Steve Wrigley Interview
Mr Wrigley joined IPW as the Head of Live Events after the promotion was resurrected in July of this year, and served in the role until his departure this December.
A scheduling conflict forced Mr Wrigley to miss IPW Nightmare Before Xmas on Saturday, December 7, which would have been the last show he could attend before relocating to the United States next year.
A “broken and betrayed” Mr Wrigley spoke to NZPWI Editor David Dunn on Friday about his final days with IPW, an alleged power play by IPW Director Daniel Burnell, as well as his original plans for Nightmare Before Xmas, James Shaw, Emmy Driver, and more.
David Dunn: You haven’t been at the last couple of IPW shows, what’s been the reason for that?
Steve Wrigley: I’m not going to be at any more IPW shows either.
We’ve seen the last of you in IPW?
Unfortunately, yeah. Despite all of my best efforts to drag IPW out of the trouble it was it in it looks like the same issues that might have plagued it before have found their way back in. I think you can assume who I’m talking about here. I don’t think I’ve ever felt this stabbed in the back before. I’ve been working in entertainment for a long time, and you’re used to a certain amount of backstabbing – people saying stuff about you behind your back and that sort of stuff – but you never get people who are actually just downright snaky and manipulative. A guy like Dan Burnell, Danny, Handsome Danny, whatever you want to call him, is the snakiest snake. There’s so much more to what happened at the last event with The Investment than people really realise. I want to clear up the main reason why I wasn’t there, and what I actually think has gone on.
As far as I was aware, and what I had been told, my role as the Head of Live Events, I put a few things in motion, I make matches that I think are going to deliver the best entertainment value for the crowd, I try to help organise promotion, get everything rolling. When I signed on with IPW obviously I didn’t know a huge amount about how the wrestling business works, and Dan has obviously been the person behind IPW for a really, really long time. I had him in a sort of advisory role. I would call him up and he would advise me as to what sort of stuff we should be doing and I would take that and I would apply my own understanding of show-business to it and what is and is not successful for New Zealand and put a show together. But as I got busier and busier and busier toward the Christmas season, I was giving him more responsibilities. There was one date that I wasn’t able to do, in November, I was booked for a tour in the ‘Naki. I said to Dan, ‘Can you run this show, mate? Can you handle what my role would have been at the show, can you run the live event? I haven’t really got the time, can you suss the matches out and send me a list and tell me what’s going on and who’s doing what? We’ll figure this thing out together and we’ll be fine.’ He goes and kind of does that – we had a bit of a plan – and then… a few things kind of happened there that I hadn’t necessarily signed off on. Then I get a call from Dan… not even a call, David, a text, I get a text message from Dan…
That’s cold, just a text…
Just a text message from Dan… let’s just back up the train a little bit here. I walk through the mall, it’s a couple of weeks ago, I’m walking through the St Luke’s Mall, and coming towards me on the other side of the mall is James Shaw. I freaked out because here’s a guy who I haven’t necessarily been maybe as accommodating to as I could have been as his new boss. He’s coming towards me and I’m freaked out, and he just walks up to me and he shakes my hand and he goes – this guy’s nuts, by the way, Shaw – after everything that’s happened the first thing he said is, ‘Mate, not going to beat you up,’ or whatever in his weird little way. ‘Just wanted to say thanks for bringing IPW back.’ Then he goes, ‘I do wanna fight ya.’ I said, ‘OK, let me see what I can figure out,’ really scared, my little soy mochachino was shaking in my hand. He just leaves, he just walks off – he goes, ‘I wanna have a match with you at some point,’ and he takes off. So I say to Dan, ‘Let’s do this’. I’m not afraid to admit now, I guess I’ve got nothing to lose, I had a plan. I know how this works, I was just going to put him into a no disqualification match, and I think anyone who knows anything knows probably what was going to happen from there. I definitely wasn’t going to lose, let’s just say that. So I tell Dan this is what I want to do, on the 14th of December this is what I want to do. Dan’s told me this is when this event’s going to be, on the 14th of December we’re going to have Nightmare Before Xmas, it’ll be Fans Bring the Weapons, it’ll be huge, it’ll be me versus James Shaw, the whole thing is going to be great. I’m heading off to go to New York for a while so I won’t be around IPW any more for a little bit – me defeating James Shaw’s going to be a great send-off for me, at the end of my entire six months of being a part of IPW. This is where the knife gets turned, because I all of a sudden get all these messages on Saturday from people telling me – and I’m on tour, I’m a busy guy in a different part of the country every day, and Dan knows this. All of a sudden I find out – maybe I should have had a better look at what was going on but I thought that he had it all under control – I find out that on the Saturday just gone an event is happening.
