Sunday, August 13, 2017

Volume 12, Number 2: The Legends Fest Fiasco

August 13 marked the first anniversary of the Legends Fest fiasco in Dudley, Georgia.

If you don't know what Legends Fest was: In a nutshell, it was a pro wrestling event created by a man named Greg Greene, who, in a span of a little over two months, managed to get a mix of current independent wrestlers and superstars of days gone by (as listed in the poster shown below)--mostly the latter--to show up for the event.  Thing is, he did not plan on paying them.

I wasn't there for this sham of an event, but it struck a nerve with me for two reasons:
  • First, because I've followed WWE since 1987 and therefore am familiar with a lot of the names on the poster.  Examples: Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, who were two of the famous Four Horsemen in NWA/WCW, also worked as a tag team in the WWE called The Brain Busters (Bobby Heenan was their manager).  Ted DiBiase, the Million Dollar Man, main-evented WrestleMania IV (losing to Randy "Macho Man" Savage for the then-vacant WWE Heavyweight Championship).  Ronnie Garvin, I remember from that time he lost to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine in a retirement match, only to make Valentine's life miserable as a referee.
  • Second, and more importantly, I've had a number of situations in which my time and energy were wasted and I got next to nothing in return--a summer job from Hell in 1992 (it was supposed to be a research job but it ended up being door-to-door sales); the time in 1999 when I met with someone to buy a used car (they never got a cent from me, but they wasted a lot of my time), only to find that he didn't have a clear title; and a 2007 job interview with a company that claimed to be in marketing but ultimately was nothing but street peddling.

OK, enough about me.  Back to Legends Fest.  A few dozen former wrestlers, plus a few young wrestlers currently working the independent circuits, went through all the trouble to get there.

The first red flag might have been raised on July 20, when Greene announced that the event was being moved from Dublin to the much smaller town of Dudley (or, as at least a few of the talent involved would put it, "the middle of nowhere").  His explanation: "Due to overwhelming responses we have found it would be necessary to hold Legends Fest in a more suitable location."  I'd love to know what "overwhelming responses" and "suitable location" meant, knowing what we know now.  Maybe the folks at the venue Greene wanted to use in Dublin overwhelmed him with messages saying they didn't want his sham of an event in their town.  Maybe he didn't sell enough tickets to pay for the use of the Dublin location and decided a cheaper venue would be more suitable given the situation he put himself in.

Two days before the event, B. Brian Blair (one-half of The Killer Bees, a tag team that performed in WWE in the 1980s) noted that the talent Greene had listed on the poster was too expensive for the local demographic; when he called Greene, he responded by stating that they got the money from sponsorships--never mind that the poster mentioned no sponsors, and Greene probably never had any to begin with.

Greene had booked rooms at two different hotels in Dublin (Quality Inn and La Quinta), but with a credit card that got declined.

The building that Greene chose to hold the event in was an abandoned school (the Millville Alumni Association Complex, which, according to former WCW announcer Scott Hudson, had once been Millville High School).  There were no signs outside the building to indicate that any kind of event was going on--or in any of the surrounding towns, for that matter.  A number of the people listed on the poster (Garvin, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, Davey Richards, Angelina Love) had already smelled a rat and did not show up.

On top of all that, Greene didn't have the money to pay the talent, even though he claimed to have sold more than $10,000 worth of tickets.  Greene said that he was expecting payment from the site through which he set up ticket sales for the event, Eventbrite, but that they e-mailed him at 4am on the morning of the event to tell him they would not wire him the money, at least not as he had expected.  It is likely that Greene did not have a legal PayPal account, and that is why he did not receive the money from Eventbrite.

Paul Eubanks (another promoter, who had been in the business since 1984, and had never met Greene before the event) said Greene asked him for a loan--first for $1,000, but this request was later increased to  $5,000.  Eubanks and Hudson also said the local sheriff threatened to shut down the show unless the talent was paid.  Greene ended up writing a load of checks that bounced--many from his own mother's checkbook, which he had stolen.  According to multiple witnesses, Greene was sweating and stuttering and had a dry mouth, and nobody knew that he had no money until he gave Anderson a chair to sit in, which broke, and a fuming Anderson--1/4 of the classic Four Horsemen of NWA/WCW--then said he should pay him $1,000 on top of what he was already owed.

In spite of the money issues, the performers were determined to put on a show for the fans who came, even though they risked injury doing a job that wasn't going to pay anything.  Eubanks and Francisco Ciatso (another indie wrestler; pronounced KEE-aht-soh) did what they could to make the show happen, even after Greene repeatedly threw Eubanks under the bus for his own screw-ups, even despite the fact that some of the talent booked in the matches either left or never showed up, meaning Ciatso had to book a few matches on the fly.  Even then, things did not stop going wrong--the lights went out and the toilets backed up.

Ciatso summed up Greene as a mark who wanted to rub elbows with wrestlers of the past and set up this sham of an event just for that purpose.

On August 18, Greene was arrested in Virginia on multiple felony charges, including 23 counts of deposit account fraud, 15 counts of forgery, theft by deception, and making false statements.

As of this time, I do not know if Greene has already stood trial on these counts.

I've compiled a whole bunch of media related to the fiasco, mainly for you to peruse and enjoy, but also partly for me to refer back to at a later time.  Some of these go into a lot more detail about what happened.  Check 'em out.

The first of two podcasts Sean David Hubbard did on the subject:
The second of those two podcasts:
Del Wilkes speaking about what happened a day or two afterwards:
The Courier-Herald, a newspaper in Dublin, published a story about the event here:
Mallorie Bradley, the fiancĂ©e of "Dreamkiller" Eric Wayne (one of the independent wrestlers at the event), posted a couple videos showing herself and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff confronting Greene.  Orndorff is the one in the blue shirt, guarding the door while Bradley chews him out:
Another video of Bradley and Orndorff confronting Greene, which I believe was originally recorded by Stormie Lee Sloane (another of the indie talent at the event):
A Gerweck Report podcast, featuring an interview with former Smackdown GM Theodore R. Long:
A Reddit thread on the subject:
Scott Hudson's account of the whole thing:
(Francisco Ciatso and Stormie Lee Sloane interview)

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