Making shows is one of the most important rules in independent wrestling today. Not doing so is an inconvenience to all involved parties. Former WWE stars are not an exception.
Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake was supposed to appear at a few shows for CWE Canada, when he no-showed events at the last second. Scrambling to find out what to do, the promotion made a call to Jimmy Jacobs, a man not scheduled to perform. He was more than happy to take the spot, even thanking Brutus for the change.
And a special thanks to Brutus Beefcake for getting paid up front then skipping out on the last few days of the tour, thereby allowing me to fill in as a last minute replacement and have a blast these past three days returning to @CWECanada https://t.co/LQojTcOz1E— The Zombie Princess (@JimmyJacobsX) November 22, 2018
Word got around to Brutus, who rejected all claims. He sent out an initial response to fans talking about him stealing money. In the tweet, Brutus talked about the complex life of indie wrestling being the reason for him not getting paid for his scheduled dates.
I didn't steal anything! I apologize to the people who I didn't get to meet I had a family emergency! Anyone who needs a refund should contact the promoter! In this line of business if you don't work you don't get paid - I didn't make the last shows and I was NOT PAID!— Brutus Beefcake (@brutusbeefcake_) November 25, 2018
The promoter of the show, Danny Warren, went to Facebook to respond to Brutus' tweets. The post, which you can see below, goes into detail on Brutus' behavior heading into the scheduled appearances. After initial requests were granted, he believed everything would work itself out. Warren was proven wrong, stating that Brutus shouted racial remarks, did not give prospects promising advice and held money for the the crew hostage. Brutus appeared disinterested in everyone else but himself, according to the promoter.
In response, Brutus tweeted out a short message stating that His facts and my facts are different and I will be issuing a statement!
His facts and my facts are different and I will be issuing a statement!— Brutus Beefcake (@brutusbeefcake_) November 30, 2018 " target="_new">his side of the story will be told soon.
Below is the full statement from Warren:
11/30- Booker Beware: Brutus "The F'n Barber" Beefcake.
Without further ado... the "official" statement regarding the CWE/Brutus Beefcake fiasco that very quickly became far spread wrestling news. My sincerest apologies for the delay in not getting this done sooner as my inbox has been flooded with inquiries from wrestlers, promoters, fans, wrestling media, and media in general wanting the scoop.
After being on the road nearly 40 days I am finally able to sit down, although it is nearly 6am as I struggle to stay awake but I shall make no one wait any longer. I appreciate the patience and understanding in a world that wants news "now".
I want to preface this with that even though this situation left me out money and causing a damage control nightmare over the last 5 days of our tour and even though I have concrete fact, materials, bank statements, texts etc to dispute any claim otherwise that I am about to write it has still be an internal struggle on if this was the right thing to do.
In a day and age our business is blown wide open to the general public I am firm believer a lot of it shouldn't be and over 10 years of promoting and 16 years as a very active traveling wrestler there have been many situations you just bite your tongue on for the greater good and this lovely thing that still has a pulse believe it or not called "kayfabe".
However, as this story broke and took on a life of its own it really brought a lot of people out of the woodwork both involved our tour in some capacity and countless others sharing horrible experiences in previous dealings that made it quite clear this wasn't one of those "you caught him on a bad day" situations and behavior that is often repeated.
Eating the financial loss is something I'd prefer not to do and hope that the money is returned but as someone who passionately and aggressively promotes wrestling and promotes our brand across this country a bigger loss is that of the credibility a promotion takes when they literally have their hands tied and for that it needs to be addressed.
"Indy promoter" can have a bad stigma to it and as a wrestler who has dealt with my share I understand where some of that stink comes from but there are some good guys out there. Unfortunately their name and their brand has a fraction of the star power of a "name" talent and in a day and age of social media, often a fraction of the network and reach. As a result when a "name" talent is involved in bad dealings it is beyond easy for them to spin a story to their liking and having it reach a lot more people and with what appears to be a lot more credibility based on their celebrity and that local indy is left in shambles as it has burnt paying fans, media, and sponsors in their market who are not only hard enough to get out the first time but also maintain. All while the "name" moves onto the next promotion in hopes he will draw for them usually virtually unscathed. I for one would love to see that stop and for their to be accountability and with social media today I think that is possible. At least appears possible as it brought forward many other stories like this.
