EXCLUSIVE: RCW "very dangerous", future of wrestling in Manitoba threatened, says former booker
Tod Bullet grew up watching AWA wrestling and was able to live his dream. He wrestled for River City Wrestling and CWF/NWA in Winnipeg as a midcard attraction from 1993 until 2002, as a rookie being pounded by the likes of Sgt Steele and Eddie Watts before maturing to title contendership against Jr. Heavyweights like Caveman Broda and Bobby Collins. He retired but his love of the business led him back to try to contribute. However the RCW he had worked for was only the same in name.
In it's heyday RCW featured headliners like experienced Canadian indy performers like Steele (JR Bundy), Mike Stone and Brian Jewel and up n'comers like Robbie Royce and Vance Nevada. But now it was overrun with 14 and 15 year old girls as "valets", undertrained and untrained wrestlers "who belong in the third row" and a lack of leadership was evident. Tod tried to help but "I felt like head of a daycare". He was suddenly ousted as booker last month.
Most importantly Bullet senses that "there won't be any indy wrestling in Manitoba in the next year or so" if the continuing lack of professional standards and control to mitigate risk and weed out those who do not belong near a ring results in insurance premiums continuing to skyrocket or government intervention.
Question 1) How did you come to be the booker for RCW?
TB: I heard through the grapevine that Wayne had started up RCW again. I phoned him and asked if there would be any problem with me coming down and watching one of his shows. I had booked for him a couple of years back and we didn't exactly part on good terms, so I wanted to make sure that there would be no heat if I showed up. We talked about me booking but I said I wanted a clear understanding of what was expected of me so there would be no problems this time around. He was only running at Norquay Community Centre, so this fit into my schedule. I told him that Saturday nights would be no problem to book.
2) What was the situation in the locker room like?
TB: When I first came in, Alex Rain was still working there and trying his best to organize the looker room but really it was pretty chaotic. Most of the crew was green and had no sense of reality when it came to the wrestling business. After Wayne let Rain go...it got worse.
I had to try to maintain sanity by myself. At times I felt like head of a daycare center. I don't blame a lot of the people there... they were green and just didn't know any better, but it was getting to the point that it was too much for one guy to handle.
3) What difficulties did you encounter in trying to do your job?
TB: No respect, no chain of command, crew members letting their friends hang out in the locker room, rookies who know it all, guys bitching why they can't go over, rookies bitching about having to take the pin. I could go on and on but the biggest problem was people who just don't listen. They don't get it.
Believe me...I'm no Eddie Watts but I've been around long enough to know wrong from right. I'll give you a perfect example. We've got a heel wrestled his match and is suppose to be selling an injury...ten minutes later he's sitting in the third row eating popcorn and watching the show with the fans. I called him down to the locker room and told him he better decide if he wants to be a wrestler or buy a ticket and sit with the fans. He tells me that he'll "keep that in mind". Ten minutes later where do I find him...back in the third row. I wanted to run head first into a brick wall!
4) Is RCW a wrestling promotion, a development camp or what exactly? How many of them should be in a locker room with pro wrestlers? Is it a dangerous environment and what did you do to establish safeguards?
TB: I really don't know what you'd call it? They have performers and a ring but it's not a wrestling promotion in the true sense. Like I said before, most of the crew is green and doesn't know any better so maybe I could count on one hand the amount of guys who could be in a real locker room.
Is it dangerous...very.
For the most part you have the blind leading the blind. As for safeguards, I looked at each persons limitations and tried to get them to keep within it. I gave a short speech about zero tolerance for showing up drunk or stoned and was forced to sit a guy out the very next show...see what I mean about guys who don't listen?
5) What was your encounter with backyarders? How is RCW different than backyard and how is it the same? is it possible for backyarders to go to the RCW environment and make it to a genuine promotion?
TB: Well...I've never been to a backyard event but RCW does carry a lot of untrained people so if you consider them as backyarders then I've encountered a great number of them. One of the main things wrong with RCW as it stands is that there's no one to push out the unwanted.
