FISH FUND XIV: Fin 05-07-2012
5 Jul 2012
Fish Fund Park Arena, Sweetwater, Texas (seats 63,000)
It all went back to the beginning.
Not just the four years that a “Hacker” had been roaming through the CSWA’s electronic infrastructure, collecting secrets and building plans.
Not just the three years since Stephen Thomas returned and ousted Chad Merritt to take sole ownership of the CSWA, quickly turning things upside down and alienating major talent like Dan Ryan by stripping him of the World Title.
Not even just the eight years since a poker game showdown between Thomas and infamous CSWA manager Ray S. Cornette, where Cornette walked out chuckling with an IOU for Thomas’s shares in the CSWA that was never cashed in.
No, it goes back further.
Further than the ten years since the CSWA broke out as a global powerhouse, introducing a “new generation” of talent to the world with the likes of Deacon, Eddy Love and Kevin Powers.
Further than the twelve years since Ray S. and his Corporation tried to take over the CSWA and failed in the WHEEL OF DEATH, leading to one of the CSWA’s pivotal feuds: Hornet vs. Mike Randalls.
Further back than the sixteen years since the CSWA hit national television with PRIMETIME as its flagship show.
No, the seeds go back all the way. Back almost twenty years to the first show in an old warehouse. Back to when it was just Merritt, Thomas, infamous pyromaniac Craig Merritt, Bill Buckley, Sammy Benson, Hornet, Mark Windham, Joey Melton, Dark Knight, and a little fan in the front row named Lyle Tallman. Or so they thought.
Back to a simple dream to put on a show that was better than the “real thing.”
In 2007, the dream ended.
The CSWA is dead, but no one has ever seen the reason why.
FISH FUND XIV was clearly make-or-break for the company. The league had lost its television clearance thanks to a disastrous show, CSWA SHOWTIME in Columbia where the mysterious nemesis of the CSWA, the Hacker, had shown up in full force, finally causing the sprinkler system to literally douse the show and end the telecast.
It was the latest in a series of triumphs for the Hacker. Unbeknownst to anyone in the CSWA, he actually got into the CS Enterprises computer network almost five years before, collecting information on the inner workings, contracts and most of the CSWA’s secrets. When Stephen Thomas returned years earlier taking over the company from Chad Merritt in a coup, the Hacker made himself known, ‘welcoming’ Thomas by cutting the power before a PRIMETIME event.
That opening salvo was the beginning of a barrage. It became clear that the Hacker had gotten deep into the CSWA’s inner system. A mysterious signee named “Vacant” was revealed as fWo standout “Black Plague” Ruben Ross, who was apparently signed without either Merritt or Thomas’s knowledge. The disease had two apparent objectives, the UNIFIED Title and Hornet. While he didn’t get the first, he succeeded in making Hornet’s life a living hell for the moment.
Thomas still thought the threat minimal, focusing on key projects like the return of the UNIFIED Championship and the return of the “PRIMETIME POOLJAM” cruise liner tour he had planned. When he boarded the boat, he and the entire company found that the cruise liner had literally been hijacked by the Hacker.
It seemed like the Hacker was ready to reveal himself when Lyle Tallman, AKA the Red Midget, appeared the return from the dead as if he were in some bad soap opera. Instead, it turned out that Red was simply the Hacker’s right-hand man who had already ‘returned’ to the CSWA in the guise of a small Make-A-Wish child named Billy Cundiff who was a big Cameron Cruise fan.
The Hacker had his fun on the Cruise, trapping CSWA owner Stephen Thomas and his ‘beloved wife,’ Hortense in the Presidential Cabin, while trapping former pair Hornet and Poison Ivy in a cabin with incorrigible minx and CSWA exec, Teri Melton. At the same time, he somehow kept the hostages wrestling (!), including helping former champion Troy Windham return to the league reclaiming his UNIFIED World Championship by interfering in a ladder match between his brother Mark and Dan Ryan.
In the meantime, the natives had begun to rebel. Marvin Parsons began tracking down the Hacker and his nefarious plots aboard the boat, while CSWA Greensboro Champion JA and his Scooby gang were doing the same. They all connected with Poison Ivy and Hornet to share notes, but the Hacker was a step ahead. He threatened to sink the ship, literally, sending the CSWA talent, staff and fans heading for the lifeboats. The only good news was that Stephen Thomas was able to trap the Red Midget and bring him along for the ride.
For a moment, it looked like the CSWA was back on stable footing. Thomas came up with the idea for a special ANNIVERSARY event called GOLD RUSH that went over huge, putting CSWA talent in the same ring(s) as others looking for their big break. Dan Ryan took the UNIFIED Championship from Troy Windham and it looked like one of the biggest feuds in the world was ready to hit its second wind.
In the card that followed, the Hacker was held at bay thanks to pregnant techno-whiz Poison Ivy and her trusty laptop. The Hacker’s wrath came back to haunt Ivy and the rest of the CSWA leading to SHOWTIME and the company being dumped by TV partner U-62.
Sometimes the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
- CSWA owner Stephen Thomas became more focused than ever, taking the CSWA broadcasts online and pledging to continue to hold the FISH FUND XIV pay-per-view to keep the company solvent and prove it was still a force. He signed a double main event that few could turn down: Dan Ryan vs. Troy Windham for the UNIFIED Title, and Hornet vs. a returning Mike Randalls.
- CSWA exec Poison Ivy was doing everything she could to figure out how to beat the Hacker at his own game, but her pregnancy was starting limited the amount of time she had to fight.
- Former CSWA co-owner Chad Merritt was happy in the Cayman Islands, until one of his associates mentioned a former CSWA exec had gotten off a cruise liner and had some business at a bank on the island. Merritt’s curiosity got the better of him, ending with him being kidnapped and taken aboard the ship.
- CSWA technician Marvin Parsons was still trapped on the Parsons’ Cruise Liner, trying to find a way home while still looking for answers about the Hacker’s identity and his plans.
In 2009, Chad Merritt was interviewed for a book eventually published under the title “CSWA: The Rise and Fall.” He had this to say:
“Bryan, the CSWA tore itself apart. Not in an overt “fans rioting and talent literally killing each other” way. In a real mundane way. The ‘parents’ went through an ugly divorce. The siblings fought. Complacency and apathy took root one day and spread like a cancer. I fought it… sometimes. Thomas fought it some. Ivy sure as hell fought it, along with so many others. We put it into remission over and over again. But that fight blinded us to a sickness at the core, a blighted organ that we took for granted. And that blight spread, undiagnosed, until it was too late.”
And now, the story that was never aired and only talked about in whispers.
