FROM THE PAST...TO THE PRESENT
(August 12, 1997)
BB: Ladies and gentlemen, this is Bill Buckley, reporting
to you for U-62. I'm here in the County Courthouse in
Nashville, Tennessee, where the trial against Sammy Benson
for the murder of Lyle Tallman, also known as the Red
Midget. This is expected to be the final day of witnesses
in this three-week trial, which came to court over four
months after the actual murder took place here in Nashville
during the CSWA's Anniversary Celebration wrestling event.
The prosecution calls its final rebuttal witness today.
That witness just happens to be Benson's former boss, as
well as mine, CSWA Co-Commissioner Chad Merritt. He is
expected to testify further about Benson's motives and
opportunity. We've received permission from the judge in
this case, Harold Certes, to bring you the examination
(The camera pans the courtroom, showing Sammy Benson at the
defendants' table, then settles on Merritt walking to the
witness stand and being sworn in.)
Prosecutor: Thank you for your time today Mr. Merritt.
Merritt: Certainly, Mr. Evans.
Prosecutor: I've asked you here today just to clarify and
underscore a few of the points regarding the day in
question, as well as Mr. Benson's motives for killing Mr.
Merritt: I understand.
Prosecutor: When you rehired Mr. Tallman as a commentator
for the CSWA, is it fair to say that Mr. Benson was......
Merritt: I think that would be an understatement.
Prosecutor: Is it fair to say Mr. Benson was furious?
That he wanted no part of being on a commentating team with
Merritt: I think that's exactly right.
Prosecutor: Did Mr. Benson have anything to add, any
Merritt: As a matter of fact, he did. He mentioned that
he had kicked Red Lyle off the stage once, and wouldn't
hesitate to do it again.
Prosecutor: And how did you respond?
Merritt: I told Sammy that the matter was settled, and
that he was to be civil to Lyle. I followed that up on the
air a few hours later, and advised him that if he did
anything to Lyle, that his job would be forfeit.
Prosecutor: And how did Mr. Benson respond?
Merritt: Sammy wasn't happy about it, but as I recall, he
finally agreed and went on about his business.
Prosecutor: Let's move on the day of the actual murder....
can you run down exactly what you were doing that day?
Merritt: Sure. I arrived at the arena around 4pm and
held a meeting with most of my staff.
Prosecutor: I'm sorry to interrupt, but was Mr. Benson at
Merritt: No, he wasn't. In fact, I questioned Bill,
that's Bill Buckley, our head commentator, about it, and he
said that he hadn't seen Sammy. I asked him to be on the
lookout and advised him that Red would be joining them at
the table for the event.
Prosecutor: That was at about four o'clock and the event
began at six?
Merritt: That's right.
Prosecutor: Did you see any sign of Mr. Benson before then?
Merritt: I did. In fact, around five-thirty I was advised
by one of my staff that Sammy had come in. I went to speak
with him, but he was nowhere to be found. I assumed he was
at his favorite pasttime, trying to get the concessions
people to give him some beer. We had taken to a practice
of advising all the concessions areas at an arena that
Sammy was not to be given anything harder than water....we
even had posters made with his picture to give out.
Prosecutor: So you thought Mr. Benson was out on the
concourse but something led you to find out that wasn't the
Merritt: That's right. About ten minutes before showtime,
Marvin Parsons, our lighting and sound technician, advised
me that Sammy had been wandering around backstage, near
some of the rigging. I again went looking for him, and he
was gone. Bill Buckley advised me through my headset that
he still hadn't shown up, and the show was about to start.
Prosecutor: This was about six o'clock?
Merritt: About five till. I stopped looking and started
back to what we call the 'hot zone' right by the entryway
to the arena proper, where I usually watch the shows. On
my way back....that's when it happened. The lights went
out backstage to start the show, and the TV wall screen
came on....I saw a small figure in the air kicking with
another behind apparently strangling him. I ran to get
there, but the larger man was already gone. Lyle Tallman
Prosecutor: Did you see the larger figure at all?
Prosecutor: And when was the next time you saw Mr. Benson?
Merritt: When I escorted the police to him at the
commentators' table, where he arrived five minutes after
the murder of Lyle.
Prosecutor: That's all I have for this witness, your Honor.
Judge Certes: Your witness for redirect, counselor.
(Hornet stands at the defendant's table.)
Hornet: A moment to confer with my client, your Honor.
(He sits back down and begins whispering with Sammy) I'm
not going to do that, Sammy. I don't care! You think I'm
going to risk my legal career and my wrestling career just
because a friend called in a favor to get me to defend your
sorry butt? (They both stop whispering for a moment Hornet
sits back in his chair for a few seconds.)
Judge: Are we ready to proceed, counselor?
Hornet: Yes, just a moment, your Honor. (Hornet pours a
glass of water and downs it, then stands.) Thank you for
coming today Mr. Merritt.
Merritt: Certainly. It's good to see you at the bar again.
Hornet: Mr. Merritt, what was Mr. Tallman wearing that
Merritt: I haven't the faintest.
