Written by Mark Adam Haggerty
Being a wrestling ring announcer is peculiar. I like to think I adapt to the locker room better than most other peripheral performers might, i.e. your referees, commentators, interviewers and such. But there’s still a vast distinction between myself and the athletes in the ring. Many of my more muscular counterparts can credit their career to a trainer or teacher who broke them into the business and taught them how to succeed. But I never really had that, at least not in the traditional sense. I never enrolled in wrestling school, I never took a seminar with some superstar, but I did have someone looking out for me who took me under his wing and showed me what I needed to know to make it in wrestling. Have I made it? Not yet. But I like to think I’m at least on my way, and that wouldn’t be the case had it not been for Robbie E.
My name is Mark Adam Haggerty and this is the “Untitled Wrestling Blog” sponsored by AudibleTrial.com/BPlusPlayers and ProWrestlingTees.com/Haggerty. If this is your first time checking out the blog, this is a weekly—although sometimes monthly—retelling of my career thus far in professional wrestling. This is Chapter Five, but feel free to check out the Prologue, The BBWF, Grim’s Toy Show, The Dynasty, and B+ Player Radio. I want to thank everyone who reached out regarding my debut with Chikara. I’m looking forward to a very exciting 2019 and Season 20, but more on that in the coming weeks. Also, before I kick things off, I want to remind everyone to check out the “Untitled Wrestling Blog” on Twitter @UntitledWBlog. And be sure to give BodySlam.net a follow as well @BodySlamNet.
Chapter Five – The Real Robbie E
My tenure with the Bigger Better Wrestling Federation, as previously mentioned, began in the summer of 2016 before I even set foot inside a wrestling ring. I remember my first day “on set” surrounded by local independent wrestlers, feeling pretty at ease given the anxiety I was feeling earlier that afternoon. Then the door swung open and in walked Impact Wrestling Superstar Robbie E. Our immediate interactions were inconsequential, just a handshake here and there, but nothing more. One evening I got a call from Dan Ramm, who asked if I would mind carpooling to the next set of tapings with Robbie, given our close proximity to one another. I was kind of taken aback. I was still brand new to wrestling and this was Robbie E! ROBBIE E! From the television! Clearly that mindset has long since passed me by, but back then? Holy shit! You want me to ride with Robbie E? No problem, boss.
I picked Robbie up at a nearby hardware store because he clearly didn’t want the weirdo podcaster that tripped into this gig to know where he lived. And I don’t blame him, for the record. Within five minutes of being in the car I had explained that I used to grow marijuana for a living, and I’ll never forget his reaction: “Why don’t you still do that? Why the hell do you want to do this?” I’m not sure what I said in return, quite frankly, but I remember my nerves subsiding pretty soon thereafter. We continued riding together almost every week as long as the tapings lasted, bonding over our common love/hate relationship with wrestling and the people therein. I learned a lot from Robbie early on; things that stick with me to this day. His philosophy outside the ring was what I gravitated toward most, including his insatiable work ethic. Say what you want about Rob Strauss—I don’t know anybody who’s been where he has and who’s done what he’s done who works nearly as hard on a weekly basis.
I think by the Spring of 2017 Robbie could tell that I was one hundred percent invested in pursuing a career in wrestling beyond shooting a weekly internet show nobody would ever watch. It was around that time we traveled to Saint Johnsville New York for The Dynasty, where—as previously mentioned—I was made ring announcer for the night following a seminar led by Robbie E. Soon thereafter and throughout the rest of 2017 Robbie introduced me to countless promoters such as Shane Alden at World of Hurt, Pat Dillon at UFO Wrestling, Frankie Flow at LAW, and so many others without whom I’d be nowhere today. It was Robbie who introduced me to Grim and the very concept of Grim’s Toy Show, and it was Robbie who helped me expand outside the United States and into Canada for the very first time.
In fact my trip to Canada with Robbie E is among my favorite memories I’ve made in this business. It began with a very rare Friday edition of The Dynasty in Amsterdam New York where Mik Drake hit me with a low blow and Robbie came to my rescue. Mik and Robbie brawled around the building, which is technically illegal in New York according to the State Athletic Commission, although most officials let it slide. During the melee, a drink was knocked out of somebody’s hand and splashed in the face and all over the suit of the local commissioner who, at that point, lost his goddamn mind. “Come on guys, you got to get it back in the ring. You don’t want to set a bad example for the kids,” the Commissioner yelled. Then the drink hit him: “Mother fucker! Fuck this fucking fuck fuck fuck!”So much for setting a good example, huh? Robbie and Mik retreated to the locker room during intermission to find the commissioner threatening to shut the entire show down. Robbie, the seventeen-year vet and only person with any pull within driving-distance, bargained with the commissioner and offered to apologize for the mess. So what followed was a three-person apology with me standing inside the ring alongside Robbie AND MIK—the dude who just beat me up—explaining that this is just entertainment. Total bummer.
Later that night Robbie and I drove to Sherbrooke Quebec, a town where I famously said—after five minutes of being there—“I could live here.” Little did I know that when and where they accepted American money was absolutely arbitrary so I’m not sure how long I’d actually last. Robbie taught a seminar at the Academie de Lutte Estrienne in the afternoon, then later that night we took a drive southward toward Sorel-Tracy Quebec for Xtreme Zone Wrestling. Robbie was wrestling SeXXXy Eddy, formerly of CZW fame, and I was to be Robbie’s manager. This was actually, now that I’m thinking about it, my first time managing. I came out in a dashing purplesuit that no longer fits me, stammering into the microphone, “S’il vous plait! S’il vous plait!” I entered the ring with a big cheesy smile on my face and continued on: “Je m’appelle… ugh… I mean… MY NAME IS MARK ADAM HAGGERTY! And I come from the greatest country on earth—America!” They hated me. Their disdain grew louder and louder and I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, and that’s when I introduced Robbie.