The Quick And Dirty
Now that I have bored you with my intent. Here are the cold, hard facts of what made his rounds, and the situation at hand.
Brutus Beefcake was booked to appear on 32 events over 32 night as the headliner of The Struttin' & Cuttin' Tour.
Brutus Beefcake appeared on 27 of the 32 events and was paid for 28. The 28th payment coming after an event for the next night in which he has acknowledged since he knew the morning before he wasn't going to make but took the payment anyway.
When putting together the deal with Missy Beefcake (his wife, which is a whole other element to this story and the month nightmare I endured) it was expressed there would not be a deposit sent.but Brutus would be paid nightly.
Some talent require a deposit. Sadly the word "deposit" makes me cringe as 4 out of 5 times it has resulted in me giving away free money to never see it again so I avoid it all costs. Which is truly unfortunate as many legitimate professionals ask for one and rightly so as some bad apple promoters paint us all with the same brush but sadly some wrestlers do the same on that side so many of us just avoid it altogether.
Furthermore, CWE has been in operations for 10 years and not only routinely uses former WWE/WCW/ECW stars etc but current and former IMPACT and Ring Of Honor stars but have probably used nearly or over 100 of them at this point with not only a great track record and reputation, but with a lot of those talents returning on multiple occasions, and ones we've used for the first time usually being recommended or put in contact with us by previous talent that has come in. Any era that talent may be from can easily be pointed to a dozens of guys he has worked with that will give us the "ok".
Fast forward to a few days prior to tour and Missy contacts me with the request to send $5000US (add 33% for the Canadian conversion on top of that) prior to Brutus getting on his plane. I explain that sending nearly two weeks worth of wages prior to him even arriving is completely out of the question and not only not happening but financially not possible.
It is explained to me that Brutus never leaves home with a deposit. I explain that his flight has been purchased as has advertising in 32 markets promoting his appearance. I resend a screenshot of our original agreement of their being a deposit and questioning why is this an issue all of a sudden? No answer given.
My hands are tied as I don't want to and can't lose the guy the tour is promoted around, sponsorship sold on, and media lined up on so we agree he will receive payment for 4 shows upon his arrival so he is always ahead on payments and never owed money. The second that was agreed upon that lovely feeling in my gut said "you're going to get screwed" And here we are.
It was agreed he would be paid 4 shows upon his arrival and by that I mean, not Brutus physically getting paid but me having to go above and beyond to send Missy large sums of money regardless of how challenging it was to do so in some of the smaller markets we were in. After that I would send Brutus' weekly payments to Missy with him still being ahead on payments.
Fast forward to him.. or her getting sent the fourth bank payment. It is wired and they are now requesting instead of sending the last one that I pay him cash every night. Sure, no problem.
Now the final show he did for us was in Winnipeg on Friday, November 16th. He has claimed he knew that morning he knew he as leaving and that Missy was trying to get a hold of me (I'll get to that in a second). I paid him per our arrangement for the following night and not a word was whispered of leaving.
Money being owed or not owed aside him getting up and fleeing the country without telling anyone is equally if not as horribly offensive and disrespectful as taking the money as he now not only screwed the crew he had been on the road with who were taking care of him day to day for the last month, the company as a whole, but a sold out show in Thunder Bay that expected to see him and multiple towns after that.
With him leaving and not informing me I didn't find out until a few hours until bell time when I sent direction to a crew member that involved Brutus and he responded with "Brutus didn't tell you he was leaving?!" Nope. He sure didn't. Checked my voicemail. Checked my texts nothing.