Hornet: You found the man strangled murdered and didn't
catch even a glimpse of what he was wearing?
Merritt: I was a bit preoccupied with the fact that he
Hornet: Did you attempt CPR or mouth-to-mouth
Merritt: No, I was in shock, and the paramedics arrived
just a few moments later.
Hornet: Do you like midgets, Mr. Merritt? (Merritt laughs)
Is this funny sir?
Merritt: No, it's tragic. Tragic that you're trying to
defend a man who is so obviously guilty and asking me if I
Hornet: Do you have an answer?
Merritt My answer is...I don't have a d'mn clue. I like
some, I don't like others, is that good enough for you?
Are these really the questions I was called here to answer?
This man is on trial for his life, please tell me his
lawyer hasn't pinned his hopes to my view on midgets. Do
you have any other questions for me, counselor?
(There is silence.)
Judge: Counselor, do you have anything further for this
witness? (More silence)
Merritt: (standing) Thanks, Hornet, I love Nashville.
Hornet: I'm not through with my examination. Sit down.
Merritt: You'll address me with a little respect .former
employee or not. And you can call me Commissioner. Is
this the kind of zoo you're running, Harold? Where a
wrestler turned lawyer can make a mockery of this court?
Judge: And the Commissioner will address this court as Your
Honor or Sir, I'm quite 'certain' I've earned it. Do you
have anything further, counselor?
Hornet: (Looks back at Sammy ) Yes, as a matter of fact I
do. Your Honor, these are the videotapes from the CSWA's
Anniversary Celebration, depicting many of the fans who
stopped to wish the CSWA well.
Judge: We've been over this, counselor, you're entering
evidence of a woman who never existed.
Hornet: Oh, we believe she does, your Honor. We'll get to
the tapes in just a minute. Commissioner Merritt, you told
Sammy Benson that the Red Midget was not to be touched?
Not to be disparaged in anyway?
Merritt: That's correct.
Hornet: And you're sure Mr. Benson was clear on that order?
Hornet: Then how is it that Mr. Benson allegedly killed
Merritt: I can't answer for the actions of a deranged man.
Hornet: Really? Sir, if you gave an order for Mr. Tallman
not to be touched....and yet you thought Mr. Benson was
deranged...you knew the past history between the two men...
the incidents at Disneyworld, the fights at the
commentators' tables over the years....then why didn't you
take further measures?
Merritt: I didn't think they were necessary. Sammy gave
me his word.
Hornet: Really....the same man you had to have flyers put
up to avoid having him get drunk at arenas....you took his
word? You put two mortal enemies, for lack of a better
word, together at a five-foot table next to each other when
Mr. Benson had kicked Mr. Tallman off a ten-foot high stage
once before? And you didn't think any further measures
Merritt: Let me be frank, counselor, Hornet, whatever
you're to be called here....I'm the Commissioner of one of
the top franchises in all of sports. When I give an order,
or even a suggestion, to an employee, I expect it to be
followed. They follow orders, or people get fired. Are we
Merritt: ARE WE CLEAR?
Hornet: Crystal. In this case, someone got killed.....
because you didn't do your job.
Merritt: Why you snotty little bastard!
Hornet: You didn't do your job because you had another
motive....you didn't really want the Red Midget at the
commentator's spot, did you? He wasn't a ratings boost of
any kind....and yet you flexed your Commissioner muscle
to put him in a spot that would cause more conflict than
good...in a spot that had almost gotten Tallman seriously
injured before...in a spot between Buckley and Benson,
isn't that right Mr. Commissioner?
Prosecutor: Objection, your Honor Mr. Merritt isn't on
Judge: Overruled. I'll allow it for now.
Hornet: Well, Mr. Merritt? You knew that sometimes even
commentators' take things into their own hands. You had
seen it happen, even condoned it, by firing Lyle Tallman
when he was attacked by Mr. Benson months earlier. And
yet, all of a sudden you WANTED him back in that
Merritt: Red was a great commentator.
Hornet: That's not what you said in his employee file....
you said, and I quote, "Red isn't worth the money he's
getting now that he's not a sideshow 'wrestler.' He just
doesn't have what it takes at the table...." I could have
the court reporter give you a copy of that file if you need
it, Mr. Commissioner.
Merritt: I know what it says, I don't have to have it read
back to me like I'm a...
Hornet: If you gave an order that Lyle Tallman was not to
be touched....and yet he was then someone either wasn't
following orders or they were. Do you LIKE midgets, Mr.
Prosecutor: Judge, we've already covered this.
Hornet: Follow-up, Your Honor.
Judge: The court will wait for an answer. Answer the
question, Mr. Merritt.
Merritt: OF COURSE I DON'T LIKE MIDGETS! Thomas brought
them in and they made a mockery of everything I built!
Then Tallman got hurt by El Nino, and it was either
continue to pay him, or end up paying a huge lawsuit! I
paid all his medical bills, I paid for his 'pain and
suffering', I paid for his miserable little life!
