Originally Written and Posted in 2006 on the NWA Cyberspace website:
What happened to April Hunter and why doesn’t she wrestler for NWA SW anymore?
- From: Tara Monahan, Lancaster, PA
First and foremost, let me say that April Hunter is a very talented and gifted worker. Everything from her work ethic to in-ring performance and her overall commitment really set a standard for much of what I have seen in female athletes on the indy circuits today.
With that said, April has a long and detailed history with our company. I’ll be the first to say that under some circumstances (which will be discussed here), there were times where I could have used her character more creatively, and ended up dropping the ball in the long run. From things that I have heard and read, I believe reasons for her departure from the company stem from way back.
To all the readers (including April), I ask that you to read this with an open mind and see what occurred from BOTH our perspectives. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but ultimately there are two sides to every story. I’ve heard numerous accounts from people who were no where near the situation, and there have been public statements made which are far from the truth. I hope to clarify some of the issues that occurred, and would welcome April to fairly tell her side of the story…as long as it does not become a public debate. Worst case scenario, I would rather agree to disagree and move on.
As I mentioned before, I think some of the troubles with April may stem back to when she dropped the title to Jazz in June 2005. April was a real professional and had no problem doing the job, but we had discussed doing a huge program with Jazz that would conclude in a steel cage match, where April even offered to bleed! Needless to say we were psyched…but of course, it never happened.
When we started making plans to move forward with the program, April informed me that she had a tour overseas and would be gone for some time and would most likely miss some bookings. I told her it was fine and we worked in the angle that Rodney Mack had injured her and could not compete until she received medical clearance. I can’t remember if the tour was cancelled or she came home early for the Cybercade 2 event in August, but I told her that her first rematch with Jazz would be set up the following month at the Shockwave tapings.
The September date came around and there were two female matches booked for the show: O.D.B. vs. Lacey and April vs. Jazz. Tracy Brooks was also on hand but was not scheduled to work due to some cosmetic surgery she was supposed to have. That morning, I was notified that Jazz’s flight had been cancelled and neither her nor Rodney Mack would be attending the event. Naturally, this caused a commotion as two of our main matches were now crippled. The plan was for April to make her return during one of Jazz’s promos and challenge her to the rematch later that night. But without Jazz, April’s comeback was insignificant. It also didn’t make sense to just throw April into the Lacey/O.D.B match to make it a meaningless three-way. Firehawk and I discussed our options, and thought we could still set up April’s triumphant return by saving Lacey from O.D.B.’s vicious attack. That way, if we could no longer use Jazz, we’ve at least established a new villain for her in O.D.B.
Before I go any further, let me just say that as a booker – or for that matter, as a “creative writer”, the only thing that matters to me is that the story is compelling and makes sense. I hate when things are thrown together for no apparent rhyme or reason and the booker/federation feels there is no need to explain the actions or maintain continuity in the company’s creative directions. During my time in writing for this company, I can confidently say that there is absolutely no way to book stories more than 3 months in advance. There is no way to guarantee the talent’s commitment on being available to carry the story out. Whether it’s their schedule, injury, getting signed by a major organization, etc., it is difficult to maintain stability on the indy market.
Getting back to April – I’m sure she started questioning her direction in the company and if the program with Jazz was still viable. I tried to reassure her that it was still in the plans but that travel problems were out of my control.
In November, I decided that the Slyck Wagner Brown/Rodney Mack feud had gone on far too long. And unfortunately for April, we were never able to pick up on the momentum on her feud with Jazz. We had two shows that month. On the first show, we finally had what could be considered the big blow off main event to end the feud which saw Slyck and April defeat Rodney and Jazz in a mixed tag match. On the second show, Slyck was scheduled to face Rodney in the semi-main event Police Brutality match, while April and Jazz were scheduled to be involved in six-girl elimination tag. The idea behind the tag match was to start building up O.D.B. for April and introduce the new face Talia so we could establish a stronger women’s division. A few hours before the show, we were informed that Rodney and Jazz’s flights were cancelled again.
There was barley any time to rewrite a show and find replacements. Luckily we were able to get former WWE Tough Enough winner Maven to do a spot with Slyck, and the six-girl tag elimination became a regular tag match…without April. I take full responsibility and admit that it was a foolish mistake. As I reflect back on that show, it would have made MUCH MORE sense to team Tracy and April together and introduce talia as their kick-ass “cheerleader” for the night. Instead, Talia debuted and April was reduced to a managing role.
