|10 Years |
By Gabe Sapolsky
I still remember the feeling I had when I walked into The Murphy Recreation Center almost 10 years ago to book the very first Ring Of Honor show. I'll steal the line from Rush that "ignorance gave me confidence to go up against reality." I was kinda young, a little crazy and very determined to make the most of it.
The memories from that night are vivid. I had gone over the show 1000 times in my head. Everyone was prepared. Things were going smoothly until Hall Of Famer Eddie Guerrero came up to me upset and mad.
"I'm not putting Super Crazy over," he said bluntly.
I replied that it was for a title we set up with Victor Quinones in Puerto Rico. I'll never forget the firm tone of his soft voice when he replied, "I don't give a fuck about Victor Quinones and his title."
As he finished the sentence the words popped into my head, "I can't believe this is happening on my very first show with Eddie Guerrero."
We walked away from each other and then sat down about 15 minutes later and had a great talk. Eddie was remorseful he got angry. He was frustrated because every indy promotion was just using him to put over their own talent and he reached a boiling point at that moment. I couldn't blame him. He was then very cooperative and a pleasure to work with. I never told that story before, mainly because I didn't want it to come off disrespectful to Guerrero, but ten years later I have to because that was my first major lesson as an actual booker.
At that moment I started to learn about all the intangibles, problems, road bumps and headaches that come with booking shows. Things you could never expect happen all the time. You always have to be ready for a plan to fall apart. I also learned about the incredible feeling of when everything comes together. I'll never forget the first "ROH" chant that night and thinking "holy shit, this worked." Nothing compares to that.
Booking is a roller coaster ride of emotions. It's not about writing things on paper. It's about dealing with people. Now that ride has lasted for ten years. The ups are amazing and the downs are as low as it gets. No matter how good or bad things become, I always make sure to step back and realize how lucky I am. I appreciate it all.
It comes full circle for me this Saturday. I get to book the final show in the former ECW Arena, the place where I made my first dollar and grew up in the business. To say I'm hyped up is an understatement. The pressure is on. We have to deliver one final, memorable pro wrestling event in those hallowed halls. The EVOLVE talent roster has re-energized me and I know they will deliver. This is a statement show.
The list of people I need to thank for making this all possible is endless. I'll keep it real simple. My beautiful, funny, intelligent wife is first and foremost for standing by me and supporting me even when I was at my most unbearable. She is my best friend. My mom and dad for being so supportive and for being the best parents anyone could ask for. I haven't thanked JT Smith or Tod Gordon enough over the years. I wouldn't be here now without their help and the lessons I learned from them in my early days. Of course there is Paul Heyman, who continues to be the best mentor anyone could ask for. Sal Hamaoui, the most underappreciated figure in all of wrestling, has been a true friend and incredible business partner. One wrestler (of the countless that need to be thanked) I want to make particular mention of is Bryan Danielson. He was the MVP and a crutch for me from the very first ROH show all the way through DGUSA and EVOLVE. I hope he makes millions now in WWE. He deserves it. I could continue, but I would have to write a book of all those who have helped, befriended me and made the last ten years happen. Please just know that I appreciate you.
Most importantly, there is all of you out there reading this. You made it possible. You have traveled up and down the road with me. I started the first DGUSA show with a video to the song "Besides You In Time" by Nine Inch Nails. That was very symbolic because you have all been there besides me in time, some of you from ECW to ROH to FIP to DGUSA to EVOLVE. You have my most sincere thank you, respect and appreciation.
Ten years is mind blowing to me. I'm not as young anymore, I'm not nearly as crazy, but I'm even more determined than I was when I first walked into the Murphy Recreation Center. Thank You.