Other News PWTORCH EXCLUSIVE: Kyght talks with Resistance Pro owners Billy Corgan and Gabriel & Jacques Baron - vision & inspiration for promotion, advancing the industry, first talent roster
Sep 14, 2011 - 11:10:14 PM
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By Nathan Kyght, PWTorch contributor
On November 25, a new promotion called Resistance Pro will makes its debut at the Excalibur in Chicago. If the owners, brothers Jacques and Gabriel Baron and Billy Corgan (yes, that Billy Corgan), have their way, it will be the start of something very special.
Speaking with them recently, there was not just a sense of this being a new venture, but the sense that they truly care: about the talent, about the fans, and about not just pushing their company forward, but pushing the industry forward as a whole. Heavy aspirations for sure, but it’s not like they don’t have the pedigree.
When I talked with all three men, they painted a picture of Resistance Pro as being something where the fans feel like they’re ‘in on it’; you hesitate to draw comparisons but one has to made: their vision is tapping into the Original ECW, and in a safer environment. All three of them used the company as a touchstone, and any fan of the original will understand: waiting desperately for tapes to show up in the mail and searching for the latest news. “Sabu? Sandman? Raven? I HAVE to see this!”
At one point, Jacques joked that everyone is a fan, which I liked because, to me, that’s a sentiment I think is missing sometimes: at the end of the day, it’s about being a fan. Fans sometimes get caught up in arguing about it, or criticizing it, and I even get folks angry at me over how I rank pay-per-views.
But, what matters is that for whatever reason, this is something we are passionate about. Resistance Pro is hoping to re-capture that very tangible: the sense that wrestling fans are in this together. The following are excerpts of my discussions with Jacques, Gabriel, and Billy. I found them to be funny, passionate, and definitely excited for what they are building.
I think they’re on to something.
Talking to Jacques Baron is fun. An amiable, laid-back guy with a great laugh and a quick joke, we chatted for around half-an-hour last week. He’s laid back, but make no mistake: This is a man that is in love with the product he’s pushing.
I ask him how he got involved in Resistance Pro, and the answer is sort of like the answer to why Road Wild 1999 isn’t talked about much: Blame Dennis Rodman.
“My brother and I were involved in AAW, a bunch of great people, and we were running a show where we were going to bring in Dennis Rodman. But suddenly at the last minute he started trying to organize an after-party for his 50th birthday at the time, and he had obligations to be at the Hall Of Fame, and I think we sort of saw where that would end up going, so the idea just started forming organically that maybe we could do something a little different.
"We managed to involve Billy Corgan at the time who was really into coming into work with us, as we had met him a few years back and all we did was talk wrestling, we really hit it off. So he was happy to oblige. The day after we spoke with Billy he wanted to be involved, so we spoke with our partners at AAW at the time. They weren’t interested.
"I actually think the exact quote was ‘What does he know about wrestling?' Which is kind of funny, because anyone that has ever talked to him knows that the answer is ‘a lot.’ They have a great product and they have a definite audience, but their interest was not in working with him, and that’s fine.”
Except when you’re as passionate about something as the Barons were it’s also, you know, kind of not “fine."
They spoke with Billy, and the three of them decided that the Barons would break away from their association with AAW and form something new.
Something that they felt was unique, and something that they felt would capture the spirit of the wrestling they loved.
So they formed a Resistance.
“When Billy became involved, I think there may have been an idea that we are just attaching a famous person to the product, but it’s simply not the case. He’s totally hands on and active, and is very committed to it," Jacques said.
And he’s right.
On the night I spoke with Billy, I truly anticipated getting ten minutes of ‘stock answers.’ But, I didn’t. What I got was a man who had his assistant call me to apologize that he was going to be calling me ten minutes late, and then 45 minutes of a guy that was so genuinely excited about not just the product, but about wrestling as a whole, that we had a conversation that covered everything from Resistance Pro, to this year’s Money in The Bank PPV, to stories that Edge and Christian have told him about winter tours in Canada.
This is a guy who cares.
I get the impression they all do.
“We want this promotion to be about great storylines, and safe environments for the talent,” Jacques said. “We’re looking to elevate talent, and maybe get some people that are under-used and really giving them a forum to get better and to excel. And it’s not about these ‘weekend warriors’ who have one match in an indie and tell all their friends, we’re looking to book guys for the long haul and watch them get better and have these exciting storylines."