FISH FUND XIV: Fin
April 15, 2007
FISH FUND Park Arena, Sweetwater, Texas
UNIFIED World Heavyweight Championship
"Ego Buster" Dan Ryan vs. "The Epitome" Troy Windham
Mike Randalls vs. Hornet
United States Championship:
Kin Hiroshi vs. High Flyer
Presidential Championship Rematch:
Cameron Cruise vs. Bobby Karma
Greensboro Championship Triple Threat:
Kevin Watson vs. Troy Douglas vs. S.A.T
UNIFIED Title Contenders Match
Eron the Relentless vs. Nova
(CUTTO: The gorilla position, which includes a face usually seen in skyboxes and offices during this event. CSWA President STEPHEN THOMAS has an unusually-intense look on his face as he stares into one of the many monitors on the table. Next to him is CSWA staffer and long time road agent Brian “Blond Devil” Nord.)
THOMAS: Tell Marvin… I mean, Fred, to make sure he’s got the wider shot ready for when we go live. We may not be on television anymore, but we’ve at least got pay-per-view.
NORD: Fred knows what he’s doing, Mr. Thomas. He’s been at this a long time. I know this is a stressful…
THOMAS: Just tell him to get the wide shot ready. I’ve been doing this longer than he has. Are Eron and Nova ready for the opener? We’ve got to have a hot one to get this thing going. If we can get some buzz early, in-the-moment word of mouth may get us at least a few extra buys.
NORD: They’re all set. I’ll go make sure Pee Wee is ready as well. The man’s been a ref 20 years, you’d think he’d know how to get in position.
(As Nord leaves, HORTENSE walks up behind Thomas and rests her chubby hands on either shoulder. Thomas flinches. Apparently he’s still not comfortable with his new wife’s touch.)
HORTENSE: You hangin’ in there, Shug? I know how much this means…
THOMAS (into his headset): Let me see the logo shot one more time. And is the Ryan/Windham package set? Did you make those changes?
HORTENSE: Hon, I need to talk to you for a sec.
(She sits down in a chair next to him, and holds one of his hands in hers. He turns his gaze towards her.)
HORTENSE: I know this ain’t the best time, but you’ve been so busy lately. And well, at first when we got married everyone was telling me you just wanted something. I thought I knew what that was, but you kept pulling away, until that night in the Presidential Suite on the boat when we were trapped together… I jus’ want you to know how much it means to me that you started treatin’ me like a wife. But these last coupl’a weeks, you’ve been so intense… so cold… so angry to everyone around you, I just don’t know how long I can… Shug? Are you listening to me?
(She realizes Thomas’s gaze is connected to a monitor on the table just over her shoulder.)
HORTENSE: Stephen J. Thomas! You haven’t listened to a word I’ve been sayin’!
THOMAS: This isn’t the time, Hortense.
HORTENSE: You just hol’ it right there, mister! You said it wasn’t the time when it came to our marital… conjugation! And I waited and waited. I cook dinner for you every night and then end up eatin’ it alone because you’re so obsessed with this…
THOMAS: And you’re so obsessed that you have to eat both meals?
HORTENSE: You! You!
THOMAS: I told you! THIS… IS… NOT… THE… TIME.
HORTENSE: Well I…
THOMAS (into his headset): Have we had a check in from Gethard and security? If we see even one sign that the Hacker is around…
(Hortense stands. Her husband has completely forgotten she’s even there. If he had just taken one moment, just given her one kind word or thoughtful glance… She leaves.)
(CUTTO: The floor of the FISH FUND Park Arena in Sweetwater, Texas. Sitting on Galveston Bay, the Arena is a unique open-air coliseum with one part of the almost-complete circle open to the bay itself. The CSWA may be having troubled times, but in the hometown of the Windhams, the draw is still there. The arena is almost packed, and it’s LOUD. The fireworks pop as loud as the crowd does. CSWAvision roars to life with an opening package for the first FISH FUND pay-per-view in years.)
BUCKLEY: Hello wrestling fans! This is Bill Buckley, this is Sweetwater, Texas, and this is CSWA’s FISH FUND XIV! What do you think about this crowd, Sammy?
BENSON: The same thing I think about every crowd. There’s only a few worth saving, the rest ought to be hogtied and led back into the public education system. But, they ought to be happy we’re out in the open and there’s no sprinkler system here, Buckley. Did they watch the last show?
BUCKLEY: As always, fans, I’m joined by the ever-positive Sammy Benson. It’s been a long time since we’ve been in the Arena, Sammy. We’ve got an incredible backdrop to the ring with the Bay in the background – there’s just something special about this place.
BENSON: It figures you’d love a place built with money from a telethon that supports plastic surgery for women who lost the genetic lottery. Honestly, I hoped when part of it blew up ten years ago that we had seen the last of it. You know, the same thing your wife says every anniversary.
BUCKLEY: Folks, we’ve got an incredible card tonight. Dan Ryan has chosen his opponent tonight by virtue of his win in Birmingham over the top contenders. And I think it’s fair to say that he may have picked the toughest of them all. The challenger for the UNIFIED World Championship is former champion, Troy Windham! It’s the “Ego Buster” versus “The Epitome”
BENSON: Troy is Mr. CSWA, the King of All Media, and after tonight, he’ll be UNIFIED Champ again.
BUCKLEY: And the matches leading up to the main event could all be headliners themselves. We’ve got the Greensboro and United States Championships on the line. And we’ve also got a “Legends” match – one that fans have been clamoring for since the last time it happened in…
(CUTTO: MARVIN PARSONS is listening to the pay-per-view broadcast above the Parsons’ Cruise Liner. Originally stuck on the ship when the Hacker and his crew hijacked it, Marvin has been bouncing between masquerading as one the Hacker’s security and being a stowaway for several weeks. And now… it’s now or never.)
MARVIN: Hey, it’s Chuck, right? Cap sent me over to take over for you?
CHUCK: What are you talking about? You know how tight we’re supposed to keep security on the radio room. I’m not leaving here unless the cap comes here and tells me himself.
MARVIN: I’m just doing what I’m told man. He said the boss had asked for more guys to send over to shore.
CHUCK: Real simple to check.
(As he lifts his walkie-talkie to his mouth, Marvin grabs it and slams it straight into his forehead. Chuck drops the walkie, but Marvin already has hold of him, grabbing his head and slamming it into the bulkhead. He grabs the keys off his ring and opens the radio room, locking it behind him. It won’t keep them out forever and he won’t make it out, but at least he might be able to let someone know.)
MARVIN: Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there? I need some emergency help and only have access to ham radio. Call sign Hijacker. I need someone to dial this number and get a hold of Ivy McGinnis. Tell her my call sign and help her patch in via the net. Again, this is an urgent emergency call from call sign Hijacker contacting Poison Ivy at this number…
BUCKLEY: What an incredible win for Nova! Not only is a finalist for NFW’s ULTRATITLE next month, but now he’s the top contender for Dan Ryan’s UNIFIED World Championship! Those two could meet in the ULTRATITLE Finals in the NFW, and then face each other here in the CSWA with more gold on the line?
BENSON: The man is a whackadoo, Buckley. I don’t even know what that last move WAS!