While there is no excuse for mistakes, everyone needs to take into account that it is VERY difficult running a live wrestling show, and being forced to have to make critical decisions in the matter of minutes. This was also the night were cooler heads failed to prevail in a disagreement with TNA talent that will be discussed in another question. The pressure was on, and the wrong decision was made. I can absolutely understand April’s frustrations and her feeling that she no longer had value to the company. For that, I sincerely apologize.
On a side note, I had absolutely NO CLUE that Slyck wand April had split up as a couple in their personal lives. I am a very private individual and keep my personal life far from the wrestling business. On the same note, I do not pry into the private lives of those we employ, and I do not get involved or judge them on the personal lives they live. Both Slyck and April worked together through their hard times as real professionals, and I had no notice or any suspicion that there were problems in their relationship.
In building to our January 2006 show, Slyck was scheduled to work against Frankie Kazarian, and in an effort to give the fans a featured match that was lost at the prior show, we re-booked the six-girl tag elimination. The show was written, the matches were advertised and we were ready to start 2006 strong! Then I started getting phone calls.
Others within the industry started calling me asking if I had heard the news of what occurred between April and Slyck. Contrary to what others think, I do not read the message boards, dirt sheets or news sites. All my info comes from hear-say. I occasionally go to those sites to use them as promotional tools for our events, and that’s about as far as it goes.
I don’t see any need to rehash what occurred between April and Slyck. It’s been well documented and both have moved on. But the series of events did scar their work for some time, and it all began with our January show.
To make a long story short, the incident led to some serious legal issues between the two. As I said before, I do not get involved in or judge any one on what they do outside of my employment. As long as you work hard and have respect in my locker room/ring, then you are responsible to live your life as your own.
I got phone calls from both sides explaining their situation. To be honest, I didn’t want to hear it. Listening to them involves me and I wanted no part of it. I didn’t know who to believe or what to tell them. My heart went out to them both and I tried to console them the best I could WITHOUT taking sides. I advised them both that they were strong enough to get through it and that their personal lives will not affect their working relationship with our organization. My only concern was for their safety and how we were going to proceed with the upcoming and all future shows if they could not share a locker room together or be on the same card. Both were professionals and said they would not cause a disturbance as work was their priority. I greatly appreciated their efforts, but I know from first hand experience that when love comes to an ugly and disastrous end, it is virtually impossible to bottle your emotions.
We discussed many scenarios to ensure their safety. We originally planned to have the girls match open the show and get April out of the building immediately after. Slyck would wait at a diner not far away and would be called to the building once she left to avoid any confrontation. I honestly can’t remember what the details were, but after discussing the scenarios with Firehawk, we opted that the best solution to this problem was to let them deal with their issues legally and when things cooled down, we’d bring them back.
Yeah, it was a pretty shitty thing to do canceling both bookings on short notice, but I would rather cost them a couple of hundred in a booking rather than a couple of thousand in legal fees if something went wrong.
Once the decision was made to take them both off the show, the calls continued trying to get us to reconsider. There were even times where I was pressured with the question as to who is more valuable to the company – a question I refused to answer.
Truth be told, and with all due respect to April, Slyck is more value to the company than she was. Before you all jump out of your seats and protest, please let me explain. This business is male dominated. Let’s say every show has 8 matches. Only 1, maybe 2. of those spots on the card are reserved for women’s matches. As a booker, I always tried to book 2 women’s matches. My philosophy is that one spot is for the women’s champion to defend and the other spot is to build her next contender. With the overwhelming amount of talent we had on the roster, it was difficult offering two women’s matches per show, and if I could only offer one match, it couldn’t ALWAYS feature April in it. At least with Slyck – we had more options and opponents. My perspective is that I was not valuing Slyck and April as individuals, I was valuing men’s wrestling to female’s wrestling, and which genre was better for business.
In any case, neither was happy with the decision. I told each of them that I would never choose between them, and due to these circumstances, it was better that they were BOTH off the show. Had I chosen one over the other, then that would have been taking sides. But that wasn’t the case. They both suffered the same fate.
