In 2000, Triple H was on fire as the hottest babyface in the business and my company, UPW was searing hot as pro wrestling’s leading independent promotion.
UPW’s sold-out shows at our home base, The Galaxy Concert Theatre,” featured guests like then-WCW Champ Sting, ECW Champ Rob Van Dam, WWF Women’s Champ Ivory, Roddy Piper, in his first indy appearances ever, The Road Warriors, Edge & Christian and The Hardys (w/Lita) at the top of their games and even Antonio Inoki. The list goes on and on.
One October evening, we were slated for an appearance by The Undertaker, then the hottest heel in the biz. Steve Regal was also booked to be on the show. In a rarity -and largely due to Taker’s impending appearance—UPW was sold out in advance.
The night before our show, WWF was in town taping for Smackdown! Undertaker suffered an injury on the show, and head of Talent Relations Jim Ross informed me that he wouldn’t be able to make my show the next night. Now, as an anomaly to our business, to that point in our existence, UPW had NEVER had a no-show. I went into a panic. JR, to his credit, as well as second-in-command Bruce Prichard, went into overdrive, trying to find a “suitable replacement.” They even gave me their blessings to roam around backstage and ask the boys myself. Together, the three of us were getting nowhere fast. Everyone had been on the road for a while, and were looking forward to flying home the following day (the day of our show). And then… Dennis Knight (aka Phinneas Godwin, aka Mideon) literally sprints up to me and says, “Rick! I hear you have a problem for tomorrow night! Don’t worry, brother, I’ll be there!” And off he sprints. With all of the running to and fro, I suppose Dennis was just staying “in gimmick.” At that time in his career, he was appearing as “Naked Man,” a gimmick in which while wearing a loincloth/diaper, he would appear out of nowhere, run into the ring, kiss an unsuspecting Superstar on the mouth, and run off. OK, so we’re replacing Undertaker with Naked Man. While I absolutely appreciate Dennis’ enthusiasm and generosity, I’m thinking… “That’s going to go over big!”
About 10 minutes later, as I stand there ruminating on how to make our fans okay with the substitution, HHH approaches me. “Hey Rick, can you use my help tomorrow night?” Before I can answer, he chuckles, says “Just ribbing you,”´ and turns and walks away. And then…he turns back around, a smile on his face.—-
Show night. I have my staff place signs all over The Galaxy’s exterior, stating “The Undertaker, due to injury, will not be here tonight. We’ve booked what we feel, and believe you will feel, is a suitable replacement. If you’re uncomfortable, please go to the box office, and we will fully refund your ticket.” This is the same exact message which we have placed on our website late Tuesday night, and have sent out in an e-blast. NO ONE asks for a refund.
William “Steve” Regal Pulls a Fast One
Sir William Regal AKA Steve Regal
Samoa Joe and Steve Regal work an outstanding match. Post-match, Regal grabs the mic and cuts an evergreen promo, basically heeling the audience. Mid-promo, a loin-clothed clad Naked Man appears, runs into the ring and plants a kiss on an “unsuspecting” Regal. Regal sell it hard and chases Naked Man off. Our fans clap politely, and I’m thinking “wow, they are really okay with Naked Man instead of Undertaker. We have really great, loyal fans.” Regal, regaining his composure, addresses the crowd again. This time, he cuts a violent promo on WWF, accusing them for being “cheap,” by sending Naked Man in Takers’ place. As he gathers a real head of steam on how much WWF sucks, and how much UPW sucks…the music hits.
I am standing in the back of the theatre, wanting to see what the reaction will be like. And I swear….I have never heard such a loud, explosive, length pop in my life…
The entire story of how Triple H saved the day at UPW appears in my book, “Been There, Done That,” under the section “Pro Wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts: The Good, The bad and the downright Ugly.”
Subscribe to my blog now and get notified when the book, and all my incredible behind the scenes Pro-Wrestling stories will be available!
[contact-form-7 id=”1638″ title=”Subscribe to My Blog”]