Sunday, 24 September 2017

A Conversation with IPW:UK promoter Billy Wood

On 12th September, we sat down for a chat with Billy Wood, the new owner of International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom, following their takeover by FIGHT! Nation Wrestling in July. The interview includes talk about the takeover and future plans for IPW:UK and whole lot more.

ATPW: How did you become a fan of professional wrestling? 

Billy Wood: How did I become a fan? Bloody hell! I actually became a fan, it must have been the early nineties, the very early nineties, even before SummerSlam '92. My Mom got cable for the first time. It was a dodgy cable situation, where you paid a certain amount and you got X amount for free as such. I remember seeing on Sky for the first time WWF Wrestling and being like "What the hell is this?" As a kid, all you see is this big, glamorous men grappling and you think to yourself "Wow, I'd love to be like that when I'm older". I then became a fan over the years and I remember all then I remember the pandemonium around SummerSlam '92 in the papers, then you get wrestling figures and you naturally become a fan as a kid. Anything that's put in front of you that's larger than life, as a kid, whether that's the Ninja Turtles, wrestling, whatever, you're drawn to it as a kid.

But I think I really became a fan, a couple of years later. I'd just moved house and I went round my friend's house and he had a VHS tape of SummerSlam '94. I remembered Bret Hart from a couple of years before and being a wrestling figure fan and he put on this cassette and it was Bret vs. Owen [Hart] in a cage and it drew me in. The drama of that match ignited a wrestling fan in me and from that moment on, I've always been a wrestling fan, through my childhood and my teen years and moving on and becoming involved in the wrestling business. I'm still a fan today, that's for sure. 

ATPW: I like that what caught your eye was the characters, but it was the classic match and the stories that eventually kept you a fan. 

BW: Oh, totally! The glitz and the glamour, the Hogans, the Ultimate Warriors, those are the ones..."Wow, what is this thing!" At the time I must have been 6 or seven, I wasn't exactly an older kid, that was the thing that made me go "Wow, what is this?", "These figures are cool!", "These wrestlers can wrestle my Ninja Turtles, great!" But at the same time going and seeing that VHS of Bret and Owen and seeing that technical match. It wasn't just the technical side of it, but also the drama of the family. The whole spectacle made sense to me and when it finally made sense and clicked, that's when I got immersed in the business and wanted to know as much as I could, every little bit from that moment onwards.

ATPW: From there, when did you first discover there was a British wrestling scene? 

BW: I found out about British wrestling through the Fairfield Halls. All Star Wrestling, they were regular though and then suddenly, Earthquake was on a tour over here and my Nan and Grandad took me to the show and I met Earthquake. But on that same card was a bunch of British wrestling, that I had no clue who they were and the gimmicks were very much carbon copies of what was going on in WWF at the time and you could see that it was just a campier version of that, but weirdly I loved it. Then following that I saw the Trans-Atlantic Challenge show on ITV, which was British wrestlers versus American wrestlers, none that I knew of, but weirdly from there I started reading Powerslam and from Powerslam I found an ad for training at Hammerlock, which I ended up starting to attend in the year 2000. 

ATPW: How long did you train for? 

BW: Not actually that long, unfortunately. It was quite funny actually, a couple of us who were wrestling fans and one of my friends was more into it than most, so I badgered him and convinced him to get his Dad to start taking us to train. Now, it was an hour and half or two hours drive there and back and the sessions used to last all day on a Sunday. His poor Dad used to drop us off in the morning, we'd spend all day there and then shoot off in the late afternoon. We did that for a few good months, probably longer, but eventually his Dad decided that "I'm not taking you guys to this, this is wasting my Sundays" and I didn't have any more travel to get there. It didn't matter how hard I tried to get there, in my teens, it was a little hard to get all the way to Kent, so unfortunately I had to stop. But at that time I made enough contacts and got to know people who ended up being vital in my return to British wrestling a little bit later on in the naughties. 

ATPW: So what happened in between you stopping training and launching FIGHT! Nation in 2015? 