Hornet: Commissioner Merritt....you ordered Benson not to
touch Tallman. Yet you put Tallman directly in the line of
fire. You gave Tallman free reign, a man you had fired
months earlier. You put a man you despised in a situation
where he could be in grave danger....where his sarcastic
comments could drive a man to the brink. But that's not
it, is it? You ordered Benson not to touch him, and then
you ordered someone else to take him out and went it went
wrong, when things didn't go exactly as planned, you
panicked....you told the police about Benson, you cut them
loose, you doctored the video tapes, you hid the fat
Prosecutor: OBJECTION! YOUR HONOR!
Hornet: COMMISSIONER MERRITT...DID YOU ORDER LYLE TALLMAN
Prosecutor: Your Honor!
Judge: That'll be all! Commissioner, you don't have to
answer that question!
Merritt: I'll answer the question. You want answers?
Hornet: I think I'm entitled!
Merritt: You want ANSWERS?
Hornet: I WANT THE TRUTH!
Merritt: YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Son, professional
wrestling is a world that has walls, and someone has to
guard those walls. Someone with power and with balls.
Who's gonna do it? You? A man who has run roughshod over
the sport? You, Sammy Benson? A man who can't keep his
nose out of a beer can? I have a greater responsibility
then you can fathom. You weep for the Red Midget, and
curse me. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know,
that Tallman's death, while tragic, probably helped save a
sport. And my existence, while grotesque and
incomprehensible to you, saves this sport! You don't want
the truth because deep down in places you don't want to
talk about at parties, you want me on that wall, you NEED
me on that wall! We use words like honor, code, loyalty.
We use these words as the backbone of a life spent
defending something. You use them as a punchline. I have
neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a
man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of a business
that I helped create, and then questions the manner in
which I provide it! I would rather you just said thank you
and went on your way. Otherwise I suggest you pick up your
bankbook and stand a post. Either way, I don't give a d'mn
what you think you're entitled to!
Hornet: Did you order Lyle Tallman killed?
Merritt: I did the job I was...
Hornet: DID YOU ORDER LYLE TALLMAN KILLED?
Merritt: YOU'RE D'MN RIGHT I DID!!!!!!
Hornet: May it please the court, I suggest the jury be
dismissed so that we can move to an immediate preliminary
hearing....the witness has rights.
Judge: Mr. Evans?
Judge: The members of the jury will retire to an anteroom
until further instructions.
Bailiff: All rise!
Merritt: What the hell is this? What's going on? I did
my job, I'd do it again. I'm going back to my office.
Judge: You're not going anywhere, Commissioner. Bailiffs,
guard the Commissioner! Mr. Evans?
Prosecutor: Mr. Merritt...you have the right to remain
silent you have the right to an attorney
Merritt: I'm being charged with a crime? Is that what this
is? I'm being charged with a CRIME?! This is too funny.
That's what this is....this is.... (charges at Hornet, and
is grabbed by the bailiffs) I'm gonna rip your head off....
you've screwed with the wrong Commissioner!
Prosecutor: Mr. Merritt, do you understand these rights as
I have just read them to you?
Merritt: You idiots. You have no idea how to build a
wrestling business. All you did was weaken a sport today,
Hornet. That's all you did. Sweet dreams, son.
Hornet: Don't call me son. I'm a lawyer and a member of
this bar, and you're under arrest, you son of a midget.
The witness is excused.
(Merritt is escorted out of the courtroom.)
(A few minutes later)
Bailiffs: All rise .
Judge: Have the members reached a verdict?
Jury: We have, sir.
(Hornet and Benson stand)
Judge: Samuel Benson, on the charge of murder, the members
find the accused not guilty. On the charge of conspiracy
to commit murder, the members find the accused not guilty.
On the charge of drunk and disorderly conduct, the members
find the accused guilty as charged. Mr. Benson, you are
ordered to a treatment facility with time served.
Benson: What does that mean? I don't understand. Merritt
said he ordered the murder. What did I do wrong? I did
Hornet: Yes you did. You were supposed to do your job,
not slum around with fat women trying to get beer. Your
job, Sammy, to bring live action to people who couldn't be
there for themselves. For the kids, Sammy.
Bailiff: Counselor, I have to take Mr. Benson down for
some paperwork. (Sammy is led away )
Hornet: Sammy....you don't need to wear a patch on your
arm to have honor.
Sammy: What the heck does that mean?
Hornet: Think about it.
Prosecutor: Those tapes, what was on them?
Hornet: (smiles) Unless I'm mistaken, they were going to
show every fan EXCEPT a 300-pound fat woman wandering
Prosecutor: (laughs) Strong evidence.
Hornet: Kind of added something to it, huh?
Prosecutor: I'll see ya around. I have to go book Merritt.
Hornet: Tell him I said hi.
Prosecutor: I'll do that.
(Evans walks out, leaving Hornet standing in an empty
BB: This is Bill Buckley, coming to you live once again
from Nashville, where the story of the Lyle Tallman murder
will apparently come to an end...at least for now.........
