ACH via Texas Anarchy
Beyond Wrestling is one of the most entrepreneurial and bold wrestling companies in America today. Their fight club/"for the boys" oeuvre has given them a unique atmosphere among even the other progressive independent promotions. Their next event, Double Trouble, is a joint event promoted with St. Louis Anarchy, the northern arm of Anarchy Championship Wrestling. I had the privilege of conducting an extensive interview with Drew Cordeiro, aka Denver Colorado (the man, not the place), the man behind both the concept and the microphone of all Beyond shows to see what all fans both in attendance or viewing on video later on can expect from this landmark event:
1. First and foremost, for those who don't know about Beyond Wrestling, how would you describe it to them?
Beyond Wrestling is designed to give undiscovered, underutilized and unappreciated wrestlers the tools they need to make a name for themselves within the wrestling industry. Up until about a year ago, all of our events were closed to the public, with all of the athletes remaining ringside. This in turn created a legitimate sense of competition. Not only are the wrestlers fighting to win the match but also the respect of their peers which could open doors with other organizations across the country. We upload almost all of our matches for free in their entirety at our YouTube channel to maximize the amount of exposure for each wrestler.
2. You're running a joint show with St. Louis Anarchy in Cleveland on June 16th. Why did you choose to work with them?
I think when it comes down to it, I admire their work ethic above all else. The guys who run SLA are the same guys who are on the road every weekend driving across the country to compete as much as possible. While ACH has really broken out since moving from Texas late last year, Davey Vega, Mat Fitchett, Pierre Abernathy, Evan Gelistico and Gary Jay don't get nearly enough credit for their contributions. I also want to point out that this is not just a collaboration with St. Louis Anarchy; our friends at Absolute Intense Wrestling have been instrumental in helping us execute this event. I cannot overstate the importance of building working relationships with other independent wrestling promotions, especially when they are beneficial to all parties involved, including the fans.
3. The main event pits two of the hottest properties in indie wrestling, as Johnny Gargano will tangle with ACH. I think most people are familiar with Gargano, but what can we expect from ACH?
ACH first caught my eye in a SLA showcase match at AIW's 2011 Todd Pettengil Invitational in a bout against Gary Jay. On a card featuring wrestlers like Paul London, BJ Whitmer, Sonjay Dutt and the rest of the great AIW roster, I personally felt like ACH stole the show. The plans were then set in motion to bring ACH to Beyond Wrestling for the inagrual Tournament For Tomorrow, which would have been impossible without the support of his loyal fans. Very rarely do you come across a wrestler that is able to integrate his athleticism and charisma the way ACH has. It is one of those things that is difficult to put into words but everyone time you see ACH compete you know you are watching somrthing special. The way that he is able to feed off of the energy of the crowd is nothing short of breathtaking.
4. You actually were the first to bring ACH to the East Coast. How do you go about approaching a new wrestler to travel to a new territory?
There is no "set" method. It varies from wrestler to wrestler. Just like any good working relationship, it has to be mutually beneficial. Somebody like ACH was killing it down in Texas but wasn't getting much exposure on a national level, outside of Anarchy Championship Wrestling's Smart Mark Video DVD releases. We wanted to change that. Beyond Wrestling can't offer the biggest paydays (not yet, anyway), but we can guarantee that a great performance will be watched by a worldwide audience. The guys that get it - and believe me, not everyone does - and are willing to invest the time and the energy to make it out to one of our tapings will reap the benefits. Some of the matches we have put online have over 10,000 views. I can't speak for other organizations, but we're lucky if we sell 50 copies of a show on DVD. That is a staggering difference. Beyond Wrestling has proven over and over again to be a viable platform for wrestlers who want to get noticed. We are grateful to have built such an extensive network within the industry in such a short period of time and it continues to grow every day.
5. Beyond is based out of New England, and obviously, Anarchy is based out of St. Louis. What made you settle on Cleveland as a venue?
Cleveland is roughly halfway between St. Louis and the tri-state area on the East Coast where the majority of competitors on the Beyond Wrestling roster reside. On top of that, our friends at AIW have done an excellent job making Cleveland a destination for independent wrestling in the Midwest. Even when they aren't running, they want to make sure the that Ohio remains a hot spot for the very best in independent wrestling. In general, the fans of that region have always been very supportive of Beyond Wrestling. We also ran our second ever live event, "Back In Flesh," as part of a doubleheader with AIW in October of 2011, so it was really a no-brainer.