On the night of the show, April arrived to the building with her new boyfriend. In my head I’m thinking, “Thank God, I didn’t agree to have them both here because all hell would have broken loose”. April was visibly pissed off at me. I didn’t know why she was there. Later I heard it was because she had given Talia (who was booked) a ride. I was very uncomfortable with April at the building as I knew that reports of her being there with her new boyfriend would be mentioned on the boards. As always, I went about my business in directing the show.
Firehawk always got in the ring to have his fun talking to the crowd. Although I did not witness it myself, everyone has told me that he announced some changes on the card – one being that April Hunter “could not make it to the show”. Meanwhile, April was sitting in the audience and all the fans turned to her with dumbfounded looks on their faces. I’m sure it was not only uncomfortable, but embarrassing for her. While I had no part in making this public humiliation – again, I sincerely apologize on behalf of the company.
I also heard that throughout the match she was scheduled to be involved in, her would-be tag team partners continued to acknowledge her presence in the crowd. I have yet to see the DVD to see if it is true or not, and if so I would be disappointed in their professionalism.
After the show had concluded, April approached me backstage and asked me where she was supposed to go to collect her pay. At first, I thought it was joke, but I didn’t see her laughing. I wasn’t sure how to respond. As a promoter/booker, I’m under the logic that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid. I felt terrible that we pulled the booking from her, but at the same time, we weren’t giving money away for free.
I understand her reasoning. It was a last minute cancellation and had it been earlier, she could have made arrangements for another booking to make money elsewhere. While I understand and sympathize with that scenario, the truth is, we didn’t unbook her and cost her money because we are asshole promoters. It was her situation and our concern for her safety that cost her the booking. Slyck was in the same boat and we didn’t offer to compensate him. He understood the sensitivity of the situation and dealt with it. I thought she was in agreement to do the same.
Let me make something perfectly clear – I DON’T know what happened between them. I DON’T want to know. It’s not my business. I sympathize with Slyck as a man who lost his love and in turn lost his temper. I sympathize with April who was a physical victim and lost as much interest as he did in the relationship. And I sympathize with them as a couple whose personal and professional lives took a direct hit leaving life long scars. I do not condone the abuse of women, men, children, or anyone. I can’t say that Slyck is guilty or innocent because I was not there. It’s his word vs. hers, and to be blunt, in the end it is THEIR issue to resolve. Unfortunately for them, they both worked for me and it put our business in a compromising position. Neither were to be fired or forgotten, yet in a time when emotions are running at high risk levels, it’s easy to feel that the world is against you.
I contacted Firehawk and informed him that April had approached me looking for pay. I told him I had no clue what she was talking about and furthermore, did not expect to see her at the show. I asked him, if he had been contacted by April and if he offered her pay for her loss of the booking. He responded, “No”.
I know Billy better than most people he ever encountered. He knew I would have strongly disapproved of him paying April for a show she didn’t work. But Billy had such a heart of gold, that he would have given April the shirt off his back if she had asked for it. In no way am I saying Billy was trying to buy April’s friendship, but I think Billy may have agreed to pay April to keep the peace and express his love and support for her during a hard time. I can’t say that for a fact, but I could hear Billy’s voice saying, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll take care of you”. If Billy made an offer to pay April, then I had absolutely no knowledge of it. But I understand why he would have.
I never really spoke to April again after that event. I had gotten a few emails from her where she vented her frustrations and tore me to shreds. Maybe it was deserved. Normally, anyone mouths off to me like that, I fire back and tell them to go fuck themselves. But I’m getting too old for that now. And I’m glad I didn’t, because I like April and I understand her disappointment with her time in the company. Although I have no control over her opponents travel and other issues that may have arisen, there were times I could have done better for her and didn’t.
I never responded to her emails…. I REALLY wanted to…but I didn’t. I sent her one email to notify her of Billy’s passing and another to congratulate her on her wedding. Other than that, we’ve gone our separate ways.
April was a tremendous asset to the company. She has the million dollar look and is one of the few who could actually back up her centerfold looks with her in ring ability. Would I ever work with April Hunter again? If the opportunity presented itself and under the right circumstances…IN A HEARTBEAT! I know April is a real professional and would work with anyone for the sake of the business. But if our paths are to cross again, I don’t want it to be just for a payday. I’m not looking to buy her respect…I’m looking to earn it. Respect is a two way street, and we BOTH have some differences to overcome.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. You may agree or you may disagree. In the end, know that you heard it directly from the source. If April is interested in telling her side, I will be more than happy to print it here unedited. It’s only fair. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s over.