Commissioner Chad Merritt will find out his fate from Judge
Certes. The verdict doesn't seem to be in question,
although the body of Lyle Tallman has never been recovered
since it went missing, and we have no details on who
committed the actual murder. In the final day of the trial
against Sammy Benson, Merritt admitted to wanting the Red
(August 15, 1997, back in the courtroom)
Judge: Mr. Merritt, you have been found guilty on the
charge of conspiracy to murder. Due to the psychological
evidence presented in this case, you are hereby sentenced
to one year in the Green Valley Home for the Mentally
Deranged with time served and a one-year probation.
Prosecutor: Your Honor, I have to protest. This man
conspired in the murder of a midget.
Judge: True....Mr. Merritt, I've reconsidered....make that
six months in Green Valley. It was just a midget after
all. Is that suitable with you Mr. Evans?
Prosecutor: Certainly, your Honor.
(August 18, 1997, Green Valley Home for the Mentally
Orderly: Mr. Merritt, you have a telephone call.
Merritt: It better be my broker.
Voice: Chad, Chad, Chad...you sorry, pathetic man.
Merritt: Who the h'll is this?
Voice: The man you helped murder.
Merritt: You! I really 'am' going to kill you this time.
Red Midget: I don't think so, Chad. I'm on one of a
million cruise liners in the South Pacific.
Voice on telephone: Another martini, sir?
Red Midget: Yes. Chad...I can't believe you fell for it.
Merritt: Who put you up to this?
Red: Someone who pays very well. Disappointing, isn't it?
The master of the scam gets scammed. Sorry I couldn't
help you out by actually dying.
Merritt: Don't worry...I'll remedy that soon enough.
Red: (laughs) Somehow I doubt it you can't even get your
money out of escrow without your good buddy and pal that
hates you. See you around, Chad....have fun, and say hello
to Junior Hornet for me there at Green Valley...
(The trial ends....the treatment begins)
BB: Welcome folks...its time for the MAIN EVENT of tonights
huge Thanksgiving Weekend Spectacular. Weve already seen
some incredible action tonight, and weve got plenty more to
come. Lets go to Rhubarb Jones for the introductions ..hey,
wait a minute, someones repelling down from the ceiling!!!!
Its .its .THE RED MIDGET!!!!!!! Hes come back from the
dead and I wonder what Commissioner Merritt is thinking right
now! OH MY DEAR LORD! THE ROPE JUST BROKE! Cut the
camera ..Marvin, CUT THE CAMERA!!!!!
(Last shot is up in the rafters, where Merritt stands with a
pair of shears, laughing.)
(November 26, 1997 at the Green Valley Home For The Mentally
Doctor: But Chad, youve been out of wrestling for over four
months now...there is *no* Thanksgiving Weekend Spectacular.
The Red Midget is already dead and thats why youre here.
Merritt: I know all that, doctor at least, I do now. But
these dreams, they haunt me.
Doctor: Theres been more than one?
Merritt: Yes, but the rest have been memories .real memories.
I just keep going over and over things in my head, trying to
figure out why it all came down to this .why I destroyed it
all...how I did.
Doctor: Your life?
Merritt: No...the CSWA. Or maybe that *is* my life. Doctor,
I dont know. All I know is that no matter what people may
have said about me, in 1996, they certainly didnt say I was
crazy. I was, to use a phrase, the king of the world. I
had money, power, fame...and the CSWA was at the top of its
game. Mike Randalls, GUNS, Hornet, Mark Windham, Julius
Godreign, Troy Windham, and all the others...what happened?
Doctor: Maybe thats what we have to find out. Ill be
honest with you, Chad...I believe that you didnt kill the Red
Midget. Not because you didnt want to, but because I know
that you wouldnt have thrown it all away not while there was
a chance you could get caught. But theres more beneath the
midget stuff. Thats all secondary. In our next sessions,
lets see if we can get a little deeper. Thats all for now.
(Merritt is once again standing in a wrestling ring)
Schmiddy: You're lying. You never used me! You never
had power over me! (Grabs Merritt)
Merritt: I suggest that you take your hands off of me.
Schmiddy: Say it! Say you're lying! SAY IT!
Merritt: You wish I were lying, kid. You know it's all
true. You've been scammed for a year. Teri, the beating,
the multiple personalities...
Schmiddy: NO! You're lying!
Merritt: I told you to get your hands off me. I'm not
telling you again. Mike?
(Ventolo rushes toward the two men. Merritt drops to one
knee, and Schmid is caught with a flying clothesline that
levels him. Merritt stands, and is joined by Thomas.
Together, they stomp Schmid viciously into the mat.)
Thomas: You wanted the truth? This is the truth, Schmid!
Merritt: Need more truth, Schmid? Well here it is!
BB: Schmid's psychologist, Dr. Marvin Monroe has stepped
into the ring. Hey, what's he doing!!?? He pulling his
(Dr. Monroe pulls his face off, revealing...THE RED
Merritt: NOOOOOOO!!!! Thats now how it was supposed to
happen! Stay away from me! Stay away!!!!