This has to be a great way to look at it. If a promotion truly cares about wrestling, the idea surely has to be about the future of the industry going forward? About not just the safety of the talent, but about having the talent really, truly get a chance to get better. Fans want to see exciting matches and exciting wrestlers, and in an environment where the audience can see them improve and grow with the product.
‘Black Friday’ approaches on November 25, on a night that will truly be the proverbial ‘put up or shut up’ night for the company.
Can they do it?
“To me it’s a night of ‘go big or go home,'" says Jacques. “The Excalibur is this building with four stories of balconies surrounding the ring. It’s going to look like a rock concert crossed with a wrestling show crossed with a prison riot. And I don’t want there to be chairs. I remember watching these ECW shows where everyone was standing the whole time, and they never got tired. I want this to be something special.”
Gabriel Baron is much like his brother: He’s quick to have a laugh with you, and talking wrestling? Well that just comes easy.
We spent a fun time chatting Resistance Pro, and that one little Philly promotion that just seems to keep coming up when people talk about why they truly love this business.
“The show is on November 25 at Excalibur in Chicago, and the show will be available on DVD eventually. Because to me that’s kind of a cool way to generate a buzz: you will get to hear about the stuff that happened but in order to see the show, you’ll have to wait to hold that DVD in your hands, and that’s just like how a lot of fans, the tape traders used to get the product,” Gabriel said.
There are going to be some people reading this that can remember the anticipation of waiting to get those VHS tapes, from ECW to ROH to those guys wrestling in Japan that you just HAD to see. It creates something in you, a value. Sometimes there’s just something about something.
“And speaking of ECW, it was just so amazing when we got Raven on board as an agent," Gabriel said.
To me, having Raven sitting backstage every night is essentially like having a library on wrestling available that anybody gets to go back and check out.
The mix of having experienced, great veterans is obviously nothing new, but I think the difference here will hopefully be that they see why is makes a difference.
Resistance Pro thus far has announced the signing of Harry Smith (formerly D.H Smith in the WWE), Teddy Hart, Kevin Steen, Simply Luscious (a female wrestler trained by the incomparable Shawn Michaels), and Jay Bradley (formerly Ryan Braddock in WWE). The Necro Butcher signed on after our discussion. What Gabriel thinks that some of these wrestlers have in common is sort of a running theme for the company:
Sometimes, for whatever reason, someone who has the potential to be great doesn’t quite get the opportunity or the right circumstance to shine. Gabriel sees Resistance Pro as the place where wrestler can truly find their voice.
“We are looking at taking people that are underexposed and presenting them in a way where WWE or ROH or TNA take a look and think to themselves, ‘We never thought about them this way,'" he said.
It’s about pushing forward everything.
And once upon a time, a certain somebody rolled into ECW wanting a live mic and a shot at showing what he could do. He was given that shot, and now he's known as ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
Like in everything else, sometimes people just need someone to give them a chance.
“I’m excited about this product.” he says. “I think we have something that will set us apart."
I stood in line the day before my dad’s birthday in 1995, and I walked up to the counter in HMV just outside of Toronto and I bought ‘Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness.’ I did it because when I heard The Smashing Pumpkins on the radio, it felt like something that mattered.
About 500 miles or so south at me around that time, Steve Austin stood atop a ladder in front of a crowd of rabid wrestling fans in a boiling hot arena and cut a promo on The Sandman. And it felt like something that mattered.
“[Resistance Pro] is going to be about new ideas, and wrestling done the right way.” Billy says. “We’re going to build talent up and give them a place where they can hone their skills, and it’s going to be New School mixed with Old School, in that we’re going to take time with things. We’re going to have longer angles and let things develop that way, and it’ll just be a unique situation where we just talk to these guys, you know? Find out about them and let them talk, and do a promo.
"I think ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin is a classic example of a guy who was given the opportunity to talk and just get himself over, you know? You need to find that quality in a wrestler that allows them to relate to the audience. You need to find that place they can get to where they connect, and what it is that they are great at. Because I was always a better guitar player than I was a singer, but I learned how to find my voice and now my voice is recognizable. But you have to be able to take your time to develop, and to learn how to work in different places. Things that play in New York aren’t going to necessarily work in Idaho. You have to adapt, but be allowed to figure out how to adapt.”