BUCKLEY: It was spectacular. Eron may be relentless, but tonight he was taken down by a shooting star.
BENSON: A nova EXPLODES, Buckley.
BUCKLEY: I think that’s just the first of many explosions we’ve heard tonight, Sammy.
BENSON: Amen to that.
BUCKLEY: Up next is the Greensboro Championship match. Champion Kevin Watson battled Troy Douglas to a countout recently at PRIMETIME setting up this matchup. But Simon A. Theodore, the man known as S.A.T, has positioned himself for a shot at the title in this match as well! Kevin Watson has his hands full in this one…
(CUTTO: CSWA staffer TERI MELTON is pacing down a hallway in the Arena while on the phone.)
TERI: I heard you the first time. I know what to do. Listen, I don’t care if you were on the Board of Directors ten years ago or if you’re the Pope, I’ve done everything I’ve been asked to do… just a minute.
(She cuts off as Hortense walks down the hallway.)
TERI: Where are you headed, darling? Craft Services is the other way. I hear they made peach cobbler just for you.
HORTENSE: Do you want an answer? Or do you want to keep try’n ta be funny?
TERI: I’m not the one that wants the answer.
HORTENSE: No? Then maybe I need to meet him in person.
TERI: There’s no time for that. Are you in or not?
HORTENSE: I don’t want to do this, Teri. But I know… I mean. (She started to tremble as tears well up in her eyes) There’s no way Shug will ever be a husband if I don’t help him. Tell him I’ll do it.
(Hortense turns as tears stream down her face. She “runs” away as best she can, clearly headed in the direction of catering and the aforementioned cobbler. Teri keeps walking in the opposite direction, down into the back hallways of the Arena.)
TERI: See, I told you there wouldn’t be a problem. I always get what I want, don’t I?
(She comes to a door marked “Electrical,” pulls a key from her pocket and unlocks it.)
TERI: Guess I don’t this anymore. (She hangs up the phone.) I thought we’d never finish pulling this off. Now how ARE you, sweetheart?
(She closes the door behind her, then rushes into the center of the room and into the arms (and lips) of CHAD MERRITT.)
BB: TROY DOUGLAS has Simon Alex Theodore in the corner and he’s setting him up! END OF THE ROAD!!! He just DRILLED him with that piledriver from the second rope. ONE….. TWO…. NEW!!! NO! NO! NO! Greensboro Champion Kevin Watson slid through the ropes from the outside and just barely broke up the cover!
SB: Every dog has his day, Buckley.
BB: Watson had been outside the ring ever since taking that huge tope con helo from S.A.T. But he’s back in and now he and Douglas are going toe-to-toe while Theodore is OUT on the mat! They both hit the ropes, and COLLIDE as they both went for crossbodys! All three men are down!
SB: Oh for the days when the Greensboro Champion brought a bottle of urine to the ring with him.
BB: What? Watson is up first, and he’s setting up for that superkick he has in his arsenal. Douglas is up… and he DUCKS! Douglas off the ropes and back with a lariat! He covers Watson! ONE! TWO! NO! Watson kicks out, but Douglas swings around and hooks in a triangle! He’s going to make Watson tap! But no, Watson reaches the ropes.
SB: He was like two feet away. It wasn’t a stretch.
BB: Referee Manuel Juarez calls for the break and a frustrated Troy Douglas finally gives it. He drags Watson back to the center of the ring and it looks like he may go for it again. NO! S.A.T.! S.A.T. rolls him up! ONE! TWO! NO!! NO!! Simon Alex Theodore almost stole the match!
SB: I don’t even think he’s actually conscious. Look at his eyes!
BB: Douglas goes to put crossface on S.A.T. BASEBALL SLIDE DROPKICK right to the jaw from Watson! Douglas just got CRACKED on the button and he’s over on the apron! S.A.T. to his feet and he may be back in this one…
SB: Don’t count on it…
BB: SUPERKICK by Watson! He connected right on the jaw! ONE….. TWO….. THREE!!!! KEVIN WATSON retains the Greensboro Championship on one of the biggest stages in his career!
SB: The Internet?
BB: Kevin Watson beats the Triple Threat and retains the title!
(CUTTO: The aforementioned Internet. Adrian Evans and Poison Ivy are on Hacker watch. Ivy is off-site due to the recent birth of her first child.)
LtlVoltron: They don’t know what to do without you here. Thomas has gone off the deep end, in like a super intense way.
psychobtch: We can deal with that later, as long as there is a later. No intrusions so far.
LtlVoltron: Nothing out of the ordinary here. Except Teri’s boobs seem even bigger than usual.
psychobtch: Really? You’re going to bring her up?
LtlVoltron: Don’t be jealous. Even pregnancy can’t make up for three plastic surgeries. Speak of the devil.
psychobtch: What is it? Hacker?
LtlVoltron: I don’t know. Teri just flew by here… and she’s got Merritt with her.
LtlVoltron: What the…?
psychobtch: Stay here. This could be the distraction the bastard is setting up for us.
RHUBARB JONES: Weighing in at 260 pounds, he hails from Rome, Georgia and is the number one contender for the United States Championship. What Goes Around Comes Around… this is BOBBY KARMA!!!!
(CUEUP: “Headstrong” by Trapt)
RJ: And his opponent, hailing from Jacksonville, North Carolina. He enters this match at 253 pounds and he is the CSWA Presidential Champion. He is THE CRIPPLER…. CAMERON…. CRUISSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSE!
BB: This is Bobby Karma’s first time on a stage this large. But Cameron Cruise has a lot on the line here as well. He waited years to reclaim the Presidential Championship and did so back at Gold Rush. This is his first title defense on a pay-per-view card.
SB: Do you really think Cameron Cruise knows where he is right now? I’m surprised he’s not out there in the bay swimming around punching sharks.
BB: I would think jumping sharks is something you know a lot about.
SB: I said PUNCHING, Buckley. And that’s something I…
(CUTTO: Backstage. Where all hell is breaking loose. CSWA Owner Stephen Thomas is backstage with Adrian Evans, still at his computer. He’s surrounded by VP of Security Gethard, Hortense and a few other staffers.)
STEPHEN THOMAS: What are you talking about? What is going ON here? It’s like all hell is breaking loose? What do you mean you saw Chad? He’s a thousand miles away from here.
ADRIAN EVANS: He was with Teri Melton. He…
THOMAS: Why am I even talking to you? You’re probably the Red Midget in disguise too. I always say you can’t trust…
EVANS: Finish that and I’m going to punch you in the balls. Ivy says to calm down and to keep your eyes open. She thinks this is just a distraction.
THOMAS: A distraction. YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT’S A DISTRACTION! We’ve halfway through this card, and I’m not going to have anything screw it up now! Gethard, come with me. If Merritt IS in the building, then I’m going to find him. And I’m going to find out why he’s been causing all this trouble. It’s no COINCIDENCE that he shows up right after the “Hacker” threatens us!
