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Question for blog - P Heyman & ECW


Scott,

 

We all know about Paul Heyman's difficulties with paying talent during ECW's tenure.  Was that because :

 

(a)    Paul Heyman was doing quite well for himself, and stiffing performers to line his own pockets?

(b)   Paul Heyman was a terrible businessman and couldn't pay the performers because he didn't have the money?

(c)    A bit of answers (a) and (b) depending on where in ECW's history we are landing?


Mr. Heyman has always been financially well off due to his parents being loaded, so I really doubt that any financial difficulties were a result of him skimming the meager profits that ECW made.  If anything he put too much of his own money into the promotion and nearly bankrupted himself in the process.  So definitely B in this case.

 


Comments

  1. Depending on who you want to believe, Paul Heyman and Tommy Dreamer gave an interesting he said/he said about ECW's demise on separate Stone Cold podcasts months ago.

    Heyman has more reason to lie about it, but his version came off much more believable than Dreamer's.

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  2. CruelConnectionNumber2September 15, 2014 at 12:58 PM

    If only an A+ home video about Paul Heyman was released to discuss this kind of stuff.

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  3. Dreamer's been known to always be very delusional about ECW's success.

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  4. He sacrificed for ECW! I'm sure wherever he is in the world he's crying just thinking about it as this very moment.

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  5. And his podcast with Austin was no exception.
    Austin definitely seemed to smell bullshit with Tommy's version of events, but was too nice to call him out on it.

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  6. Ah yes, that's the one with Dreamer's ridiculous claim that a group of investors were willing to pay over $100 million for ECW if only Heyman agreed to not be in charge anymore, but Heyman refused.

    Austin let it slide, but I wish he didn't. ECW wasn't worth 1/10th of a $100 million.

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  7. Actually, he's probably crying because his latest check from TNA bounced.

    "NOT AGAIN!"

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  8. I loved ECW. But even I knew that at best they had only 100k people ordering the PPVs and ECW on TNN topped out at like 1.2 in the ratings. Both One Night Stand 2005 and 2006 did about three times the buyrate any actual ECW PPV did.

    That means there was barely a million people in all of the U.S. that cared about ECW during it's heyday. Dreamer had access to the financials and he somehow has never realized that the only areas where ECW succeeded was influence and building talent.

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  9. ECW was just never a viable business model. Few indies are. It began out of Joel Goodhart's TWA promotion which lost a bunch of money by bringing in every available big name for quarterly supercards. Tod Gordon started Eastern Championship Wrestling from that and tried to use locals (Sandman, Tommy Cairo, Don E. Allen, Stevie Richards, etc.) with a big name or two tosseed in. Not sure if it was profitable but it wasn't losing a ton.


    Reality is that merely running the ECW arena was a money loser every single time, as was the Elks Lodge in Queens, NY. Heyman admitted this on an online AOL chat in 98 but said he liked the ambiance. But when you put in the cost of talent, rent, production, security and staff, etc. the math just didn't work. Heyman tried to expand to increase revenue and also got on ppv to increase revenue, but every increase in revenue was met in higher costs that outstripped revenue. The monday night wars for talent made Heyman have to pay higher and higher talent costs (for example Sandman was making 150k in 98 when he headed to ECW and BIgelow a little over 100k before he left). In addition insurance costs rose, promotional costs rose as well. And then the production costs involved in the TNN deal finished them off. PPV buyrates stayed the same .20 to .25 every single time, regardless of talent losses, booking, matchups, etc. but TNN and ppv demanded higher priced productions to look more professional. Heyman was able to juggle the money pretty well until late 98. It is at this point that checks began to bounce, although according to almost ECW talent he made good on the checks until 2000 when guys started not getting reimbursed for bank fees or even getting their full checks. A quick google of the ECW bankruptcy will show you some figures on who was owed what as far as talent.