It’s a central theme. And let’s face it: Billy Corgan doesn’t need the recognition. He’s sort of got that part covered. So why is he doing it?
“I’ll be involved with the booking of the show and the tone of the product and be hands-on there. What I see it as is that this will be a place where the wrestlers can come up and the biggest compliment would be for someone that is overlooked somewhere else to become a star. I’m at the point in my life where it doesn’t have to be about me, you know? I’ve had that. And...WWE has FCW, right?"
"He continues, “Well, not the same as a developmental league, but we will be a place that makes stars. And even for the WWE to come to us and say take this guy who maybe needs another year to get everything to click, that would be something. We’re not going to ignore the other promotions, we’re not going to pretend that they don’t exist. But we are not about disparaging them either. It’s about ‘How do we help the talent get better?'”
As mentioned, the plan is to release this show on DVD, but obviously a turn to TV would be welcomed.
“I even think a reality show would be a great idea, something like what Lance Storm did with ‘World Of Hurt.’ Any idea is on the table at this point, and I’m lucky enough that I can open a lot of doors at this point. It’s a different time so we have to treat the promotion differently, and explore what we can do with social media, with any forum really. This is a different time and a different company, and obviously what Paul did with ECW was just so genius, but if ECW were around today I think it would be much more of an MMA style presentation. You have to change with the times," Billy said.
This is a guy who knows his stuff.
“At the end of the day it will just be ‘how do we keep getting better?' This is a company where you will sell for your opponent, and you will work at a different pace, and in a safe environment. And to me wrestling is a no brainer: poo poo wrestling all you want, but it draws and it matters. Another option would maybe to do what they did in Georgia Championship Wrestling, where you run an episodic TV taping in a building and even treat it as a regional promotion, like the regional territories of the past?
"I have a lot of ideas, and we’re excited. And I’m totally open to anything. One of the best moments is going to be when I come up with a match finish and Raven tells me it sucks. This is a collaborative effort, and one that we are all so passionate about.”
Billy is also excited to be able to concentrate solely on the creative side of things if need be.
“In the Pumpkins world, I have to worry about everything but this is a chance for me to just be creative.”
It seems like he can’t wait for November 25.
“This is a real desire. You let these guys go out, and find a voice. You have your guys like Dusty Rhodes who is so charismatic, or you have your guys like Arn Anderson, or even a Randy Couture in the MMA world, who just talk quietly and terrify you. Promos are so important, and I’ve loved this business long enough that I have something to offer. I’ve sat backstage with a guy as great as Jim Cornette talking for hours, just absorbing that kind of wisdom. And Raven will be backstage at our shows. I spoke with the Nasty Boys and said to them that when veterans come in they should be there for 3 or 4 month, and they said that they get it. The veterans should be there to impart the wisdom and get guys over.”
The younger talent is obviously the future though, and Billy told me he was very excited for several talents:
“Harry Smith is a guy who, for whatever reason, WWE didn’t want to use. And that’s not a knock, because Vince McMahon is obviously the man. He did it, you know? But, for us to have the chance to work with Harry, who’s 25 and such a great talent with a tremendous upside is great. And, Teddy Hart, Kevin Steen. To me we are creating a buzz. The perfect example would be Samoa Joe, who is a guy who I heard so much about before I ever saw him wrestle or met him, but you just had to see what it was about," he said.
"But it’s not just an indie crowd vs. big crowd thing. That doesn’t matter. I have had my experience with the indie music crowd and the mainstream music crowd, but it shouldn’t make a difference. I was at Money in the Bank, an amazing show, and I just had to see C.M. Punk and John Cana. I’m a fan of the wrestling business, and I want it to be around a long time with places that wrestlers can go and become great.”
On November 25, Gabriel and Jacques Baron, and Billy Corgan are asking wrestling fans to ‘Join The Resistance.’
They tweet about it.
They Facebook about it.
Their website shows who’s going to be there.
Me? I’ll be there in the middle of the mayhem in Chicago to cover everything that happens that night, and I can’t wait.
Because maybe none of this will matter in the end, and maybe this will all turn out to be hype.
But, at a time where fans spend a lot of time saying what they wish wrestling could be, or what they miss about wrestling the most...
Maybe this turns out to be what we’re looking for.
Thanks for reading, and follow me at Twitter.com/Nathan Kyght
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