A text was sent to Brutus once I got off the call asking "are the boys ribbing me or did you leave the tour?". No response all day Saturday and not until a few hours before the show Sunday in which he cited family emergency and that I didn't answer Missy's messages. False.
The last communication I had with Missy was her telling me it was an emergency and she needed to get a hold of Brutus on Friday morning after I dropped him off from an appearance. This wasn't uncommon as she would blow up my phone like a mad woman if Brutus didn't respond to her promptly and wanted to get a hold of him. That was the last communication she attempted and I gave her his hotel name and number.
If in fact there was a family emergency, that was Friday morning. I saw Brutus all evening at the event and he didn't say a word about leaving the next morning. I saw him at the after party and he didn't say a word about leaving the next morning. I gave him an envelope of money for the next night and he didn't say anything about leaving the next morning. To me or ANYONE on the crew.
He left the next morning. Not only with the next night's pay but over 100 fresh off the press 8x10s photos the company printed and provided for his meet and greet sessions per our arrangement.
To be very clear, if there was a family emergency by all means, family first. However given the fact that both Brutus and Missy had zero problem or consideration for blowing up my phone multiple times a day if they felt the need to or to be heard there was zero effort to say he had to leave the tour in a way the company could have salvaged the situation any better than we could.
All we knew Saturday was he wasn't going to be there a few hours before bell time and still worked aggressively to find a replacement. An official word on what was going on couldn't be put out until late Sunday as we still didn't know what the heck went wrong and where he was although we let the live audience know and removed him from appearing online, and finally after hearing from him, we had nearly secured Jacobs and made the announcement as one as we were finally off the brutal North Western Ontario highways with no internet and capable of hammering out notice.
There is your Struttin' & Cuttin' story!
I have gone on record in saying this was the worst experience of my career with no close second and sadly that is the truth. I have been very blessed to work with some incredible talent and no, it isn't always easy. When you are the road for weeks and in this case a month at a time you are going to clash sometimes. Whether it is personally or professionally. That's life. Then factor in the Canadian travel grind.
Even through this nightmare of a month I still tried very hard to give Brutus the benefit of the doubt. There were days he was one of the boys and other days just a miserable human being and downright uncomfortable to be around.
I'm very realistic that for a man of his age and for his body to be in the shape it is in, being on the road is going to be tough and you might have some bad days. But every day seemed to be a bad day for Brutus at some point or another and no matter how the crew or myself tried to accommodate him there was just no making him happy. But it is because he is a grizzled veteran on the road right?
The last four tours alone have been headlined by Ron Simmons, Jake Roberts, Nikita Koloff, and Paul Orndorff. All absolute gentleman, professionals, and not only a pleasure to be around day to day but became a part of the team and contributed day to day with the talent and are guys I would and have recommend many times over to people. You and you alone control what you project and the Canadian kindness was a fever Brutus wasn't catching up here.
The deal came together very easy but that's where that ended. Once I was locked in, it began.
Professional wrestlers do not need a work VISA to enter Canada to wrestle. Missy, who appointed herself my main and only contact for everything contacted me about a month prior to the tour saying she needed a letter drafted for Brutus to cross into Canada. This isn't uncommon as I do it for a lot of skeptical American talent that lays out the Canadian policy, their purpose of the visit, the timeline etc and my contact information.
This letter is drafted and sent to her. The EXACT same we have used for 10 years as designed by an Immigration Lawyer for this purpose. Also, keep in mind that American wrestlers are appearing in CWE almost weekly with our weekly rural shots as well. Well, not good enough for Missy.
Missy wants me to draft up a letter and lie to Canada Customs and sign my name to it by not mentioning anything about wrestling or Brutus appearing at entertainment events and that he is strictly here for a book tour. I explain we do not need to lie and this letter will gain him entry as it has for many others. She is certain it is going to cause him an issue at the border and I am certain it is not and that all it will take is them searching his name online to see him appearing on wrestling events. Furthermore, lying will have him denied but possibly have us both charged for lying to Canadian customs. This is debated and somewhere along the way she must have let it go as it was the last I heard of it and he got into the country.
