It's a long read but Chris Cash, Vince Russo's partner at PyroandBallyhoo.com, gives a detailed explanation with his side of the story on what led to the closing of the website. Click here for a refresher on Russo's side.
OFFICIAL STATEMENT: PyroandBallyhoo.com Closing, Plus Explanation
by Chris Cash
This entire situation is a lose-lose for me. On one hand, I can tell my side and the story and some will believe me — some won't. Either way, I'm right in the thick of all the public backlash. Or, I could tell very little and attempt to move on with my life. But knowing wrestling fans, that would be worse in their eyes.
In either scenario, however, I don't get the one thing I was after all along: fair compensation.
I have been working alongside Vince on this entire project for nearly a year now. We were 50/50 partners, and I have proof of that if anyone needs it. However, when Vince lost his TNA money, I agreed to defer my money for awhile until we could get Vince back on his feet. That was my first and only mistake. It should have started as a true partnership from the beginning, or it should have never started at all.
If you are visitors or members of this site, you know how much I've done. Vince has publicly admitted it over and over again. Vince was basically the public face, while I handled literally everything else.
From web development/management, to producing, to social media, to marketing, to handling sponsorships, and even down to handling outside work that "I" found for Vince — I was the guy running things behind the scenes. Some of you may not feel my part was as valuable as Vince's, and I'm not naive to think people were signing up because of me, but my time, energy and knowledge is valuable. Hopefully each of you can at least understand that before jumping to a conclusion about this situation.
About two months ago, I felt it was time I finally started getting my cut. The VIP subscribers were growing at a very steady pace, Vince had several appearances lined up, plus other outside work coming in each month as well. Our initial agreement was finally being met, in my eyes.
When I approached Vince about it — months ago, mind you — I could tell things were likely going to change. Anytime "business" was discussed, Vince didn't really want to go there. We found ways to pay me a little over the past few months, but it was a far cry from the agreement Vince and I set from day one.
A couple weeks ago, Vince and I took a trip to Los Angeles to cover Lucha Underground. And yes, that is ALL we were there to do. Meltzer got his stories dead wrong, and it's truly a shame that someone IN the company was feeding him such BS. It came with the territory though when it involves Vince — 95% of the stuff reported on him..I've found to be biased and/or completely off the mark.
I had one heck of a time getting back home due to weather. I was supposed to return on a Monday evening and didn't make it home until Thursday afternoon. Needless to say, I had plenty of time to think about things as it pertained to my future — in general, and with this project.
By this point, Vince and I are ten months into this whole thing. We just surpassed 800 VIP members and we were on pace to hit our goal of 1,000 by WrestleMania.
When I finally returned, I sent Vince an email. That email outlined the three options I saw going forward for the site. Either:
a) We start taking the profit from the site each month and splitting it per our original agreement (this was strictly website revenue and did NOT include his outside sources of income. Several of which, I was solely responsible for setting up.)
b) He buy me out and move on without me.
Or c) We shut down new memberships and close one month later.
Did Vince take it as an ultimatum? Definitely. Was it one? Maybe. But either way, it's what I needed to continue going forward. I've been working a full-time job during most of this process. I also had a family to support. And, most importantly, it was time that Vince truly commit to this partnership.
Immediately, due to Vince's response to the email, it was clear we would no longer be able to continue as partners moving forward. He felt I was being "unsupportive", which I found to be ironic that it came the day I just got back from a week-long trip to LA specifically for the website.
Either way, one of the things he said in the email made things very clear. He said:
"You're not going to be into this until you're making a certain amount. I UNDERSTAND THAT. I need somebody that is into this 100% of the time regardless. You are looking at money, I am looking at passion. Two total different things and that's OK."
I found that also to be ironic, and also very incorrect. I was the guy running things every step of the way for virtually nothing — for ten months. Vince was the one receiving 99% of the money and refusing to budge when it came to me finally getting fair compensation.
His statement honestly said it all. He wanted someone that would do all the work, for as long as it took, without blinking an eye. And while that is commonplace in the wrestling business — trust me, I've been involved in this type of stuff for eleven years now — I honestly didn't expect it from Vince.
You have to understand though — I had been taking the subtle approach for two months as it related to money. This was the only way to get his attention. And it certainly got his attention, although what followed was not anywhere close to my goal with all of this.
