zebra.gifSaw a story on Digg.com about a guy that dressed up as a DJ just so he could get into some exclusive clubs (video here). Clever idea, but he wasn’t the first to think of something like this.

Back when the MIW promotion used to run shows at the Main Event bar in Fridley, MN, a couple of “superfans” had a similar idea. I won’t mention any names, so let’s call them “O” , “G“, and “M“. These guys went out and bought referee shirts at Foot Locker or somewhere and walked in the front door for free. And not just once, but every time there was a show there. Same staff working every time. Never wondered why these refs just come in and drink beer while the other ones have to go in the ring. Pretty funny. [Update 1/6/09: Ok, turns out I was wrong. They got in for free because of how early they got to the bar, not because of wearing ref shirts. Makes a better story the other way though 😉]

I remember having a few matches there where I could have used them.

You don’t see it too much lately (at least on TV), but every once in a while we would have a match that went to a time limit draw. In the biz, we called this a “broadway”. Still not sure why.

There were three things that could make a broadway totally suck (in order of importance):

  1. Booking it with two rookies– Not only aren’t they experienced enough to manage time, play to the crowd, etc., but they don’t usually have enough moves in their arsenal to fill a 10 or 15 minute draw. Especially the last couple of minutes, where the two wrestlers are desperately trying pinning combinations or submissions to win the match as the time limit is approaching.
  2. Having a bad referee– The referee will make or break this match, coming in a close second in importance to the wrestlers themselves. If the referee is too slow to get in and make the count for the rapid pin attempts (or doesn’t know what a pin attempt looks like- more on this later), you can’t have a good match.
  3. Having an inexperienced timekeeper– If the match is nearing the time limit, we need to hear when there are 5 minutes left. Then 3 minutes. Then 2… 1… 30 seconds… 20 secs… 15 secs… 10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… (ding, ding, ding). If the time keeper announces there are 5 minutes left, then 3 minutes later rings the bell, we have a big problem.

Guess how many of those have happened to me? That’s right, all three. More than once.

I was one of the rookies in #1 going to a draw with Robbie Thunder in Duluth, MN. We actually did have nearly enough moves to pull it off, but the timekeeper screwed up… twice. After telling us there were 5 minutes remaining, he waited 3 minutes and rang the bell to end the match. Frustrated, we asked the crowd if they wanted to see “5 more minutes… 5 more minutes…”. The match started again. The timekeeper never said a word, waited 3 minutes, and then rang the bell.

Number 2 happened at the Main Event [update: I wrestled Thor Tyler in this match] when we had a visitor from Florida working as a ref. Apparently, she had never seen wrestling before. She was learning some moves in our training camp while she was staying here, but the only pinning move she recognized was a lateral press. Anything else, and she wouldn’t get down on the mat and count. That was the point when I pointed over to “O”, “G”, and “M” and said, “Why don’t we get a real ref in here”.

After that the crowd was helping out by yelling , “COUNT!!” whenever there was a pin attempt. Eventually she started to catch on and she would start counting whenever the crowd yelled. She wouldn’t go down and slap the mat though, she would just stand there and count.

It was probably a good thing that it was a draw, because if she ever got to three I think should would have just kept on going. Maybe around 10 or 20 she would have figured it out. Or run out of fingers and toes.

It can be easy to underestimate how important some of the “supporting cast” are in wrestling. It’s times like these when you really appreciate what a difference they can make.