EVANS: Stephen, I really think you should…
THOMAS: Did I ASK what you THINK, Peabrain? Gethard, NOW!
(Thomas, Gethard and another security staffer head down the hallway leading towards the gorilla position. As they storm away, Thomas bumps into a man running the other way.)
THOMAS: Out of my way or you’re fired!
EVANS: Stephen, that’s…
(But he’s gone.)
EVANS: MARVIN! What are you doing here?! Hold on! I have to tell Ivy!
MARVIN PARSONS: Ivy? She’s here!
EVANS: No, she’s here by computer. She’s making sure the Hacker doesn’t get into the systems.
MARVIN: I couldn’t get her on the radio. It’s not the system you have to worry about now. He’s here!
MARVIN: The Cruise Liner is in the bay. He’s here, Adrian.
EVANS: I saw Merritt with Teri Melton. We’re trying to…
MARVIN: Merritt? It’s not him. It’s…
(The lights flicker.)
EVANS: What the hell?
MARVIN: Tell Ivy! Maybe she can find a way to help. Tell her the Hacker…
(The lights go out. And the computer goes dead.)
MARVIN: It’s too late. I’m too late.
BUCKLEY: Cameron Cruise retains the Presidential Championship and we’re left with three matches on this incredible FISH FUND card. But before we get to the United States Championship match between Kin Hiroshi and High Flyer, up next it’s the battle of the legends! These two men have known each other since 1994 and for most of that time, they’ve been on opposite sides of the ring. Mike Randalls was once simply called “Devastating,” then he was the “King of Darkness,” and for much longer we’ve called him…
BENSON: A peyote-induced psychopath…
BUCKLEY: The Wolf. The man he’ll face has had his share of nicknames as well, but in the end he’s gone by one name..
BUCKLEY: Hornet. Between the two of them, they’ve held the UNIFIED World Championship more times than any other competitors. Their paths crossed when they teamed together in the WHEEL OF DEATH to save the CSWA from Ray S. Cornette back in 1994. Randalls’ payback for that team-up eventually ended with the UNIFIED Title around his waist. In 2000 their paths led to another team up…
(CUTTO: An out-of-focus shaky-cam view of water. As the view starts to focus, we realize we’re looking out into Galveston Bay, through the “gap” in FISH FUND ARENA where it perches on the peninsula. The camera zooms in on… a cruise ship?)
BUCKLEY: Folks, my apologies for getting a little distracted and tongue tied there, but we’re being told in our ear…
BENSON: You have got to be FUCKING kidding me!
BUCKLEY: SAMMY! We’re not on a delay!
BENSON: Screw that, Buckley. Do you see what that is?!
BUCKLEY: Folks, that’s the Parsons Cruise Liner. It’s a ship the CSWA has used for tours, including last summer’s PRIMETIME POOLJAM Tour. We, uh, haven’t seen it…
BENSON: Drop the kayfabe, Buckley. We haven’t seen it since we were all tossed off of in lifeboat after the damn HACKER took us hostage.
BUCKLEY: We’re not supposed to talk about…
BENSON: We’re also not supposed to talk about Seitzer dressing up in his wife’s clothes either, but it comes up every chance I get amazingly. Besides, we’re not even on TV, Buckley! He’s the reason! That ridiculous ship and whoever stole it is the one behind all this.
BUCKLEY: We’re going to try and get things back on track here… Hornet and Mike Randalls are not only two of the most decorated veterans in the wrestling world, but their stories are…
BENSON: Are you serious? You’re just going to act like everything’s normal. I’d love to see you during a tornado drill. “Hey, Sammy how do you think the show went last week, I’d like to know before that train I hear coming gets closer.” Anyway, you know it’s just a matter of time before…
(The CSWAvision screen goes dark. The lights mounted around the Arena go dark, eliciting screams from the fans. After a few seconds, the lights rise very slowly, accompanied by static on the video wall. And then a message?)
FOUND CSWA version 19
BENSON: Check your mail? CHECK YOUR MAIL? This idiot has control over the tron and a freaking cruise ship right there and… who the hell is supposed to check their mail?
(CUTTO: The gorilla position. Ever since the sighting of the Cruise Liner, folks have been running in out of the area like a knocked-over anthill. CSWA owner Stephen Thomas is sitting at a computer surrounded by interested faces, while a team of ‘hacker-trackers’ sits just outside furiously typing on their computers. A window opens on Thomas’s computer.)
Tracker: We traced the message, sir. It’s definitely coming from a network on the Cruise Liner. I think you’ll want to look at it.
(Thomas peers at the screen.)
From: Stephen Thomas
To: Stephen Thomas
I thought you might pay more attention if I sent this from your own account. By the way, does Hortense know about these conversation you’re having with someone by the screenname of “MrsPepper?”
It’s time for my closeup. And I’ll even give you an interview. Send Benson to the ring with a mic. Keep Gethard and his goon squad away. Or a “disaster beyond your imagination will occur.” Or I’ll just shut everything down, including your pay-per-view feed.
I’m on my way… keep the outfield clear.
--Your Friendly Neighborhood Hacker
THOMAS: What does he mean, keep the outfield clear?
EVANS: Steve, look!
BUCKLEY: Folks, I don’t know if the camera is picking it up yet, but after the message we received on CSWAvision, it looks like a helicopter has just taken off from the Parsons’ Cruise Liner in the bay… and it’s headed towards the arena.
BENSON: If the camera isn’t picking it up, is it real? How many times can we have this discussion Buckley?
BUCKLEY: No, it’s happening trust me.
BENSON: You also asked me to ‘trust you’ when Marvin was trying to find willing takers for free prostate exams.
BUCKLEY: That’s enough! A helicopter is on the way!
BENSON: Well, it can’t be Hornet’s entrance, he’d just use a jetpack. You can’t blame that man for killing the “we’d all be using jetpacks” in the 21st century” dream. And if it were Randalls, he’d probably be strapped to the blades or something.
(The camera finally catches up. The Cruise Liner is still out in the bay, visible through the opening in the arena where there are no seats. A helicopter is getting larger in the foreground as it approaches the horseshoe-shaped arena. Fans are on their feet, believing it’s part of the show.)
BUCKLEY: Fans, we don’t know what to expect here, we’re… hold on, we’re getting…
BENSON: WHO wants me to do WHAT? Listen Thomas, I don’t care if you… It’s not safe, that’s why!
BUCKLEY: We’re being told that we’re going to have an interview first. It looks like…
(Sammy Benson throws down his headset and climbs out of his commentator’s chair. He grabs a microphone proffered by CSWA ring announcer Rhubarb Jones.)
BENSON: (on the PA) Alright people, it looks like we have a little impromptu interview here. Unless you’ve had your head under a rock, which is how I picture your natural state…you may have noticed that we here at the CSWA have run into a few problems lately. And I’m not talking about lite beer being pushed by food and beverage or the general lack of shows for eight years. (a few laughs) Thank you.
