Official’s View With Wes Adams: Breaking Into Pro Wrestling & WWE (Part 1)
Welcome to my very first column here at PWMania.com! I can’t really express how excited I am to be offered the chance to express my thoughts and views of our business in written form. I suppose the first column should be a background about who I am. Who is Wes Adams? And why the heck is this guy writing about anything? I’m still asking myself that question! One of the things I always loved about wrestling is meeting different people and hearing the stories of what led them into wrestling and how they broke in. So I guess that’s where I’ll start!
I was born and raised in Mississippi. In 1985, I was 4 years old and was serving a sentence on the fence at the preschool playground. My infraction? Poking a few kids in the eyes. Where did I learn this? From the Three Stooges of course! Who over the age of 30 didn’t watch the Three Stooges with their dad and granddad? Well too bad they didn’t have the Please Don’t Try This At Home video package that WWE has today back then, maybe I wouldn’t have missed so many recesses. I was given a restraining order of no longer being permitted to watch them anymore, and I was sad. Only for a few days though. Maybe a few months later, I was staying with my Uncle David and great grandfather Howard when I was introduced to the glorious world of professional wrestling. Since I was not permitted to watch the Stooges, my uncle popped in a tape of AWA Home Video: Greatest World Title Matches for me to look at. The very first match I ever saw was Rick Martel winning the AWA World Championship from the late great Jumbo Tsuruta. That was it. I knew what I was going to do with my life by hook or by crook. I still possess that tape, and will forever. One by one, I began watching other promotions and never stopped. Mid South, NWA, Continental, Florida, World Class, and of course, the WWF!
As soon as I could read, I started with the PWI family of magazines. My uncle had a huge collection of magazines, and was a major fan as well. He actually made his own wrestling RPG back in 1987, and kept detailed notes of the happenings in the game. At this point, my LJN wrestling figure collection had grown to a respectable size, and I began keeping a notebook of my matches, and started scribbling storylines and cards. I still have some of these notebooks to this day! Of course this continued for several years until I thought it wasn’t cool to play with toys anymore. I never lapsed, quit watching, or “grew out of it” like so many probably hoped that I would. I started watching WCW, ECW, Smoky Mountain, USWA and Japanese tapes if I could get my hands on them. In 1997, I broke the doors down at my small private school by defiantly wearing an NWO shirt to school picture day. After that, I was the wrestling guy in town. And it’s stuck to this day. And I’m proud of that.
After 2 years of junior college, I moved out of my parents’ home and I transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS. This was in August of 2000, and was a strange period for the wrestling business. Although we didn’t realize it at the time, the big boom period was in its dying days, and within a few months we could be without our beloved WCW and ECW.
I had started lifting weights in 1995 for the sole purpose of getting size so I could eventually break in somewhere. And imagine my surprise when I found out there was a local independent called the NWF operating about 30 miles from where I was going to college. After attending a few of their events, I was even more surprised to find out that one of their main talents lived directly across the street from me. They were nice enough to take me in and let me start ring announcing their events, and training me before shows. Although the training wasn’t very formal in the way of drills or organized classes, I clung to every word and listened intently. They never tried to take money from me, take advantage of me, or take liberties during my training. They used me on their events, even paid me when the houses were good. I took on the name Scott Starr, and after about 1 year and a half, I started to see that my mentality of wrestling was way off base from what the majority of these guys had. My intentions were to get to be the best I could be, start travelling, making money, and eventually FIND A JOB! The only thing I have ever wanted out of life was to make a living from professional wrestling, no matter what I had to do. But it seemed I was the only one that felt that way. Whenever I would bring up trying to get on with WWE or trying to get into Japan with certain individuals, they would laugh and say “ain’t none of us ever going up there”. Well not with that attitude, you ain’t!
After getting out of my trash bag wrestler phase (you know, black leather pants and hiking boots) and purchasing my first set of trunks and boots. I noticed I started getting attention. A few people started asking for pictures. Occasionally, someone would ask for an autograph. So I took some pictures on a throwaway camera and went to Wal-Mart and made copies for 15 cents each, and started selling them at the shows. I started adding old magazines, t shirts, and tapes and began making a few bucks from these shows. I started treating wrestling like *gasp* a BUSINESS!