    Heyman was not a good businessman. Once Gordon left in 97, some things slipped through the cracks. He wasted more and more money on last minute air fares because he forgot to book flights. He wasted more and more on FedEX or even flying or driving tapes to cities at the last minute for TV. All this stuff added up, as well as production and talent costs spiraling upward and insurance, promotion, and rent going up as well. To my knowledge no one has accused Heyman of pocketing a ton of money. What he has been accused of is convincing talent to put things on their persona credit cards (and I don't mean a flight to work, I'm talking a ring truck, or a security bill) with promises to pay them back that never happened. Pretty sleazy on the surface but I think by that point Heyman was out of his mind trying to save his dream and in his heart he intended to pay people back, but he wasn't using his head in the fact that there was a good chance he wouldn't be able to.

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  10. They lost money running shows at the ECW Arena? Seriously, how much could it have cost to rent that dump? How much were they charging for tickets back then?

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  11. I couldn't believe Dreamer tried to run with that lie. I was just waiting for Austin to grill him about it, but he just moved on to the next topic.

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  12. Yep.
    Heyman's version of events- that the PPV companies dicked him out of a couple million dollars they were owed, which would have been enough to avoid bankruptcy and at least keep ECW breathing until the next move, because they knew he'd go bankrupt and they'd only have to pay him a fraction of that as a result- sounds about a billion times more believable than Dreamer lining up $110M in financing and Heyman standing in the way of it.

    You aren't lining up $110M from investors if 2 percent of that in owed PPV money is capable of sinking the company.

    (Of course, let's not forget that just because Heyman's version sounds a lot better, that doesn't mean it's entirely true just because Dreamer is out of his mind. He's just infinitely smarter, more convincing and better at speaking than Tommy.)

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  13. Same here. But, hey, the dude's not a journalist and even if he saw through it- which, again, he really seemed to- he probably doesn't see it as his place to interrogate a guy about a fairly serious subject matter. Especially with a meathead like Dreamer who cares way too much about said subject matter, for the platform they were on maybe it was better to just let it go.

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  14. either 10 or 15 for bleachers and 25 for floor. Remember those shows were often taped, had security, and you had to pay talent. And despite what the numbers sometimes say, 1080 was the max they could fit and they often didn't get that consistently until 97ish.

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  15. 100K are 10 times more than TNA, as far as I know. Not so bad actually!

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  16. It wasn't that the ECW Arena was too expensive, it was that they were spending too much to run a show there.

    1200 people paying $20 each or whatever to go to the show is only $24,000. That's not a lot of money to pay all the talent, security, production costs, building fees, vendors, etc.

    You could rent a VFW Hall for dirt cheap, but if you book the Foo Fighters to do a gig there even if you fill the place you'll lose money.

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  17. True, true. If they were just house shows, they could have saved a lot of loot in lighting, filming, post-production, etc. And I forgot that early on, they were bringing in guys like the Funks, Snuka, Hawk, Arn Anderson, Bobby Eaton, etc. I'm sure they weren't working for $50 a night.

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  18. probably some truth to it. PPV companies are notorious for holding onto funds for insane amounts of time and, like corporate America in general, trying to use every legal and semi-legal accounting practice around to give you the bare minimum you'll take without suing. But ppv revenues were only going to put of the inevitable. They lost TNN. They lost almost all their talent and were running shows with skeleton crews and young guys working for almost nothing. At some point even some of the most loyal ECW fans were going to stop buying that 16th t-shirt at the next event and certainly some of the newer fans would move on when it became apparent that York and Mathews were the norm, not Sabu, Taz, Bigelow, etc.

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  19. as a single number, no. In fact ECW and WCW had about the same buys per ppv in 2000/2001. Granted WCW ran monthly while ECW ran every 2 or 3 months, but often ECW beat them out. And in 2000 ECW was offered in just about as many homes as WCW on ppv, so a .14 for WCW vs. a .23 for ECW is comparing apples to apples (maybe fuji to granny smith but still same ballpark). But it was a different time too. Some ECW fans felt they were on some sacred mission just by buying the shows. And there was no pirating.

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  20. Dreamer is seriously the biggest mark for himself. He stands out in a world of wrestlers that generally think very highly of themselves, so that's saying something. Dreamer's ability to overvalue his worth to wrestling is comical

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  21. You said that few indy promotions are viable business models. In your opinion, what could ECW have realistically done to stay alive and maybe even turned a profit?