Some (bleep – apparently the delay was turned on during the last video segment) is calling himself the “Hacker” and he’s been living between-the-walls in the CSWA for at least a while now. He says he was responsible for Ruben Ross’s attack on Hornet going all the way back to two Anniversarys ago. He’s stepped up his efforts lately… but his efforts for what? He got us kicked off television. He HIJACKED us for (bleep)’s sake. And now, apparently, he’s demanded an interview. And naturally Thomas wants to give it to him. He couldn’t have asked for every back issue of Penthouse or hell, instead of the extremes he’s gone to why not hack something more profitable: Teri Melton’s cell phone.
(As Benson talks, the helicopter gets closer and closer, finally hovering above the “outfield” – the open space beyond the ring in the arena’s horseshoe opening. The helicopter touches down and the rotors slow. Six men in black riot gear exit the helicopter and head toward the ring, charging down the aisles and hopping the barricades. The CSWA staff recognizes the “uniform” at least from their time held captive on the Cruise Liner – these are the Hacker’s security forces.)
BENSON: Really? Now we’ve got (bleep)ing stormtroopers again? You can’t come out here like a HUMAN BEING and tell us WHAT THE (BLEEP) YOU WANT!? We’re MAD AS HELL AND WE’RE NOT GONNA TAKE IT ANYMORE! (to fans) Too much?
(CUEUP: CSWA PRIMETIME theme. Benson is interrupted as CSWAvision bursts to life again, this time showing Chad Merritt’s intro. The security guards have surrounded the ring. Two additional guards come out from the back as former CSWA President Chad Merritt begins walking down the aisle, accompanied by staffer Teri Melton. Melton has her arm locked through Merritt’s.)
BUCKLEY: Folks, I’m not sure what’s going on here. We were asked to send Sammy Benson to the ring to interview the Hacker. But I can’t believe… I just can’t even FATHOM that Chad Merritt would be the man trying to bring down the CSWA. I know the CSWA created “ownership struggles” in this industry, but this is over the top.
BENSON: (from the ring) Seriously? It’s YOU?! I would’ve thought you could come up with a better swerve than this…maybe we should just all be thankful the man didn’t lobby to use tax payers money to rebuild to scale…the Titanic. It’s funny because he really tr…..
(Before Sammy can finish, CSWA President Stephen Thomas comes running out from behind CSWAvision, with VP of Security Gethard in tow. Thomas runs halfway down the ramp and spins Merritt around to confront him… only to find that Merritt’s hands and mouth have been taped with clear packing tape. Teri Melton stumbles to the ramp as Merritt is pulled out of her grasp. The two guards escorting them are confronted by Gethard, but one quickly pulls out a taser. Quicker than he can yell “Don’t tase me, bro,” Gethard is down and out. CSWAvision comes to life again.)
HAVE A SEAT.
IT WOULDN’T BE A PARTY WITHOUT REUNITING OLD FRIENDS WOULD IT
THE FUN’S JUST STARTED
(The Hacker’s guards grab two chairs and sit them down at the top of the ramp, then forcefully sit Merritt and Thomas next to each other. Teri runs for the hills, picking herself off the ramp and then heading backstage. The packing tape across Merritt’s mouth is ripped away. Thomas is clearly confused, but yelling at Merritt, while Merritt seems annoyed but resigned to his current fate.)
(CUEUP: “Theme from Castaway” begins to play. The crowd is thoroughly confused, as is Merritt. Only Thomas seems to understand the meaning behind the song.)
THOMAS: I’LL KILL HIM! AGAIN!
(Lyle Tallman, also known as The Red Midget, steps onto the ramp with glee on his face. We haven’t seen Red since his escape at SHOWTIME in Columbia when the Hacker-induced fire alarm set off the sprinklers, ending the show and killing the CSWA’s television deal with U-62. Thomas was furious at that, but even more furious at losing his prize ‘hostage.’ After the “Cruise of Deception” debacle where the Hacker kidnapped the entire CSWA and Red forced the crew to sit through a four-hour musical about his sad little life, Thomas kept Red imprisoned as if he were a pet, rather than person.)
BUCKLEY: You have got to be kidding me. Does anybody have a steel briefcase I can borrow? Anyone?
BENSON: (in the ring) You have got to be (bleep) me! Clearly this angle hasn’t been for anyone with a short attention span. I think what hurts the most is being held hostage by someone who can’t ride any of the attractions here at Sweetwater Park.
(As Red walks toward the aisle, Thomas tries to jump out of his chair to attack him, only to be held down and threatened with the taser by the rogue security guards. Red saunters down the aisle as the music continues to play, scenes of his horrible “one man show” on the video wall. He climbs the stairs to the ring slowly, eyeing Benson. One of the security guards starts toward him, but Red waves him off. He climbs between the bottom and middle ropes, pulling his own microphone from his pocket as he stands in the corner.)
RED: We’re not going to have any trouble here are we, Benson?
(Benson looks around at the crowd. They quickly start to chant his name… SAMMY… SAMMY… urging him to take on the midget.)
RED: Use your head, Sammy. There are six guys with tasers surrounding the ring. More importantly, you want to hear what I have to say, trust me.
BENSON: So how is this supposed to work? What is it you want me to do?
RED: Do what you do best, Sammy. This is your chance to shine. Just ask the questions you want the answers to.
BENSON: Why? Why this? Why now?
RED: That’s pretty broad, Benson. Let’s start with “why now.” Because tonight is the final night of the CSWA as you, as all of you, know it. This is the culmination of a plan years in the making. Every piece has been lovingly crafted and executed… from the signing of Ruben Ross to terrorize Hornet to the hijacking of the Cruise Liner to the return of dear Mr. Merritt over there tonight. The loss of the CSWA’s television deal… even the timing of doing it tonight, when my dear friend Ms. McGinnis isn’t here to use her technical prowess to stop us, or more importantly, to help Mr. Thomas over there keep a level head.
That’s right, Steve. It all started as far back as you taking over the league. Your little power play actually made things easier. We already had access to Merritt’s files, and you didn’t even know what he had stashed away on the network. All the contract information, all the financials. We knew where all the bodies were buried and you didn’t even know some of them were missing.
Why now? Because taking over a company from the shadows takes a while. Gathering the information, gathering the right people who are disgruntled enough to make a move, pulling the right strings to get others to do what’s needed. Ask your little friend Teri over there what it took to get her to dance like a puppet. Awww, it’s not her fault, Chad, we had certain pictures that she didn’t want out in the open.
And then there’s your wife, Steve. Dear Hortense couldn’t be threatened or bought off. No, it took finding out that you had no intention of really being her husband that did it. Those couple of nights alone on the Cruise Liner put the doubts in her head, and tonight clinched it. So I hate to be the one to break it to you, Stephen, but your wife is filing for divorce. Now I know you might normally jump for joy at that… but unfortunately for you it means almost half your shares in the CSWA will go to your wife as part of the divorce. And she’s already agreed to vote our way. Along with the shares we already own, plus, well…we’ll save that surprise for last.
