No Script Required: FS Reprint
January 15, 2012
I wrote the following for my "Storm Front" article for "Fighting Spirit" Magazine, back in October, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
This month I'm going to talk about one of the biggest misconceptions of the business today; the notion that all matches are scripted. The word scripted has always been a pet peeve of mine, even when it comes to promos, but when it's used when referring to matches it drives me absolutely crazy. While promos are often written for people today and matches are more often than not very structured and planned out, the belief that everything you see in wrestling is scripted infuriates me.
Now I'm not saying that matches are largely real or that guys are going out there with no idea what is going to say, but when this business is at its best and done properly by truly talented professionals, there is not only no need for a script, there is often no desire for one either. I've often said that pro-wrestling is art and if you think of it in the form of music, I think it is at it's best when it is free flowing Jazz rather than auto-tuned overly synthesized Pop. That is not to say that all free flowing Jazz is good or all auto-tuned Pop is bad but a world consisting of only auto-tuned Britney Spears would be a world in which I throw out my iPod and wish I were deaf.
With all that said I thought I would share with you a couple stories from my career where I had to play some completely free flowing Jazz. There have been many times in my career where I've had to play it all by ear, and I've always enjoyed the challenge. I think my confidence in rising to these challenges is the main reason why, unlike most of my co-workers, I never got nervous before matches. When you are comfortable in just going with the flow, what is there to be nervous about? If all else fails just wrestle.
The greatest example of me working without a script happened just recently. Not only was the match completely made up on the fly, I didn't even know I was having a match 2 minutes before the match started. The match happened this past August in Edmonton, Alberta on a PWA event. I was the special guest referee in a tag match involving Tommy Dreamer. I Book the shows for PWA and at the end of this match we cut an angle for a match between Tommy Dreamer and PWA Champ Chris Steele for a show the following night in Calgary. The angle got more heated than originally expected so rather than just creating interest (hoping fans might make the trip to Calgary to see the show) fans got so excited they where irate the match was not happening in Edmonton.
In the finish of the match Dreamer had bumped me so as I'm selling on the mat watching the angle play out; I'm listening to the crowd realizing that they are getting very upset and likely going to be going home pretty unhappy. I did not want the crowd to go home unhappy so completely out of the blue I grab the one ref and told him to go ask Tommy if he'd be willing to do a short impromptu match with me right now. The ref just stared at me dumbfounded so I told him again to go ask Tommy. After asking Tommy the ref came back and said "Dreamer said he'll do what ever you want." So as the ring was clearing I grabbed the microphone and challenged Tommy Dreamer to a fight right here right now. Tommy accepted and the crowd got an unexpected match that most definitely had no script. I told Tommy I'd put him over and we started fighting. After a short match of back and forth, Tommy hit me with his Death Valley Driver, and as he covered me I asked him, "Is this it?" to which he replied, "Yep", so I stayed down 1...2...3, and the crowd popped and went home happy.
Matches aren't the only thing that you can and sometimes have to do without a script. Seeing as I'm way more comfortable on the mat than I am on the microphone, cutting promos without a script, was never as much fun for me. Never was this more the case than when I was in WCW working with Ernest the Cat Miller. In WCW I was always handed a written promo for TV with the understanding that I was free to alter and change the promo if I wanted to as long as I stuck to the general idea. I always rewrote the promos and unlike my matches stuck pretty tight to my game plan once out in front of the crowd and seldom adlibbed. On this one particular night I was to cut a promo on The Cat live on Monday Nitro. Miller was to go out firsts and cut a fairly lengthy promo. I was then going to interrupt him and challenge him to an impromptu match right there and then. I don't remember what all Ernest was going to say that night but I laid my promo out ahead of time with the opening line, "You talk a real good game Cat, but can you back it up..." or something very close to that effect, which would lead into me challenging him to shut up and wrestle, and we would have our match.
So here I am standing in the Gorilla position back stage watching Cat make his ring entrance, while I run my promo through my head, "You talk a good game Cat..." Ernest gets into the ring, the ring announcer hands Cat the microphone, he looks at it for a few second, and then hands it back. There is then a long awkward pause backstage, everyone shrugs and they hit my music. I was dumbfounded, we were on LIVE TV, he didn't cut his promo, we are not booked in a match yet, The Cat is standing in the ring, and I have to come out on the stage and cut a promo and the first line of the promo I had planned on cutting was, "You talk a good game Cat..." what the hell was I going to do? What else could I do, my music was playing and we were live; I threw my "script" in the garbage and went out on stage to wing it. I don't remember what exactly I said; perhaps you can search YouTube and find the segment, but I managed to say something that made some sort of sense and challenged him to a match, which I'm sure went smoother than my promo, but in any event I got it done and I doubt too many people watching noticed anything went wrong. Granted this was WCW in 2000, so as long as there were no blowup dolls or Viagra on a pole, I had a good chance of being the best segment on the show.
These are but two examples of working without a script and while it's always good to have a game plan, letting a match or promo grow, on their own, is when you're truly an artist.
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