Column: WrestleReunion founder on revived memories from Royal Rumble



By Sal Corrente, WrestleReunion founder

This would have normally been WrestleReunion weekend and I have to admit that I miss those weekends. They gave me a chance to work with my pal and longtime friend and WrestleReunion host Bill Apter from www.1wrestling.com and Mike Johson from PWInsider.com who was always willing to help and cover our event. As far as I know the elusive Dave Meltzer never made it to a WrestleReunion event but who knows what the future holds. They were hectic weekends but so very rewarding and they gave me a chance to lead the life I wanted to live for as long as I can remember. I got a chance to work with Legends that I grew up watching and create an event that hopefully fans would remember. The good news is the some of the events have actually been released on video and can be purchased at www.highspots.com.

A WrestleReunion weekend many times mostly due to it being a great weekend to get a venue fell on Royal Rumble weekend which normally lead to some sort of talent conflict between my company and WWE. We always had a signed contract for our events and WWE has always respected a signed contract. We would work together and come up with something that both parties could live with and still be sure that WrestleReunion could give the fans what they had been promised.

I have always been a fan of Battle Royals and even more so The Royal Rumble.  We started a WrestleRoyale match at our Los Angeles events.  It was January and the fans were in that state of mind anyway and the Los Angeles area was so rich in Battle Royal tradition. In our first one we secured Terry Funk and Roddy Piper for the match. We also had a couple of good replacesments, local Los Angeles area legends Chavo and Mando Guerrero replacing Ken Patera and Jim Neidhart who for various reasons couldn't keep their commitment to be in the match. We had a surprise or two "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart was the third man in and Gary Royal dusted off his old Cruel Connection outfit from the WTBS studios along with "Mean" Gene Okerlund doing the introductions. We even had Rock Riddle a guy who worked for the California Territory at the end.

I had some ideas about what we were going to do with the match and I am sure it would have turned out just fine. However, a closed door meeting was requested with one of the Legends,  of course I obliged. I was asked what I planned to do with the match and I told him that I planned for him to win the match. He informed me that he had given this a lot of thought and that if I listened to his idea that things would really work out and we would have a great night. I knew that my way was safe and simple but also that I had a man in front of me that had forgotten more about the business than I knew, so I went with it.

We started the match out with former referee and Hart Foundation member Danny Davis and Mike Graham as the first two in the ring both of these guys can still go. Our biggest surprise entrant "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart was in 3rd and so the 2 on 1 began until Tito Santana came in and evened things up. One by One the legends entered and one by one they were eliminated until it came down to two men Terry Funk and Roddy Piper. The finish of the match was well received, the moment was magical and when it was all said and done there were more people talking about our match on the internet than The Royal Rumble. I don't believe that would have happened if I hadn't been humble enough to listen to a man who knew more about the business than I did and sincerely wanted to help and more so than that wanted to create a magic moment for the fans.

In the following year I got a chance to work with guys that I was a huge fan of The New Age Outlaws. It was a frustrating experience at first because B.G James had signed with WWE since signing with us. He was very concerned and we had several heated discussions but through the cooperation of my old buddy John Laurinaitis and Mark Carrano it all worked out. I had possibly the best talent experience that I ever had with The New Age Outlaws and I made sure that WWE knew it. I am huge fans of B.G. James and the whole Armstrong family. I am proud to say almost all of them have worked for me or with me multiple times. It's a pleasure to work with Billy Gunn as well. I realize that the work of Goldust and Cody Rhodes has been great and I am very happy for the comeback that Dustin has made especially with help from DDPYOGA.

I wrote all of this down for one reason I truly wanted to watch The Royal Rumble last night. As I said I love the match I was truly hoping that Jake "The Snake" Roberts would be one of the entrants and maybe even Diamond Dallas Page since he is getting world wide attention for his DDPYOGA program right now. It appeared that the lead up to the match indicated some good surprises to be expected. If you were going to have JBL in there how about my old buddy Ron Simmons, come on whats so hard to get? I was buying in to the whole thing but at the last minute I got cold feet and didn't make the purchase. I am so glad that I didn't since this match was the biggest flop since The Gobbledy Gooker or The Ding Dong's. It is so clear what the people wanted they screamed so loud it is almost deafening.

There is some great talent out there right now I personally think Dolph Ziggler is fantastic. If I owned WWE or controlled creative there would be a rocket ship tied to his rear end so fast he wouldn't have a chance to breath. It's clear right now that Daniel Bryan is the guy, I applaud his efforts and his success. I met him at a Ring of Honor event in NYC several years back with Bruno Sammartino what a great kid. His success has been noticed by Bruno as well. He just asked me the other day "isn't that the kid we met in NYC" I told him that it was he said "boy, I could barely recognize him" . While he doesn't look the same his talent and skills can't be hidden and shouldn't be denied. The potential in Roman Reigns I am not even sure I have wrapped my mind around yet. How about Roman Reigns son of my friend and tag team partner Sika Anoai "The Wild Samoan #2" this kid has it and thank goodness it appears that WWE feels the same way. I guess what they say is true that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.  One thing I know for sure is that some people could use some time off to rest and let some new blood circulate through the WWE in a Main Event way.

I am very proud that C.M. Punk who was part of the Main Event of WrestleReunion 1 in Tampa has become the star that he is. I had him in mind for our future legends spot but wasn't 100% sure so I check with Mick Foley and Dusty Rhodes he both made it crystal clear that C.M. Punk was a great choice that was in January 2005 Royal Rumble weekend. It's obvious the huge impact that C.M. Punk has made on our business. I am glad to say that I listened to men who's opinion I respected and gave someone deserving a chance. Congratulations C.M. Punk

It's sad, but the truth is that this Royal Rumble will live in infamy as a huge failure for the company. As the story goes Pat Patterson created The Royal Rumble concept so at times it does seems someone in WWE listens to the ideas of others. I have learned a lot over the years in conversation with Pat Patterson he is a very smart man. I am not surprised to hear that he came up with a concept that I like so much. The listening needs to happen more often, I don't say always, but having the wisdom to recognize a good idea is sometimes more important than being able to create one.

Unless there is information that we don't have several poor decisions were made last night. It's not like this is a surprise like the Hogan vs. Rock match from Toronto they people have been mandating what they want. Why ignore people so blatantly that are paying your salary, come on guys get with it. It's one thing to be the best but its another thing to be the best only because your competition is so bad or doesnt have proper funding to fight. I am sure like many that were anxiously awaitng the WWE network I will now have to be cautious with my $9.95 until I can have some faith in the powers that be.

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