My dad owned his own business for years, and had promoted a yearly 3 mile race in our hometown, and I had inherited his entrepreneurial spirit and was ready to apply it. At 22 years of age I sat down, and worked up a budget, made some calls, and promoted my first show. I sold sponsorships, bought newspaper ads and had posters made. And in March of 2003, I promoted my first live event in front of about 90 people! That doesn’t sound great, but for Mississippi in 2003, that wasn’t a bad number at all. Plus, between concessions, tickets, and merchandise, I was able to take home a few bucks after paying the boys. I had made a few mistakes, and learned from them, but everybody there worked hard, and the crowd went home happy. A few months later, I sold my first show to a fair for a pretty decent amount of money and was able to put on an event in front of about 250 people, which was really good for that time.
At this point, I really concentrated on the business aspect and trying to DRAW MONEY. Because without it, you can’t keep going! I started working in Louisiana a little bit, and after an event where I had one of my best matches I had up until that point, when Elix Skipper and I wrestled Cassidy Riley and Joe Kane, in a very fast paced, action packed match. Up until that point, I had mostly worked the slower Southern style, but this was a whole new world. Bob Ryder was at the events in Louisiana and had talked to me about coming up and working with in Nashville with him and Bert Prentice. I went up and did a few shots teaming with my cousin Dustin Starr, as The Lifeguards. Later on, my good friend Jacey North got me booked in NWA Wildside (now Anarchy) with Bill Behrens, which everyone knows is one of the premier and longest running independents in the country. After a match with Memphis wrestling great Doug Gilbert in Indianola, MS, he got me my biggest break at that point, by recommending me to Memphis Wrestling promoter Corey Maclin, who with Jerry Lawler, were in the middle of bringing great wrestling back to Memphis! There, I reprised my tag team with Dustin, and began working live TV’s on Saturdays for Memphis, plus house shows and spot shows with other independents in Tennessee and Alabama. Three times, I was fortunate enough to work one of the greatest wrestling venues in history, the Mid South Coliseum, one of which (with Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler headlining) drew 5000!
We were working with veterans like Jerry, Jimmy Hart, Tracy Smothers, Doug Gilbert, Koko B. Ware, Bill Dundee, Kid Kash, Brian Christopher, Kamala, Big Mabel/Viscera and so many guys that it’s impossible to list everybody. The money was good, the learning experience was even better! After about a year there, I didn’t feel closer to having a full time job or even landing any extra work with WWE or TNA, so I started concentrating on promoting my own events in Mississippi again. I continued promoting events under the names of Mississippi Premier Wrestling and Fusion Fight Network. I continued the practice of selling sponsorships, advance tickets, and selling shows until 2006, when I took my first and only extended break from wrestling.
I laid off for about 6 months, as I had taken a job selling high end furniture, and was making pretty good money. Retail doesn’t allow for Saturdays off, and it was hard saying no to the money I was making. It was getting harder and harder to draw no matter what we did. So I took a break. After getting gypped on a very big commission ticket, I cut a promo on the store owner that would have made Shane Douglas say “Hey kid, watch your mouth!” And I walked out. I was only jobless for about a week, as my good friend David hooked me up with a job with the ambulance center that he was a consultant for. I started getting the itch again, as at that point, WWE had restarted the ECW brand, TNA was growing, and I was getting excited watching the product on television again.
I started reaching out for work again. David was part owner of a nightclub in town and let us start running monthly events there. I picked right back up and got back into the swing of things with Fusion Fight Network. I had new gear made and was ready to hit the road again. In Nov. 2006, I wound up on a show in Dyersburg, TN in a tag team match with a guy from Mississippi I had been working with named Kool Jay vs. Alan Steele and former WWE tag team champion Sir Mo. After the match, Mo had a long talk with me and encouraged me to start sending tapes and pictures into WWE.
I had just turned 26, and time was running low for me. I had sent stuff to them before, and had even attended a Bill Demott led Deep South Wrestling tryout in 2005 (which I’ll touch on at a later date), but nothing. So I made a DVD of some current matches, new pictures, and a resume, made about 5 copies and sent them all separately! I began calling talent relations on end on Thursdays and Fridays until I spoke with Nova! After speaking with him a couple of times about attending tryout seminar they had recently started doing before some live events, he informed me that for the time being, the tryouts were being discontinued, but booked me for the upcoming Raw and SmackDown tapings in Lafayette, LA and Mobile, AL! I had started ring announcing in January of 2001, and 6 years later, I was getting my first official booking with WWE in January of 2007…and a strange twist in my career that I never saw coming!