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Diva Dirt Promoters Season: Behind the WSU Curtain with Sean McCaffrey – November iPPV, Melina, Steel Cage WarGames, Becky Bayless & More

When you have former WWE names come in to an independent promotion like this, there’s always a danger that they’ll just see it as a payday and not necessarily take it seriously. What has it been like working with Melina so far?
For us, we have never had that problem. I know other independent promotions have, but we don’t use people with drug problems or 50 year old men on our shows, so maybe that’s why we have avoided that problem. If you look at our roster page or the history of people we have worked with on our Wikipedia page, we have had a ton of ex-TV names here. We have never had a problem here. For names, they look at this place to do what they want with no restrictions of what they want to do in the ring. It’s a laid back atmosphere as anyone will tell you. We have never booked someone, for example, to go 15-20 minutes and the match ends in five minutes with no bumps. I’ve seen it happen countless times in male promotions, but we have been fortunate here to never have had that problem.

Working with Melina so far has been great. Keep in mind we’ve never met each other, but already, she’s plugging the show like crazy on her sites and on Twitter. She took the initiative and released her own promo. Just talking to her, I can see she’s authentic and genuine about wanting to wrestle here and really, has gone out of her way already, for a date three months out, for someone she’s never met. It’s been great so far and I’m looking forward to seeing what her and Serena will do. No spoilers here, but I will tell you that the match will be longer than the usual two minutes WWE gives their women wrestlers.

We’ve seen other past WWE names in WSU such as Jillian, Kristin Astara, Serena and Jazz. It’s kind of given former TV names a place to go and continue their careers. Other all female promotions don’t necessarily do that. Why does WSU do it? Added exposure for you? To give them another chance? Both?
There are several reasons. When advertising locally, you want to have a face on the poster that casual fans recognize. In my opinion, the way to promote indy wrestling is to use your big names on the poster to bring fans in, and hope they come back after they get hooked on the main roster/regulars. It’s always worked for us that way, from the early day of Luna Vachon, Christy Hemme, Sunny and Dawn Marie. Of course it’s for exposure, but it’s also a way to get your locals over. When Alicia beat Luna Vachon, it cemented Alicia as the backbone of this company. Mercedes Martinez beating [Awesome] Kong, Angelina Love, Mickie James, Jazz, Serena, etc. really makes the WSU World Championship something worth having and worth a damn because of the quality and name level competing for the title.

It’s also an added bonus for our meet/greets. The convention circuit is big in the northeast, so we hope to bring names here for the fans who collect autographs/pictures, and we hope they enjoy our shows as well. That is why people like Ivory, Molly Holly and others have been brought in.

Tell us about the balance of bringing in these big names to add buzz to your shows versus developing and growing your own talent. It must be a delicate balance, right? You don’t want to take away the spotlight from your homegrown stars.
It’s definitely a balance, but I think we have done an excellent job of doing so, don’t you think? People we have given their start to and characters we created are getting booked all over. People know Martinez is the best in the world. People know Jessicka Havok is intense. Fans know our wrestlers. When mixing in the TV names, it creates more opportunities for our roster to grow as well as giving those names a chance to prove that they still have it. I mean look at 11/19, while Serena/Melina is your big name match, the cage match is closing the show and the cage match will be the match that determines if people come back for the next iPPV. I trust our core roster and it’s always exciting from a fans’ perspective to see what the ex-TV names will do here.

Have there been talks with Melina about becoming a regular or is this a one time deal?
Right now we are taking it one show at a time. She hasn’t met me and I haven’t met her yet. We’ll get through this show and go from there. As long as everything goes well, and I don’t see why [it wouldn’t], I would have no issue having her back.

We’ve noticed Jillian hasn’t been booked for the November event. Will she be back at all?
I’m sure down the line she will be. It’s just a case of only having three hours and you can’t book everyone every show. We also have a 20 minute cage set-up and have to kill dead air by showing video packages and clips, so while it’s a “We can’t have 10,000 matches every show” [situation], it’s also a time thing as we want our iPPVs to go three hours.