Oh wow, so you didn’t know, until…
I didn’t even know it was going on! Dan switches the date out. I get a text from him and I go, ‘What’s happening?’ and he goes, ‘Oh, sorry mate, I had to switch the date, I’m sorry I should have told you. I knew you were in the South Island in Dunedin doing 7 Days but it was a last minute thing, nothing could be done.’ So last Saturday, I look at this photo on the IPW Facebook page – Dan’s not returning any of my calls – I look at the photo on the IPW Facebook page and there’s a picture of this Investment who are the people that we had always talked about being the people that were going to push IPW forward. That’s kind of where I’m at, mate. That’s what’s happened to me. I did everything I could to try and bring IPW out of extinction and, I’m just speculating here, but I think Dan saw an opportunity, things were getting popular again, things were ticking over again… I think he’s an egomaniac, I think he couldn’t handle the fact that I was out there – he would be sitting at the commentary desk watching me doing the job that he wanted to do. I don’t think he could handle that I wad doing it better than he’s ever done it, that I speak better than he does, that I’m better to inform a crowd how the night’s going to go better than he does, that I managed to put on a more entertaining show than he was ever able – this is just me speculating, this is all hearsay here, but I think he got incredibly jealous. He just did this crazy-as-shit move of calling everyone involved to say, ‘Hey there’s been an emergency last minute shift’. I’ve managed to get hold of a few people who were all, ‘We thought that you knew’. And, ‘He just said you couldn’t make it that night, we thought everything was above board, we all thought you were going to be back in January’. I’m not here, I’m in New York next year, I’m not going to be back in January. He knows this, he saw an opportunity to take that limelight back for himself, to put his Investment together.
Good luck to everyone involved, because the only thing that I was getting out of being involved in IPW was that I’m a big time wrestling fan. And I really wanted to see wrestling be successful in New Zealand. Being a part of those shows, and being there to see… even when we had shows where it was not as big a house as we wanted, everyone there’s enjoying it and everyone’s having a great time. Being at the centre of that was the only reason that I wanted to do this, and to have that final event, to have Nightmare Before Xmas snatched away from me like that, because of some dude’s selfish desire to put himself at the centre, to put himself in the spotlight again… dude, I’m supposed to be a funny guy, but I’m pretty ropeable right now.
Yeah, that must be tough, going through that, Steve. Prior to Dan pulling the switcheroo on you and staging Nightmare Before Xmas do you think you got out of IPW what you’d hoped?
No. I feel like it was a waste of time.
Really? The last six months just not panned out at all how you’d hoped?
I am a genius, dude. He is reaping the rewards of my great planning. One of the things that we really wanted to do – yes, Evie deserves to the be the champion, but I wanted to make sure that all of those people were on our side of the street, right? So enter Emmy Driver. What we do is we get the women’s division so riled up that they’ll jump to whatever we say after a couple of months. Sure enough, that’s happened, but who’s taken the credit for that move? The only thing that I got out of being associated with IPW is a serious waste of my time. Well, that’s not true, a pretty amazing friendship in Vinny Dunn. He and I will always have what the two of us had together.
Anyway, I’ve got another couple of minutes, if you’ve got any questions you want to ask, mate, I’m an open book right now, because I don’t give a shit.
