JD Maverick returns with an interview and some great advice for wrestlers and would-be promoters.
JD Maverick — Superstar Style
Booking… The Wrestler’s View
Here is an interview I did conducted by Mark Holter of Indy Circuit Pulse magazine for the January 2008 issue available at www.icpulse.com
JD MAVERICK: Booking… the wrestler’s view
MH: For our readers who may not be familiar with JD Maverick, give us a little background on yourself:
JD: I am from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I broke in late 2000 at the age of 18. I have worked all across Canada, USA and Europe. I am a wrestler who has a lot of respect for this business and it’s history, therefore my matches always have psychology and I like to make everything look ‘real’. I’ve been on the WWE’s radar now since about June and just relocated to Louisville, KY to start with OVW here shortly, so stay tuned.
MH: You recently spoke out about how you and other wrestlers were treated at a fan-fest show in California this past year. Tell us briefly what happened.
JD: Check my fully detailed, no holds barred column about the Fiasco In Frisco. But basically, some guy put together what could have been the 2nd biggest event of the year with 100 of the greatest wrestlers (including Steve Austin), but instead had too many loose ends, didn’t promote and to say he was in over his head would be a severe understatement.
MH: As a well-traveled, experienced worker, what expectations do you have when a promoter contacts you for booking purposes? What are some “must haves” for you when being booked for a show, as far as transportation, accomodations, etc…?
JD: Right off the bat, I ask for a site link or something to see some pictures/video for myself along with what their roster looks like because many promoters think their fed is the greatest thing since sliced bread but in reality they barely draw a house of 50. Basically, I have 2 fees. If a show is less than 3 hrs, I have one fee, if it’s over 3, I have another. But other factors can come into play such as double shots or extra appearances where I can get paid. I ask that transportation and accomodations be covered.
MH: What are some of the things promoters have said while arranging a booking that have raised red flags for you?
JD: One common thing is when they compare themselves. ‘We are the next ECW’. ‘We are just like WWE, just with a smaller crowd’ …I can’t stand this. Another red flag actually is when they throw money at you. A real promoter is cheap and will nickel and dime you. Sure there are rich smarks out there, but in reality it’s some guy talking out of his a$$. Other red flags would be when I ask a question, and they don’t have an answer or they try and avoid you. Especially if they tell you something is going to happen by a certain date (ie You’ll get your plane ticket by the 10th and on the 20th you are questioning him) and it doesn’t.
MH: What are some things workers can do to protect themselves against problem promoters?
JD: Don’t be a mark when it comes to business. This is the wrestling BUSINESS. Promoters will say anything and blow all kinds of smoke up your ass to get you there, only to tell you they can’t pay you or ask you to take a pay cut because they didn’t promote properly. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially to veteran wrestlers who have been there and done that. Also, be consistant. Don’t work for $100 at one place, then go and work for $20 at another. Word will get around and you will lose your $100 payday. Try and avoid working for free too, because it will be pretty hard to convince a promoter to pay you once he has had you work for free. Promoters will talk bad about each other, but will also talk to each other and find out the deal on you and everyone else.
MH: When you arrive at a show you have been booked on, what are some of the things you look for to ensure you the show is legitimate?
JD: If I know anyone else booked, I’ll get in touch with them to see what they were told and what they think. When I get there, I always take a peek at the ring… look at the tape on the ropes and how well maintained the ring is. I actually peek around before I get to the venue to see if I see posters anywhere. The only person I expect to come up to me and introduce themselves in a foreign locker room is the promoter. If they can’t even do that, they are pathetic and believe it or not, I still don’t know what 2 or 3 promoters I’ve worked for look like. I also haven’t been back to their fed either. I’ll try and watch most of the show to see how its booked. If the entire fed doesn’t have ‘a clue’ (and they’re out there), I’ll just do my match, get paid and get out of there.
MH: What are some of the things you see promoters doing wrong as shows you have worked on? What are they doing right?
