Contract Negotiations Part II: RP #2 Jul 9, 2021 23:05:12 GMT -5 Marcus Welsh, petervaughn, and 2 more like this
Post by Thaddeus Duke on Jul 9, 2021 23:05:12 GMT -5
Woolworth Tower || Tribeca – New York City || 9:14 AM
Laying on the sofa with Brandon laying at my side, his head placed against my chest, I’d be hard pressed not to feel a little euphoric. In a world in which its hard to find true friendship, I found Brandon by accident. It’s only been about ten days but he’s been by my side almost nonstop. Normally after a day or two, I’d be finding reasons to send him on his way, but this is different.
I have enjoyed every second that he’s been around me. The life I lead can be a real drain on me sometimes and he just has this way of lifting me up. He can put me on cloud nine without even trying and I’m really starting to get used to that feeling. The only one even comparable to him is Adi Gold and I done fucked that all the way up.
“Who’Re will be here soon,” I say to him as I twirl his hair between my fingers.
“Whore?” he cries out with a chuckle as he lifts his head to look me in the face.
“I thought the same thing,” I tell him with a laugh. “It’s like ‘who are’… I guess.”
“You’re really gonna sign with OCW and face that Ed Houston guy?” he asks as he returns his head to my chest.
“I don’t know,” I answer back. “Ed Houston is a guy that pisses on his own head and thinks its raining. He thinks that because he sucks, then I should suck too and people like him all through the industry hate people like me because I’m bigger, better, louder, and doors open for me. People like him think they did it the hard way because their dad wasn’t some famous wrestler.
“The reality is, there is no easy way. Ed conveniently dismisses that.
“My dad being my dad got my foot in the door, I’ve never denied that. But the respect I’ve garnered, my standing within the company I call home, the titles that I’ve taken on my way up the ladder. All the main events, all the hype surrounding me, my face on pay per view posters…”
“It’s a good face,” Brandon interjects. "I like your face."
“All the wins, all the fan support. The fact my merch sells out in seconds. The fact I sellout stadiums… none of that is attributed to my father being my father. You gotta be good enough to stand on your own two feet. I am, he isn’t.
“He thinks I use the term ‘shoot’ to sound big and bad and that’s not the case. I use it, because it’s what we do. If this were predetermined wrestling, then it wouldn’t be a shoot. What he does and what I do is real. We don’t read scripts, we don’t have writers and we don’t predetermine winners.
“Thus, a shoot.
“He’s also dumb enough to think that I want him backing down. That I say the things I say because I think little of OCW… Actually, I do think little of OCW because despite its storied history, it’s small now. But it won’t be. Not if I’m there. OCW has a high floor but a low ceiling and if I’m gonna be part of OCW, then the ceiling needs to be raised. Thus, those looking to climb the mountain need to up their game and Ed Houston is one of them.
“I love challenges. I love trying new things and OCW is old… but new again. What I want is for Ed Houston to not be complacent. To not get used to the same ol’ same ol’ because I’m not that. I want him to raise his own expectations of himself rather than keeping his bar so obviously low. I’m different. I’m wired different. I want the best and if I’m gonna be a part of OCW, I want OCW trying to be the best.
“I can be an ass for sure, but the reality is that my name, my face and my reputation puts asses in seats and adds zeros to paychecks.
“He’s free to resist the changes, but resistance is futile. Should I sign with OCW, then the winds of change come with me.”
“We haven’t been together long Thad,” he begins as the doorbell rings. “But I learned enough to know that if you weren’t at least considering it, you wouldn’t have granted a second meeting. And I doubt you'd have cut a promo on Ed Houston just now."
Brandon lifts his head again and looks at me. “Tell me I’m wrong.”
“You gotta let me up,” I say as the doorbell rings again and I plant a kiss on his forehead.
“Not until you tell me I’m right,” he says while out of camera shot he grabs some thing that aren’t his and squeezes causing me to grunt.
“Are one of you gays gonna get the door?” Frankie asks, looking like he just rolled out of bed with his hair a mess. Feeling like he was caught, Brandon lets go of those things and hides his face in shame, trying hard to stifle his laughter.
“Frankie,” I side eye him as he makes his way through the living room.
“I know, I know… labels,” he says as heads toward the front door. “Yell at me later.”
Opening the front door, Who’Re stands ready to greet me but has to lower her sights significantly to look at the boy. “Young Mr. Duke,” she greets him.
“Sup?” he greets her rudely.
“Frankie!” I shout out as he makes his way back through the living room.
“Thad. The whore’s here,” he says with his insolence.
“Francis Robert!” I call after him.
“I told you,” he says as he starts to climb the steps. “Yell at me later, I’m goin’ back to bed.”
“C’mon in Who’Re,” I call out toward her as I lift my head over the edge of the sofa.
“Thad,” she says with a smile as she advances into the penthouse. She stops suddenly, noticing Brandon still laying on me. “Oh, I’m sorry,” she says, looking away uncomfortably.
“Have a seat,” I tell her as Brandon sits up off of me. “Don’t be sorry, I have no shame.”
“Ahem, well,” she says, clearing her throat as she takes a seat and tries hard to avoid eye contact.
“Maybe put a shirt on?” Brandon suggests. Jumping to my feet to grab a shirt, again she avoids eye contact.