This November event marks the one year anniversary of WSU on Internet pay per view. Talk to us about the transition to iPPV and the challenges & advantages that has presented.
The transition really has been easy, thanks to the people at GoFightLive.tv. I have heard other promotions bad mouth them, but it’s because they are looking for a free ride. You really get out of it what you put into it, and I will put our iPPVs up against anyone else’s. I have watched other iPPVs from other companies not named ROH or DGUSA, and they have been terrible – no graphics, no video packages, no promos. Just a straight one camera shot. We really try to present it as a big level event and we hope people realize what we put into it and enjoy them.

A major advantage is more people are watching us now. We’ve always strived to get our DVDs out three weeks after shooting them, but now people can watch and react to the show live. Sites like Diva Dirt reviewing the shows live also help us get more eyeballs on these shows. The only real disadvantage is you can’t fuck up. You don’t want dead air. You can’t edit out botches. You are there with us live. I think the most dead air we’ve ever had on an iPPV was two minutes and to me that was two minutes too much.

What have you learned through the process of producing four iPPVs. What has worked and what hasn’t worked?
I think everything has worked so far. Maybe there were a few timing issues with matches going long, but I always encourage the wrestlers to keep the match going if the crowd is into it.

I think this is a better question for you to answer because I can’t tell what’s not working, I need to hear it from the fans who are watching them live and react to their feedback.

Production-wise, will we see any changes/upgrades to the shows going forward?
We need new cameras. Badly. That is an issue we plan to address. I’d also like to get our own custom ring canvas and turnbuckles to make the shows more aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps I should start one of those Kickstarter accounts for this stuff!

In January you presented a ladder match on iPPV in a fairly small arena, and this November we’ll see a cage match. Is it difficult putting on matches of this sort at that venue – especially on iPPV?
A ladder match, not really, because it’s just placing ladders around the ring while a video package airs. It only takes two minutes to put ladders around the ring. If you noticed the ladder match show, we started the show with a promo with both champions putting their belts securely on the pole above the ring, so we didn’t have to waste time setting up belts later on int he show.

The cage is a big challenge. I’ve seen this cage go up twice before and both times it took 20 minutes. We are planning to fill that 20 minutes with video packages, clips and promos. One thing I saw at another indy show, was to book a “Falls Count Anywhere” type of match right before a cage match, so the wrestlers could fight outside the ring, outside the building etc., while the ring crew set up the cage. It is a smart idea, but I think it comes off tacky to the live crowd. Plus, Serena vs Melina will be the match going on right before the cage. I think that match will be amazing, so maybe it’s best to have this 20 minute break for fans to catch their breath and come back to what should be a historic and excellent main event.

How will you tackle presenting a cage match, especially with six women in the ring, on iPPV? Sometimes it can be pretty hard in terms of camera angles etc.
We will be using four cameras for this show. We have someone in production who will be monitoring every camera angle to make sure nothing is missed. If we had more of a production budget, we would try to split screen it, but on a computer/iPPV setting, it might make everything look too small and I don’t want to risk that. We are more than prepared for this challenge. I really have the best staff in all of indy wrestling today and I am very fortunate for people like Rob Sternberg, Vincent Carlo, Mike Morgan, Lauryn Nolan, Mike Morgan Jr., Will Wyeth, Kenny Alfone, 42nd Street Pete, Dan Martone and the others who are there to help out with every show. In particularly Vincent Carlo & Rob Sternberg, as these iPPVs do not happen without them.

Women’s wrestling fans always say they want to see ladder matches, cage matches etc. What does this cage match mean for WSU and the fans?
A match doesn’t mean anything if there is no story behind it. When doing a gimmick match, there better be some sort of personal issue between those people. We’ve done a cage and a ladder match before, both with the same people, and those matches were built up correctly and had a ton of heat behind them. The fans knew the story so they were into it. You can’t just book a cage match for the sake of booking a cage match. With this WarGames match, there are many issues between all six wrestlers. Brittney Savage vs Sassy Stephanie has been going on for a year. Alicia vs Havok has been going on for eight months, even longer if you count their tag feud from years ago. Havok and Savage have had their interactions. Havok has made it clear for a year she wants Martinez. Allysin Kay is the wildcard and she will be the one to watch here, as this will be her first ever main event. I have faith that she will deliver.

Next: Sean dishes on Becky Bayless‘ return to WSU. Is there competition with SHIMMER? Will they do a TV show?

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