BW: After training, I graduated school and went to University. Off the back of university I got into the music business, which I'm still in to this day. Then I reconnected with a few of my wrestling friends and decided that "You know what, I run a lot of music events, I'd love to run a wrestling show". I went to go and run a wrestling show and I won't name any names, but a promoter tried to block it and tried to get a wrestler to contact me to put the frightners up me to stop doing the show, that was Stu Allen. Stu Allen called me up, we had a conversation and realised that in fact we both liked each other, we both got on and we should meet. So, I went to meet Stu in 2008 and we discussed his promotion, EWW, which he ran in Witney up in Oxfordshire, this (meeting) is down in Hastings by the way, which is where Stu resides and resided then. We discussed about bringing EWW back, which we did and changed the name from Extreme World Warfare to Extreme World Wrestling and we started back in 2009 in Herne Bay in Kent. At a time when British wrestling wasn't really drawing, we drew over 400 people in Herne Bay on that first show. On that card was Andy Simmonz, Marty Scurll, Jonny Storm to name a few There was only a few places doing decent numbers and the rest were doing twenty to 40 people, so to wrestle in front of hundreds of people for those guys was a big deal then. 

I did that with Stu for a few years, we toured the UK. We did a show at the Liverpool Olympia, so did shows in Liverpool, Coventry, Herne Bay, Hastings and Warrington. So we literally toured up and down the UK for a couple of years. Then in 2010, unfortunately, the music side of my business got incredibly...well I say unfortunately, but fortunately it became hugely successful for me and sucked all the time out of wrestling. I couldn't justify the time I was putting into EWW and me and Stu decided to part ways with Stu continuing with EWW and me stepping out of the wrestling business. I still kept my links with everyone, had conversations with a few promotions about getting involved during that interim period, but nothing really made sense. 

Then in November 2014, I was going to the WWE live event and Marty Scurll was going down there too and he said "Lets meet for dinner". So I went for dinner with Marty and along came Jimmy Havoc as well. It was actually Marty's fault that FIGHT! Nation exists because I asked all the questions and he poked the bear and gave me the itch to get back involved. So after our dinner that night, I decided that in 2015, I would launch a wrestling promotion.

ATPW: So the first event for FIGHT! Nation was in Islington. Why did you choose that location for the first event? 

BW: Because it's London! My music office is based in London to this day. London's the capital city and in my opinion with the dense amount of people in London and the surrounding areas, the catchment is pretty high, so that's why I went with London first and foremost. Which, to be fair, rubbed a few people up the wrong way and because I'm very private, no-one knew that it was me doing FIGHT! Nation, so promotions like PROGRESS, who may have came around after my first initial push in British wrestling didn't know who I was (or if I) had any pedigree in wrestling, so, of course, "This new guys turned up and is trying to get on our patch". Well, the fact of the matter is that show flopped. I can admit it, we did about fourty to 50 people in the venue, but at the same time, I didn't look at FIGHT! Nation or any wrestling promotion as a one in, one out situation. It was about building a brand, building brand loyalty, showing we did have a business plan and we still do have a business plan and to grow our product and our brand to the point where we are competing. 

ATPW: In that first year, FIGHT! Nation was promoted as part of the NWA. How did that come about? 

BW: I was put in touch with Bruce Tharpe, who was the president of the NWA at the time. They had a promotion here, it was New Breed and now I get on really well with Chris Baxter, he seems to be a decent guy, but the fact was and he'd be the first to admit it, the quality wasn't that high. Bruce was very interested in the names and the production values that we were looking to use in FIGHT! Nation. For example, the likes of Marty, Will Ospreay, Doug Williams, Sha Samuels, we were using the best of British. Me and Bruce Tharpe spoke a lot about, what he wants to do with the NWA, I was sold on the idea and how he saw a UK partner as part of that affiliation and we joined the NWA. 

Whilst it wasn't fruitful for us really and it didn't help our brand in many way, it was helpful to collaborate and get to know a lot of the US promoters who were part of the NWA. Most in the same time when we were a part of it left, because they also felt aggrieved or disillusioned with where Bruce was going with it, but at the same time if it wasn't for us joining, I wouldn't have certain relationships in the States that I have now.

ATPW: Another partnership you've had was with Fite TV. How did that come about? What was the experience like filming for TV, as opposed to a regular show?

