Probably one of the biggest talking points in the UK Wrestling Scene at the moment is X Wrestling, a company that has its first event next April, with AJ Styles, D’Lo Brown and Shark Boy being just some of the names on the card. This week I had the chance to put some questions to Phil Lowe the Managing Director of X Wrestling.
To kick us off, Can you tell us how you first got involved with the wrestling industry?
Certainly. Well, I first got involved in the industry in 1996, where via the Internet I scripted a few shows for some small US based promotions. From there, I was offered a position with a UK promotion called Commonwealth Championship Wrestling. As I’ve documented many times elsewhere, the company (which was ran by a guy called Mike Webb), was a total joke, and the majority of work during my time with the company was undertaken by Stuart Allen, now of EWW fame and also a part of our debut show on April 10th, 2004, “Revolution”.
After your initial experience in the wrestling business you got involved with BWA, can you tell us how this came about?
Well after the false promises of CCW, I ended up co-promoting a show myself in April of 1999, which was a great show in terms of wrestling and in-ring action. Unfortunately, I was ill prepared, and the show was funded solely on my personal finances. The whole thing was basically a disaster, and I learnt a lot from that one night
The BWA event was certainly a learning curve for you, but what did you learn as a wrestling promoter and businessman from the event?
I learnt a hell of a lot. To be honest, looking back, the BWA show was never run as a “business” – it was basically a couple of guys wanting to take centre-stage and promote a show. The show rocked the organisation and such-like was shockingly bad.
There’s a saying which I last recall a certain British WWE wrestler once saying – “Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance” – that says it all to me. With X Wrestling, we have spent around 12 months researching and preparing before we even went public with our plans.
What made you want to return to the wrestling industry?
At the end of the day, two reasons. One of those is that I’m a fan of wrestling. The other reason is that I think I can make X Wrestling Limited a successful company. I know we’re taking our fair share of negative comments on the Internet right now, but that is the way the Internet works a lot of the time. We want to send fans home happy at our shows, and we want to make the company a success both financially and also in terms of reputation.
You claim that X Wrestling will “Bring the ‘X’ factor” into the UK Scene, so what do you think is missing from the UK Scene?
My major ‘problem’ with the UK scene is that you can see the same guys wrestling for umpteen promotions. I don’t think this is a step forward for the UK scene. You can do it in the USA where the states are bigger than this country, but I see very little sense (from a company point of view) in guys appearing in one town with one promotion one night, then working 20 miles away for somebody else the next night. The UK scene (apart from the FWA) lacks any form of ‘brand awareness’, and I think if promotions had the majority of their roster consisting of guys and girls who were exclusive to them, the whole scene would be a lot healthier.
Looking at the roster of stars you have announced, it boasts some big names from the US and around the World, but as a UK Wrestling event, it does seem to lack UK Wrestling stars, will any more UK stars be appearing at “Revolution”?
We’ve got UK talent on board thus far in the shape of UK Pitbulls, Stuart Allen and Jorge Castano – all good people to have on board. There’s a possibility that we’ll have a couple more UK names added in the near future.
Who is X Wrestling marketed at the Internet fan, the WWE fan or the casual fan?
Everyone. We realise that a lot of UK wrestling fans are only really aware of WWE via Sky TV, and we realise that the Internet fan is MORE than aware of people like Teddy Hart, AJ Styles, Chad Collyer and more. We want cater for everybody. We do not want to rely on the Internet for advertising and marketing, but at the same time we do not want to alienate the Internet wrestling community from our live events.
Could you confirm with Wrestling101 what stars are currently scheduled to attend the X Wrestling’s “Revolution”?
We’ve got quite a roster. I’d say the line-up for “Revolution” will be the strongest non-WWE card in Europe for 2004. Hopefully this show – and future shows throughout 2004 – will be more exciting and unpredictable than the WWE shows here in the UK in recent years. Rather than write out the full list for “Revolution”, I’ll just say check out www.xwrestling.co.uk for further information.
Do you have a venue in mind for “Revolution”?
The Venue will be announced exclusively via 1wrestling.com and xwrestling.co.uk on Tuesday December 9th.
With so many US names on your roster, X Wrestling must have some good financial backing on board?
I don’t think it’s appropriate to go in to the financial side of the company in public, and I’m sure you can appreciate that. All I am willing to say is that we have worked hard to achieve what we have thus far, and that we are confident of success for a long, long time. I’m happy, everybody else working ‘behind the scenes’ is happy, the people we’re bringing in for our first live event are happy, and that’s all that matters right now. Come April 10th, you’ll see a lot of happy wrestling fans also.
You have announced the first match for the “Revolution” event as being Shark Boy vs. Matt Striker vs. Reckless Youth in a triple threat match, do you have any more matches planned at the moment?
