Day Four - Creating Every Day!

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I set out on a mission a few days ago to create everyday.  I at first thought it should be a daily video but I realized that sometimes a video  just won’t manifest.  That’s the thing about creativity - it’s about doing the work.  It’s funny I write this on Labor Day.  Our American holiday of rest.  The first Monday of every September set aside for the last big bash of the summer.  And yet, I create.  Because if you want to be successful you need to put in the work.   Even on a set aside holiday.

The life of being a creative person (writer, performer, director, technician) means there are no bounds to where/how/when you get the opportunity to create.  Yesterday, WWE announced that they would be putting on a live show on Christmas Night and New Years night.  I’m not here to defend/endorse this decision nor am I here to vilify it either.  It’s a business decision.  A media machine like WWE is a giant beast, constantly needing to be being fed.  I worked every Monday holiday during my six years in WWE.  I worked New Years Day 2007 for WWE.  It’s the job.  The biggest money drawing days in professional wrestling during the 70s and 80s in some territories was Thanksgiving Night and Christmas Night.  Talents/creatives go where the work is, when the work happens.  

Our time is valuable; as is the audience’s time. So Labor Day is a time for rest.  Yet, I wanted to create.  My thought on the video I wanted to do didn’t get past the starting blocks but I knew I am on a mission.  If you haven’t checked out the vlogs - watch them here.  Sometimes, we can’t show off the creative work we’re doing because it’s not ready, it’s in process or it’s not very good.  The goal of my daily creative challenge is simply - start, execute, finish something everyday.  Not to worry about anything beyond the task at hand.  Why this challenge?  

 

Everyone has a different approach to their creative process.  Writer’s block, as it’s called, is really just our mind working hard. Resistance by the mind is this weird natural defense to stop outside stimulus from coming at us.  Every have a thought and wanted to share it with a group but afraid of what people will say?  That’s your mind creating and then stopping.  Seems Twitter has gotten rid of some of this filter for some; but also protects from actually seeing the feedback.  There are a few great books about getting rid of these types of blocks.  The War of Art (http://amzn.to/2w2Uhxo) and Creativity, Inc (http://amzn.to/2xMumfJ).  Both are written by powerhouses of creative that show that if you approach your creative journey differently, you’ll find the way.  

 

I have always worked well in a rhythm.  In writing for professional wrestling for 15 years, there is a crazy rhythm to writing for the sport. As described above, it’s a beast that constantly wants to be fed.  You don’t get 10 weeks to perfect one show or promo. Sometimes you get 10 minutes.  The key is being ready.  Creating everyday sharpens your skills; making key, critical decisions at moments of creative inspiration to complete the task.  It’s not about excuses, writer’s block or anything other than simply doing the work.  No matter the day.  And if you don’t feel like it - that’s fine.  Just keep on creating when you want but realize the more prepared you are, the better you’ll be.  

 

If you want to talk creative, feel free to comment below or reach out via various social networks.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHEN THE MIRACLE MEETS EC3… THEIR SACRIFICE FOR THE GOOD OF WRESTLING.

This morning I just started tweeting. One tweet turned into seven all about tonight’s show Sacrifice on Pop TV. The subject was the continuing conflict of “The Miracle” Mike Bennett vs. Ethan Carter The Third. The seven tweets didn’t feel enough.

Words. There are a lot of them that come into play in putting together any creative endeavor. Communication is built upon language and the words strung together in creating emotions. The story that brings Mike Bennett and EC3 together is one that shines the light on good communication.

A few years ago, a talent reached out wanting a chance. That talent was EC3. He came to our team in the hopes of proving what he believed about himself. Since that first day he walked out on Impact over thirty months ago, he has evolved. The rich, entitled character who gained entry via nepotism, has had his universe change around him. He’s been forced to adapt to the changing landscape. If you’ve followed along his journey, it’s been meteoric success in his opponents, stories and. arc. In that time, the performer has taken the skin of the character and made it his own. He’s proven that the word to be sum up his ability — versatile.

