March 4, 2007
This is the next installment in my ďpromoters Iíve worked forĒ series, and this week Iím looking back at Fred Joung the second promoter I worked for as well as the first agent type guy I had to deal with, as Fred was the one who booked Jericho and I with FMW.
I might as well just jump in and say I have absolutely no use for people like Fred Joung, and as far as Iím concerned he optimized everything that is wrong at the lower levels of the wrestling business. I have no idea what Fred is up to now, and for all I know he could now be the salt of the earth, but at the time, I pretty much was always just one step away from punching the guy in the mouth and washing my hands of him.
I first met Fred through a guy named Ed Langley, who organized and ran the business end of the Hart training camp for Keith Hart, when Chris and I broke in. Ed just wanted to have his hand in the wrestling business so he was trying to promote shows with anyone he could and he agreed to co-promote some shows with Fred. Fred ran the shows and Ed supplied the ring. I was tight with Ed from the camp so Chris and I ended up on Fredís shows.
The thing I didnít like about Fred and what should be a warning sign for anyone out there breaking into the business, who runs into people like Fred, is that you didnít so much as work shows for Fred, you had to be one of Fredís guys. Fred was actually younger than I was but he talked a big game and was always trying to make himself out to be more than he was. He liked to control the people who worked for him and was always pressuring you to work exclusively for him. At the time I thought it was more of a power trip, but now I think it was just his attempt at getting his hooks into people hoping that if just one of ďhis guysĒ made it he could ride their career and milk it for all it was worth.
I worked 2 shows initially for Fred, both of which were run in Strathmore, AB and Fred was the first guy to book Jericho and I as a team and even gave us our first Tag Team name, ďSudden ImpactĒ. The shows were not great, our matches were horrible, and while we got paid our full $50 the first show, we got shorted on the second show only getting paid $20, which Fredís assured us he would make good on down the road, which of course he never did.
This would have been the end of my dealings with Fred, but unfortunately Fred got a connection to FMW and became a foreign talent agent and started dangling a Japan tour in front of us. Fred contacted Jericho first, but Jericho insisted that if he was going to be booked, he would have to book us as a team. I was reluctant dealing with Fred again, but when you are desperate for work you have to weigh the good against the bad, and the good of a possible Japan tour out weighed the bad of dealing with Fred.
We met with Fred and he showed us newspaper articles from Japan showing pictures of him with Rick Titan (a mutual friend from Calgary that he had booked for FMW), which was enough to convince us he was legit. He promised us that he could book us in Japan, but we would have to sign an exclusive contract with him first. Neither of us wanted to sign with Fred but the thought of going to Japan after less than a year in the business was exciting.
We fought signing with him as hard as we could, and eventually came to the compromise that he would book us on our first tour and that if that went as promised we would sign with Fred and he would be our agent. We would however have to commit to Fred, which meant no more working for anyone else. This of course was stupid as he was now going to book us and we couldnít keep active and stay sharp. This forced us to severe ties with Bob Puppets, the other promoter we were working for at the time.
The FMW trip became the string Fred led us around on for quite some time, with endless excuses as to why things were being delayed and postponed. At the time I thought he was delaying us in hopes to pressure us into signing with him, but looking back with the knowledge I have now, I assume he had very little pull with FMW and had to wait for them to ask him for new talent so he had to bullshit us to hide the fact that he wasnít nearly as important as he claimed to be.
The most absurd story was when he finally ran another show and wouldnít even let us work that. Chris and I were dieing to wrestle, and we hadnít had a match since agreeing to work with Fred, and here he was promoting a show and wouldnít let us work it. The story he gave us was that Onita (FMW Owner) was afraid if we worked any shows in North America, Vince McMahon might see us and steal us from him, and Onita was so high on us that he didnít want to risk it. We were green at the time but not this stupid, but again in hopes of going to Japan we shut our mouths and didnít argue.
I eventually convinced Fred to let me work the show, but I had to work under a mask as the Black Mamba, so Vince wouldnít know who I was. Jericho did commentary on the show (it aired on a local cable access channel), but Chris could not appear on camera and had to use the alias Clint Bobski. The show was far from tremendous and of course neither of us got paid because we were Fredís guys and he was booking us in Japan.
Fred eventually produced contracts for a 3-week tour of Japan with FMW for $800us per week, which we signed. The dates still got changed and there were more postponements but plane tickets eventually showed up and we were off to Japan in October of 1991. Fred didnít get us the work visaís he was supposed to, so we had to lie our way through customs, which scared the hell out of me. At the end of the tour we were paid $600 per week and promised by Onita himself to be brought back in for 5 tours next year starting in January and offered us a raise to $1000 pre week.
When we brought up the fact that the contracts we signed were for $800 pre week, FMW had no idea what contracts we were talking about but said that we did deserve the extra money and would send it to us. The money of course never came nor did the January tour, but I will deal with that more when I cover Atsushi Onita in a later promoters commentary.
When we got back to Calgary Fred had his agents contract in hand for us to sign. There was no way I was signing mine, and used the fact that we still were not paid fully for the tour as my excuse to postpone signing. I still kept in contact with Fred and played the game in hopes of getting the $600 us owed me or perhaps getting that January FMW tour, but neither even happened.
Chris was more interested in dealing with Fred in hopes of returning to Japan than I was and I eventually spit with Chris as a team and washed my hands of Fred entirely. It wasnít until the fall of the next year that the call from FMW came, and it was to work an outdoor stadium show in front of 40,000 people. Chris jumped at the chance but I actually turned it down. I had no major bookings, yet passed up a $1000 payday to work one show in front of 40,000 people, just to avoid dealing with Fred, I hated the guy that much!
In conclusion, I would list Fred as the absolute worst promoter I ever worked for. In my opinion he was nothing but a conniving weasel trying to make it big on the work of others. I believe others who did sign agent contracts with Fred ended up in lengthy court battles over money and regretted ever having met or done business with him. If you ever train with or try to work for anyone who wants you to sign an exclusive contact or an agentís type agreement, be VERY careful!