This is the thing people don’t realise: That guy, he’s a dick, dude. He’s a dick. Dan is an actual penis. I’m not kidding around here, I don’t care any more. I have nothing to do with IPW any more. It’s been snatched away from me. I haven’t heard from this guy who I thought was helping me out, who I thought with me, with Steve Wrigley, he was like, ‘Dude, I’m happy to be moving things from behind the scenes, you’ll be out there, you’ll be at the head of the ship’. I thought that he and I together were going to make this thing work, and it turns out together is not something he can do. If anyone who’s in The Investment is listening, just watch your back. Anyone who’s in the IPW locker-room at all, just know that when that guy’s talking to you, when words are coming out of his mouth, there’s a snake in the back of his mind who’s putting a whole other agenda together. I never get this pissed off about anything. I never get this grumpy. I don’t sit here and spit acid about people. But the Mad Butcher once said to me the most valuable thing you can give a person is your time, and that’s what I’ve given Dan and IPW over the last six months. And I’ve had that time that I’ve given him just balled up and biffed right back at me, dude.
That sounds understandable, Steve. I can’t really imagine what it’s like to be in your situation.
I thought that on the 14th – I wanted to watch Vinny crush Travis in that Fans Bring the Weapons match. I’ve never seen a Fans Bring the Weapons match, I’ve only heard about them. It was one of the things I thought, I was going to get to actually be like, right there. Not at ringside in the fans’ ringside area, ringside in Vinny’s corner, right up close and personal for probably what would be the best match that would ever happen in New Zealand wrestling. And instead I’m down in Dunedin looking at Twitter on Saturday night, watching all these results fly in. To his credit, he pulled it off. He plays dumb pretty well, and I think he had a lot of people fooled, but not me, dude. As I say, this is all just me speculating because I’m in the dark. I haven’t heard from him and I’ve only talked to another couple of people. Everything I’m telling you right now, I guess for legal reasons, I’ve got to say this is all just second-hand, but there’s enough evidence in my mind to suggest that he’s a fuckin’ snake mate. Excuse my language.
Strong words. You’re a busy man, so I should probably let you go, but before you head off have you got any messages for any of the fans who might be listening who are a bit concerned over the whole past six months and your involvement?
I do have a message for the fans, for every single fan of IPW. Keep going to the shows. These wrestlers are frickin’ amazing. This is the thing that I love about this organisation. These are all guys that are doing this for next to no money, even though we do have an investor involved, there’s really not enough money to properly be paying these guys who are going out there. Some of these guys are doing it for nothing some nights. These people are wrestling on pure passion, and that’s what inspired me and made me want to get involved. Go to every IPW show. Do whatever you can to attend them. Support them, get involved 17.50 Be a huge part of this IPW community. But what I really want you to do is, every time Dan tries to say anything into the microphone, I want him to be fighting the biggest possible din. I want the frustration on his face to be visible every second he tries to be out in front of a crowd pushing his ridiculous agenda, his pathetically over-complex ideas. Every time Dan is out there trying super, super hard to be Mr-Complex-Wrestling-Guy who’s a genius of New Zealand wrestling, every time he’s out there trying to be that guy in front of an IPW crowd I want him to get shouted down and booed out of the building because somebody else needs to be in charge of that organisation. Somebody who’s going to make good decisions, someone who’s going to make entertainment-based decisions, someone who’s going to make sure that people aren’t walking away hugely disappointed from every show, like I did. Keep supporting IPW, keep supporting the wrestlers, but just do what you can to drive that man away. That is the comeuppance that I want him to get, that he winds up some manipulative, lonely, snake of a man hiding in the corner of his own house, and the only way that he’s even able to see what’s going on in the New Zealand wrestling world is by checking his Twitter feed and finding out about it second-hand so that he can get a taste of what that feels like.
Alright Steve, thank-you very much for your time, won’t keep you any longer. Sorry things had to go down the way they did.
I’m sorry things had to go down the way they did! Anyway, bitter diatribe over. Going to go back to being funny now. That was probably the most serious 25 minutes of my life. This is a very broken and very betrayed Steve Wrigley wishing everyone in the IPW locker-room all the best with the great Satan who is now heading you all up.