, and that he really is a nice guy. Besides, you have to have Jake Manning on your roster, he's a ring general. Jake has been all over honing his craft, and the sheer volume of ring hours he has will only serve to help everyone on the roster."
Marcellus King was our next wrestler. "You have to have a beast on your roster. Everybody has one. Pick any promotion, any, and they have that guy who is just built to destroy people. And for us, that's Marcellus King. But here's the scary part about Marcellus, he's incredibly agile for his size. He has lost serious weight and is in great shape.
You know his gimmick started as crazy character, but now he's a total badass. Once I saw the shape he was in, I knew we had to go with the intimidating, brutal character. And the best part is, he's not that guy! He works so well with everyone. He takes care of you and makes it look good at the same time. Look what he did with me. I haven't wrestled in a year and we looked good. Well, he looked good. I got my ass kicked!"
His description of Logan East took an unexpected detour. "Here's your inside scoop on Logan East, he's a unbelievable trumpet player. I rmember driving back late one night from Knoxville to Charlotte and we listened to CDs of his band or orchestra or whatever it was. But yeah, he's really, really good.
Now I hadn't seen him wrestle since 2006. But (ring announcer and play by play voice) Rowdy called when I still had three spots to fill and recommended Logan. He told me Zack had been working with him and Logan was rededicated to the business. So I had to take a chance. Behind Cedric, Logan is the most athletic person on roster. We didn't get a chance to showcase that tonight, but we will. We wanted to give him a chance to get his legs so we put him in his first match with Zack because Zack was training him. He was my certainly my biggest risk. But I think he paid off nicely."
Patrick described Cale Crosby as "like a brother." "We have traveled together all over the Southeast and I know exactly what he can do. He reminds me so much of Kevin Steen. He's the guy who looks out of shape but can do amazing things in the ring. He has great cardio. Never gets blown up. He has great skills. I know because I've jobbed to the guy a million times. Cale isn't part of our core eight, though I will certainly use him again. He filled in for Caleb Konley who got the call to go wrestle for ROH. So Cale stepped in to help and he had one job, give Joey (who was a sick that night) and easy match to the second round, and I think he did very well."
Patrick takes a much more serious tone when discussing Caleb Konley. "When I first saw Caleb he had blonde hair in a flat top and he was "The Obsession" CK1. He's changed to a different gimmick because everybody does that sort of thing, but I've loved him since then. He has a great look, is smart in the business, and has a ton of ring time. He's working all over the place. He's done a lot with ROH; he's in Japan right now doing Zero One. He'll make his debut only two nights after getting back from Japan so somebody will probably get stiffed that night!
But that's why you have him on roster, he's a stud. He was called by ROH all of a sudden and that's why he wasn't at the tournament. Think about it, I was competing with ROH for a guy. And yeah, I lost. But good for him. Remember, this is a business for him too and I'm happy he got the call. But you see why with that much experience, and the ability to work that ROH style, I had to have Caleb Konley."
But there is no mistaking what Patrick thinks of new EVO Champion Cedric Alexander. His eyes lit up as he spoke about his young star. "I've only known this guy about a year now. The first time I met him we wrestled against each other in a six on six match in Myrtle Beach, SC. He hit me with a dropkick and he busted my mouth open. I gave him hell about it that night, but I kept up with him through Jake and Caleb. The kid is a sponge. He absorbs everything he can about this business. He has only been doing this for what, two years now? And all ready he understands not only that you have to tell a story, but how you tell a story.
Even after the show he was ready to go. Most guys after going three times in one night would want to take some Tylenol and go to bed, but not Cedric. And that willingness to go the extra mile, and the way he just retains things is one of the reasons we put the belt on him tonight. Because the reality is, somebody else was supposed to win this tonight. The original plan called for a slow build for Cedric.
But another guy on the roster came to me and said, 'You have to make Cedric your champion.' And as we talked about it, I realized he was right. The first time I told Cedric my vision, he bought in completely. And I realized that was the attitude we needed to build this company. So we made the change, and I think everyone saw tonight why we made him our champion."
"Will you be adding more people to the promotion?" I asked.
"Of course," said Patrick. "I plan on booking myself on only one more show and then that's it for me. And we want to add tag teams very soon. I've had interest from several teams already, plus I'm scouting and looking for the best talent. I think that was my idea all along as I approached booking the talent.
See, I look at it like we've created a football franchise. And in order to make my team the best it can be, I have to have the best talent, and preferably talent that is young and will only get better. So that's what I did. I looked at what was around me and picked the eight best. Or to put it another way, the eight most likely to bring evolution to professional wrestling."
Questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @the_shore_slant.
Also buy the DVD that started it all, EVO Eight on the EVO website. Use promo code dotnet and get it for only $12 and free shipping.
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