RECAP AND REVIEW: Notsam Wretling Podcast with Court Bauer on how they got the rights to War Games, how Terry Funk almost got him arrested, a great Vince McMahon quote he remembers, what happened with MVP? (EP. 206)

Notsam Wrestling Podcast

Release Date: October 4th, 2018

Recap by: James Hayes


From New York, Sam welcomes you to the show!

MLW Boss Court Bauer talks to Sam about how he turned MLW into a force to reckon with, his time in WWE, War Games, and what happened with MVP.

MLW used to be a promotion, then it became a podcast network, and now it’s both.

But first…

Sam lets us know how much he loves watching WWE events from overseas. He plans on getting up early to watch Super Showdown. He’s getting up at 5 am to see the event. He says it feels like a holiday or The Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. You get up early even if you have to work in a few hours, just to see it all. Sam’s going watch the show then he is going to play some 2k19. What more could any of us ask for?

Court Bauer Interview

How does MLW make it’s itself fan infused promotion?

“I make sure we gauge social media because it’s free market research, “Hey, what do you want to see? Who do you want to see?” All of a sudden you’ll get flooded with all this feedback on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We picked Chicago based on feedback from Instagram for our next market. And it was like, “Where do you want us to go next?” And we basically counted Chicago, Chicago, Chicago, “We’re gonna go to Chicago.” And of course, ALL IN doing well there made it a logical choice as well.

But Social media is such a big difference because you can gauge if a match is going to get hot or not. Let’s see what the fans think. And you can kind of get more dialed into your instincts now, than back in the day when it was a little bit colder. Is it going to hit up or not, you don’t know. The fan has changed today. Booking wise traditionally you are a few steps ahead of the fans and you are manipulating what they want, now the fan is so sophisticated they don’t need so much heel vs babyface, it’s not that Vince Russo thing, but it’s just different. Every match has context, like a UFC fight. You can love Conor McGregor, you can also hate him. So now it’s more about context, then like he’s always going to be your de-facto babyface until the turn, you can still sprinkle that stuff in but it’s a different time. 2018 is different than back in the day. It’s 24/7.”

How does MLW get the rights to shows like War Games?

“Turner hadn’t trademarked any of these things. War Games was available. It was never trademarked. We trademarked it, about a year and a half ago. And we have that IP, and really it wasn’t to prevent NXT from using it, or Cody, or whoever, it was just to protect us, to allow us to do it.”

(Sam pushes for more info on who actually owns War Games WWE or MLW, but Bauer is keeping his cards close.)

“Let’s just say right now, I can’t say much about the situation. We have the precedent, we did it in 2003 with Terry Funk, who almost got me arrested that night.”

MLW’s War Games (2003)

How Terry Funk almost got Bauer arrested.

“He decided to take a branding iron and light it on fire, then blow a big fireball to Steve Corino for the finish. Now I was not aware of that.” (Sam mentions how Funk also set the ECW arena on fire in 95.)

“After the fireball, the music plays, but the Fire Marshall happens to be in the building. He asks, “Who is the Promoter?’ And they point to me. Terry Funk is getting cleaned up and Corino is still selling backstage because kayfabe still kind of existed even in some circles backstage. And the Fire Marshall, “You didn’t have any permits for this. You endangered the crowd. We can arrest you for this.” Maybe they knew about Terry’s history, but what if it sparked off and hit someone? I was mortified when I saw it like, “Oh my God, how are they going to extinguish the fire? And I didn’t know that Terry was pretty damn good at this, but still, I’m freaking out as it’s happening. Terry’s gonna do what he’s gonna do. He is a rebel. Ask for forgiveness, not permission.”

“Terry sees they are lining me up and it’s not looking good. There are two cops there and the Fire Marshall, which indicates something bad is about to happen. He comes over, “What’s wrong?’ They explain the story, he’s standing there shaking and bleeding, he puts his arm up and says, “If you are going to arrest someone, arrest me! Don’t arrest him, he’s just a child, he doesn’t know… Arrest me, dammit. It’s my fault!” And I’m like, “Uh, arrest him.” He cut a great promo and the Fire Marshall believed him. He says, “Never again. Never come back” But, he got us out of that. It was insane.”

(Terry Funk is a national treasure.)

Do you want to do The Coal Miners Glove match?

“There are people who want that match, but other people are like, “If you do that match, I’m gonna be so pissed. It’s a very affordable option for the promoter, he just needs one glove. It’s pretty easy to get.”

Coal Miners Glove Match explained (kind of)

Thoughts on Sammi Callihan

“He has a really high wrestling IQ and at a certain point a few months ago I said, “Start coming to our agent meetings. I’d like your input on finishes and match layout. I wanted more out of some of my guys and before you knew it, he was now an agent and helping to lay out matches for the young guys. He is on the road with these young guys, he can help and coach them up, so there was a real advantage in bringing him into the fold. He has never really had that responsibility but now he is a veteran on the indies. The kids all love him because he has built this thing in his own sandbox. They look up to him and he’s a good coach. There is another side to him. In a different era, he would be running a territory.”

Did Sammy going through NXT help him see things differently?