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  22. His story about the Singapore cane angle cracks me up every time. According to Tommy, he and Sandman stood face to face, lips quivering from all the emotion in the building. Funny thing is, when I watch that incident, the arena is rather quiet for most of it.

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  23. stay small and local. Keep talent costs low. In ECW's defense,, they didn't ask for the big two to jack up talent costs. Maybe in 2005 if ECW started up the same way, they survive. But as soon as talent started being scooped out right and left, they couldn't compete. Today ROH and the like don't try to bid for talent. If WWE wants them, wish them the best and move on. Heyman tried to keep his talent after early defections like Benoit, Malenko, Eddie G., etc. He was paying talent 6 figures and they weren't bringing in 6 figures of revenue to make it worth it. It's one thing to pay a guy who's working 200 days a year 150k. But ECW was working at the most 100-120 shows in 99 and far less than that previous. Paying Sandman 150k because he's Sandman isn't smart because he's working twice a week not twice a week on TV plus house shows like a WCW or WWE guy.

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  24. Crikey Mate Down Under AussieSeptember 15, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    From every negative thing I've ever heard about Heyman, skimming profits from ECW is definitely not one of them. However you look at it, the dude nearly killed himself to keep that company alive and wouldn't have jeopardised it for something so petty.

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  25. Yeah, the PPV revenue was the final straw, but ECW had been dying for a long time. The exodus of the company's signature talent made it obvious:

    Shane Douglas left in April 1999, Dudleys left in August 1999, Taz left in November 1999, Sabu left in February 2000, RVD was gone from January to May 2000 because of a broken leg and then checked out in October 2000 (except for the last PPV), Raven left for good in July 2000.

    A roster of Sandman, Dreamer, Rhino, Justin Credible, and indie geeks couldn't keep a "national" promotion afloat.

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  26. I don't doubt that. Every time I listen to him talk it's awful. I flipped on TNA and he's talking about all his dedication to "THIS BUSINESS" and you can tell he seriously thinks he's some sort of innovative force. He was a glorified stuntman that seems to think he should be celebrated. He and Michael Hayes should do a sit down to determine who is the most delusional about their respective place in wrestling history.

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  27. Dude. Did you write this? It seems like a good piece of writing that would be valuable for many more people to see

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  28. Difference is, the Fabulous Freebirds WERE innovative. Hayes was one half of the main event of a sellout of the Superdome vs. JYD. The 'Birds drew big money just about wherever they went. Hayes has a reason to think highly of himself.


    Dreamer, on the other hand.....I have no idea where his delusions of grandeur come from. His claim to fame was never beating Raven - until Raven decided to go get paid elsewhere.

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  29. Dreamer wins. People actually filled stadiums to see the Freebirds get their ass kicked by the Von Erichs. I don't know many people who bought a ticket to specifically see Tommy Dreamer.

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  30. Heyman said on Austin's podcast that his personal finances were good because he had a few really good years in the stock market.

    Heyman strikes me as the kind of guy who can't relax. He always has to be doing about 50 things. Of course he'd be heavy into investing while trying to run a business. Hell, there's probably 15 other things he was into we don't even know about.

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  31. It's worth noting that guys like Sandman and Sabu who went to WCW didn't last very long because their gimmicks just didn't work on a twice-a-week-on-TV basis. When they eventually came back, there was no reason for Heyman to keep overpaying them because WCW didn't want them.

    If WCW paid Sandman $150k to work 200 days (to use your number), Heyman would be entirely justified to offer him $75k to work 100 days.