Not yet. The Triple Threat match you mentioned is going to be an excellent opportunity for three guys to perform to a new crowd. Shark Boy and Reckless Youth have of course performed in the UK before, but all three will be put into a new environment with “Revolution”. It’s going to be one of many excellent matches I feel. We’ll start announcing more matches from the back end of this month onwards, and do our very best to begin to create some exciting storylines.
Originally you did have Ted Dibiase scheduled to appear at “Revolution”, but recently you announced that he wouldn’t be appearing, can you just explain what happened during the contract negations?
When we initially spoke to Ted DiBiase, he stressed he would work with us if we were a “clean” product. Over the past fortnight as a result of talks between X Wrestling, it’s backers, and a television production company, we talked more in-depth about the direction we would take X Wrestling in terms of content and in-ring action etc. While we’re adamant that we won’t become a hardcore type promotion, Mr DiBiase was not entirely happy about what we propose to include at our live events. There’s no heat at all between me, the company, and Ted. It just didn’t work out. Ted’s a really nice guy and who knows, perhaps something can happen between us at a later date.
What can you do or say to assure fans that this event wont end up the same way as what happened to Wrestlexpress and GWF?
“Revolution” WILL be the hottest show in the UK in the first half of 2004. It’s going to be a great night of wrestling. I can appreciate that people on the Internet are slightly cynical and negative because of past events, but I can assure people that in a worst case scenario we would take measures similar to how WWE would in the UK should a show be cancelled – i.e., a full refund. Needless to say, this will not be happening, and I’m confident of a great crowd in attendance on Saturday April 10th, 2004, for our first live event!
With the current climate of British wrestling and attendances for big event not being much over the thousand mark how can you justify the outlay on the project?
We’ve done our homework, and we’re confident that the first show will be a success in all areas. Again, I’m not going to publicly discuss company accounts and such like, but we’re going into this with months of hard work, research, planning etc behind us. The fans only really need to be concerned with the wrestling in the ring.
Looking at the UK Wrestling Scene, it seems to be slowly developing everyday and with the possibility of UK Wrestling being broadcast on UK television, what do you think the future holds for the UK Wrestling scene as a whole?
All-Star are still doing a good job, and the FWA are by far, in my opinion, the best promotion in the UK right now. Actually, they’re probably Number 1 in Europe. The wrestling industry certainly is developing here in the UK. I think in the future, you’ll see a television deal in the UK – and by that I don’t mean via ‘The Wrestling Channel’. I think a mainstream television deal can be struck in the next 2 years or so.
Have you been keeping a close eye on the UK Scene and the talented workers available, and who do you think is currently the best talent this nation has to offer?
Well, for starters it’s a shame Jodi Fleisch retired. I think he’ll return in due course – I certainly hope, as he’s one of the UK’s hottest talents. Doug Williams and Jonny Storm are in my opinion the top two right now. I’m really impressed by Majik and Baxter Burridge too. We’ve brought in some excellent UK talent in ‘The Dominator’, Jorge Castano and the UK Pitbulls, and I feel every one of them can add something to our product. Also look out for a kid called Dan Richardson who is based in my home town of Middlesbrough. He’s young and green still, but in a year or two I think this kid can be a great talent on the UK scene.
For the UK Scene to ever be able to compete with North American promotions, mainly the WWE, What do you think promoters have to do?
Be positive and think big. Nobody in the UK can compete directly with WWE, and they won’t be able to for the foreseeable future, but there’s no reason for promoters over here to want to settle for what they’ve got right now, is there? I can’t speak for promoters of other UK promotions, but personally speaking I think drawing a crowd of 200 people does nothing for the UK scene. People need to start advertising their shows in the right way. Once the crowds start to come back, promotions can look to build on their foundation. I know we’ve not started in the same manner as many other promotions, but we feel we’re going about things the right way, and we’re bringing in the right people to achieve our goals.
Going back to X Wrestling, if the debut show is successful, do you have any more plans scheduled for 2004 and onwards?
I think we will be successful. We put our VIP packages on sale yesterday and there is already a lot of interest – I’d be surprised if there is any VIP tickets left before the year is out. We’ll look to have dates confirmed in the first quarter of 2004, but right now we’re looking at our second show running in summer 2004, with monthly shows from there to the end of the calendar year.
Any final comments?
I’d just like to tell the UK fans that “Revolution” will be an amazing experience. We’ve got some great plans for the night in terms of production value, in-ring action, and guest appearances also. Make sure you check out our website – xwrestling.co.uk – for up to the minute news and information. I look forward to seeing you live in attendance at “Revolution” on Saturday April 10th, 2004!
Once again Phil thanks for your time and we all look forward to the X Wrestling event next year.
(Question supplied by Adam Sibley and myself)