(The Red Midget, Schmid, Thomas, Ventolo all begin laughing)
(December 30, 1997 at the Green Valley Home For The Mentally
Doctor: "King of the World", huh?
Merritt: Yeah, I know, so I took some liberties...I got a
little carried away.
Doctor: A little?
Merritt: But that wasn't it. That wasn't what caused it
all...at least not then.
Doctor: Was it before then? After?
Merritt: It had to be after...it all started falling apart
Doctor: Well then, let's start at the end and work our way
back. The last CSWA card was...?
Merritt: July 15, 1997 , the AlamoDome. It was before I was
'convicted.' Randalls vs. Godreign, Hornet vs. Tyler, GUNS
vs. Troy for the title. It was a big deal. Except nobody
would listen....I told Randalls he was going too far. I told
Tyler and Hornet that they shouldn't wrestle each other...I
Doctor: Sounds like the 'king of the world' lost control?
Merritt: Maybe, but I'm used to that. Contrary to popular
belief, I don't *always* tell people what to do. Sometimes
even when it's obvious that it's a stupid....wait a second. I
told them! That's it! That's when it all started.
Doctor: When? What?
Merritt: You wouldn't understand. But that was it....I sat
there on the phone and told both of them that was a mistake.
But did they ever listen to me? Of course not. And I just
let it happen...like a fool! It was after that that
everything else happened....that was when the midgets started
*really* driving me crazy. It was after that I came up with
that scheme about the two titles, and....oh my Lord, what have
Doctor: I think we've made a breakthrough, but I don't know
that I have any idea what it is.
(Merritt is running up the deck of a ship that is rapidly
ascending. He climbs over the railing, clutching it for dear
Thomas: So I see you made it?
Merritt: I guess so.
Thomas: This ship was supposed to be unsinkable.
Merritt: Apparently not. Wait a second...isn't this where we
Thomas: Wrong dream, bucko. We met when you were five.
Merritt: That's not what I meant. Just...these
circumstances...the feeling of sinking, the precipice of
disaster, seems like we always step right up to it, ever since
Thomas: Sometimes you've gotta live on the edge to get to
where you want to be.
Merritt: That's convoluted logic for you. Anyway, it's all
Thomas: What, did the iceberg come outta...
Merritt: Oh shut up. (Pushes Thomas off the edge of the
ship....he hits the large propeller-rudder with a thud and
falls into the icy water) It's my fault because I should have
been able to stop it. I should have known where it would
lead...where it *has* led. (The ship begins to tilt further
and further) But I was arrogant enough to think that it
wouldn't matter either way. I was wrong. (The ship begins to
plunge into the water) I WAS WRONG!!!!! (Merritt goes under
with the bow of the large ship)
(February 28, 1997 at the Green Valley Home For The Mentally
Merritt: Doctor, we've been through this over and over. I
know what I've done...and I know what I have to do. I'll say
whatever it is that you're looking to hear....but I *have* to
get out of here. If I don't do it soon, then it'll be too
Doctor: Do what? Why will it be too late?
Merritt: I'm not going to explain...it's business. I tell
you, and who knows who you'll tell.
Doctor: There *is* such a thing as patient/client
Merritt: I don't have anything against you, Doc. In fact, if
it would make you feel better, I'll continue seeing you after
I'm out of here. But I *have* to get out. I told you about
my dream, Doc. I feel like while I'm in here, I'm on the end
of a ship that's sinking faster and faster into the water.
And I only know one way to fix it...to fix everything.
Doctor: How can you be so sure it'll work, whatever it is
Merritt: I can't, Doc. I can't be sure anymore. Two years
ago or more, even last year, I might have been able to
convince myself that I could make it all right in a snap. But
what I know now is, if I *don't* try, then nothing else is
left for me. It's like seeing a car wreck...you can tell what
caused it, but not until it's too late. But I have the chance
at least to *try* and fix things. It's sink or swim,
Doc...those are my only options.
Doctor: Mr. Merritt...Chad...that's what I needed to hear.
I'll sign your release forms.
Merritt: Doc, if you were Teri Melton, I'd hug you right now.
(Merritt is standing in a darkened arena, in the middle of a
wrestling ring. A lone spotlight shines on him. We can
barely make out two figures in opposing corners.)
Merritt: I let it happen once, and it was the biggest mistake
I ever made...for a lot of reasons. The only way to fix the
crack that began spreading from that mistake is to piece it
back together. It's sink or swim, gentlemen...and we're all
on the same boat.
(The spotlight fades, the two figures in the shadows
disappear. A dim red light hovers over Merritt.)
Merritt: Oh....and Red, I haven't forgotten what you've done
either. And if I have to hunt you down and kill you again to
correct my second biggest mistake...I will. (laughs....and
(March 2, 1998 at the Merritt Auditorium in Greensboro, NC)
(Merritt walks into his office in the bowels of the
Merritt: (looks at his desk) WHAT THE???? What the heck is
all this? (picks up nameplate and throws it in the trash)
(Marsha the secretary comes in)
Merritt: Get all this crap cleaned outta here, I've got work
Marsha: But sir...there's...