“Why this,” Sammy? Because this is the only thing that will teach those two spoiled brats a lesson. Losing their precious CSWA while being forced to sit there and watch. It’s the perfect repayment for everything they’ve done. For believing they don’t have to treat PEOPLE like PEOPLE! (Red spits as he punctuates the “p”s.)
As for “why,” Sammy. Do I really have to answer that? I’ve been around the CSWA for twenty years, first as a fan, then as an “attraction,” and then as a victim. THAT man (pointing at Merritt) tried to KILL me… TWICE! And THAT one (pointing to Merritt) locked me in a cage like a DOG. That one over there (pointing at Buckley) punted me in the head with a briefcase.
So do I really have to explain WHY? And you, Sammy, you’re standing here right now because I want you here. I want you to get everything you deserve for what you’ve done to me all these years.
So let me tell you a little story…
In the end, despite all the five-star matches and the ongoing intrigue around ownership, the most important moment in the CSWA’s existence may not have happened in either the ring or the CS Enterprises boardroom. The ultimate path of the ultimate wrestling company was set in a friendly poker game back in 1999.
Stephen Thomas and Ray S. Cornette, former enemies turned poker buddies, sat down with a fifth of tequila, a deck of cards and a couple of regulars for their post-PRIMETIME card game. Things could get rowdy after a series of shots – Bryan “Blond Devil” Nord was known to cut promos in the middle of a hand, Sammy Benson would start looking for the latest overweight object of his affection, while Marvin Parsons would start to reminisce about his days as a mysterious hijacker stalking the CSWA over a decade earlier.
As was par for the course, Thomas was down early. Cornette had learned long before that after a couple of shots, Thomas was willing to put action on every hand. When Thomas went all-in with big slick and lost to Ray S.’s jacks, it looked like the game might be over early. Instead, another couple of a shots downed, Thomas began trying to interest Cornette in everything from his watch to…
“Ownership of the CSWA,” Cornette questioned, “Haven’t we done this before in the ring?”
The three hangers-on sobered up quickly as Thomas went beyond all-in, throwing a napkin on the table with “IOU my CSWA shares” scribbled on it and signed. The co-owner of the CSWA was clearly more interested in winning a big one back from Cornette for the pride rather than the cash on the table. Even he sobered up a bit when Cornette caught a king to pair on the flop, leaving Thomas still ahead with his pocket aces. The deuce on the turn missed them both. There was an audible gasp when the final card turned over. The King made Ray S. Cornette the king of the CSWA?
Or maybe not. Though Ray S. had coveted ownership of the CSWA a decade earlier, but seemed to have mellowed in his old age. The two got a good laugh out of it, although Cornette’s hand kept twitching around the IOU like Frodo with his ring. It became a running joke for several weeks while they were on the road, Cornette pulling the napkin out and telling the story whenever Thomas came around.
At least until Merritt found out…
RED: But Merritt never found out. Thomas certainly wasn’t going to tell him. And Ray S. never called in his IOU. Thomas assumed there were no witnesses – Nord, Sammy and Marvin had all left. But there was one other man sitting in that room, a man that Thomas wouldn’t notice or retain in his memory, because he didn’t see him as a MAN. Me.
I knew about the IOU. And when Ray S. got sick a few years ago, I went to his bedside. And I convinced him to sign it over to the one man smart enough, the one man with enough vision, to finally pull the big one on Merritt and Thomas that Ray S. always wanted to. The one man that I respect, because he’s never pulled punches with me. The one man that those two over there might actually dislike keeping around more than me. The only man that could pull off a coup like this and bring everything crashing down on their heads, just like they tried to do to me.
BENSON: You mean, a man like… surely you don’t mean… not someone like… little… ol’… ME!?
(The arena erupts. Thomas stands up from his chair, veins in his forehead bulging. Merritt drops his head to his hands.)
BENSON: Oh that’s right, idiots, your friendly, neighborhood, Canadian-hating, midget-hitting (no offense)…
RED: None taken.
BENSON: … lovable ol’ lush of an announcer has pulled one over on “The Godfathers of Wrestling.” (He pulls a napkin out of his pocket.) And before we answer the BIG question, let me just be VERY clear about what all this means. THIS (points to napkin) is that little IOU that Red so eloquently told you about. It says, “I.O.U. my shares in the CSWA. Signed, Stephen Thomas.” And on the back, “I, Ray. S. Cornette, agree to transfer this IOU to Samuel J. Benson.” And I know what you’re thinking, will an eight-year old IOU really hold up in court? It doesn’t really matter, because thanks to a number of major shareholders like CSWA Board of Directors Steve Day and your soon-to-be-ex-wife Hortense, I’ve got enough shares on my side to block both of you. You’re not majority shareholders any more, fellas.
So let’s get back to the main event here. All that means I’m the de facto owner of the CSWA. And the question you’re all asking, WHY SAMMY WHY?
Because the Wondertwins never gave a rat’s ass about anyone who made them millions. Merritt and Thomas never GOT the sport and they never appreciated anyone in the back. How many of you tonight were willing to come out here and bust your ass for the name…
How many HAVE broken bones, necks, fingers, had a stake driven through their knee all in the name of the C-S-W-A and haven’t been fucking insured for a second of it. Merritt and Thomas were in a position nobody else in this business has ever truly been in, they were making money hand over fist, they ran the greatest wrestling promotion that’s ever lived, had corporations dying to be a part of the business end, and they looked upon all of us as slave labor. THEY COULD HAVE changed the business and given out guaranteed contracts with heath insurance and a 401k. But they didn’t. Do you morons have any idea how many men and women who worked 60 hour weeks to see this promotion, dare I say, sail to heights never reached before, worked so hard they lost marriages to it, were so dedicated they watched kids grow up without a father or mother playing a primary role, and now these people the BACKBONE of the CSWA don’t have pots to fucking piss in.
Oh, a few have insane contracts, and perks like company jetpacks, but so many good people gave everything to this company and they were paid pennies on the dollar. Merritt and Thomas could have revolutionized the sport, and had they done so, had they taken care of the boys in the back I promise you they would have worked even harder to keep this ship afloat.
You think I’m kidding? You think Sammy’s been drinking again? You people don’t know the half of it. Ray S. Cornette was an icon. Do you really think Hornet would have a Golden house on the hill if the people didn’t spend so much time and money hating ol’ poor Ray. Cornette was a mastermind. He loved this business, he loved the CSWA, and he loved putting over the Golden Boys because it was “right” and made “business sense.” Anytime Ray spoke or brought forth an idea in creative, it was something you could take to the ATM machine and cash out. And they watched him die without as much of a ‘thank you.’