It seems to have an open door policy to put people in the ring who really belong in the third row with that popcorn eating heel that I mentioned before. The lack of veterans made my job as booker that much harder.
6) RCW Newlsine said "A quote from an email sent Jan 27th by Tod Bullet to me: 'I officially step down as booker for RCW. It seems to me that you favor Elie as booker and that's fine with me. I see your point of all the work and effort that he puts into the promotion and I respect him for that." - Tod wasn't fired. He quit."
TB: Sometimes you have to be a politician and tell people what they need to hear. If the truth is to be known...I lied. I have no respect for Elie aka MadMan Muir. I think he's a wanna be, but let's take it back a step and let me explain that whole situation.
I had taken time off my regular job to come to Chalmers and book the show that particular evening. When I got there at lease six of the crew members came to me asking why Muir and P-Lo were booking the show. This was the first I had heard about it. I went to the back room and asked what was going on...they both ignored me like I wasn't even there. After a few minutes I looked over their line up and decided to call Wayne and ask what was going on.
On the phone, Wayne told me that I was to book the show and that Muir and P-Lo were asked to book if I didn't show up. (Why wouldn't I show up...I had told him three days before that I would be there). I told the crew that I was indeed booking the show and started pulling guys aside to let them know who they were working and so on. A few minutes later someone stooged and told me that Muir and P-Lo were mad and were outside in their car. I went out to talk to them but they weren't there. I asked Louie if they were mad at me and he said no and that they just went to go and get something to eat.
So up to this point they were still booked on the card. Later when they didn't attend the crew meeting before the show someone told me that they weren't working the show because they had sore backs. So they sat up in the crowd like a couple of whinning cry babies. I told Louie to ask them to come downstairs and the three of us would go into a seperate room and work this out. Louie came back and said that they didn't want to talk to me.
It was at this point that I changed the line up (and the second match had already started). I had to make new line up copies for the music man and the guy who was announcing that night and all this time guys were asking about this and that. I was running up and down the stairs like a madman. I was so pissed off after the show that I didn't even stay to talk to Wayne (which I always did). The next day I emailed Wayne with a long list of things that I felt needed to be addressed including Muir and P-Lo sitting out the show because they didn't get their own way.
He emailed me back stating that he felt that all those problems were the responsability of the booker. Some of the things on my list I would agree were my problem but without his backing I was helpless to do anything about. His reply to Muir and P-Lo sitting out the show in protest was simply "we can't force people to work". Huh? What about guys having no respect for the booker. That was the reason he gave Alex Rain when he fired him, but he didn't want to fire Muir because he was Wayne's number one ring boy.
A day or two later I sent Wayne another email saying that I had put a card together and would be at the next show to book. Wayne emailed me back saying that Muir too had put a card together and he went on about how Muir was always there to help him with the ring and so on. I took this as an insult that it was a fight for the booking job between him and I so I emailed him back and said that it seems to me that he favoured Muir over me and that I stepped down as booker. If he wanted Elie so bad...he could have him.
7) Is Muir in your opinion a qualified booker or trainer?
TB: He doesn't even understand the courtesy of basic hygiene. He is not qualified especially with such young people around.
I spent almost two months trying to build Muir as a credible heel and he f'd it up all in one night by booking himself against Danny Duggan and taking ten minutes to beat him. Danny Duggan was a 130 pound, 15 year old ref who had only had something like one or two matches in RCW. After what I did building Muir...he should have squashed him in thirty seconds...but Elie knows better.
8)"When I returned his email I made two suggestions to keep him active with us. If he wanted to wrestle, he could book his own angle...and if we ever returned to Norquay he could book those shows. There was no response. " Comments
TB: I didn't respond because I wasn't sure if it would be a good idea to come back. Wayne needed Elie to help with the ring so by not coming back it would actually help Wayne because I already knew he would choose his ring boy over me.
(Editors note- according to reports Muir and P-Lo no-showed their first card as bookers and instead were seen peddling their connection with a local nightclub to Premiere Championship Wrestling officials at a PCW card that same night.)
