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The Ivy League

February 29, 2004
Poison Ivy

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The two most significant things I ever learned about this business are as follows:

"The truly talented will always find a way to the top."

"Winning and losing only matters if the fans care about the wins and the losses."

It's true, too. This business - I'll say it until they can keep me out of their pathetic secure server - is run like no other business on the planet. When the goal is to present compelling, exciting television that will bring fans into the house shows, into the TV tapings, and into the pay per view money, all the politics in the world might get you on the show but they can't cover a lack of talent. The fans know about the politics. The fans know about the dirty dealings in this business, and the fans know when they're entertained and when they're not. And to put an athlete in the main event of a wrestling show for ANY reason, other than the fans will believe they deserve to be there, is wrong. More to the point, it's stupid.

I know Disney doesn't care. I know that their goals in the fWo don't involve presenting good, exciting, compelling professional wrestling. But they're really missing the boat on a few things. And no, I'm not going to tell an Erik Kelly story here, though I could certainly make my point in fifteen words or less with one.

Approximately a month ago, Eli Flair returned to the wrestling ring. And no, I'm not speaking of Body Count, I'm speaking of Global X-Treme Wrestling's Battleground Britain event. The GXW owners wanted to make the event special, so they booked wrestlers from all over the world, in some really great matches. For our part, Eli Flair and I had been 'persona non grata' in that place for about four years now, after Eli walked out as World Champion as a matter of principle. But a one shot deal with Kevin Powers as an opponent was too juicy an opportunity to miss, so we made the show. Great match, great show... saw a lot of people that I'd lost touch with. Kevin is always easy to work with, plus being in his company meant the crowd was definitely hot.

And after the match, 'Blazin' Billy Starr did a run-in.

Now, I like Billy. And I like the fact that he wanted to be involved with me and Eli. And the fans who've been following the two of us for the past hundred and fifty years know that there's history between me and Billy, and history between Eli and Billy. But all of the history was half a decade old. Plus, it was a one shot deal for me and Eli.

It was cool, but there was no reason behind it and no payoff behind it. It was done for the sake of doing it.

There are some people who won't get my allegory here, and there are some people who will think I'm a bitch for undermining everything they're all about.

Some people can go straight to hell.

I've gotten a reputation in this business as a maniac. If it's work, and I can go do it, I have a hard time saying no. That's why Merritt has always given me as much as he thinks I can handle in the CSWA. That's why Miles asked me to witness the paperwork in the NFW. That's why Fox always ran his ideas past me for feedback. Because all of them knew that I was someone who would give as much as I could toward their product or their ideas.

Mark Windham was on Unleashed the other night, with some very pointed words regarding the House that made both he and I famous, the CSWA. The problem with the CSWA was that Merritt had too many projects going on at once to put his full focus onto the product, so the company was asked to do a lot of the day to day business itself. Which was fine for us old-heads, but some of the newer folks seemed to resent the idea that they would have to *gasp* WORK for it. You see, in the mid-1990s, success in the wrestling business was as simple as knowing how to wrestle a match, knocking on the door in Greensboro, and saying "I want to be a professional wrestler, Chad Merritt, make me a millionaire." When the going got rough and we were all forced to either tighten our belts in the CSWA or look for work elsewhere to fill in the gaps. For men like Mark Windham, or Hornet, or Craig Miles or even Eli Flair - these are people who never have to worry about having enough money to pay the bills again, but they continue to work because they love to do it. And none of them have had a MOMENT of being a liability in the ring. These men are just a few examples of the wrestlers of today who still have an unlimited amount of passion for the wrestling business.

Traditionally, this is a very difficult business to succeed in. Shady promoters, horrible working conditions, long nights on the road from one shot to the next. Not getting paid, not getting FOOD, not getting that one shot to showcase whatever skills you've got at a national level. The people who make it to the national level have done so, either by way of their talent, or by way of their political maneuvering. But we rest easy, knowing that a wrestling promotion with a politician as the World Champion is not long for the world. That's one thing that nobody has been able to complain about in the fWo for nearly a year now. From Kodiak Vic Creed to Brand Frontier to Jon Crisp, the Champion has always been a competent - or masterful - wrestler. And no matter how long it took for Creed to get his shot at immortality against Kelly, no matter how long it took Brand to exact a fitting revenge on Creed, no matter how long it took for Jon Crisp to get over the hurdle of being Jon Crisp - the truly talented will always find a way to the top.

Taking the talent you've been granted; building a following from nothing but hard work; that's hard. Finding someone who's done all that work and latching onto their neck like a leech in the hopes that more than ten people will care; that's easy.

I've done a lot of things that have raised some eyebrows. I've caused a scene on more than one occasion. But the things I've done in the wrestling business have always been for the product. I've always said to myself, how can this make more money for everyone? I've never said or implied, by action or omission, "This is a money-making program that a lot of people are watching, how can I be a part of it?" That's just adding weight to a situation that doesn't need it. At Cyberslam VI, the money was on Creed and Kelly. It didn't need Ultra-Wife beating up on Brandish to be interesting - all that did was destroy any credibility Nick Brandish might've ever had. This year, the money is Crisp and Black Quicksilver, two men that have proven time and time again that they can beat anyone at any given moment. Two men with a history that makes this match epic. Two men that actually WON the World Tag Team Championship a year ago at Cyberslam, who are now bitter enemies with a chance to write their names, not in fWo history, but in WRESTLING history.

Anyone not named Erik Kelly or Kodiak Vic Creed. Anyone not named Jon Crisp or Black Quicksilver.

Winning and losing only matters if the fans care about the wins and the losses. And the fans certainly don't care about someone who prostitutes their name for another piece of the spotlight that they didn't earn.

No, I'm not there. No, I don't know what's going on inside the Disney/FWO War Room other than to know that the people running the fWo right now have no idea how to run the fWo. And I hope, with every Disney employee that is verbally or physically abused by an fWo roster member, that THAT is the dealbreaker that makes the Disney folks realize that what they're doing is wrong. Maybe the next time Mickey's bitch-slapped, the next time Peter Pan is knocked on his ass by a pair of blunt knuckles, someone with the authority to make changes will ask why this keeps happening and what they're doing wrong.

Maybe the people running the show are just one shock away from finally 'getting it.' Maybe we can work together - if Disney knew how to run a wrestling company I don't think any of us would have a problem with the Mouse. But what happens now is telling the men who make the fWo money that all the work and sacrifice were for naught, that you don't need to work hard to make it to the top. And I know Disney had noth