JD: Yeesh. PROMOTE. You get marks who just want to call themselves promoters and don’t promote sh*t. It’s like they think ‘wrestling’ will just sell itself. XYZ wrestling could have Steve Austin on their show, but if it’s not promoted and nobody knows he’ll be there, the show will still draw its regular 100 fans. Don’t promise one thing and try to do another. I’ve dealt with promoters who wanna short change you, and when you stand up for youself and don’t take the crap, they turn around and yap to anyone who’ll listen that you’re difficult to work with and they’ll try to sabotage your rep. All a promoter has to do is come through with what he says he will (ie. pay, accomodations, certain opponents/angles etc) That and actually promote the show so there are fans there to witness the wrestlers taking their bumps. It’s insulting for a promoter to do otherwise.
MH: What has been your worst experience while being booked for a show? How did you handle it?
JD: Well the San Fran deal ranks right up there, but I did this one show with April last year in Uniontown, Pennsylvania. As usual, the promoter hyped up that this show was gonna be huge, blah, blah, blah. I had a show the night before in Pittsburgh (2 hrs away) so we weren’t going to check into our hotel until after the show. Axl Rotten and Sharkboy were also booked on the show. The rest of the locker room were all backyarders. We get to the venue (use that term loosely) to find a very small bar. The place could only hold 75 or 100 with a 16ft ring. The 4 of us sat on a couch and watched as they unloaded a 20ft ring… it was so big inside that bar, that one side was up against the bar and the other side was up against the wall. That left 2 sides and one side had a permanent row of bar stools. Now, this place could maybe hold 35 people. How could 35 people be enough to pay all of us? So we grabbed the promoter and took him into the bathroom and asked what was up with our money. ‘I have it, don’t worry’ he said. Whatever he had us booked in, we changed it so the 4 of us were in a match together as these backyard turds were talking about blading and doing all kinds of stupid ass hardcore stuff even though nobody was going to be there. There was maybe 25-30 people there once the bell rung. We had fun with each other and still scored the loudest reactions of the night (without all the blood, chairs and tacks). After the show, the promoter came up to us and told us he had no money, but he had a beer jar in his hand full of cash from the bar. Axl started fuming as he walked away, but April and I took off after him and snatched all the money out of the jar. There was actually about 75% of our money in there. The situation got intense with Axl and this loser so we headed to the hotel where we found out promoter’s card had declined. Now it was after midnight, we were 8 hrs from home and had to pay for our own room. Axl and Sharkboy had left their bags in their rooms and now were locked out. Last I heard, neither of them go their money, our 75% we confiscated out of that jar was now less as we had to pay for our room ($65). Get this, promoter calls the next day and says if he can sort our our money issue in the next few weeks, will we come back and not tell people what happened… LOL. How did I handle it? Never went back and buried this peice of sh*t to everyone including him when he called.
MH: What do you consider the ideal situation? Do you have any advice for newer workers when it comes to being booked?
JD: The ideal situation isn’t asking for much. If we (promoter and I) agree on everything, it should stay that way. My responsibilty is to show up and bust my ass in the ring. If/when I do my part, then the promoter’s part should come into play, exactly what we agreed on. I do my 50%, you do your 50%, everything will be good.
As far as advice for other workers, look the part. Have gear, boots, kickpads etc. Go to the gym and get a tan… you don’t have to look like a bodybuilder, but you should look in shape so people don’t think just anyone can do this. Look like a professional. Get your feet wet as much as possible. Don’t be a big fish in a small pond. Meaning if you work your ‘home’ fed once a month and you’re the big man on campus, you’re not going to learn very much. But if you hit the road, work for different feds, be in different locker rooms, deal with different promoters, work with different guys in front of different fans, you’re going to learn a great deal. I know it’s hard if you have a shoot job/family etc. I have lost 2 or 3 jobs in my 7 years, and at the time might have been hot, but looking back, the experiences I went through are worth far more than whatever my paycheck would have been. The more you learn, the more you are aware, the better worker you will become.
Happy New Year!
Posted with the permission of JD Maverick. Not to be re-posted without the permission of JD Maverick!