Robbie and Eddy put on a solid match in the ring, but it’s what went down on the outside that will always stick with me. At one point an adolescent girl stomped on my foot and spit in my face. Although Robbie did tell me not to turn around and talk to the fans, so that one was sort of on me. The most egregious actions of all came from a seventy-something year old in the front row who took it upon himself to pull me off the apron during a spot where I was choking SeXXXy Eddy. As if that wasn’t enough, the finish to the match featured me running around the ring and sliding inside to evade Eddy, but I was immediately cut off by the same old man who held me in place! Robbie won the match, from what I recall, and afterwards I stepped inside the squared circle to gloat. I shoved a finger in Eddy’s face and talked down to him, yammering on and on about whatever I wanted because nobody spoke English. It was at that moment, for some reason, that I grabbed Eddy’s dick? I’m not sure why, but in one horizontal thrust I was tossed on my back and dick-flipped by the originator of the maneuver. Canada’s weird like that.
Robbie and I also got stranded in Upstate New York once. We were doing back-to-back days with World of Hurt at the Fort Edward Heritage Days in Fort Edward New York, about 3 hours away from Syracuse, where Robbie booked himself as part of a comic con. What that meant, in theory, was: driving to Fort Edward, leaving the show and heading to Syracuse for the convention the next morning, leaving the convention for the next show in Fort Edward that night, heading back to Syracuse for another day at the convention, then driving back to New Jersey. Now as I said, that was the theoretical plan heading in, before we realized that my car hadn’t received an oil change in damn near 20,000 miles.
We arrived in Fort Edward with my car motoring along the road like an old-timey roller coaster car rumbling across wooden tracks. We went to our show and put oil in the engine, and everything seemed to be alright. We headed up to Syracuse, and the only memory of our commute that I can legally share with you is Robbie spilling vinaigrette dressing from his McDonalds Salad all over the interior of my car. After arriving at our hotel and kicking it with the promoter, Scott Wilder, Robbie and I went to bed and woke up ready for our long day of travel. When I went out to my car and opened the door I was greeted with the noxious aroma of still-standing salad dressing congealing in the front passenger seat. I started the car and everything seemed to be working fine, but as we got closer to the convention center our ride got noisier and noisier and noisier until I couldn’t hear our conversation over the sound of my engine. We parked outside the convention center and that was the last time I ever had to turn my car off because it never turned on again.
We attended the convention with WWE Hall of Famers like Ted DiBiase and Sgt. Slaughter, plus legends like Tugboat, Danny Davis, and Bobby Fulton. I was in and out of the building rather regularly to check on AAA. I can’t for the life of me remember the technical term for what I did to that car, but just a reminder to those of you who might forget sometimes—change your oil. Especially if you’re planning to drive a thousand miles in three days. The car was towed back to New Jersey where it was deemed unsalvageable, which really pissed me off considering I could have had a mechanic in Syracuse tell me that and I wouldn’t have had to pay AAA to tow the thing some 300 miles home. We missed the second show in Fort Edward and stuck around Syracuse, only to have one of the most vividly surreal dinners of all time with the aforementioned wrestling legends—and me sitting at the head of the table! It was like musical chairs, and when Robbie and I arrived, the head of the table spot was the only one left and Robbie refused to let me sit anywhere else.
I’ve had great times with Robbie. I’ve had bad times with Robbie. I’ve had weird times with Robbie. This one time, no joke, Dan Ramm rented a hotel room to shoot, I want to say, ten minutes worth of footage? Literally me, him, and Rob sitting around reminiscing about past episode of BBWF Primetime. Anyway–I’ve driven thousands of miles with him, hundreds of hours, worked countless shows in several cities and states and two countries. He taught me how to carry myself on social media and how to appear like a star. He helped me formulate a 2-year plan when I first started getting booked, and spoke up when promoters didn’t pay me for my work. He taught me how to be a manager, how to cut a promo, how to eat at Cracker Barrel—and that’s just the stuff he knows about. I learned a lot just listening to Robbie before and after events. I could gauge what kind of show it was going to be based on his attitude going in, and actively sought his opinion of what worked and what didn’t after the fact. He helped me learn to see through the bullshit and discern between reality and fiction in an industry that purposefully blurs that very line.
I’ve been very fortunate in my career so far, and I owe that success to almost every person with whom I’ve had any contact these past twenty-seven months. But when it comes down to it, the places I’ve gone and the achievements I’ve garnered—they can all be traced back to the trips taken with and lessons learned from Robbie E. The Real Robbie E.
Next week—or next month or whenever—on the Untitled Wrestling Blog I’m talking all about Paradise Alley Pro Wrestling, a promotion based in East Haven Connecticut and operated by Paul Roma, formerly of the WWE and WCW. Paradise Alley was among the first promotions to book me and the very first in New England. Since then I’ve expanded everywhere from Massachusetts and Rhode Island to Maine and Vermont, and it’s all because of the opportunity I received at Paradise Alley.
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. ALSO! I’ve got BRAND NEW SHIRTS available at ProWrestlingTees.com/Haggerty! I’ve also got 2019 Calendars available for just $10 + $7 Shipping and handling. Just PayPal $17 and delivery instructions to [email protected] MAH