I learned early on that sometimes difficult guys have that reputation because they’re passionate and you have to understand the way they’re wired. Understand what’s the source of that passion or that creates conflict or creates the problems or complications. A lot of them really do have that passion or they live by a code and you have to understand that, decode it, and understand and interpret what they’re trying to express. Some guys are very verbose and will tell you exactly what they’re upset over or their concerns. Just try to treat everyone with a level of respect and dignity and on top of that, figure out their perspective on things.
I would say, probably, the best thing I had that helped me understand this was my mentor Gary Hart. I don’t know how many times I’m going to mention his name on this so, if you’re drinking, you might be able to take a shot now. But, Gary had a reputation for dealing with a lot of the same kind of problem children. Whether it was Mark Lewin, who had dicey experiences with promoters, or the Freebirds, their story about how they were signed to WWF and Andre the Giant fired them. He has his hands full of problem children.
So, you just have to learn as a match maker and booker how to engage those guys and realize you both gotta get something out of this. You gotta have this positive outcome to this or what are we doing here? Try to make it the most enriching experience so that by the end of that tour of duty, whether it’s an end of a contract or four bookings you committed to, the outcome is the fans get a satisfied ending, the promotion is elevated as a result of your contributions and that your presence is not diminished, but further enhanced and you have more momentum and energy and more awareness and interest in you than you did coming in.
I really hope for all of our guys who have gone through the system that is what they experience by the time they exit. Be it Davey Boy Smith, Jr, who came in to us having just, I think, just exited New Japan or in the midst of exiting New Japan and entered a crossroads to now being a free agent. I think he’s going to have a lot of options out there. Guys like that. You want people to have added interest. I think, look, Fatu, Hammerstone, they’re studs. Everyone said, ‘Ooh, I’d love to see that guy in this company or that company.’ They all tried out for them or they were on the radar or they were engaged, but they ultimately didn’t sign them. They didn’t see what I saw or whatever happened there.
They’re thriving here. That’s why those kinds of guys, we engage them in June or so and say, ‘Hey, you wanna talk? We’re on Cybernation, but we’d love to talk to you about new deals. Offer you more years and also more money and up your pay significantly. How about it?’ We batted 1000, which is very difficult to do with so much competition out there. So, they believe in the system. The system got them far and they’re thriving in the system. That blew me away. I didn’t expect that.
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