Merritt: Marsha, Marsha, Marsha! No buts...just do it!
Merritt: And while you're at it, get the other office and the
conference room cleared out. And fax this out to the old
press listings. I'll be back in a few, after I take care of
(March 3, 1998: Atlanta, Georgia...a little place called
Thomas: So they finally let you out, huh?
Merritt: Indeed they did.
Thomas: Does this mean you're not insane anymore?
Merritt: What do you think? No...don't answer that.
Thomas: So, lemme guess, you want money...
Merritt: How did you know?
Thomas: Well, when they put you away, they gave *me* power of
attorney. That means that everything you had went into escrow
under my supervision. I assumed you had that figured out.
Merritt: You assumed right...for once. So what's this gonna
Thomas: Not much...just sign this little piece of paper.
Merritt: And just what am I signing away, my soul?
Thomas: No, I figured that was already sold. It's just a
little contract....one that puts things back the way they
should be. I was a little peeved when you pulled that stunt,
Merritt: Hey...I figured having full ownership of the CSWA
would work better. It didn't. But none of that matters...
I've got a plan.
Thomas: Oh dear Lord....not another one.
Merritt: Seriously....and I figure all I've got to lose is...
well, everything. It's not like I've got much now, anyway.
Who's gonna hire a guy that's been in the loony bin for six
Thomas: So what's this brilliant plan?
Merritt: Not here. First things first. (signs contract)
There ya go, all nice and legal.
Thomas: Sure you don't want your lawyer here to read it for
Merritt: No thanks....I don't particularly like lawyers these
(March 4, 1998; Back at CSHQ...Merritt Auditorium)
Thomas: Ya know, I've never figured out why we named this
thing after you.
Merritt: I called and asked you about it, and you agreed.
Thomas: I don't remember that.
Merritt: Well, I think you were asleep at the time...I asked
your wife to hold the phone up to your ear.
Merritt: Hi Marsha, I'm back.
Marsha: "Back in a few?"
Merritt: I had to get Moose here.
Marsha: Welcome back, Stephen.
Thomas: Hi, Marsha, nice to be back.
Merritt: I never did ask...what have you been doing for the
last six months?
Thomas: Well, the CSWA was all in your name, so I couldn't do
much but watch it go down. I worked on a few CS Enterprises'
projects to keep me busy. Should I even ask about you? Shock
treatments and all that?
Merritt: No...thankfully they didn't treat me like Junior
Hornet. Just 'therapy' and all that jazz. Anyway, forget
that, we've got work to do...and only about a month to do it
Thomas: Why the rush?
Merritt: Because from looking at the information you gave me,
the CSWA took a hit financially....we had to pay for all the
arenas we had booked and no-showed, and we had to buy out
quite a few contracts due to the inactivity.
Thomas: So where do we stand?
Merritt: Well, with the CS Enterprises stash, we could
probably go indefinitely....but most of that is tied up in our
other investments. For the CSWA to stay self-sufficient, it
needs a boost, quickly. Of course, only having 10 cards or so
in 1997 didn't help much.
Thomas: It was a....light schedule...
Merritt: One we couldn't afford. And the biggest hit came in
a fine from the FCC....apparently showing a murder on live
television is frowned upon.
Thomas: And who's fault is that?
Merritt: Don't start with me....that's a whole other ball of
wax I don't have time to deal with right now. Anyway, I had
Marsha schedule a press conference for April 1.
Thomas: Why then?
Merritt: Well, I figured if I'm gonna make a fool outta
myself, I might as well do it on the right day.
Thomas: That's less than a month away! How are you gonna get
a roster together by then?
Merritt: It's 28 days to be exact....and I have no idea. All
I know is...I better get busy.
(March 5, 1998; on the phone)
Merritt: Is Mr. Godreign in? Yes, tell him that Chad Merritt
is calling... Godreign! Hi, it's Merritt. Yes I am. Yes.
Very funny. Yeah, you're a regular riot. I was calling to
see if you're interested in coming back to.... Oh. No, I
didn't know that. You're sure... Well, if that's what you're
planning... Hey, I understand, when you're sittin' on that
much money and you don't have to... Sure, thanks. What if I
find something else for you, something in the office? No,
nothing like that. Alright, Julius. Good to talk to ya, man.
No...no problem, I understand completely. You too. Bye.
(March 6, 1998)
Merritt: Marsha...could you send these out? I just got them
back from the lawyers.
Marsha: Sure...more contract offers?
Merritt: Yep. Have we heard back from any yet?
Marsha: Not yet...the first batch just went out yesterday,
Merritt: Yeah...I know. It's just there's so much riding on
this... Marsha, in case I haven't said it in the past few
days I've been back...thanks.
Marsha: You're welcome, sir. It's good to have you and Mr.
(April 1, 1998; in the conference room at the Merritt Auditorium)
Merritt: So who's down there?
Thomas: Well, I know that most of the guys you requested were able to show up...I haven't seen Windham yet, though.