It was requested Brutus had a big vehicle to travel in because is a "big guy". No problem. Prior to tour a few talents canceled/didn't make the tour so we had to pivot on the fly and work with one less vehicle on the tour. Per her request we put Brutus in the biggest vehicle. A RAM 2500. PLENTY of room for Brutus as you could realistically and we have put a third full sized adult in their in the front when needed. The truck however being the biggest vehicle would have the ring trailer attached to it and Missy was outraged. We were treating her husband like a "jabroni" by having that trailer attached to it on principal of it being the ring truck. Although there were only 3 vehicles on tour, all tightly packed mind you with the loss of one, driving to the same venues and same hotels, roughly around the same time most days, and even though he not only had lots of personal space, more space than anyone else, but most importantly more space there than he would in any other vehicle it just wasn't suffice.
Never in my life has it been so difficult to pay someone. As mentioned above I have always paid the talent cash nightly. Some have requested to get it in weekly installments to have to carry less cash on them but either way, they are paid what they are supposed to get paid. However, right from the start I needed to send four shows up front because of the situation above and because Missy "needed money too" while Brutus was gone and that was a responsibility now put on me.
Although a pain in the ass to my day which is always a beyond busy day when you are touring city to city with an event every day I tried to empathize that she needed money too while he was away and would try make it easier for them if I could as at this point minus the hold up they seemed like decent folk.
Right out the gate I run into my first collision with what is to come. Missy requests I send the money via Paypal. No problem. Except it is. With the funds coming from my Canadian bank account there is a 3-5 business day delay in a transfer to an American account. Either way, when it is sent, it is sent and hers. That's not good enough however as she needs it THAT day and on the day we agreed to do the payments as is accessible to her.
Alright.. so we try Western Union. It is going to be a pretty penny to send a large sum but I guess I'll just eat that too... except they have a limit on what you can send to another country and this exceeded it so this won't work either. Keep in mind you I have a show to get to and produce and have his cash in hand and just want to go "here, take it!".
We go to my bank and they can wire it for $25US. It is agreed this is what will do for this payment and the rest with the expectation I absorb this extra $100 in wire fees that they are requiring me to send instead of giving him cash. Whatever, i have a show to get to. But first we need a bunch of vital information to do so which means another hour in the bank as she calls her bank to get it, my bank processes and signs off on it. No big deal. Just a show to run. It is finally sent and I send her a text as I am rushing out the bank that it is sent. Within seconds she is blowing up my phone with calls and texts that the money wasn't sent and that she was being deceived, only for a few minutes later for her to send another message saying it popped up in her account. A took a few minutes to process online. Imagine that.
Then for the next 3 weeks I was to make a payment on a Tuesday. But the fun would start on the Friday from Missy. "What day are you sending the money?", Saturday "are you still sending Brutus money on Tuesday, Sunday, "a reminder to send money Tuesday" and with those texts multiplied with "hello?" "are you there?" "?" if i wasn't able to respond or happened to be getting the 3 hours of sleep I'd get that day. And it wasn't just texts. It would be repeated phone calls to ask the same question regarding something still 4 days away that had no barring on that day.
Then come the day to make payment the phone calls would stars at 7am and continue every half hour or hour to see what time I would be sending payment. Keep in mind some regions had us 2 hours behind her time zone and most nights not only up late but traveling overnight to the next town so the last thing I need or want is my phone blowing up at a terribly early hour preventing me from sleeping. The messages would become aggressive.
My favorite being "when are you sending me MY money?". I didn't realize I had hired Missy Beefcake and that she was on tour working for us but I learned that day.
It is common practice that we do some kind of percentage split with the headlining talent on gimmicks. As a result we have always had a third party staff member handle the cash flow and accounting of what is sold so there is no bias or disagreement in what was sold/earned each night. Not once to my recollection has that system ever been an issue. A third party keeps track of the accounting that both the company and headliner have access to which ensures both parties everything is on the level.