6. How important is having synergy in independent wrestling?
It is essential. Take a look at how successful Chikara has been over the last two years by branching out and holding events across the country. Because of relationships with organizations like Ring of Honor, JAPW, Squared Circle Wrestling, C*4 and New York Wrestling Connection, Chikara has grown rapidly while simultaniously spolighting some of the best locals from each area. It is an absolute shame that more promotions cannot work together. I understand that each organization has its own agenda and sometimes these goals are not compatable. I also realize that to an extent, each company is competing to earn a limited amount money from an audience that I would estimate to be in the range of fewer than 100,000 fans worldwide. In order for wrestlers to earn a living on the indies and really hone their craft, they have to work for multiple organizations. If there is a conflict between those promotions it limits the amount of work a wrestler can get and it limits the amount of potential matchups that the fans want to see.
At the end of the day, it's all about the fans. I know that might sound surprising coming from me since we ran private events for so long, but this project was never about alienating fans, despite what some may think. I want to genuinely apologize to anyone that thinks that Beyond Wrestling has an elitist mentality or that the wrestlers think they are "too good for the marks." Believe me when I say that is not the case at all. The unique atmosphere at Beyond Wrestling forces all of the wrestlers to compete at a higher level. It is one thing to impress fans at a live event but it's another to "wow" other wrestlers who know the tricks of the trade inside and out. We've always wanted to share the products of our efforts with our fans and it is a privilege to finally run live events for those that have supported us for from the very beginning. And we would have never been able to take that first step if it wasn't for our working relationship with InterSpecies Wrestling. I would also like to credit Brian Fury the New England Pro Wrestling Academy in North Andover, MA for hosting our studio tapings since we've relocated operations to the Northeast.
7. I know promoters don't necessarily like to play favorites and that you wouldn't be giving us these matches if you didn't have faith in all your wrestlers. That being said, what wrestlers and matches should we be paying extra attention to at "Double Trouble?"
It was the Michigan crew that stole the show at "Back In Flesh" - the same card featuring Davey Richards vs. Johnny Gargano, mind you - and I fully anticipate that Maserati Rick, KJ Crush and Jack Verville intend to do the same against the Sugar Dunkerton, Aaron Epic and Pinkie Sanchez. There has also been a very personal rivalry brewing for close to a year between RD Evans and Johnny Cockstrong that will come to an ugly conclusion on 6/16. Mark Angel and Drew Gulak had an outstanding contest back in November at our "Crises Precipitate Change" taping but so much has changed since then. Gulak's intensity has quickly made him one of the most popular wrestlers on the Beyond Wrestling roster while Mark Angel's overbearing demeanor has cost him some support despite his number one spot. The eight-man tag features the return of Team Beyond as they partner with Eric Corvis (the reinvented Corvis Fear) and former enemy Jonny Mangue to address the growing threat of The Pitboss, Matthew Justice, dany only and Stryknyn. I honestly can't say that I'm too familiar with all of the competitors in the matches set up by St. Louis Anarchy but that only adds to my excitement. I love watching guys for the first time blow away my expectations. Plus you've got industry standouts like Johnny Gargano, ACH, Rickey Shane Page, Arik Cannon and Darin Corbin all competing. Then when you factor in the School of Roc Summit, it becomes obvious that the "Double Trouble" card is stacked.
8. Anarchy is known for having contests competed under "ECW" rules, at least in their main Austin arm. Will we be seeing that sort of no rules atmosphere here, or will there be countouts and disqualifications in play?
Oh, wow. I had no idea. Thanks for bringing that to my attention. I'm not sure if the SLA portion of the card will be contested under their rule system and our rankings will be affected by our half of the card or what. I need to get a hold of the powers that be and get that sorted out as soon as possible!
9. You're going to have an exhibition featuring trainees from the School of Roc, based in Indiana. Chikara has featured them in the past too. Have you sat in on their training sessions, and how do they stack up to other prominent wrestling schools that you've seen/been a part of? Do you see them as a potential breeding ground for future Beyond wrestlers?
I have not had the honor of experiencing one of Billy Roc's classes firsthand but he has an unbelievable reputation which gives his students an advantage right off of the bat. You also have to respect anyone that is willing to put in the time and travel out of area to improve their game. Finally, I love what the School of Roc "Class Wars" YouTube show has done to raise the profiles of everyone involved. I definitely see the potential for much more crossover in the future.
