Untitled Wrestling Blog: The Bigger Better Wrestling Federation
Written by Mark Adam Haggerty
My life prior to professional wrestling was pretty sweet. I went to college to be a teacher, but instead found myself working a litany of odd jobs—each of which led me in a radically different direction every few years. I was the assistant manager at an Italian restaurant; I was the operations supervisor for a hotel; I was part-owner of a cannabis grow-op and medical marijuana collective; I was a campaign manager for several successful elections. I figured my best days were behind me at 29 years old and assumed everything moving forward would be the result of whatever groundwork I laid up until that point. I was incorrect.
My name is Mark Adam Haggerty and this is—I guess it’s still the Untitled Wrestling Blog, huh? Last week I introduced this column and painted a couple of broad strokes by summarizing how I broke into this very bizarre business. The fact that I’m already back is good news for anyone who actually enjoyed what I had to say, because it means I haven’t given up on this quite yet. If you haven’t yet read the inaugural edition of this series, I encourage you to CHECK IT OUT before jumping neck-deep into the next [or I guess first since that was the epilogue] chapter of the story.
Chapter One – The Bigger Better Wrestling Federation
I began podcasting by interviewing independent talent closest to me, both personally and geographically. I came to know a number of performers in New Jersey through my relationships with Pro Wrestling Syndicate and Kevin Knight’s Independent Wrestling Federation. One of the first people to ever appear on B+ Player Radio was then-IWF Heavyweight Champion Shawn Donavan. At the time, Shawn was on the precipice of breaking out and working with some of the best promotions in the country including the yet-to-exist WrestlePro. In the Spring of 2016, Shawn was set to appear on a show called “One Night Only” presented by a company I’d never heard of before: The Bigger Better Wrestling Federation.
I began seeing advertisements for BBWF [Bigger Better Wrestling, not Big Beautiful Women] on Facebook featuring other wrestlers with whom I was familiar such as Damian Gibbs, Robbie E, and Erik Andretti. I reached out to the owner of the company—a guy by the name of Dan Ramm—and invited him to appear on an episode of B+ Player Radio’s flagship show. Our online interaction led to an invite for me to come and check out his event in Totowa New Jersey, which I was more than happy to accept. The show was nothing spectacular, but wasn’t discernibly terrible either. All of the wrestlers were perfectly capable and the matches were entertaining enough, but an array of technical difficulties made investing in the illusion something of a challenge.
The biggest problem, for me, was hearing the broadcasters call the matches on live house mics for the entirety of the event. “Above Average” Justin Diamond and “Long Island’s Own” Mark Zim are two of the greatest people I know—but goddamn they were annoying! And it wasn’t even their fault, it’s just an insane practice. If the audience can hear the commentators—SO CAN THE WRESTLERS! Hearing Justin say “Robbie needs to find a way out of this” immediately followed by ROBBIE FINDING A WAY OUT OF THIS is ludicrous and palpably insulting. At the end of the night I messaged Dan to congratulate him, but also noted the commentary situation. I suggested podcasting isn’t all too different than producing wrestling audio and offered my services should he ever decide to run again. He mentioned that he was putting together a Facebook Live show with tapings at Gino Caruso’s East Coast Pro Wrestling school in Lake Hiawatha New Jersey, and once again offered an olive branch that I was more than willing to take.
A few days before the tapings took place, veteran ring announcer—and BBWF Master of Ceremonies—David Adams was injured following a [let me make sure I get this right] Rock Bottom from Larry Legend? Am I remembering that correctly? I got the rundown on the situation from Dan as soon as it happened, but I don’t remember any of the details. All I remember was being asked, “Do you think you could fill in for David?”
Let’s go back in time for a second. Like a lot of people, I grew up watching wrestling stars on my television while mimicking their every movement right there in my living room. I idolized and emulated Shawn Michaels, but—at a very un-athletic 130-pounds in the third grade—odds were I wasn’t going to be the next ‘Heart Break Kid.’ I started thinking about things in wrestling that I could do and began to gravitate toward non-competitive characters, especially ring announcers like Howard Finkel and Gary Michael Cappetta. I started studying the way they said specific words and even memorized where performers were from and how much they weighed. At the time, I assumed I’d only ever announce my action figures and never dreamed I’d have an opportunity to do it for real.
My skin got cold and my heart started to flutter the second I heard Dan ask, “Do you think you could fill in for David?” Again, this wasn’t anything special. Just a Facebook show starring unknown wrestlers-in-training being filmed on iPhones in an empty school in a fake town inside Parsippany New Jersey. But for me, it was—quite literally, in hindsight—the opportunity of a lifetime. I showed up to‘the set’ wearing a brand new blazer and slack situation I’d curated myself that very afternoon. Little did I realize that wrestlers, and announcers, usually change into their on-screen attire once they arrive at the venue. So not only was I obnoxiously out-of-place, but I was sweating something serious under the sweltering skies of July. I was excited to learn the vast majority of wrestlers I’d be announcing were people I’d come to recognize as a fan attending my local independents. People like Tasha Steelz, Juan Vargas, andThe Heavenly Bodies.