BW: The Fite relationship came really organically. Those guys were looking to add more content, they still are looking for great content and have a real platform there. We were growing as a brand, Fight! Nation from it's inception to our recent of IPW, it was gaining real traction. I can honestly say that whilst it might not have got the praise of the so-called bigger companies, the events were definitely competitive that level and deserved the recognition they were getting. Fite came about and saw what we were doing. 

Through the NWA thing I found Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, which is run by a good friend of mine, David Marquez, and I liked the way they shot their shows. It was all about TV and the concept, it was almost like the missing link between what I wanted to try to achieve with Fight! Nation. Me and Dave spoke and we looked at it and we said "We want to try and achieve that to, maybe it's a case of we look at your production values and see what you can do here". So I went over to LA and met with Dave and went and watched his production in full effect and his production crew, seeing everything that they do, from the lighting to the editing to every little aspect of how they create their TV show. Then I bought Dave over here to shoot our pilot. At the same time I was negotiating with Fite TV to do it and it just all fell in place.

The concept was very much "shot for TV", the crowd a certain way, the lighting, the feel, the vibe. It was shot in a fourty-five minute format to be very snappy for TV. I think it's a great format, but I think it was too early. I think Fight! Nation in fact is so much in it's infancy that the stuff that we want to do, we can't do yet with Fight! Nation. In this country, it takes a while to build a brand. It takes a lot of baby steps to get it right. PROGRESS aren't running Wembley Arena after their first year, they're going into their sixth year. So it takes time to really build something and create that buzz. I think that the resources and concepts and ideas that we have, in a weird way are ahead of our own brand and the fact of the matter is without the audience we can't achieve what we need to with the product. Without me going and spending £10,000 on marketing or throwing money at it, because I don't want to do that, I want it to feel organic, it just didn't sit right. 

Whilst the product that we created with Fite was great, it didn't get the eyeballs that we needed on it, so I looked at that as how I could expand our reach and how I could expand our audience and really reach our potential and that's what happened when we ended up negotiating with IPW.

ATPW: I wanted to chat about some of the recent purchase actually. The first one was Triple X in January, so why did you choose Triple X as opposed to any other promotion at the time? 

BW: Once again it was a conversation, that opened that up. For me, content is king and if contents available to purchase and it's at the right price, then I'm in the market for it. I bought the NWA Parade of Champions 2016, so I own the rights to that, we bought the Triple X library and the social media assets. It's a case of finding the right moment to strike with these things. At the time, we didn't have an on demand service, so what I was trying to do was make sure we had enough content to make doing an on demand service viable and attractive. So that's why the Triple X thing came about, it was the simple fact that there was a lot footage there, some great matches. It's a catalogue with a lot of top British guys who have gone on to achieve great things now, from your Pete Dunnes to your Tyler Bates to your Zack Sabre Jrs and it just felt right. There's a fantastic Daniel Bryan match in the archive that we can't wait to get out on the IPW On Demand service. The Triple X deal was simply that, to buy content.

ATPW: Also at the time, there was an announcement about something that was called Project X, which developed into ONE Wrestling. What makes ONE Wrestling different from a regular Fight! Nation or IPW show? 

BW: Well, at the time, when it was announced, the idea of ONE was to run dream matches in an exclusive venue. We chose this venue in Milton Keynes, Unit 9. When you see it on the footage, you'll see how crazy it is. It's a warehouse, but it's decorated in such a cool, funky way that we thought it would just fit what we wanted to do with ONE. Fight! Nation was very much for the families. It's a family show for 6 year old kids and all the way up to 60 year old Grandads, but ONE was planned to give the hardcore fans dream matches in an exclusive venue.

Now, with the purchase of IPW and the conscious decision to go forward with one brand name, which is IPW, whilst the ONE show goes ahead in October and will be delivering what we said it would deliver, those dream matches, it is going to be under the IPW banner. 

ATPW: Onto IPW, how did that come about and why did you choose IPW:UK?

BW: It came about once again through a conversation. There was no intention to buy IPW, however, in business I always have a mindset that if an opportunity arises and it makes financial sense then I will look at it and with IPW it was a case that it need fresh impetus, that it needed a change. Looking at the history of IPW, it's the founding father of the promotions you see today. Without IPW, I could argue there would be no PROGRESS, I could definitely argue there would be no RevPro, so you've got to look at what IPW means to British wrestling and where it should be to where it is. Now, don't get me wrong IPW is still in a strong position, we have the FloSlam deal, we have the incredible catalogue, but I feel like it could be in a better position. I feel like we can give it that fresh impetus that it needs, give it the spark that will kick it back into gear and make it the #1 promotion in this country.

