WRP: Fighting Spirit reprint
March 08, 2012
I wrote the following for my "Storm Front" article for "Fighting Spirit" Magazine, back in Nov, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
I have never been more tired writing an article than I am writing this one right now. I've been running on fumes and practically no sleep for almost a week and I'm just about at the end of my rope. I'm actually writing this column early in the morning aboard Air Canada flight 569 on my way home. The reason for my near exhaustion and this early morning flight are one in the same; The Wrestling Retribution Project. I wrote about WRP several months ago, and at the time didn't mention that I would be involved in the project. I didn't mention my involvement because I wasn't sure at the time I'd be able to clear my schedule enough to take part. I did end up clear my schedule and while I am extremely burnt out now, I'm very glad I was able to be a part of this; it was one of the best learning experiences of my career.
For those who may have missed my earlier piece (shame on you), WRP was the brain child of Jeff Katz, who works primarily in movies now but once upon a time he worked for WCW. Jeff's idea was to shoot an entire season of a wrestling show like you would an independent film, and then market it digitally as a season, rather than trying to sell it week by week as a regular TV show. Doing it in this format kept the budget down and allowed for better scripting/booking because the season could then have a beginning, middle, and end. It was a very ambitious idea and Jeff hired me as an agent/producer for the project and we shot the entire thing this past week in LA, and it was the craziest shooting schedule I've ever seen.
As an agent/producer I was expecting to simply work with the talent to help structure matches but that only ended up being a minor part of my over all duties. Thankfully I wasn't the only person in this role as I was backed up by my good friends Tommy Dreamer and Christopher Daniels. Between the three of us we had to organize and coordinate the shoot schedule for all the matches, let the boys know the, who, when, what, where, and why of their matches and try to keep everyone on the same page while running at a near assembly line pace.
In the end we managed to shoot 63 matches in just 3 days, and I still can't believe we managed to pull it off, let alone how good all the matches turned out, despite the incredible pace and schedule. This crew was without a doubt the hardest working crew I've ever had the pleasure of sharing a locker room with. Many of the guys had 9 matches over the three days (occasionally having to work 4 times in one day) and often only with 30 to 45 minutes between matches to prepare. We were all at the set for 10-12 hours each day and after each shoot Dreamer, Daniels, and I would spend another 3 or 4 hours booking out and scheduling the next day's match schedule.
If it wasn't for everyone's selflessness and dedication we never would have succeeded. There were no politics or complaints from the boys and everyone pulled together. The original plan was for the 3 agents to split up and agent specific feuds and angles for a better attention to detail, but we soon found out that in addition to agenting matches we would also had to run the Gorilla position (The position right behind the entry way), giving times cues, and communicating with camera men and the director to get this shoot done. In the end we did as much as a group before and after cameras were rolling as agents, and then when it was time to go, I manned the gorilla position, Daniels ran everything from locker room to Gorilla, and Dreamer ran everywhere putting out any and all fires that popped up along the way. It was the most unified effort I've ever seen put forth, and everybody stepped up and rose to the occasion. After 3 days of running Gorilla (originally named thus in WWE after Gorilla Monsoon who ran it for Vince McMahon) the boys jokingly renamed our position the "Storm Position" which quickly got changed to the "Storm Drain", which I hope was done for the better play on words and not as a reflection of the quality of work I was doing there.
We shot the entire thing at the Jim Henson theater, which is located on the Charlie Chaplin lot in Los Angeles, California. I assume this was the same theater they used to shoot the Muppet show in many years ago. There was Muppet stuff everywhere and the bathrooms weren't even labelled, Men's and Women's, but with pictures of Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. It was a very cool place and apart from the Hotel and a small diner it was the only place I saw my entire stay in LA. I was up before sun rise and to bed well after dark each day; it was all work and no play, but I cannot say it made me a dull boy; it was a challenge and a true pleasure.
There were so many talented guys on this show and the work rate was incredible. Many of the guys I'd never seen before and almost without exception they all knocked my socks off; two of my favourites being Karl Anderson, and Sammy Callahan, who were incredible heels. There were familiar faces there as well with fellow Canadian Kenny Omega, and my short term ROH rival Chris Hero also on the roster. There was a really great mix of entertaining characters and incredible workers, which should make for a really great end product for fans.
The 4th and final day of shooting was in the interview room where I again expanded my duties taking on the roll of the guy who runs the clap board between takes, as well as pitching verbiage ideas on promos. While I was not known for my promos during my career, I was there primarily for my attention to detail and ended up adding a lot more lines to promos than probably any of us thought I would, going in.
Last but not least I want to give a shout out to "Stooly" who was part of the production team but ended up with a small walk on role in the show and ended up being my favourite characters. I don't even know what his official role was on the set, but he was indispensible and one of the funniest guys I've ever met. I'm generally not one to take pictures with the boys when on the road but I just had to get my photo op with "Stooly", which I snagged on the last day in the sound stage while shooting promos. If you catch WRP project for no other reason, you have to check it out to see "Stooly". That may be a bit of a stretch; but there are a ton of great matches to see as well.
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