Welcome to part two of my debut column exclusively on PWMania.com. For those that missed part one, you can read it at this link.
I’m given my dates and times for Raw in Lafayette, LA and SmackDown in Mobile, AL. The week before I see my buddy Cassidy Riley wrestle Monty Brown on the ECW show, and the next day hear he got a deal and assigned to OVW! I joked and said that could be me the next week. I show up to Raw and check in. It’s such an unreal experience being behind the curtain. I had been to three Raw’s before as a spectator, but never in the hallowed halls of “backstage”. The extras check in with the talent relations department upon arrival. For this stop, it’s me, Jeremy Young, and Adam Evans. There may have been a couple of more but I can’t recall.
We really don’t get to do much in the way of an in ring workout. I really didn’t figure that we would do anything. When Sgt. Slaughter came by and assigned the Sunday Night Heat matches. Young had Val Venis. Evans got Hacksaw Duggan in the dark match. I was talking to Big Viscera about our old Memphis days, and mentioning I had just wrestled Mo a few weeks prior, when he mentioned he had a match but didn’t know with who. I laughed and said I would do it, and he laughed too and said yeah that would be cool. A few minutes later, I passed Sarge in the hall and nervously asked if he had anybody assigned to Big Vis. He looked at the sheet then at me and said, “Yeah! You!” Sweet. That’s what everybody wants to hear in that situation. I went back out and told Big Vis the good news.
That night I had my first ever WWE match against Big Vis, with Jack Doan as the ref, and Steve Keirn as the agent. I know because I have a notebook of every show I’ve ever been too and every match I’ve ever participated in. It aired on the online version of Sunday Night Heat, and was available deep in the archive sections of WWE.com. On the way back from Lafayette, somehow I wound up giving the newly debuted Highlanders a ride back to their hotel. Rory and Robbie are great guys and told me what they looked for in signing new talents.
At the Mobile SmackDown tapings, the same crew was there, along with two new additions, the future Jimmy and Jey Uso, who had just started wrestling. I was pleasantly surprised to see Bill Moody, aka Paul Bearer there, as I hadn’t seen him in about a year. He was a big part of my early independent days as well. We did more of an in ring workout that day. Adam and I were pegged to be the sacrificial lambs for Deuce N Domino’s second week of television, and worked with them a good bit.
In a hilariously comical moment, another local talent (whose name I can’t recall) was slated to work Monty Brown on the ECW show. Sarge said, “What’s your name?” The guy responds with his gimmick name. Sarge says he has to use his real name, not his gimmick. So the guy gives him his real name. As Sarge is walking away, the guy stops him and says, “SARGE! Should I wear my overalls, or my TIGHTS???” Sarge looked like someone had just taken a dump in his Frosted Flakes and responded, “Probably your tights.” And he left. Sarge is the best. I retold him that story about a month before my release and he laughed so hard, it was amazing. So after going into catering and sitting down to eat, a production guy comes into the catering room shouting, “Who the hell is Wes Adams and where is he!”
I was scared to death, because in the wrestling business, you’re always paranoid about doing something wrong, and my first thought was, “I’ve messed up and I’m being kicked out!” I stand up and say, “Here I am!” The production guy tells me John Laurinitis wants to see me by the ring. Oh snap. I get to the ring and Johnny is there with Dusty Rhodes (who had just come in from TNA) and Monty Brown. I shake their hands and Johnny says, “Change of plans kid, you have Monty Brown tonight!” Say what? Alright cool deal, let’s do it. So the match is set, and as I’m walking around the back right before, Tommy Dreamer pulls me aside and says, “Just go in there, do your job, and do the best you can. The kid (Cassidy Riley) who did the favor the week before got hired, so work hard and you never know.” I thanked him and went to get ready for the match. I did what I was supposed to do, and afterwards Johnny thanked me and told me to meet him in his office after the show.
I was hoping to get sent in for a tryout for a week, but was stunned by what laid ahead. Johnny asked me how long I had been working, and what I did for a living. After answering his questions, he said he would sign me to a developmental deal…to be a REFEREE. I totally didn’t see that coming. I didn’t have much time to think about it either, because the man wanted an answer immediately! After talking about the position details, I looked at it as a long term career opportunity to make a living in the wrestling business, which I immediately accepted. Perhaps had Johnny seen me work a competitive match, or heard me cut a promo, he would have considered something else. But he didn’t. He saw me, short brown hair, 5’10”, 200 lbs and saw a body for his open referee position and gave it to me. He didn’t tell me I sucked as a wrestler and would only use me as a referee as the story went on the Mississippi indy scene.
He sent me to Deep South Wrestling, and after Nova helped me with my hiring paperwork, contracts, and moving issues, I started on my way to being a WWE referee! I won’t go into a million details on my WWE career and life on the road at this point, I will save those for future columns. But I can honestly say that I feel that I earned my bachelor’s degree in wrestling from them. Dr. Tom Prichard, Steve Keirn, Brad Armstrong, Steve Williams, Billy Kidman, and all of the trainers that I worked under didn’t treat me as just a referee. They let me wrestle, referee, listen in on booking meetings, and even let me manage a few times on some FCW shows. I paid attention to production meetings, even going to far as to save cards and tv formats just in case I ever needed them.
I was under payroll from January 2007 until the end of my 90 days in November 2008. I saw a lot during that time. From the closing of Deep South, the opening of Florida Championship Wrestling, the Benoit family tragedy, the end of OVW as developmental, to the Signature Pharmacy scandal, those almost two years seemed like twenty. But it also seemed like two months.
I was released in August 2008 after the infamous shoot pin incident on the ECW program, and although I was never given that as an outright reason for my release, it didn’t take Einstein to figure out that it was why. During my 90 days, I contemplated two options. Did I want to stay in Florida and try to work independents and try to get on with TNA or move back home to Mississippi and try to promote shows again? With my release also came the release of talent like Big Daddy V, Domino, Cherry, The Highlanders, Colin Delaney, Steven Richards, Nunzio, Shannon Moore, and Trevor Murdoch.
I had already decided that my referee days were over, and didn’t think the prospects of getting on with TNA as a wrestler were very good with all of that talent available. So I went back to Mississippi, where with my longtime friends Ryan Jackson and Reggie Matthews, we mapped out a plan to bring top notch wrestling back to Mississippi, under the name Powerslam Productions. We’ve promoted nearly 50 events since November 2008 with no end in sight. I began taking bookings as a wrestler again, and in January 2012, began working with Luke Hawx’s Wildkat Sports out of New Orleans. Things are really picking up down here, and these guys and girls that are working hard deserve to get more exposure.
I am honored that PWMania.com would want me to contribute in any way, shape or form. Since 2001, I have wrestled, refereed, ring announced, booked and promoted shows in the south and have been fortunate to work with and learn from the best, and hopefully will continue to do so until I can’t anymore. There’s a lot of ground to cover in this world of wrestling and I look forward to giving my thoughts and reviews on it.
Thanks for reading!