Merritt: I'm beginning to think he's lost his mind.
Thomas: You're just now figuring that out.
(CSWA Vice-Commissioner AJ Honold walks in.)
AJ: Hi guys, sorry I'm late.
Merritt: No problem....it's only two weeks. How was Vegas?
AJ: Ah, you know, the usual.
Merritt: Well folks, I guess we better get things moving; we've got people waiting downstairs.
Thomas: We're really gonna use the lifts?
Merritt: We spent enough money putting them in.
Merritt: We've got elevators that go from this room into the conference room. The floor lowers, basically. I'll stand on the center one that goes to the podium, Steve will be on the one to my right, and you on the left.
AJ: Are you sure these things are safe?
Merritt: Perfectly....now, let's do it. Hit it, Marvin.
(Downstairs, in the press room. A podium stands in the center of a raised platform.)
Rhubarb Jones: Ladies and gentlemen, the time you've been waiting for has arrived. It is my pleasure to reintroduce to you at this time....(Theme from "Silver Spoons" begins playing)...the front office staff of the C-S-W-A.....Vice-Commssioner AJ Honold, and CSWA Co-Commissioners Chad Merritt and Stephen Thomas.
(Three platforms begin lowering from the ceiling toward the floor. One appears to get stuck midway down.)
AJ: Um, guys? I think I'm stuck.
(Merritt and Thomas are lowered to the ground, and Merritt steps forward to the podium.)
Thomas: (walks over to below AJ and whispers up to him) Keep it down...we're ready to start...we'll get you down in a minute. Marvin, call maintenance.
Merritt: I want to start off by thanking you all for coming. This is certainly not the first press conference we've had, and surely won't be the last. I also want to mention that I won't be taking any questions regarding my whereabouts for the last six months...this conference isn't about me, it's about the return of the CSWA.
We've been able to re-sign many of wrestling's top superstars. And along with them, we've re-signed the best commentating team in the sport today, Bill Buckley and Sammy Benson. Guys, come on up.
(Buckley and Benson walk up onto the stage.)
Along with them for many of the CSWA's main events, we'll be adding a third commentator. You all know her well, she's none other than TERI MELTON! Come on up, Teri.
(Benson grabs his chest) Are you alright, Benson?
SB: I'm fine....more than fine...I'm...I'm
Teri: That's enough out of you already, Sammy. By the way, you and I have long talk coming about some of your previous comments about me...
BB: Chad...you're determined to put me in an early grave, aren't you?
Merritt: (laughs) Folks, please welcome our commentating team. (applause)
I want to get a little serious for a moment. 1997 marked a decline in the CSWA. Other interests interfered, and things got out of hand. I allowed things to happen that shouldn't have, and even directly caused some of them. But my biggest mistake didn't occur last year...the consequences of it showed up in 1997...but you have to go all the way to 1996 to find the true root cause.
Before I delve further into that issue, I want to start off by announcing how the CSWA will get it's 1998 kickoff. As you know, it's April...and that can mean only one thing. Possibly the most important and meaningful event in the history of the CSWA: it's tenth anniversary.
On Sunday, April 12, 1997, the CSWA presents it's next super spectacular from right here in the Merritt Auditorium. We've partnered with U-62 to offer this event on free television, live with no commercials. I'm pleased to announce CSWA ANNIVERSARY 1998: Titanic, Sink or Swim.
We'll be taking a little different tack to this card. In an attempt to make this event as special as possible, we've tried to come up with 'dream matches.' I think you'll see what I mean.
The first match will be for the Unified Tag Team Championships. And Troy and Joe, before you run out of the audience to plead your case up here....just listen for a moment. Folks, the team of Killer Instinct won the Unified Tag Titles in July, just before the decline of the CSWA. I cannot, in good conscience, keep them from having a chance to retain those titles.
So in the first match at ANNIVERSARY, Killer Instinct will indeed have their chance to reclaim the Unified Tag Team Titles. Their opponents will be one of the premiere tag teams in the sport....none other than the AAWC World Champions, the SWAT TEAM!
Many of you will ask why we decided not to have a tournament...to be quite honest, we wanted to take two of the teams who have proven themselves the best in the sport today and let them hook things up. If there's anyone out there who disputes that...feel free to lace up your boots and prove it against these guys in the ring.
I'm gonna try not to stretch this out much longer, folks. The next match is between two men you all know very well. Troy Windham is the former CSWA World Champion, having won the title at the CSWA's last card in July 1997 in the Alamodome... in a match that was controversial to say the least. Troy has competed against and proven himself against a long list of stars in this sport. But I think I can speak for many wrestling fans when I say that there's one match we'd all like to see Troy in.
I'm putting that match together. At ANNIVERSARY 1998, former CSWA World Champion Troy Windham will take on former Unified Champion Mark Windham. The family feud comes to a head at Anniversary, folks.
At this time, I'm going to let Troy say a few words.
(Troy is at the podium, wearing his standard gear.)
