|REMEMBERING A NEW YEAR 1994|
World Wrestling Entertainment SuperStars of today are practically clueless when it comes to having difficult road schedules. When I was playing the WWF character known as Paul Bearer, we hit the road the day after Christmas in 1993.
The company opened an 8-day run with a double shot in Canada. We worked a matinee show in the afternoon at the old Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, followed by an evening event in Kitchener, Ontario. December 27th had us in Toledo, OH; December 28th in Canton, OH; the 29th in Warren, OH; the 30th in Johnstown, PA; December 31st, New Years Eve in Williamsport, PA; New Years Day in Allentown, PA; January 2nd in Scranton, PA; and finally a flight home on Monday, January 3rd. This particular tour was one of the easy ones.
For the 9 events that I listed, my highest nightly payoff was $400, with the lowest being $225. It’s like winning the lottery, right? Wrong. At least one third of each day’s payoff went to taxes. Notwithstanding out of pocket expenses, which included a rental car, hotel room, food, tips, and entertainment. I didn't quite need an armored car to transport my check home, after that proverbial visit to the pay window, if you will.
Then you must consider another price that you must pay to play in our game. Being away from home, away from your family and friends, especially on holidays such as this one, New Years.
This particular New Year’s Eve The Undertaker and myself drove to Allentown, PA after working that evening in Williamsport, PA. The only reason we made the drive was because we would already be in the town where we were going to work New Year’s night. No offense to good ‘ol Allentown, but there is not too much difference between your thriving metropolis and Williamsport.
We checked into the Allentown Holiday Inn around 11:30 pm. We had time to drop our bags off in our respective rooms, call home, and hurry to the bar just in time to get our celebration hats and blow horns. Oh yes what a sight it was, Mark Calaway and I, wearing paper Happy New Year hats and blowing horns. Please… not a chance in hell.
We found a table hidden in the corner, and it was there that the duo from the darkside, along with Mr. Jack Daniels, welcomed in 1994. It didn’t take too long for Allentown’s residents to realize exactly who was hiding out in the corner of their party palace. We loved our fans, we truly did, but nothing can put a damper on a private conversation between two coworkers than a steady stream of autograph seekers. Not mentioning those that were lucky enough to have cameras. Smile!
As the clock struck 1 am, our celebration had run its course. I found myself back in my lonely hotel room, watching a replay of the ball dropping in Times Square. In just twelve hours I would find myself at Afa Anoia’s Wild Samoan Training Center in Allentown. We gave our word to “Pops Anoia” that we would make a New Years Day personal appearance for him to publicize his wrestling school. That was just fine with us; we loved “Pops”. We were staying over in Allentown again anyway after the evening show.
Then it would be on to The Catholic Youth Center in Scranton. No worries, there was light at the end of the tunnel because on January 3rd, Delta Airlines was carrying this Fatman to Sweet Home Alabama. It was there in the southern comfort of my Dixie heritage that I would celebrate the arrival of 1994 with my family, just three days late.
Fast forward to 2003. To say things have changed in my professional and business life in nine years is an understatement. Here we are again friends. You know it’s almost like the U.S. Postal Service; nothing can stop a New Year from coming, and an old one from going.
Let’s take a cup of kindness yet, for Auld Lang Syne!
Join me next time right here in STORY TIME, for the continuing saga of Percy Pringle III, also known as The WWF character Paul Bearer.