That was fine for a few nights for Brutus and then it wasn't. We had our referee handling it on this night and he came to the back after the show started and asked who gets the money. I explain to him that he holds on to it as he will be with him at intermission as well and then he will count it out with us after the event. Minutes later a screaming Brutus comes into the small locker room making a scene that "if he can't be trusted with the money he may as well get on a plane and go home". Completely caught off guard while I am putting my boots on he leaves the room before I can put together what happened. As he left the locker room he then went to the ring and yelled at the referee to give him the "f'n money".
Getting to the bottom of it later, it turns out according to Brutus he wanted the money as a float in case he needed change which he never once indicated in his tirade earlier. He went on about not being trusted which I found ironic as he held me up for money up front on the same principal. Moving forward the next few nights he refused to let the referee handle the money. The referee was shaken from trying to do so only to have Brutus bite his head off so I told him to just do his best to keep track of sales for me and I would handle it from there. The next two nights his numbers totaled higher than the cut Brutus gave me.
Either his math was off or I was being taken for a ride. Either way I through my hands up telling myself if it is really going to make him feel that much better and smarter about himself to skim off the top each night, go for it. One less headache from him at this point and although I try very hard to make money, I am not driven by it and I wasn't going to let what was otherwise a great tour be ruined for me mentally.
Even through what had become daily frustrations and don't get me wrong I am sure he has plenty too I tried to help him and make his life easier. These tours aren't glamorous. We get on the road and grind. There is a reason no one else is running 32 show across Canada tours. You got to rough it a bit and there is a grind. As much as we are producing big tours we are still a very small company and I'm one man running the company and I completely understand as a result my communication can be challenging at best on days as I try to account for everyone and everything that needs to get done but it is never from neglect. From being overwhelmed yes, neglect no.
When traveling across Canada, especially rural Canada, hotel options can be at a minimum. Some towns only have a few, some even just one hotel. A lot of Canadian towns are operated by a specific industry working in them and hotel rooms can be a rare find, and other times just flat out stupid expensive as they have you by the balls due to your lack of options.
As a result some night we have a nice luxury hotel to stay in and others we are at the local motel. All of which have a clean bed and a shower which is really all we need for the few hours were actually in the town. We are definitely not setting up shop where added bells and whistles do you any good anyway.
The crew would typically stay in the same hotel unless limited rooms forced us to split up but everyone stayed at the same hotels and these are usually the same ones we stay in every tour. Brutus however wanted a brand name or nothing, regardless of how nice the local or smaller hotel chain would be. He even offered to pay the difference if it meant staying where he wanted to. Outside of his vehicle having to do an extra trip it was fine by me if he was wanting to pay the difference. Except he really wasn't going to and on nights he opted for his pick of a hotel he returned with receipts for rooms over $150 a night, almost if not double then where the rest of us would stay which like I mentioned were completely fine establishments. Brutus wanted the rooms to be paid in full and not at the difference like he offered and with him already holding our gimmick money hostage every night I knew it was coming out of my end one way or another so It was taken care of with a big smile on my face.
As I write this, I want to make it very clear, I am personally very capable and very confident in standing up for myself and had to on many situations and it was on my mind on a near daily basis to leave him on the highway in the middle of Saskatchewan but desperately wanted to make it through this tour as it is what we advertised and I preferred to bite the bullet opposed to the fans in each market that paid and expected to see him. I put this out there now for promoters to be fully aware of the reality these old carnies can put you in knowing you are in my position so you can make that decision if that is something you want to risk.
To his credit, Brutus was drawing good business for us. He even sold out of his book very quickly and I offered on multiple occasions and set up on multiple occasions addresses for him to have more shipped to so he could maximize his revenue. He opted not to.