10. The Kings of the Armory, or the #KOA, have become almost the lead stable in Beyond. How did they come together, and other than being taken more seriously, what other bonds do they share that make them a cohesive unit?
#KOA came together *after* Beyond Wrestling's first live event, "About Time," at ISW's "Burger King Of The Ring" tournament later that evening. Sugar Dunkerton and Aaron Epic accompanied Pinkie Sanchez to the ring for his matches. I couldn't even tell you the exact circumstances but for whatever reason all three of this men ended up riding together the following day for a scheduled taping that fell through at the last minute. The chemistry was astrounding and as they got to talking they realized that they all wanted to change the way they were percieved within the industry. Since their formation, they have almost taken on a guardian role in Beyond Wrestling, stepping up to aid individual competitors that may find themselves in an unfavorable position. These guys all want it so bad and all three of them have the tools to be major players in the scene for a long time.
11. One of the #KOA, Aaron Epic, got into a little bit of a kerfluffle over the use of Twitter to try and get bookings. What is your opinion on the role of Twitter in pro wrestling in the future, specifically on the independent level?
Twitter is so powerful because it opens up a direct line of public communication between parties that otherwise would never have the chance to interact. I want to make one thing clear - Aaron Epic did not solicit his fans to tweet at any promoters in order to get bookings. That was an organic campaign started by fans that thought he would be a good fit for a number of shows in his area. That situation nonwithstanding, Twitter is changing wrestling for the better. The amount of feedback we receive on a daily basis validates our hard work. It's cool being able to throw out questions, as random as they may seem at times, to pick the brain of the fans and other wrestlers alike. Some will say this type of access is hurting the industry since wrestlers are "humanizing" their larger than life personas, but we've taken it a step further. Our wrestlers remain ringside for all of the matches at our live events as well, making them the most interactive pro wrestling events on the planet. You'd be surprised how much the wrestlers enjoy being able to communicate with the fans directly since at the end of the day, all of the wrestlers are fans themselves.
12. What advice would you give an aspiring wrestler trying to get booked?
Be persistant and make as many connections as you can. If a booker thinks you are being a pain in the ass for hitting him up, chances are he probably wasn't going to use you anyway. When a wrestler contacts me multiple times throguhout the month, I know he is trying to keep his name top of mind. It really demonstrates just how bad he wants it. Then if that wrestler also says that he's worked with someone on our roster, an endorsement from that wrestler goes a long way. You NEVER know who might be able to lend a helping hand so you want to try and treat everyone with respect but at the same time be cautious of those who will take advantage of you. I personally hate that in 2012 the wrestlers want to "work" the fans who are supporting the industry, but I also understand how that mentality is rooted in creation of professional wrestling. However, I will not tolerate anyone who intentionally "works" other wrestlers or promoters. The industry is constantly changing but trust and respect will always be traits embodied by those who find success.
13. How important is it for wrestlers to travel the country and work in different promotions?
Bottom line, as cliche as it may sound, is that you want to learn as much as you can. The more you travel, the more connections you make. Not everyone has the opportunity or the resources to put themselves out there like that but it increases your chances of "making it" exponentially. Look at where Sami Callihan was in 2008 and compare that to where he is in 2012. That dude was game for anything that came his way and he started with ROH, CHIKARA and CZW in the same week. That guy has so many offers on the table he gets to pick and choose where he works. Sami has traveled all over the world. He's rumored to be scouted by WWE. Maybe most importantly, he's had the chance to wrestle some of his idols. How cool is that? Would it have happened if he wasn't so willing to invest in himself? Unlikely.
14. Aside from the obvious companies, what other promotions do you have your eye on to work with on future dates?
I'd love to do something with ACW in Texas but the lay of the land is making it really hard to collaborate. Maybe we'll do a split show with them and meet halfway in Knoxville. A lot of our guys started with JAPW so it would be cool to do something with them if they come back full time. We've got something in the works that'll blow you away if it comes to fruition. I'll give you a hint: if it comes together you're going to be pleased as punch but John Hyperion and the crew at Dirty Dirty Sheets will be outright giddy.
15. Finally, if you could get one independent wrestler in Beyond, who would it be? One WWE/TNA wrestler? One all-time wrestler?
UltraMantis Black, Santino Marella. and Bob Backlund.
If you're in the Cleveland area or are willing to make a road trip, I implore you to go out there and check it out. You're going to get the known quantities, but you're also going to get some guys who might surprise you, including Mark Angel and the Submission Squad. Thanks to Drew for the interview opportunity!