In the last year, two other talents joined our family. Mike Bennett and Maria Kanellis-Bennett. In different universes, our paths have crossed before. One a prodigy in hopes of teaching an audience he was better than he thought, the other a one dimensional archetype of a man’s vision of women. They both came to this company looking for a new challenge. They wanted to show those who put them in a box that they could expand past their confined existence. Even though the word attached to the new character, their success was no “miracle.” It was based upon hard work, talent and drive. Much like EC3

On January 12th, The Miracle meet EC3 for the first time. Watch here. In reality, the first confrontation was scheduled for the January 5th edition of Impact but timing and circumstance changed that. These two powers are seemingly drawn together for similar reasons. It’s these reasons that make them excellent dancing partners. In their first confrontation, their characters didn’t play traditional roles, instead simply a conversation that hinged on character traits. And in that confrontation, the dye was cast for the future.

In working with both, our team has seen such great ability, adaptability, and longevity. Josh Mathews uttered that these characters might be destined to this forever. Great chemistry fueled by common goals and desire to out do the others. In front of the camera and behind the scenes, this has been the rocket fuel to grow the business. In a social media world destined to eat itself, swimming in negativity, these two characters are growing and battling it out over their work. Who can out do the other in promos, wrestling matches and growth of character. From 9pm to 11pm every Tuesday, they are putting their work on display for an audience looking for something deeper from their wrestling program.

Tonight, they have a match that it built upon the concepts discussed in here. The “Sacrifice” theme built upon EC3 never having been pinned or submitted in the thirty months and in “The Miracle” Mike Bennett being undefeated since walking in the door of TNA Impact Wrestling. Great conflict tied to backstory, character conflict and physical action. The payoff on tonight’s show can/will take their story in a new direction. And isn’t that what we want from all forms of entertainment. A built up expectation that leads to a decisive conclusion that takes the story in a whole new direction. That is the goal in Mike Bennett vs. EC3 tonight and the audience won’t be disappointed.

David Lagana

The Journey of Gail Kim

Originally Posted to Medium on June 17, 2016

Six AM comes very early. Over my fifteen years traveling for wrestling, I’ve spent many an early morning at the airport. Security lines are interesting places, especially at that time of day and even worse on holidays. On the day before Thanksgiving 2007, I was traveling from Tampa, Florida where we had just finished Smackdown to Little Rock where I was spending the holiday with a friend. And at that very early morning hour, I saw someone who I hadn’t seen in over three years — Gail Kim.

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I’ve worked with hundreds of talents across four different companies during the last two decades. Each have such amazing stories of what got them there, what obstacles they had to over come, and their triumphs to find peace, success and happiness in their personal and professional lives. Time always tells the best story, not a single interaction or moment. Memories, like the catching up with Gail in 2007 at the Tampa Airport, all came flooding back this past week when it was announced that Gail was being inducted in the TNA Hall of Fame.

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There was a lot of emotion this week in Orlando. Obviously the incidents involving the shooter at the Pulse Nightclub and the senseless loss of life weighs heavy on our minds. We need to, as a culture, be more accepting of others. Not let hate in our heart or the thoughts in our mind hurt others anymore. Differences need to be celebrated, not cut down. Our entire company stood together with the city of Orlando less than twenty hours after the shooting to show our support. To see an audience of people gather so quickly in the city of this tragedy was very powerful. They were not afraid instead want a night of entertainment to try to take the horror of that day off their mind. The silence in the audience for the tribute before Slammiversary was powerful; full of. so much raw emotion from the audience and performers. We all must work every day to continue pushing love into the world instead of hate. Take a moment and read Josh Mathews blog about this here — http://bit.ly/JMBlog3

We continued to work this week and two nights later, the roster assembled again on the stage for the announcement of the 2016 TNA Hall of Fame Inductee. It was a pure surprise for Gail. You could see the emotion in her eyes the moment it happened. She felt the love from everyone on that stage and the wrestling business after having worked so hard over the last fifteen years; through ups and downs to build a body of work that everyone respected. I did get emotional in that moment because I was so happy for her. I’m not only being a fan of hers but am lucky to have been there through some of her. best times and some of her worst.

