Nov. 15, 1999, started out like any other normal day for me.
And today, 20 years later to the day, I will share a story that I have never told publicly.
I was taking undergrad classes at Cal U in 1999 around the early days of my pro wrestling career.
It was a Monday, and when I wasn’t in class, I could be found at Herron Rec and Fitness Center working out with my buddies like Jim Grosik, Niles Yantchook and Alex Armbruster.
While working out, we discussed the Survivor Series from the night before when Stone Cold Steve Austin was “hit” by a car and wondered what would happen that night on Raw in Pittsburgh.
The show was sold out and they talked about possibly going down.
I had tickets to the show, although little did I know that I would never end up using them.
After my last class for the day, I was riding home when I received a call from a number I didn’t recognize.
“Bill, are you interested in being on Raw tonight,” asked a voice I knew but could not recognize at that second.
Thinking it was a joke, I laughed.
However, much to my pleasant surprise, it was not a joke and I was told to get to the Civic Arena by 5 p.m. wearing regular street clothes.
Was this really happening? I was a kid chasing a dream and the WWE, then the WWF, called me?
The drive to Pittsburgh seemed like it took forever and I eventually parked near the back gate with the WWE wrestlers.
Upon entering, I spoke to a few wrestlers I knew and also noticed some other friends in the wrestling business, Terry Hackett and Eric Lancy were among them, who were hired for the night to portray “cops.”
I was pulled aside by two road agents, along with Paul “Bison” Brunory, Bill Comer and Ron Richards.
They informed us that we would be in a pair of backstage skits with the APA, Ron “Faarooq” Simmons and Bradshaw, who would later become WWE champion as JBL.
This was the time in WWE when the APA would “go to” bars in different towns to drink.
We would be portraying guys from Michigan that the APA had issues with the night before at Survivor Series, which took place in Detroit.
Once the agents walked away, Simmons and Bradshaw began discussing ideas for the segment and they asked me a few questions.
The first skit would be of the APA coming out to the indoor parking lot for the wrestlers and seeing us.
After we jawed back and forth, they attacked us and “laid us out” for a bit before the four of us ran back into the arena.
The show went to a commercial break and when it came back on, they were in back looking for us.
After finding us in a locker room, the attacked us again and “beat us” out into the main hallway where the skit ended with Bradshaw hitting me with a chair, into a hockey net, and saying, “he shoots, he scores!”
What you are about to read, I have never publicly shared, but it adds to the story!
Before we shot the two skits, Simmons, Bradshaw and I came up with a different ending, but Shane McMahon, who was watching over the segments, shot it down.
The original ending was going to see Bradshaw lay me out with a chair and pick me up to throw me towards the hockey net.
Simmons was going to stand in front of the net as a goalie. Bradshaw was going to go to throw me to his left, Simmons’ right, with Ron diving to stop me from going in the net.
However, Bradshaw was going to hold on to me and after Simmons dove to his right, Bradshaw was going to throw me into the other side of the net and then say, “he shoots, he scores!”
Shane shot it down though, with his reasoning being that the APA were “bad guys” and the skit would make fans laugh and cheer and WWE did not want them getting that kind of reaction.
We shot those scenes around 6 p.m. that night and they aired during the show. In fact, as the scenes aired, I was standing with Chris Jericho and he congratulated us on two solid segments.
I stood at the backstage monitor most of the night listening to the veterans talk, because after all, I was taught to keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open when backstage at shows.
When we went to get paid, the agents were so happy, they threw an extra $100 on top of what we had agreed upon because we did both of our scenes in only one shot each.
The prior night, the APA had shot a bar scene with wrestlers who kept messing up. The filming had gone so bad that WWE scrapped the scene because of how it turned out after several shots.
As Raw neared its end, I thanked Simmons and Bradshaw, the agents, Shane and a few others involved before I left.
On my way home, my adrenaline was still rushing so I called one of my friends who I knew would be up at midnight, Chris Bantlis, and we met to grab a bite.
Once home, it took a while to fall asleep, but I was still up by 7 a.m. After all, I had an 8 a.m. class the next morning.
There was some buzz on campus with friends and wrestling fans because of appearance on Raw, but for me, it was honestly another show.
My goal was to wrestle every week on Raw, not just one night.
There would be other appearances and I still go backstage to see friends now.
Injuries helped prevent me from reaching my goal of getting a WWE contract, but in hindsight, it happened for a reason. I wouldn’t be a school counselor in the Trinity Area School District nor would I get to write as much as I do.
I am truly blessed to get to work with kids and to express myself by writing.
No, my first appearance on Raw 20 years ago tonight did not lead to me being in WWE full-time, but I am alright with that and with where I am professionally!
To see the episode, go to www.wwwenetwork.com.
AEW Full Gear review
This past weekend, AEW held its Full Gear PPV in Baltimore and longtime reader Rob Zynosky shared his thoughts of the weekend.
“Overall, it was a really good show,” he said. “The tag matches were probably the best on the show and Starrcast on Saturday was great.
“The interview with Mark Madden, Sony Ohno and The Great Muta was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity to see live.”