Remember back in 2011, when Christian won the World Heavyweight Championship only to drop if less than a week later? That was the final straw for some wrestling fans. So much so that Hollywood producer Jeff Katz took to social media and started a grassroots revolution. Or at least it should have been. Or almost was.
After backing was completed in 2011 and filming wrapped last year, the novel indie promotion went quiet. Nothing was heard of for a long, long time. Until yesterday, when Jeff came back from the virtual dead and posted this letter on Kickstarter:
First of all, I’d like to apologize to you all for the radio silence on my end. While I’ve addressed my personal situation a few times in interviews, I am very aware that I should have done a better job keeping you guys updated. There is no good answer for that beyond the fact I was highly embarrassed to admit I was badly struggling personally and it wasn’t something I was comfortable dealing with in public. That’s not a good excuse – nor, frankly, is there any good excuse – but that is the truth. I appreciate the notes of support that I’ve gotten from folks over time and, in general, can only apologize and hope you at least somewhat understand the desire to not play out my personal economics on a public stage. Still, I owed you guys better communication than that and I am very sorry that I didn’t handle it better.
Second, I’m happy to say that with the help of more friends than I can mention (but, very specifically, Nic, Blake, Ben, Mark, Chris, Zain, Lou and Nigel), the epic odyssey of WRP has finally wrapped up. Starting today and over the next few weeks – with help from some of our friends and supporters in the online wrestling community – we’ll be releasing preview matches that should give you a taste of what we did over those few crazy days in Los Angeles. Whatever your opinion of me – and, lord knows, I’ve earned it – I think you’ll appreciate the great work our talented roster and crew put in for your wrestling entertainment. I really can’t say enough about this group of men and women and – to the guys in the locker room especially – I give you all my love, respect, awe and deepest apology for the delay.
Additionally, with each preview match, we’ll be updating you with the latest on our official release plans from Image (who we can’t thank enough for their continued support) and – most importantly – the financial renumeration of our backers, the wrestling fans. I feel like this is the right thing to do and – in light of some recent positive personal developments – I should finally be in a position to do so over the course of this coming fall. We will still be honoring any of your earned Kickstarter prizes, but I feel like returning your money is the only way to truly make things right going forward.
I don’t intend on hanging around and bugging you guys after this is all over – I think it’s fair to say that I’ve already overstayed my welcome as it is – so I’d prefer to walk off into the sunset knowing we’re as right with each other as humanly possible. I set out to do this project with very genuine and true intentions and I would like to exit in the same way. I recognize that I owe you guys, the boys who worked for me and the business that much. It’s the right way to say goodbye.
So, please click the link and enter the password: “whattooksolongkatz” and enjoy the Champion’s Grail battle royal and the continuing saga of Joey Ryan as “Chase Walker.”
Please note, due to Vimeo’s 500MB upload limitations this match is uploaded in SD and not HD. Also, there is both language and content here that is decidedly not safe for work.
Thanks again for your patience and continued support.
Such a down ending to a journey that hasn’t even started. While I sympathize a little with Katz, he did piss off plenty of fans, namely the financial backers, who were promised a project and so far haven’t seen anything other than a trailer and some YouTube videos no one really watched.
What’s more depressing is that Katz was an outspoken fan and prior to this, he showed it; He produced the Clive Owen action-fest Shoot ‘Em Up that gave Christian a cool cameo, and billed Freddy vs. Jason like it was a pay-per-view . It was cool to see “one of our own” finally throw down a gauntlet, so to speak; before Punk made his now-famous pipe bomb speech, the wrestling fan community had become largely lethargic, criticizing every major promotion at every turn. He was a fan’s fan, getting industry favorites like MVP, Tommy Dreamer, and Kenny Omega involved in the project. Who couldn’t get excited?
That fire didn’t burn long enough though, and by the end of 2012 no one heard anything. I do remember a string of strange tweets Katz sent out in the summer, where he opened up about his personal life and his new obsession with working out (yes, really). But after that, still more silence. Until today.
At least now there are some answers. I didn’t pledge anything so I’m not feeling any actual sting, but considering I almost did and was really looking forward to this taking off and becoming something truly original. Before Arrested Development made totally online television on streaming services mainstream, Wrestling Retribution Project was set to do it first. Pro wrestling is notorious for making milestones or missing big boats that the general public just outright forget, and this was, unfortunately, no different.
Still, I’ll give Jeff Katz credit where credit is due. He’s refunding any money raised on Kickstarter and he seems genuinely hurt by his actions (or lack thereof). He’s remorseful, but those eighteen months of silence were pretty brutal.
But what’s done is done. Now, start the wrasslin’.