I first met Gail in 2002 when she came in for a WWE tryout in Toronto. She was one of three women (Traci Brooks, Gail Kim and Beth Phoenix) being looked at that day. On that day, Gail got signed but the other two did work hard to make it in in the business. Ironically enough, Gail made her WWE debut across the border in Buffalo less than a year later and in her first match won the WWE Women’s Championship. On that day, I remember being assigned to Gail Kim’s promo after she won the match. Gail will admit, promos were not her strong point and in going back and looking — that promo didn’t make the show. From what I remember, we recorded it to be “during the break” and the decision was made not to air it. Gail’s first run in WWE had it’s moments but there was always this feeling that her promos held her back.

In the late fall of 2004, Paul Heyman and I were assigned to work with a few talents in the pre-tape room to see what skills could be built upon; Gail was one of them. On that day, in Peoria, we felt like Gail was making some real progress. She had confidence and showed improvement. Was she the Rock that day, no. We planned to take the tape to show those who requested it to show the progress. That tape was never seen as she was cut that week as the Diva division was “going in a different direction.”

Working with a talent to find their confidence is a very delicate process. We all have these feelings about ourselves; how we perceive our talent and how the world sees us. There are times that require tough love, times that require hand-holding, and time to let the talent fly on their own. Gail has always wanted to be the best and prove that she can do anything. Her leaving WWE in 2004 could have been the end. But instead, she took time to evaluate her future and ended up going to TNA Wrestling.

Gail’s career hit its stride in the mid-2000s during her time competing In the Knockout Division. And in 2007 when I saw her at the Tampa Airport, she was really hitting high gear. She had just won the Knockouts Title at Bound for Glory and was on the doorstep of her program with Awesome Kong. Six AM conversations at airports are usually about what you did the night before but I saw how happy she was with her career. This was also a few months before my end at WWE and I wish I had felt the same. My happiness level was no secret to those who knew me in 2007. And like I had said earlier, time tells the best stories. This early morning at the airport was simply a time stamp at where we both were at our lives.

Fast forward to 2011 and life rapidly changed for the both of us. Gail had returned to WWE years earlier but they never capitalized on the magic she had in TNA even having Awesome Kong on the same roster in WWE. Her frustration boiled over, eliminating herself from a battle royal and leaving WWE. Her return to TNA Wrestling came almost simultaneously as I went to work for the company in 2011. Gail talks about the best thing that happened to her during her second tour of WWE was meeting her husband celebrity chef Robert Irvine.

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Getting to work with Gail from 2012–2016 in TNA has been so rewarding for me. Gail’s in-ring work continued to be. top-notch. She was the leader of the Knockouts Locker room and set the standard for the quality of wrestling. Gail is very passionate in her approach to the business and wanted to capture people’s attention. Her program with Taryn Terrell did just that. Taryn, like Gail, came to TNA to prove that the woman you saw in WWE was not who she really was. It was in these series of matches that they both proved who they really were. Gail fought to not only get the Last Knockout Standing match but the ladder match in Vegas. The program is one of my favorites because it caught people off guard and changed perception on these two talents.

 

During this past year, Gail Kim has done some of the best promo work of her career. In working with her, it was about finding what inside the story she was passionate about. What she could communicate with heart behind it. The conflict with Maria Kanellis hit dead center on Gail’s love for not only wrestling but TNA. This is the place that made Gail Kim the performer she is; let her be her. You felt that in her speech when she was announced as the TNA Hall of Famer inductee. The raw emotion of Tuesday given by the fans and her peers showed she earned this honor and more importantly the respect that goes along with it. I am proud to see Gail grow over the years not only professionally but personally. And I’m glad to call Gail a friend!

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David Lagana