“Who’Re this is Brandon,” I say to her as I make my way to the bathroom. “Would you like some coffee?” I ask of her as I pull the Billie Eilish t-shirt down over my stomach.
“No, thank you,” she replies.
“Good because Berta has the week off and I didn’t make any,” I reply facetiously, referring to my live in housekeeper, nanny and chef. “Where’s your assistant?” I ask of Who’Re. At the end of our last meeting she said she’d bring her assistant to write a contract as we go.
“Didn’t you get my message?” she asks, turning in the chair to look back at me. “He had an emergency and couldn’t make the trip.”
“Well that’s unfortunate,” I tell her, grabbing the leather folder with an embroidered gold ‘Lionheart Entertainment’ logo. “I took the liberty of having one written.” Opening the folder, she begins to peruse the details contained within as I return to my seat on the sofa.
“It prioritizes my XWF schedule,” I inform her as she continues reading. “OCW has a lighter schedule so I don’t foresee too many scheduling conflicts. In the event one arises, I’ve put it in writing that I can appear via satellite and depending on proximity, I may be able to swing both.”
“I think that’s agreeable,” she states as she continues skimming.
“Frankie accompanies me on most trips and that’s non-negotiable.”
“I wouldn’t even think to deny you that,” she replies.
“You’re expanding the roster,” I drop a bomb on her that she wasn’t expecting and she shifts uncomfortably in her chair. “No matter how you slice it, eight might be enough for a cheesy 80’s sitcom, but it isn’t enough for a fledgling promotion wanting to make a name for itself again.”
“I just don’t think that we’re financially…” she begins to protest but I cut her off.
“You will be,” I say and she at long last looks me in the eye. “By signing me, you’ll be putting significantly more eyeballs on OCW than there has been to this point. That viewership means better advertising revenue, merchandise sales, larger buy rates, higher gates simply by jacking up the price if they want to see me.”
“I know you’re a hot commodity,” she says finally. “How can you be sure that your popularity with your existing fans will carry over to OCW?”
Retrieving my cell phone from the end table beside me, I quickly load up my XWF pay stubs and show them to her. “You’ll notice the quarter hour bonuses,” I inform her. “They’re always Tier 1. What that means is that my segments, my matches, even my promos… they’re always among the highest rated in the company.”
She hands my phone back to me but sits quietly in thought. Pulling up XWF ratings analysis data, I again hand her my phone. “Now look at the data and I know you’ve seen this before. Viewership peaks when I’m on the XWF airwaves.”
“That’s great,” she says, attempting to hand my phone back to me again. “None of that explains why you’re appearance in OCW is going to equate to more cash on hand in which would in turn afford me the ability to expand the roster.”
“Swipe right,” I tell her. Demographic breakdowns broken down by quarter hours in which I’m present on programming. “From the little kids to the big kids, 20 somethings, 30 somethings into the mid 40’s. Men, women, children, black, white and everyone else. Straight, gay and everything in between. My name equals money and no one travels like Duke Nation travels.”
Who’Re tilts her head some as she continues perusing the data. “You really are hitting all the demo’s.”
“Which is why not only are you expanding OCW’s roster, and I’m okay with incremental increases,” I begin. “You’ll be moving out of the OCW arena.”
“Why would we do that?” she asks with a bit of a scoff, laying my phone on the coffee table.
“Because staying in some run down arena in Key West just exudes small time,” I answer. “Perception is reality. If you choose to stay in one place, no one will ever look at OCW as anything more than just some place in the south. Move out, start traveling, and in time the perception changes.
“If you’re gonna make some noise in the wrestling industry, you have to take risks.”
“Assume I say yes to this,” she begins as she resumes browsing through the contract. “What concessions have you made to me that justifies OCW caving to your every demand?”
“I’ve dropped my demand for hyphens,” I say with a smile and she looks at me unamused. “I’m willing to join OCW Who’Re, but on the condition that OCW wants to build something bigger, better and brighter than what it currently is. And I’m not saying that as a shot to OCW. You’re just rebuilding and I know starting smaller in this economic climate is more ideal than say for instance, trying to shoot for the fuckin’ stars right out of the gate.
“I’m telling you, you’ve come to the right man.”
Never lacking in confidence in myself or my abilities, she looks up from the contract with a warm, genuine smile.
“Who’Re, if I didn’t think it could be done I’d have canceled this meeting,” I inform her. “Contracts are what they are and I know they’re always selfish from both the talents and companies perspectives. These demands, once you scratch below the surface, you’ll realize that they benefit OCW more than they do me.”
“How so?” she asks the obvious.
“I don’t need OCW,” I answer confidently. “If my demands are too heavy for you, then walk away. But if you think that this contract and my involvement with OCW can help take your company to new heights…”
She closes the leather folder and leans back in her seat, throwing one leg over the other as she looks me up and down. “You didn’t even finish.”
“I don’t think I need to,” she answers.
“There’s still dollars and cents to talk about,” I remind her and she nods. “Unless you don’t think…”
“Thaddeus your confidence is infectious,” she cuts me off. “I came here hopeful but doubtful that I could get you to sign and in just about ten minutes you have me wanting to cave to every little thing.”
“That contract dictates that I’m your highest paid performer,” I inform her and she chuckles quietly. “By a dollar.”
To be continued.