Prior to tour I asked if he was bringing merchandise and he said just his book, As a result I bought bulk Brutus tour shirts as it had been asked if there would be any. The mark up was minimal and less than if i simply sold my own shirts but I thought it would complete the experience for those meeting Brutus.
This was all fine and well with Brutus until the day he ran out of books. Then all of a sudden Missy is in contact with me citing she got a cease and desist from WWE about Brutus shirts being sold in Canada. I explained that was quite odd as you would think they would be more concerned with him being advertised on 32 tour dates before a T-shirt but I hadn't heard anything from them.
Furthermore, that might make sense if WWE owned Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake but unknown to her Brutus actually told us WWE doesn't own his name and in fact he does now. Knowing she was blatantly lying to me I ask her to send me a copy of the letter she had received and I will contact my contact at WWE and look into it. She asked who that was, followed up by, her not sending it and said just to get it sorted it out after my declining of handing over the shirt profits to Brutus to get everyone out of hot water with WWE over this possible lawsuit.
When you think of professional wrestlers you can't help but think of the anticipation of their entrance! Not with Brutus pal. Each night Brutus served as a special outside the ring referee and would be introduced after the match was in the ring. However his introduction involved him getting up from his merch table and walking to the ring and walking back to the table once the match was over. I asked him one night if he could please come through the curtain to add the visual effect of the attraction to which he told me "it doesn't matter". I guess it doesn't and we should all just enter from wherever we are moving forward.
It is near impossible to get major media to cover pro wrestling but we have somehow managed to get an entire country to do so on a regular basis and it helps big time in building our brand. A lot of media outlets were excited to interview Brutus and less excited to tell me afterwards on a reoccurring basis that it was a dud and that he didn't seem interested in being there. They weren't wrong.
Go watch our CTV Regina piece. The interview asks Brutus if he had any advice for young wrestlers in the business and he proceeds to tell them to get out of the business, don't get involved, and the business is dead. Mind you were are on television promoting a wrestling tour across the country that is happening right now! I had to jump in and put over that it is alive and well and we are bringing it to the forefront. From there forward you will visibly notice me cutting him off during interviews and taking the questions to try and protect my brand and the business for that matter.
After 26 days on tour I am finally going to get two very short nights in my own bed while we stop in Winnipeg. I drop The Kingdom off at the hotel, park in my drive way, have my bags in my hand, and start walking towards the door to see my pregnant girlfriend for the first time in nearly a month and my five pets. I am stoked. But before I can get inside, the phone rings. It's Brutus.
Not just Brutus but a screaming Brutus who I had just seen 5 minutes prior at the hotel who seemed just fine.
He is yelling so loud and out of control I think he may have pocket dialed me while yelling at someone. Nope, it was me. Lucky me. Turns out when he checked into his room there was someone in it. That's what I gathered anyway. I thought maybe the clerk gave another wrestler a room key thinking they were in there too.
Nope, just a honest mistake where they by accident they gave him a key to a room another guest was staying in. Instead of simply going to the desk and explaining someone else is in the room and he needs another he is screaming at me and this poor girl who barely speaks English who you can tell was visibly shaken up and nervous by this large screaming man as if we ribbed him and intentionally put a stranger in his room to upset him. It was truly unreal.
Between that and his horribly inappropriate racial remarks about a hotel clerk earlier in the trip and one in the presence of a wrestler on our crew that night that resulted in "I will NOT be traveling with Brutus Beefcake again", to openly drinking a case of beer in an elementary school, I had no strut left in me.
Even though I was terribly disappointed on a business end we would be disappointing our fans I was truthfully relieved on a personal level that this nightmare had come to an end. Deep down, they may not ever realize it but the fans that missed him, didn't miss much. There were definitely some good but definitely more bad reports that surfaced from fans about his interactions with him at our shows and for that I apologize. We want nothing more than to provide you the best we can and will continue to strive to.
I feel a million times better getting that out there. Thanks for letting me do so.
Clayton Sansregret contributed to this article.