Now...as to what happened next, I really just want to bullet point a few things that are FACTUAL:
- When conversations broke down and both of us realized an amicable resolve was not possible, we agreed to shut down the website. My last text to Vince on Friday night was for him to write a post stating we would stop accepting new member sign-ups on March 1st, and then officially close the site down on April 1st, making sure VIP subscribers got exactly what they paid for.
Vince emailed me again late that night with one final "offer", if you can even call it that. Basically, I was no longer viewed as a 50/50 partner in his eyes because I was no longer doing 50% of the work. I won't deny that I scaled back, but not by much, and only because I wasn't being treated as a 50/50 partner. So take that however you want...even when Vince suggested in that same email that the "new" agreement, according to him, should be 80/20, he also said in that email he would not put anything in writing. 80%, 20%, 100% — none of it mattered if he didn't want to put it in writing.
Either way, the plan was still to stop accepting new members and then close a month later.
- Late Friday night, I changed the admin password to the backend of the website that both Vince and I used. I did it to protect MY interests. With that account, Vince could have basically taken everything from the site that he wanted and used it for his new project that he said MULTIPLE times he planned to start if PyroandBallyhoo shut down. Rather than pay me, he would just go somewhere else and do it. While I couldn't necessarily stop him from doing it, I certainly wasn't going to make it easy.
Vince found out even later that night I had changed it. This is where the whole "locked out of my own site" came about. One very important point: when Vince found out I had changed the password, he emailed me three times and called me once between 12:30am and 6:40am Saturday morning — I was sleeping.
By the time I woke up around 7:10am, another contributor to the site had written an official message on the site. You probably saw it — the whole "P&B Is Going On Hiatus" post. In that post, Vince put over his all-new "Vince Russo Experience" that was going to be coming back, and even further, he put a box at the bottom soliciting emails where people could get updates on that launch of his new project.
— My intention when I changed the password to the admin account was to give Vince a new limited-access account to the site where he could continue still post his content for that final month of operation. However, rather than give me a reasonable amount of time to respond to him — literally, I was asleep — he decided to go public with everything and, as the saying goes, the "sh*t hit the fan".
— As for the "hi-jacking" of Twitter. By the time I woke up that Saturday, Vince had already changed the passwords to literally everything else associated with the site. Emails, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube — all properties of the site that "I" set up. So yes, I went through the security measures to regain access and control of those accounts.
— I did NOT block people on Vince's Twitter account as he has suggested during the time I had possession of it with the exception of one person, I believe. And that person was personally attacking Vince Russo. Anyone else that was blocked, Vince blocked them before I had control and now, I can only assume as an attempt to use it to his advantage, Vince is selling it like he's doing people a favor by unblocking them. Seeing as how HE was the one that blocked them in the first place, I can only assume he's trying to position himself in a "certain light". Got to admit though — it's pretty smart. He was very "Block happy" the entire time I've known him, and most of the time, I didn't blame him at all.
— I never once blocked Vince from PayPal. He STILL has full access and control over that account, and always had it. Full transparency — I couldn't have changed that password if I wanted to because HIS personal bank account is tied to the account. Vince said in a recent YouTube video he posted that he was blocked from PayPal — it's a blatant lie. While he is trying to shift liability of refunds and Support on me — and even though I did help some people with their issues — I was NOT the one being paid directly for VIP memberships. The majority of that money got deposited directly into one particular bank account — and it wasn't mine.
— I received a threatening legal letter from Vince's attorney on Saturday around 1:00pm my time. I didn't see it until 3:00 when I got home from work. In the letter, the lawyer said that Vince owned the domain and all its content, that I was not to operate the site without him (didn't plan on it), and that I was to turn over all of it, including Vince's Twitter account, promptly. The website domain was registered in my wife's name (in order to get a $.99 special through GoDaddy), I produced the majority of the content on the site without compensation so I had legal rights to those, and the Twitter account, I was already planning to turn it over.
— Speaking of the Twitter account, it's come to my attention that people close to Vince are claiming Twitter forced me to return Vince's account. Again — not true. I willfully handed it over and had never planned on keeping it.
That's really it. Vince's lawyer and mine went back and forth a couple extra times, I held off on a statement because I was told that Vince might be interested in some sort of buyout option, and I thought that MAYBE, an amicable solution might still be reached.