So why did I buy IPW? Because I believe in it's history and I believe that with that history we can turn the future into something very, very profitable. 

ATPW: How have the initial shows with IPW:UK gone since the takeover? 

BW: Well, actually we haven't necessarily run those. Whilst we purchased the company, in fact the previous promoter, Dan Edler, is running his last show on 17th September. The deal was to get to the anniversary show, which is the 13th year anniversary and from there start clean and we wanted to honour that. We've obviously been helping to make sure that things go smoothly at those shows. My staff have been on hand, I've been on hand. I've addressed the whole team and I still want some values held up to, but at the same time there's things that I've seen from those shows that I'm not happy with. There's certain core values, that when it comes down to production don't appease me. What I've found is that since my takeover, whilst there is an amazing foundation to build on, there's still a hell of a lot of work to be done.

ATPW: How do you foresee IPW, Fight! Nation and ONE Wrestling coming together going forward? 

BW: The rest of the year, it's going to be a merger of the brands and the roster, that's for sure. There are similarities anyway, but everything will be going forward under one brand, which is IPW. So Fight! Nation as a promotion doesn't exist anymore. Fight! Nation is the holding name of the company that owns the brands, but IPW is the wrestling promotion that oversees every event going forward. All the events going forward will have the IPW logo on them, they will be IPW branded and by the end of the year you will fully see the effect of where IPW is going forward. December 17th, which is our end of the year show, everything from this moment onwards is like the road to that show. All the storylines will merge and make sense into that. At the end of the year show you will see, a different look in IPW. From a production stand point, it will improve, I already believe from an in-ring standpoint it will be even better than it is today and from an entertainment standpoint. I feel like Fight! Nation was doing some incredible stuff under the rader, I think that if we can take that stuff and with the history and the value of IPW and merge those two things, there's no way that IPW can't win. 

ATPW: How have you found the feedback from fans and talent since the news of the takeover broke?

BW: From talent, it's been fantastic. You always expect talent to want work, that goes without saying, but the way people have branched out from the talent to other people within the business, to promoters to production staff, it's been great. People feel that IPW has a chance again to grow and want to be part of that. I'm not just talking about local talent, a lot of international talent has reached out and has openly been very positive about the purchase. So how's it been taken by the workers? Great, especially the guys on the roster. I told each and every one of them that can come to me with any problems that they've had in the past with IPW, anything that they've seen or felt that not necessarily needed changing, that they felt uncomfortable with. But I've also said that I want IPW to be all about a great atmosphere. I want people to want to work for IPW, because of not just the great in-ring action and the great crowds that we deliver, but also that they enjoy being part of the family. That's really important to me, to make sure that each and every person that's part of our team, wants to be part of our team. 

Going to the fans, once again, fantastic. I don't like to push myself forward, it's not about me. I'm not the brand, IPW is the thing that sells tickets, Billy Wood does not sell tickets, so it's not about me. I don't want to be in storylines, I do not want to be front and centre of the TV shows or the live shows. I've got no aspiration to do that and the little that I have done will exactly stay that, it will be very little and I will disappear very, very, very quickly. The most important thing to the fans is that IPW is the show you don't want to miss and the only way we do that is with the greatest wrestlers, the greatest talent and the most enjoyable production that they could possibly see. 

ATPW: I think the closer we get to the end of the year and the clearer the picture becomes, the more the fans will get behind it. Because there was a little bit of confusion, in regards to where things where going when the announcement was made...

BW: Oh yeah, people go "Are they still going to run the same venues" and it's like "Come on!". The image of IPW has to grow and if that means that we have to move to nicer venues, then it's only going to give the customer a better experience and 2018 is about creating that better fan experience.

Credit - Beyond Gorilla

ATPW: At the end of the day, it's all about the people who come to pay...