9) "I've only booked 4 shows, all consecutive, all at Norquay, all with over 200 in attendance including 259 the last show before Tod took over. After that, attendance steadily declined over the next 4 shows, to a low of 105 when we left. Since we returned to Chalmers the attendance has been below 90. It might be coincidence, but during his time with the book, attendance dropped. Comments?
TB: "Sometimes you can't make a silk purse out of a sows ear"
He booked four shows and gave away 500 tickets for each show. Attendance and the paid gate are two different things and the booking had nothing to do with either. I was still in the rebuilding stages of RCW. River City had been taking a beating on the net about how shitty their product was because they had almost no talent. It was my first goal to help get the talent over.
I tried to put together matches that would build on each persons strong points and hide their weaknesses. One of the first things I did was put a microphone in P-Lo's hand...hell - the guy could talk. After Rain was fired I needed to put some credability back into the belt so I put it on Billy Cage, who in my eyes was one of the best workers RCW had. Billy was willing to work with anyone and was never a problem so I knew when it was time for him to drop it...it would be easy. The plan was for Billy to work a program with Jerin Rose and eventually drop the belt to him, but after a series of matches, Wayne decided he wanted to go in a different direction and the storyline was dropped.
I booked the Cat-fight between Lace and Becky. The same cat-fight that got the biggest pop in RCW since Caveman Broda wrestled, but the next day the two girls had started a poll on this site about how great they were and it killed the angle as fast as it started. The first time I saw them...they stood at ring side like a couple of broomsticks. They added nothing to the show. As I was building the angle before the cat-fight, I actually had people ask me if they really hated each other.
Anyone can match-make but to be a booker you have to see the big picture.
10) RCW claims to be both not in competition with the other groups in Winnipeg (merely using available talent to stay sharp) and a development fed. Yet they launched a website that certainly imitated a professional themes ie- the "sexy" valets and managers angles, intended to draw crowds, rather than the basic facts and info one might expect from a training setting. What steps do you think should be taken either thru the proposed study or city hall to make sure that RCW and other "organizations" do not negatively impact the image and insurance ratings of professionally operated events?
TB: When it comes to RCW competing with other groups in the province...I think Wayne wants to compete but he doesn't want to win. I think he's content being somewhere in the middle of the pack. When I first came on board, I had a lot of ideas to bring back the respect that RCW use to have...get rid of the wanna bees, get rid of the underage kids, don't put people in the ring who aren't ready and so on.
When he fired Alex Rain, he put the heat on me saying to him that he was fired for disrespecting the booker (ie-me). That couldn't have been farther from the truth. Rain was the best thing they had going. He was willing to work anyone and he was helping train the young guys. I fought hard to have Rain come back but Wayne had other issues with him. I've heard people say that "Wayne is Wayne".
Now what I mean by that is Wayne tends to hire people because he might like them...not because it's good for business. I think that's noble but like I said "it's not always good for business". RCW has people who would probably never get the opportunities that Wayne gives them and they take advantage of it. It goes back to having no respect for the business and Wayne doesn't know how to instill it.
Some of these kids really need a tune up. If I had full control of that company...I could think of at least six people who would be gone tomorrow. I would lay down the law as for the rules and ring duty and if someone didn't like it...I'd show them the door. You can't always be nice. The bottom line is that wrestling is a business and it should be treated that way.
As for the insurance thing, I understand that the rates are sky-rocketing as we speak. I don't think that these kids who come to play in the ring and bitch after-words realize that someone is paying a large sum of money so they can just show up when they feel like it for play time. We definately have to get a handle on the insurance rates or there won't be any indy wrestling in Manitoba in the next year or so.
As for the study, back when wrestling became deregulated the industry was suppose to police itself and did so for along time...until lately. There is a lot of finger pointing going on about problems with local wrestling companies and a lot of them are pointing at RCW. Now believe me, they are not the only one but they could be considered a company who should be dealing with certain issues before someone tells them how to run their business.
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from the boys:
Ed Moretti says "Okay lets see...they did twenty high spots, chairs, tables, chains, outside interference, and juice...what's the rest of the card gonna do"?