Vince had plenty of time to show what his intent was going forward, but he made it clear when he didn't respond to our emails about it. Thus, my lawyer instructed me that it was time to move on, put all of this behind me, and simply tell my side of the story.
Look — I know I will take the heat from Vince Russo supporters. I know Vince Russo bashers will have a field day with this, burying Vince any chance they get. I can't control that and I wish I could. I don't want either of those things to happen.
I don't want to turn this into a personal attack on Vince. Personally, I think Vince is genuinely a good guy. But, in MY opinion, I was done wrong in this situation. Vince was willing to sing my praises, and he did on many occasions, when it came to the fact that he couldn't have done any of this without me, but when it was time to actually take the business to the next step professionally, he refused to do it. Most importantly, he refused to offer any rational or realistic alternative or compromise.
Everything had to be done on his terms, or nothing. His terms were nowhere near fair, and it was clear we needed to part ways. It absolutely should have been done in a better manner, but as soon as Vince went public, a private solution simply wasn't going to happen.
So, there you have it — my side of the story. Since I've come to peace with the fact that I will not be getting compensated fairly for my time and energy invested into this project from day one, I didn't see any other option but to get my statement out there as quickly as possible.
I'm sure many of you will still support Vince in his next project, and that's fine — it's your prerogative. I just ask that you look at the facts listed here, listen to his side, but then...read between the lines and find what TRUTH works best for you.
If you think I'm lying about something, simply ask me to prove it. I will likely be able to do just that. If you don't care, then that's fine too.
Vince's plan — he told it to me several times — is to find a way to take what WE created and start it elsewhere, cutting me out completely. He feels justified in doing so, but I find it, simply, stealing what was half mine. I gave him ample amount of time, and plenty of opportunities, to try and make this is a peaceful split. He refused to accept any of them.
Lastly, I do want to apologize to any visitor of this site, any listener or viewer of the podcasts we produced, and especially, "The Brand" VIP members of the site. None of you deserved this. And unfortunately, it ultimately falls on both me and Vince for not being able to find a mutually-beneficial solution.
I feel like I honestly tried to do just that. Vince refused. That's the truth.
I'm happy to answer any further questions if any fans or media wants it. Don't look for me to bury Vince Russo, however. I still think the guy is genuinely good-hearted, has an incredible work ethic, and I genuinely wish him the best of luck in the future. But I simply couldn't go on putting in the work I was putting in without getting fairly compensated going forward.
As long as it's respectful, you can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As far as PyroandBallyhoo.com is concerned, I will be shutting it down. Again, I'm not naive to think this website is worth anything without him. That being said, my whole point is that it's not worth anything without me either.
The moral to all of this? For me, at least, it's that you don't put trust as the focal point of your new business — no matter how trusting you are, or how trustworthy your partner may seem at the time. Get everything in writing. Vince and I should have done just that from the very beginning. That way, there would be no gray areas — it would be clear as day..black and white.
Again, I want to apologize to all of you affected by this. I honestly thought Vince and I had a good thing going, and I know he did too. It's just unfortunate that he would rather close it all, attempt to start over from scratch, rather than just try to do what's right by the one guy who was there with him from day one.
Either way, you live and learn. And I can bet that I'm not the only one who learned from this situation. How much you want to bet Vince is definitely making sure EVERYTHING is in his name moving forward.
If you need to refunds or have Support-related question, I recommend you go through PayPal to get it. If you paid in the final days of Feb or first days of March, you are entitled to your refund if you choose.
Thanks again everyone for a fun journey. I was proud, along with Vince I'm sure, of what we accomplished in less than a year. It's very unfortunate the way things went down — everyone loses.
I will now be putting this behind me. Moving on. I'm available for questions and I won't dodge any of them. I truly have nothing to hide and I only did what I felt was best for me and my family, just as I'm sure Vince thinks he's doing it for those same reasons.
Either way, thanks to everyone who supported us during all of this. Aside from the last week, I had a blast and it's been a great learning experience.
Until next time...here's to tomorrow and what it lies in store.
- Chris Cash
PS. Sorry for the long-winded explanation, but I wanted to try and get as many details fit into my explanation as I really only plan to tell it in this much detail once. I hope you understand. What you choose to believe, or not believe, is truly up to you.
And there you have it.