Oh, they sent flowers, but Ray’s insurance was crap. This company owes this man everything, they should be taking care of his daughter, they should be praying, thanking God he fell into their laps all those years ago, instead they deemed his time had passed and as the ultimate slap in the face trotted out some fucking slut with plastic tits and eventually phased Ray out.
You (points to fans) forgot about him… remembered him as a joke instead of the man who almost took down the CSWA with his CORPORATION. He was moments away from taking it right out from under you, if it hadn’t been for your golden boys and the freak. Hornet, Windham and Randalls.
But now I’ve done it. It took five years, but I’ve succeeded, and Ray S. is looking down and cutting a promo on Saint Paul himself right now! Oh, and speaking of Hornet, don’t bother coming down tonight, because I’ve seen your contract – or should I say, lack thereof, thanks to Steve over there. So Hornet, you’re FIRED. No final match against Mike Randalls, no swan song, no moment of glory sitting on the ropes telling us about your greatest hits. (The crowd has gone from confused to irate.)
Why Sammy, why you say…
Because despite NOBODY really liking Merritt and Thomas, this place MEANS something to all of us because it belongs to every one of us who helped push it up that hilltop. I KNOW THAT. The CSWA is more than Merritt and Thomas it’s a shared memory, a dream that can change the business. There’s something magic about this place, and its EVERY ONE OF YOU that have ever worked for these two ass clowns and been treated like hounds in return.
I’ve been here from the beginning. I know what it was like when those two actually had to WORK. It wasn’t much, but somehow they got people to rally around their idea, got people BETTER than them to work hard to build their business. I was here for the golden age, and I was one of those people. I’ve never seen two people fall backasswards into more good fortune. They could have survived a week-long, bareback orgy with multiple partners and only come away with a case of mild regret. I’ll give them that much, they were bullet proof and had the God-given knack of hiring the right people and good sense to defer to better minds, but they wanted all the glory.
Anytime anybody in the back brought up the idea of a union, they were fired. One of my biggest regrets is Mildred Smith. I don’t think anyone other than Ivy (spits) McGinnis knew how valuable she was to all of us behind the scenes. Whatever we needed Mildred made sure we were taken care of. If we didn’t like the travel arrangements, Mildred found a better option, and usually put us through first class. She was one of the few people in this business, this company I trusted and loved. She was a jewel. That old woman would have done anything for one of her boys. She was the mother to the company. My God, she personally squashed two dozen revolts with just two ears and reason. We all worked our asses off to get her approval, to her to come up to us afterwards and say, “Good Show, very good show.”
But Mildred loved us a little too much. I feel personally responsible for what happened to her, because she listened to parts of this rant for years, and when she brought the idea, unbeknownst to me, of guaranteed contracts and health insurance up to Merritt and Thomas they fired her on the spot! She didn’t know the devil she was dealing with, but I did – which is why I would have never had her fight my battle for me because Merritt -- I knew how cold you could be, I knew what her punishment would be.
I THOUGHT I knew. A small part of me about the size of my… Calm down, Buckley…thought you wouldn’t dare treat her the way you did us. But, I…WAS….WRONG.
Mildred like all of us, believed in the company. Despite being sonsofbitches you had it all.
And then (looks to Merritt and Thomas) you pissed it all away. You got wrapped up in being moguls and forgot what got you to the top. You got conceited… and worse, you got LAZY. The CSWA is on the brink of destruction, and it’s your fault. You didn’t care enough, not like ME.
This has always been OUR company -- and you’ve made us watch as you two have tried to run it into the ground. Talent from around the world of your choosing at your disposal, people were dying to come here and you two can’t get out of your own way to fucking run once a week. Are you kidding me? How many of us who were privileged enough to have a 401k here, how many of us have had to watch it turn into smoke? You two had a responsibility more to your own personal whims, you had one to the people than put you in position to reach the stars to keep running, to push and push until the company was healthy again, but you’re both too fat and sad to understand what it’s like to have to actually WORK for a living, and what it means to LEAD PEOPLE into battle. Instead you lead us into hell.
Well, I’m bringing the light into the darkness…
So tonight, the CSWA as you know it ends. No Hornet/Randalls, no Troy/Ryan. Because this CSWA is over. And “Sammy Benson’s CSWA” begins. But not tonight, and certainly not in this god-forsaken place.
(The crowd has gone ballistic, trash is starting to dot the infield of the arena. Security is having a hard time holding drunk fans back.)
Oh and all of you (he points to the fans) – I know you’re upset now. But trust me, like the sheep you are, when I put a real show in front of you, you’ll show up, pay your money and clap and boo when I want you to. Because it’ll be so much better than… this.
Merritt, Thomas, good doing business with you. Red, it looks like we have a copter to catch.
(As Benson and Red step out of the ring, Thomas makes his move! And gets tasered. The iPPV fades to black thirty minutes early as the helicopter takes off.)
(Two months after FISH FUND XIV…)
(SAMMY BENSON is sitting in his lawyer’s office. He’s slumped in a comfortable chair, wrinkled suit and all, but there’s a gleam in his eye. He pulled off his coup. Now it was just time to make it official.)
SAMMY BENSON: So this is it, right? Merritt and Thomas are giving up their claim?
Lawyer: Mr. Thomas hasn’t been heard from. Mr. Merritt dropped his claim in court. That tells me that he thinks the court will uphold your claim of ownership. We’ve got them both ways – you have enough shareholders to block any motion they may make, and you’ve got legal documentation that the CSWA was signed over to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s a napkin or not as long as it can be verified that Mr. Thomas actually signed it over of his own free will. That means you own his shares. Along with the shares from his soon-to-be-ex-wife, that means you have majority ownership of the company.
SB: I want to make sure they can’t run off with anything that belongs to me.
Lawyer: The court has already frozen the CSWA’s assets. That’s part of what we’ll discuss when their lawyer gets here. It might make sense to give them a little something to pave the way for them to leave cleanly. If there’s anything…
SB: They’ll get exactly what they gave me for twenty years… grief.
(A young receptionist opens the door and ushers in the lawyer sent over by the men formerly known as CS Enterprises. The company still exists, but they haven’t worked together in a long time. Their lawyer is a familiar face.)
SB: He sent YOU? Clearly Merritt’s not serious about trying to figure this out and get the CSWA back.
HORNET: He sent me fully prepared.
SB: Then bring your best shot. What is Merritt ready to offer me in order to get the CSWA back so he can run it into the ground again? Tell me what it is and then double it.
(Hornet thinks for a minute, calculating in his head.)
HORNET: I’ll do better than that. I’ll just start by doubling the offer. Nothing.
Lawyer: I’m sorry, what did you say?
HORNET: Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Merritt does not negotiate with terrorists.
SB: Are you being serious right now, or just trying to get your receipt for firing you on pay-per-view? Or are you still pissed about the beating Ruben Ross gave you? Come on, that was years ago, thanks to Merritt and Thomas and their incompetence.
HORNET: He’s done. He’s not offering you anything. Your “napkin” says you own the CSWA – all its incomes and all its debts.