“Yes. It gave him a perspective. You go through that system and you are going to get a lot of different perspectives. You will have a lot of different things thrown at you. The WWE operation is huge. What you are expected to do, and the way you work there is just different. It’s overwhelming. For Sammy, it was probably the first real professional environment that he was in.”

Some of Sammy Callihan best moments

Learning from Paul Heyman IN OVW

I learned just from reading Paul Heyman’s emails when he would asses the talent and he goes through everything. I would print those out and highlight them. I still have them in my man cave downstairs. All of that stuff from that era, I learned it from Paul.

Time in WWE

“I loved my time there. Some people leave, they would have done things differently, I’m sure I would’ve, but being able to learn right under the watch of Vince MacMahon, reporting to Vince and Stephanie, was an invaluable experience. You are part of the central nervous system and you are sitting in on video game meetings, marketing meetings, you are branding pay per views, you are writing the TV, you are looking at talent, you are trying to assess talent, you are giving feedback to Talent Relations, constantly looking at things in a 360 degree way. You are on the job basically 24/7 and at first, it’s overwhelming. It’s a shock to the system.

“Then all of a sudden you are going. You are conditioned to it. You may be having conference calls on Christmas Eve or Thanksgiving morning, and you are just part of that. Once you go through that you have this perspective because Vince expects ruthless efficiency. He holds people accountable. There is this thing in wrestling where there is kind of a lackadaisical culture, “Ah, we’ll get it right next time.”

“You cannot roll like that.”

“You adjust… or you fade.”

Sam agrees and thinks even the last minute stuff there isn’t really last minute.

“There is a system there and a lot of the last minute stuff is to enhance the product, or a guy gets injured and they have to go with Plan B or C. But the infrastructure is so great. The system is there to enable things to not slip through the cracks, which was different than the Turner atmosphere which was lackadaisical. You go the extra step to think things through. I should thank Vince for my high blood pressure because now I’m wired like that. I wake up in the middle of the night and I have something that I forgot about, or I have to start sending emails. You wake up and you are constantly thinking.”

“That culture breeds success. Look at the last 40 years.”

What’s a great Vince quote that he remembers?

“Vince would tell us if you screw up on live tv, you didn’t screw up, you meant to do it.” (Wow)

Work ethic: Dana White vs Vince McMahon

“I love Dana, but Dana, at this point, does not do a fraction of what Vince does. Look where Vince is at. Look at the money he has made. And he can totally check out and own an island and not even check back in on the product, (but) that’s not Vince McMahon.

Dealing with free agents

“Most of our contracts are two to three years, so you have kind of a sense of, “Okay, where are we at, from year to year, and by that final year of that contract do we have to now transition away, anticipating you’re not going or… And hopefully, they will say, ”Listen, my intention is to go free agent, my intention is to do this.” “Cool. Go for it.” But you have to think there are guys you are going to make your franchise, but you got to freshen things up, and that’s what I’m doing right now. This week I’ve been looking at our roster and seeing where are we going to be in 2019. If you do TV for 52 weeks you can’t have the same faces all the time. It starts to get a little tired. We are bringing in a big star to our house on Thursday. It’s going to be exciting.”

Advice on taking advice

There are so many bookers and agents, but they are not giving you qualified feedback sometimes. You got to be careful. You have to teach them now because if they end up in WWE they will get advice from everyone.”

“Don’t take advice from perennial curtain jerkers, over that of like The Undertaker… Listen to the guy that had the 30-year run.”

MVP issue

“It was a culmination of things and I go back years with the guy, and he was an agent behind the scenes at MLW. He was a part of the revival, but certain circumstances come up, and it was a very difficult call I had to make. It wasn’t easy. He was shocked and it sucked for both of us. That was not something I had any desire to do. He’s incredibly talented and he’s busy today doing different things. I’m very fond of the guy. It’s the hard part of doing business with friends. I wish him the best. There are days when I wish things were different but you have to live with those decisions.”

MVP confirms his exit.

Bauer also gives his thoughts on pushing talent to work in other promotions, Joey Janela’s injury, as well as who he believes could blow up next.

You can hear the full interview by clicking the link at the top.

State of Wrestling

5. Seattle

Sam loved seeing the crowd boo the heels and cheer the faces.

4. Cody Rhodes

Cody somehow manages to keep his name on everyone’s lips. In a year Sam feels Cody could be one of the best in the world!

3. Neville

After a year Neville has returned at Dragon Gate as Pac

2. Shawn Michaels is bald.

That pretty much says it all.

1. Super Showdown

Sam breaks down his predictions for the show.

Rating: 8.0 out of 10

Overall Observations

Excellent interview with tons of insight into what it takes to survive not just in WWE, but pro wrestling in general. If I was a wrestler I would listen to this podcast over and over. I knew very little about Court Bauer but walked away from this with admiration for his hustle.

In the bridge segment, there’s a rant about WWE ratings taking a deep dive. Sam makes a case that ratings don’t matter as much as they use to, especially when your stock is selling so good.

It went on a bit too long.

The State of Wrestling segment had the usual perceptive and judicious breakdown that it features every week.

Whether you are a fan or a budding professional wrestler, this is a strong episode worth going out of your way to find.

See ya next week!

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