By Brian Hoops
Photos Brian Kelley
As first seen at http://www.wrestlingobserver.com
There is a new independent wrestling promotion, and its changing the traditional way of running a wrestling promotion. The National Wrasslin League was founded in September by Major Baisden and ran its inaugural show in Kansas City on January 7. According to its press release, “the National Wrasslin’ League (NWL) is reviving the historical roots of the business. Fueled by intercity rivalries, the NWL prides itself on family-friendly, storyline-driven programming that delivers thrilling athletic action and entertaining characters.”
NWL has financial backing behind it. Baisden, best known in the Kansas City area as the President and co-founder of Iris Data Services, Inc., sold Iris Data Services to Epic Systems Inc for $134 million in April, 2015. Baisden has a love for baseball, football and pro wrestling and decided to start his own wrestling promotion and promote it differently than traditional wrestling promotions.
In October of 2016, NWL reached an agreement to acquire the assets of Metro Pro Wrestling, a local promotion based in Kansas City, which became part of NWL KC. Metro Pro was the brainchild of Chris Gough, a former WWE creative team member who moved back to his native Kansas City to start a family. Gough is also the man behind the really awesome documentary, “KC: Beyond the Mat” that focused on the Kansas City based Central States and Heartland of America promotions. Gough was offered a full time position in the NWL offices and works behind the scenes running the new promotion. NWL also acquired St. Louis based Anarchy Pro Wrestling.
The promotion plans to run shows on alternating Saturday nights in Kansas City and alternating Thursday nights in St. Louis, at the Scottish Rite Temple in Kansas City and the Casa Loma Ballroom in St. Louis, Missouri. Soon, the St. Louis shows will run on Sunday afternoons. The Scottish Rite Temple is also home to Invicta MMA shows. Throughout the season, the final show of each month will pit wrestlers from KC and St. Louis against each other, with the city earning the most victories recognized as the league’s best town. The NWL’s top city will also earn negotiation rights for all new talent entering the NWL in 2018. It is a business model geared more towards minor league hockey or minor league baseball, as the promotion hopes to build a loyal fanbase in each city.
According to Gough, NWL has signed more than 50 wrestlers to contracts, including eight who work for the promotion full time. These wrestlers receive full benefits, including health insurance and work full time for the promotion, even though they only run four shows per month. NWL is building out a 10,000 square foot building, just north of Kansas City to be used as a training and performance center.
The first show in Kansas City drew what had to be considered an excellent crowd for its debut show, 510 fans thanks in part to flash sales and other promo code offers. Ringside seats are $40, but if you commit to a membership, the cost is $50 a month with additional membership perks.
St. Louis sold only 225 tickets until a strong walkup pushed total fans in attendance to near 500. The crowd for the second Kansas City show was nearly half of the first. This will be one of the struggles of the promotion, how to maintain crowds when running every other week with many of the same wrestlers.
The promotion plans to crown a Kansas City and St. Louis champion through a tournament this spring. The two champions will then square off in a mid-season showdown, with the winner earning home-arena advantage for the year’s big finale in December. On the night of the season finale, the NWL’s League champion will also be decided that evening with a tourney involving the St. Louis and KC titleholders as well as the No. 1 contenders for both belts. The December spectacular will also crown the NWL’s tag-team champions in a tournament featuring the four teams with the best records over the course of the 12month season.
The show I attended was certainly entertaining and different than the normal independent show. Baisden acquired a jumbotron style video board that sits on a stage where the wrestlers come out and to the ring, very similar to how WWE has its wrestlers come to the ring. Baisden is a fixture at the shows, watching and interacting with fans and even getting into the ring to brow beat a local manager. There is some good talent on the shows, including top area heel Dak Draper (Sam Udell, a recent cut from WWE Developmental),
Ken Dharma (Mike Sydal) and
Niles Plonk. Plonk has the best gimmick since Madonna’s boyfriend gimmick that Louis Spiccoli used, as he’s a wine connoisseur. Plonk actually owns a vineyard in Missouri.
Independent name talent including Kyle O’Reilly and Arik Cannon, have become part of the NWL in recent weeks.
Update News from NWL KC
Our next NWL event is Saturday, March 18, at 7 p.m. inside the Scottish Rite Temple! Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Matches announced so far include:
– NWL KC Championship Tournament Semi-Finals Match – Dak Draper vs. Niles Plonk
– NWL KC Championship Tournament Semi-Finals Match – Red Cloud vs. Blaine Meeks
– HUGE Tag Team Match: Royal Blood vs. The Blood Brothers
– Triple Threat Match: Jeremy Wyatt vs. Thor Theriot vs. Scott Slade
More matches to be announced!
Buy our monthly/yearly FIGHTCLUB KC packages to save money!
FIGHTCLUB KC GOLD (Ringside) – https://shop.nwleague.com/product/fightclub-kc-ringside/
FIGHTCLUB KC SILVER (Orchestra) – https://shop.nwleague.com/product/fightclub-kc-orchestra/
FIGHTCLUB KC BRONZE (Balcony) – https://shop.nwleague.com/product/fightclub-kc-balcony/