Before joining the Mid-States team as director of human resources, Paul Calvagna was under contract with the WWE.
That’s right. He rubbed elbows with The Miz, Big E, and Vince McMahon… kind of. In 2015, Calvagna’s daughter Meghan was working in marketing at the BMO Center. The BMO Center was hosting a televised WWE event and needed seat fillers. Knowing that her dad was a wrestling fan, she called him right away, and both Calvagna and his friend Jason signed on right away.
On the day of the event, Calvagna and his friend showed up in a room with about 50 people where they each signed a one-day contract with the WWE. Their payment for the night’s work? A ticket to the show and a T-shirt.
As soon as they signed their paperwork, the pair got to the front of the line.
“They give you a headset, and wherever they tell you to go, you have to go,” Calvagna said. “I’m excited. I’m like a little kid again.”
Calvagna and the others were warned they weren’t actually allowed to have any contact with the wrestlers. So, when Calvagna saw Big E and yelled a hello at him, he found himself getting reprimanded by his daughter.
Despite that minor blip, Calvagna had a great time running all over the BMO Center, filling in wherever there was an empty seat the camera was scheduled to point at. Calvagna learned a lesson that evening – the first ones in line do the most running around.
With all the running, Calvagna didn’t get to watch much wrestling, but he and his buddy quickly discovered it was much easier to hop from seat to seat with a cold beer in their hands. By the end of the night, Calvagna had to call his wife to pick him up. However, he still made it in to work the next day.
After having so much fun as a seat filler the first time, when the opportunity arose to do it again, Calvagna jumped on it. But, he applied what he learned the first time and took a spot at the back of the line the second time around.
This time, Calvagna and his buddy found themselves seated next to the cameras on the ring. They didn’t have to move all night. Instead, they got to chat with the cameraman about the production and even got to sneak a peak at the script, so they knew what was going to happen when and who was going to win.
“It is timed out so perfectly,” Calvagna said, adding the production team had two hours of TV time and had to make it happen in that window. “They have people who have every possible option covered.”
A few weeks later, Calvagna saw a Cirque de Soleil production and observed the show was pretty much structured the same way as a wrestling event.
“It gave me a different look at how it all works,” Calvagna said. “It gave me a different respect for wrestling, knowing what it takes (to put on a show).”