With some 3 dozen or so events WrestleMania week, we figured it would be the perfect opportunity to do promotion on #350Days which came out the very same week. It also was an opportunity to (hopefully) make a few bucks along the way as an agent. It went something like this…as we were Riding The WrestleMania Week Whirlwind.
Thursday 2:30 PM:
Picked up Koko B. Ware at LaGuardia Airport in Queens. He was talking to a former NFL player out of Memphis who he bumped into and whose name he mentioned, but I’m not a football guy so it kind of went in one ear and out the other. Pleasant enough young gentleman and Koko’s a charming, funny, open and quite religious fellow who I immediately liked. We reminisced about a convention ages ago in the Mid-West in which I flew down with Johnny Valiant and we all witnessed it fall apart with the promoter losing his shirt and his girlfriend. One of those unforgettable nights…
Riding The WrestleMania Week Whirlwind – Thursday 8:00 PM:
Driving out to Long Island to Village Connection Radio, Koko had an interview with Monte & The Pharaoh, probably the best wrestling radio show in the world, who last week alone had on Butch Reed, Stan Hansen, JJ Dillon, and Lanny Poffo all in studio for an hour plus each. While Koko was interviewed, I caught some zzzzzz’s in the green room bracing myself for the week.
When Monte and the Pharaoh ended I did my own show, The Evan Ginzburg Show with Koko gracious enough to come on, followed by Monte and the Pharaoh, WWWF legend Davey O’Hannon who was also a former Texas Brass Knucks Champ and twenty-plus year vet (fans- stop judging wrestlers by their won-loss record- this man was a topnotch pro), the colorful Monte and the Pharaoh, and 350 Days Executive Producer David Wilkins who struggled mightily while giving birth to it, living that “Starving Artist” existence to see his vision come to life. You can view the show here,
Thursday 11:00 PM
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine a regular house guest of mine comes over to spend the night as we know we’ve got an early start with WrestleCon at 9:00 AM. It’s always surreal to see a legend I enjoyed as a kid camping out by me, and although you become friends it never loses its novelty. We caught up and did the un-wrestling like “early to bed early to rise” thing.
Riding The WrestleMania Week Whirlwind – Friday 9:00 AM
WrestleCon. A madhouse- thousands of fans at $40 a pop. Jimmy Valiant gives me a hug and says, “I love you.” We’ve done a lot of gigs over the years and he may just be the most charismatic man on Planet Earth. Folks too young have no idea how The Valiant Brothers blew the roof off arenas back in the day. Lanny Poffo greets me warmly; he’s another dear friend. Ditto Melissa Coates (AKA Sabu’s Genie). Hollywood from Glow who I’ve acted with on Chris Annino projects.
Noted journalist Mike Johnson. Radio guru Bob Johnson, King of Men. Actor Len J. Phillips. The vastly underrated Tracy Smothers. Nyah Kennedy from our Simply Splendid NY indie crew. Many, many other friends. A sea of fans descend on a sea of legends, some faring better than others physically. Always breaks my heart to see a favorite in decline. We do business. We hype the movie. I run for lunch for the crew- Valentine, Koko, David Wilkins and Darren Antola from 350 Days. Halal. Chicken and rice and salad. Fast, delicious, relatively healthy. Another wave of fans descends on us. Repeat. Rinse. Hype the movie. We sign many of them. When it’s over you breathe a sigh of relief.
Friday 8:00 PM
FTW indie wrestling show in Queens. The ever-colorful, omnipresent Andrew Anderson from The Wrestler fame is there with the outgoing and friendly Nasty Boy Jerry Sags who is larger than life. Sags does a 10 minute or so monologue on how good the neighborhood deli sandwiches are that we’re all munching on. “You guys don’t know just how good this sandwich is!” he says again and again as if he’s reached a nirvana-like state. I liked the guy. Meanwhile, I’m hawking our stuff and barely see a single thing in the ring in front of us, although grateful to promoter/wrestler Earl Cooter (Bryan Idol who just worked Japan) for the hospitality.