SB: Fine. A couple of shows in and I’ll be profitable. Unlike the Bobsey twins I can string shows together.
HORNET: Maybe so. But you won’t be doing it in the United States?
HORNET: You may own the company, but there are a couple of things you don’t own. First, the trademark on the name is owned personally by Mr. Merritt and Mr. Thomas – it was never purchased by CS Enterprises as an entity. Because it technically includes both their names, it always belonged to them individually.
SB: (to his lawyer) Is he serious?
Lawyer: If the name includes their names… wait, what does CSWA stand for?
SB: Championship Wrestling Association.
HORNET: Not exactly. While CS Enterprises did buy that trademark as well, in the beginning the initials were simply the name of the company, and the “C” was Chad Merritt, and the “S”…
Lawyer: So you’re saying the original company was called the “Chad Merritt and Stephen Thomas Wrestling Association?”
HORNET: For legal purposes, yes.
SB: This is the biggest bunch of…
HORNET: They own their names. They own the trademark. You own the company, but your company cannot be called the CSWA, at least not in the United States.
SB: Can we fight this?
Lawyer: Absolutely – the claim is specious. But it’s going to take time to get through the system, and they could get an injunction.
HORNET: Already got one, actually.
SB: Bastard. So tell Merritt while he ties me up in court, we’ll just go run a European tour. By the time we get back, he’ll either be tired of fighting or…
Hornet: You’re absolutely within your rights to do that. However, your talent…
SB: I own their contracts now.
HORNET: Indeed you do. But their contracts are only good in the United States. The European Union requires different contracts for independent contractors. The CSWA always had talent sign separate contracts, even for the tour on the Cruise Liner. So your contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on outside the borders.
SB: Son of a… WWRCD? Fine… I’ll just re-sign them. We’ll lose a few, but with the CSWA assets we can rehire them at…
Lawyer: Well, sir, actually..
HORNET: You mean he hasn’t told you yet? Thanks to your Cruise Liner stunt, the CSWA settled a lawsuit with the passengers that were affected by your “hijacking.” Thanks to your follow-up stunts, the CSWA lost its television deal on U-62 and actually had to pay back advertising revenue it had already collected. FISH FUND lost money because all the fans had to be refunded and the building lease had to be paid. The arenas that were lined up for after FISH FUND that you didn’t run all called in their bills as well. You have to pay out the remainder of the talent contracts as well, even though you won’t be able to use them in the States.
Oh, and while it doesn’t add up to that much, you still have to pay me part of the overall gate for FISH FUND.
SB: I fired you! And you didn’t have a contract! I saw your contract in the CS Enterprises database – it expired and you weren’t re-signed.
HORNET: No, I wasn’t. But Thomas did put me on a per-appearance basis, that included a cut of the gate for pay-per-view. Just because you had to refund all the fans for not finishing the show doesn’t mean I don’t get paid.
SB: You son of a bitch. You’re not getting a single dime…
HORNET: I’ve already filed a claim to get a judgment against you. With all those debts, Sammy, I hate to tell you, but you just assumed control of a CSWA… excuse me, a wrestling company formerly known as the CSWA that has very limited assets. CS Enterprises owns its office buildings, the Merritt Auditorium, the CSWA name, and the UNIFIED World Championship. You own very little… and with the banks the way they are today, I don’t expect you’ll qualify for a capital loan.
I think that’s everything, gentlemen. Mr. Merritt sends his regards from the Grand Caymans. He asked me to tell you, Sammy, and I quote, “F*** you.” Have a nice day.
Excerpt from CSWA: The Rise and Fall by Bryan Altzer
Published in Fall 2009
It wasn’t until my final few minutes with Chad Merritt that he actually acknowledged Sammy Benson by name. Even over a year later the wounds were still fresh. Or maybe scabbed over. He seemed resigned to what had happened, but certainly not “at peace” with it.
“You said earlier that you told Ivy ‘You can’t save the CSWA unless it wants to save itself,’ and then you talked about the ‘blight’ – Benson.”
“Benson was the final nail in the coffin. But the ‘blight’ had been there for a long time. The apathy – the infighting – the lack of focus. Sammy wasn’t all wrong in what he said. Stephen and I did take our eyes off the ball. We thought our legacy was secure – we were complacent and starting sniping at each other for the credit.”
“So you don’t blame Benson?”
“No, I absolutely blame Sammy. Some of what he said was true, but most of it was simply a story in his head. Mildred retired… she wasn’t fired. And we treated our staff better than any company in the history of the business. Sammy always felt like he wasn’t treated right, or used enough or paid enough, and on and on. But he wasn’t any different than some of the talent we worked with.”
“What about his claims about Ray S. Cornette?”
“Ray S. had a stroke and went downhill from there. The care facility he was in was paid by CS Enterprises. He couldn’t afford it himself – not because he didn’t make any money working from us, but because his daughter ended up getting a power of attorney and taking it all, from what I’ve been told. As far as I’ve been able to piece together, in the end Ray S. was duped by his daughter and by a certain midget and Sammy Benson.”
“The big question, of course, is whether you’ll bring back the CSWA.”
“Legally I can’t. Sammy Benson owns the company as it was. While he can’t operated in the US due to the pending legal claim, and while he couldn’t hold most of the talent to their contracts, it’s technically his for now.”
“So then where does that leave your legacy? And the legacy of the CSWA?”
“Ray Bradbury once wrote: ‘Everyone must leave something behind when he dies… Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die . . . It doesn't matter what you do, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away.’”
“For one brief, shining moment, we built the Camelot of the wrestling world. You can point out faults or cheer the decline, but it was what it was. We built something the world hadn’t seen before and they cheered. We helped create talent that is still filling arenas today. And we built a name that is unmatched. In the end, the company died with a whimper rather than the bang we always tried to create. But that name lives on. And it isn’t Sammy’s or Stephen’s or mine. It belongs to all the people who worked there and all the fans who watched and cheered.”
“And your final words to all of them?”
“What we built together can’t be torn down by one man, not if it was worth something in the first place. Another author once said, ‘Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.’”
So that’s the real question then – not how or whether the CSWA “rose” or “fell” – but what did it mean? Was it simply a wrestling or entertainment company, or was it something bigger? Was it a touchstone for a generation? Did the story of the Windhams or the antics of the Parsons mean something? Do young boys and girls still dream of becoming a UNIFIED or Ultratitle Champion? Do they jump off their beds imitating Hornet splashes or send their friends careening into the pool with Humility Bombs?
Is the legacy of the CSWA a memory or is it somehow ingrained in us? Have we been made different by wrestling’s Camelot? And if so, then are we somehow diminished because it’s gone?
“Normal” people would laugh at the questions. But for those of who sometimes look up and under the light a blue moon hear the cheers of the crowd and the pounding of the turnbuckles and a faint announcer’s voice counting to three… we remember.
Results compiled and archived with Backstage 3.1.