Well, mah peeplez, you've all heard about it now. The CS Express is back on track, moving forward for it's big Anniversary card, and like I said before--it's MY Anniversary also. My anniversary of being on top of this sport- the king of the hill, on the cat's meow. I'm DA BOMB, but ya'll know this already. You want to hear about this? First of all, the suits who run this league- Merrito and Thomas, the two blundering fiz-ools, stripped their MEAL TICKET of HIS title... but more on that later. They decided to toss my ass in the ring with my bummy cousin Mark... <Troy starts humming the Family Feud theme song.> Well, this is a match about what, 3 years in the making? Since I came into the sport as the stoner cousin of the most overrated star in the history of the sport? My cousin wanted to make me the next him... but I wanted to be the first me. Troy Windham--the man on the marquee. Look, there's Troy Windham on MTV. Look, there's Troy Windham as People Magazine's 50 Most Beautiful. Look, there's Troy Windham getting arrested at a bar for fighting. Look, there's Troy Windham--spokesman for Generation X. That's what I WANTED to be 3 years ago... and that's where I AM today. Mark- you couldn't hold me back. You couldn't STOP THIS TRAIN... all you could do was sit back and WATCH as THIS <Troy raises the roof> became THE ISH... oh yeah, baby--I'm bigger than anything you ever could have hoped to be. Guess who's selling out THIS match? You think that it's Mark Windham who everyone's sweatin? You think the people are there to see Mark Windham beat up his snot nosed little cousin? Uh uh, Marky Mark... the peeps in the crowd are down to see Troy get jiggy with it... and they're there to see Troy Windham beat another has-been from yesteryear. Mark- I'm the best. Deal with it, kid... let it go, bra... let it go...
(Windham steps down from the stage)
Merritt: Troy's trying to make me feel like Richard Dawson. (laughter) There are two other matches signed for ANNIVERSARY 1998 at this time, ladies and gentlemen, and we don't expect much to be added to the card, in order to keep with the time alloted on television.
In our third match, we're featuring the first meeting between two former Unified Champions in two years. On May 13, 1995 at Battle of the Belts XI, Mike Randalls stepped into the ring as the Unified World Champion, and JT Tyler stepped out with the strap. Since then, both men have gone on to establish themselves even further in their own right. At ANNIVERSARY 1998, there's no gold on the line. However, pride and a sense of history will be involved...and sometimes, those can be more important than a title strap.
Now...how to start on this fourth match, the MAIN EVENT for ANNIVERSARY 1998. I mentioned earlier about the major mistake I regret here in the CSWA. It was made on September 6, 1996, when I allowed two men to put their careers on the line at FISH FUND XI.
In that match, I allowed two men to take a feud to a level like never before. And maybe that difference, maybe never having dealt with anything so personal, so incredibly personal, helped me make the mistake.
That night, when Hornet walked through the crowd, the CSWA began its inevitable decline. It continued as GUNS went through the motions to keep his contract. Buyrates and merchandise began dropping...the fans knew that things weren't the same. As did we all. Consciously or not, I think the entire wrestling world flinched in reaction to that titanic match. Because nothing was truly settled...there was no sense of closure, no sense of finality. Since then, both Hornet and GUNS have wandered around...I'll allow both of them to discuss that with you later if they'd like.
And at this time, I'm going to ask both these former CSWA World Champions to come to the table.
(GUNS and Hornet walk to the platform and sit on either side of the podium.)
I have in my hands a copy of a contract for the MAIN EVENT at CSWA ANNIVERSARY 1998. It is a proposal for the sixth match between these two men, in a feud that began almost exactly three years ago today.
(He hands the contract to GUNS)
The match in the contract is two-of-three-falls, to be officiated by CSWA senior referee Ben Worthington. And at the end of it....we will have a new CSWA WORLD Heavyweight Champion. (murmurs in the crowd)
Although I recognize Troy Windham's achievement in winning the World Title; I also recognize just what happened in that match. The two men sitting at this table have each held the CSWA World or Enterprise World Championships on multiple occasions, and they have proven themselves as two of, if not *the* two top wrestlers in the sport. They deserve the chance to compete with gold on the line.
(GUNS signs the contract; Merritt takes and hands to Hornet; Hornet signs the contract)
There you have it folks, just signed as the MAIN EVENT, the match that no one thought they'd see again, "The Strongest Arms In The World" vs. "The Greatest American Hero" for the CSWA World Heavyweight Title. (crowd applauds)
That's all I have for today. I want to thank you all again for coming, and I hope you're looking forward to April 12 as much as I am. We hope that all wrestling fans will join with us in celebrating the TENTH anniversary of the CSWA. At this time, I'll turn the podium over to any of the participants who would like to make a statement.
(Merritt walks from the podium, off the stage)
Merritt: Have they figured out how to get him down yet? (motions to AJ)
Thomas: I don't know....
Marvin: I've got it...this should do the trick.
(The lift holding Vice-Commissioner being moving....upward, at a tremendous rate of speed)
Thomas: Now that was bad....
Merritt: Hey, at least it justified the cost of the blasted things...