Saturday 9:00 AM
Wrestlecon Round II. Thrilled to see there’s a real interest and awareness in 350 Days as one fan after another tell us they’ve heard good things about it and want to check it out. Many buy it right there and then which warms our hearts after six years of blood, sweat, and tears to get it out. Various legends come to our booth to pay homage to all-time great Valentine and beloved vet Koko, from RVD to Magnum TA to Bob Backlund to Lucha Underground’s Marty the Moth and innumerable others but it becomes a blur after a while.
I tell ROH’s Jay Lethal how much the late agent Scott Epstein thought of him, and you could see how moved he was. Cary Silkin of ROH hugged me as we go back to the making of The Wrestler and I’m so proud they finally made MSG after so many memorable nights a block away at Hammerstein. Back to pitching. Selling. Photo ops. Signing 350 Days. On and on and on and on until I dash out for some more Halal for the happy but exhausted crew. One overly excited middle-aged fan does a 10 minute or so soliloquy about Dick Slater and god knows what else in front of our table and his sheer exuberance exhausted us all. Koko runs out to catch his plane saying to me, “Thank you, you’re a gentleman and a scholar.” Likable and warm guy. And when the smoke clears, we’re off again…
Saturday 6:00 PM
Rahway Rec Center NJ- WrestlePro & CZW Combo Show Internet PPV. The great Stan Hansen and JJ Dillon are already set up at their gimmick table. As we shot the scene from The Wrestler where Ron Killings wrestled Romeo Rosselli and Mickey Rourke sat in the crowd there, I was back at home and knew some of the staff. Not a large crowd. Exhausted from already running for days, all I really remember is a spike hammered in the head during a Matt Tremont hardcore match, the underrated Dan Maff brawling through the crowd, and seven guys thrown together doing 137 high spots. Beyond that, it’s a blur.
Saturday 11:00 PM
Valentine and I share a hotel room. He doesn’t snore. Thank Heaven. I hit the pillow and am OUT. Off to Mark Out at The Meadowlands convention in Secaucus tomorrow.
Sunday 10 AM
Yet another convention. God, how many days of my life have I spent doing this? Cut two interviews for 350 Days including one with Hannibal whose shoot interview work is second to none and who has been incredibly supportive. Network. Pitch. Sell. Many of the same faces as day before. No longer glamorous decades into this, but it’s a community that I’m entrenched in. Folk I love and folk I still mark out for (“Hey, that’s ANIMAL from the Road Warriors standing at our table” the kid in me marveled).
Folk I recognize but don’t even know their names and folk I wouldn’t piss on if they were on fire. Hey, it’s the wrestling community- a dysfunctional family picnic if you will. All in all, I’ve done innumerable conventions that were bigger and better, smaller and far, far worse, but for a first effort, it was well done and worth doing. Kudos to the promoters. And with a farewell to Tito and JJ, etc. so on…we decided NOT to do some indie shots. Hell, none of us are kids anymore; we were DONE.
Sunday 3 PM
Huck Finn Diner, Union NJ. Anybody who knows being on the road knows the best area diners. Valentine immediately recognized. Signing autographed 8X10’s at no charge for all the staff who asked despite being exhausted. One waitress actually started crying because she saw him with her Dad live as a kid. Tears of joy. Greg was touched. A great end to a memorable but grueling couple of days.
Riding The WrestleMania Week Whirlwind – Sunday 10:30 PM
Finally, home. Incredibly glamorous being stuffed in a car with a ton of merch and several large guys but we pulled it all off. Feeling banged up from the endless driving and lugging, setting up and breaking down. Knee throbbing. Any dollar you made you earned. Beyond tired. Movie promoted; fans excited about it. Networked. Caught up with old friends. Turned on Wrestlemania but little besides Kofi-Daniel Bryan excited me and even that I fought to stay awake.
You’ll never get rich in the wrestling biz doing what we do, but we sure have some great fun and great memories and it never gets old calling an all-time great, “friend.” “Hammer time” with Greg is always quality time and this weekend was no different. Mission accomplished. Until the next round of gigs…
Evan Ginzburg was Associate Producer of the movie The Wrestler and 350 Days starring Bret Hart, Superstar Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, and 3 dozen others. He is also the host of The Evan Ginzburg Show seen/heard on Village Connection Radiovision Sundays 11 AM ET at villageconnectionradio.com. Shoot him a tweet: @evan_ginzburg