The Facebook feed didn’t go according to plan, so sadly there’s very little evidence that my first day in wrestling even occurred, aside from THIS CLIP available over on my Instagram. I wasn’t heartbroken however, because before the end of the evening, Dan Ramm once again blew my mind by offering me a regular position with BBWF moving forward. In the coming weeks I’d grow to become far more hands-on behind the scenes and even began producing the show for YouTube [WATCH EVERY EPISODE HERE] while simultaneously running the company’s social media accounts. A sizeable portion of the roster even came to the Jersey Shore where we produced a series of vignettes on the Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant.
The YouTube tapings in Lake Hiawatha continued every week throughout the summer of 2016 with new talent being added on a consistent basis. As the roster grew, so did my extended family and my appreciation for what it takes to produce quality entertainment. I was seeing wrestling from a completely different perspective for the first time in my life, gaining a newfound affinity for something I had claimed to love since I was six years old. I remember a distinct moment—in a pizzeria right down the road from ECPW—where I thought, “I’ve almost reached the point of no return.” Meaning I was about to cross the line from “Hey, so this one summer I worked for a wrestling company” to “Yeah, I work in wrestling.” I remember having that thought and getting sort of scared—and then smiling. Because who the heck can say they’re crossing off bucket list items they’ve had since third grade?
That brings us to August 12th 2016 and my first time working in front of a live audience. It was EPWE AugustMania IV in Belvidere New Jersey featuring the stars of BBWF colliding with EPWE. EPWE—or EPWE Underground¸ as it was known—stood for Eastern Pennsylvania Wrestling Entertainment, and was helmed by wrestlers Jimmy Konway, Luca Brazzi [collectively known as South Philly’s Finest] and Sizzlin’ Stan Stylez. The show drew really poorly. There couldn’t have been more than 25 people in the audience, which was absolutely no slight against the talent. I had been pulling double duty at BBWF as both ring announcer and commentator, but on this night I was strictly bound to play-by-play as Carolina Jim took the microphone inside the squared circle. Or so I thought. About 2/3rds of the way through the event I was invited into the ring where I was legitimately surprised to learn I was the new General Manager of EPWE. That honor carried over to EPWE’s next event—“Battle Against Breast Cancer” in October 2016 before I relinquished my title.
Over the next year or so, the Bigger Better Wrestling Federation grew to moderate heights while hosting memorable moments likeRyback versus Fallah Bahh, the Boot Camp Match Between Sgt. Cash and Ken Reedy, the No X-Ceptions Battle Royal, and a slew of backstage shenanigans that are some of the most fun I’ve ever had in wrestling. We went Apple-Picking, we celebrated Halloweenand Christmas, and Dan Got Hit By a Fucking Car! Did you know that I Defeated the Chikara Grand Champion? How about the time I Teamed with Nunzio? Or what about the time the Heavenly Bodies Destroyed Me? Memories like that are priceless, as is the experience gained working with passionate people who put a hundred percent of themselves in everything they do.
The elephant in the room here is that I don’t work for Dan Ramm or BBWF (now known as Primetime Wrestling) anymore due to some personal issues I’d rather save for a future chapter. But I can’t deny what Dan did for me. I was a podcaster who was happy to get free entry to local independent events where I felt cool hobnobbing with superstars, and semi-stars, and soon-to-be-stars. He helped bridge the gap for me and created networking opportunities that I would have never received if left to my own devices. I learned a lot during my tenure with the Bigger Better Wrestling Federation. I learned the basics of bumping and how to get in and out of the ring without looking like an asshole. I learned how to call matches and anticipate the unexpected. Most importantly I learned that wrestling is a serious business—that should never be taken too seriously. It’s got to be fun, but it has to have purpose.
So where do I take things from here? As much as I might like to deny it, the majority of people who recognize me in the real world know me from a YouTube program called Grim’s Toy Show. Grim, if you’re not aware, is watched by tens of thousands of wrestling fans every single day with more than a million subscribers and hundreds of thousands of followers in social media. In the autumn of 2016—before I ventured out to Wrestlers Laboratory, or Paradise Alley, or even The Dynasty—I made a handful of appearances on Grim’s Toy Show, and continue to make surprise appearances and returns to this very day. How did I start out on GTS and who got me involved? How does it feel to be the only ring announcer featured prominently on Grim’s Toy Show? And when will I be making my epic and highly anticipated return? The answers to those questions and literally hundreds more will be answered next week on theUntitled Wrestling Blog.
Until then remember to follow me throughout social media on Twitter and Instagram @MarkAHaggerty. Subscribe to B+ Player Radio on all major podcasting platforms including iTunes TuneIn SoundCloud Stitcher and GooglePlay. And don’t forget to check me out live and in person across these United States in the coming weeks. I’ve got shows in New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, West Virginia, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maine and more, so don’t miss your chance to meet me and see some spectacular professional wrestling in the process. MAH
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