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  32. You seem like you know about a billion times more about ECW than me, so let me as you this. Let's say Heyman (or Dreamer, if we're living in fantasyland) somehow scraped together enough to keep the company afloat in 2001. Whether they got the PPV money or however else, they found a way to stay alive and heeded your advice about staying local and smaller-scale (at the very least, until they got on solid ground again).
    If the next great influx of indy talent had found their way to ECW- Danielson, Punk, Joe, AJ, Daniels- as one presumes they might well have had it still been alive, would that have made a difference at all? Because I think an addendum to your very correct point earlier about ECW using too expensive talent is that the well of home-grown independent stars who didn't have a higher price tag, having come from WCW or Japan, had sort of run dry. Would the next wave of great talent that would've been cheaper and better than what they had before have made them sustainable for the forseeable future (after all, Ring of Honor is still alive and kicking), or do you think they were ultimately doomed even despite a would-be massive roster upgrade?

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  33. This true, but my favorite what if is, if ECW was able to stick it out until the ROH crew (Semoa Joe, CM Pynk, Lo Ki, AJ Styles, Paul London, ect) cam9e along, does ECW take again.

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  34. This is one of my favorite what ifs. I don't think Haymen would/could downsize to the point where ECW could survive until those guys came along. Even if it was only a year or two. They could have just ran the northeast and ran PPV, but ECW had to be national to get the money needed, from video games, action figures, advertisers, to stay afloat. They really were tok big to be small and too big to be small.

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  35. I'd pay a ticket just to see Dreamer get beat up. That's what he did best!

    ECW! ECW!

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  36. 10 of those you wouldn't want to know about...

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  37. Out of curiosity, what was his story?

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  38. Agreed, and I actually like both of them to a degree. Just that their respective opinions of each of their careers do not align with reality. Hayes, however, pretty much credits himself with the success of all southern wrestling and toots his own horn regularly. Not saying he didn't have his moments, but he tends to pat himself on the back whenever he can.

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  39. Dreamer said he had an investor that was willing to put up $110 million for him to run ECW. Paul no-showed a meeting and that was that. Austin did say, "Well, what happened to the money?" Dreamer's response was that it just vanished. Honestly didn't sound really believable from a guy that generally is.

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  40. Sandman was actually better than I thought he'd be in WCW. His character there wasn't terrible. Having said that, I agree, they had a short shelf life because they really had no talent beyond smashing stuff into each other's faces.

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  41. Yeah, you could tell when he asked him about the money but didn't push him when Tommy said it just disappeared.

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  42. Austin doing a show where he calls people out on their bullshit would be great. Investigative Austin!

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  43. The issue with Dreamer, as far as I can tell, is that he sort of refuses to grow up. He still sort of acts like the single 20 year old guy on the road. Someone else said he comes across like a meathead jock, and that's probably the perfect description for him.

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  44. CruelConnectionNumber2September 15, 2014 at 3:29 PM

    I used to scoop official ECW actions figures there at Arena shows for $5 a piece. Mike Awesome, Super Crazy, and Rhino were tough to find at times but the Arena had a billion of them.

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  45. And he clings to ECW like his high school football jacket.

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  46. He's got that whole Heyman Hustle marketing company deal going along with performing on Raw, so yeah I feel like he's a dude who always has lots going on.

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  47. They could have easily run a place like the Civic Center, put never did because they charged for taping there.

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  48. Looks like somebody needs to hustle to the BoD Performance Center.

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  49. That's how Jarrett and Memphis stayed around forever

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  50. Haha I still don't get how he got over fI'm that angle. They still hated him

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  51. You seem to know a lot about this. What was the deal with Steve Corino? I remember hearing he hadn't been paid, but--as you suggested--I Googled the ECW bankruptcy and saw he was owed $0.

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  52. Not sure why people wanted Austin to call him out on his bullshit. If Austin did that, no-one else would want to go on his podcast.

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  53. Another question to tack onto that is if the ECW fanbase would have accepted the shift in talent. I know ROH started out running in Philly exclusively, but in just that year from 2001 to 2002 that ECW closed things changed drastically.


    I went to ECW shows as a teenager, and there was always this sub-sect of fan that went to ECW shows. 30-40 something drunk dudes who wanted to see broken tables, Balls Mahoney chair shots, New Jack, and little else. The kinds of people that chanted boring at Tajiri vs Super Crazy, and chanted "Show Your Tits!" the second Francine or Dawn Marie entered. How would they have taken to what we know as ROH-style under the ECW banner?

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