BW: Oh yeah, totally! This isn't about me at all, it's really about the larger team delivering something that you would want to buy a ticket for. That's not necessarily me putting a name on a flyer that makes you want to buy a ticket, I want you to buy a ticket because IPW shows are unmissable. I don't want it to be "I'll go to this one because X, Y and Z are on it, but I won't go to the other one because there's the All England Champion vs. whoever". I want people to be really excited to be coming to IPW because there are unmissable.

ATPW: What have been your best and worst moments as a wrestling promoter? 

BW: The worst moment was a wet Tuesday night in Coventry in 2009, with about 35 people in the venue and Raven headlining! My best moment was watching Mark Haskins beat Marty Scurll for the British title in Weymouth in front of nearly 400 people. 

ATPW: You can't really go wrong with those two in the ring!

BW: I think we were the first to do that match in recent times, before the go to match everywhere!

ATPW: Are you yet to work with anyone who you've been starstruck for?

BW: In wrestling? I'm trying to think...who have I booked? I think I'm probably at a disadvantage with that because I work in the music industry and I worked with some major acts, like Run DMC amongst others, so I don't really get starstruck. I've never been starstruck but I did have some meetings with Rey Mysterio and it was pretty cool to sit with a guy who has wrestled across the world and is a prominent star. I wasn't starstruck by him, but I was struck by how humble he was. 

ATPW: On a day of a show, what's your role? 

BW: My role at a show is to make sure my team is doing there jobs. We have a staff, a working crew that set up the events. For me, it's making sure that the show been set up correctly from a production stand point. The logistics, making sure the seating arrangement is right, making sure the rings there, making sure everyone's ready to do their job. That's number one and number two is sitting down with the production team and going over the show with my agents, because we have agents that will agent the matches. Going through it with my camera crew and my producer and director to make sure we're all prepped on what's going on. If there's any surprises we know what's happening and are as prepared as you possibly can be for a wrestling show. Then once the show starts, whilst I do have someone who is a stage manager, I can't help myself, I will do the nitty gritty jobs as much as the high profile jobs. I'm not too precious to get my hands dirty, so if I need to go help on the door, I'll go help on the door, if I need to make sure the merch is right, I'll go work at the merch, if I need to make sure my workers are at the curtain, I'll go and make sure they're by the curtain. Ultimately, I'm just relaying the message of what we want and what we're trying to achieve at the show. Number one is with my talent to give them that creative freedom to express themselves but not at the expense of the show and I've been very fortunate to this day that each any every talent that I've worked with and I can stay this hand on heart, has respected where we're going and what we're doing and has fed into the larger plan.

ATPW: So it sounds like you've quite a large set-up behind the scenes, compared to what I'd expect from similar promotions...

BW: Totally, it's about investment into your brand and what you're trying to achieve. The truth of the matter is I'm not going to be the best person for every job. Too many people take on promotions, because they want to book or they want to be Vince McMahon or they want to be Paul Heyman, they want to be that guy that made someone a star, that's not why I'm in wrestling. I'm in wrestling because I want to make whatever promotion, whatever company I own succesful and believe I can. That's about collaborating with the right people, that's about having knowledge staff in different areas that can enhance your product and setting that ethos from the start was super important for me going into what we're trying to do now with IPW. Yeah, I can sit there and have a concept of who I see as our top talent, but am I the only guy that puts together our show? Absolutely not. There's loads of other unsung heroes in our team that are as important as me. I'll be honest, even in Fight! Nation I've missed three shows, I've not even been at the shows and if I didn't have that team in place, I couldn't do that. Don't get me wrong, one of them I was in Dubai and I was on Facetime throughout the whole show to make sure things went right but that's because I can't help myself. If I didn't have that team, there would be no show. 

ATPW: It sounds like you've got a great set up and now that you're moving over to another brand it could be something that makes the merge a lot easier on yourself...

BW: The truth of the matter is, a lot of the people around me are people that were involved in IPW, but at the same time, they're not involved as much as they should be, if you get what I mean. Me coming in and re-configuring the set up around the promotion and reinvigorating it, its not that hard. Remember IPW has the fan base and the reach that Fight! Nation doesn't  have. There's two things we can't do. We can't erase the history of IPW and we can't disrespect the history of IPW, those two things that we have to embrace to make IPW stronger going forward. If we embrace those two things but add in our work ethic with Fight! Nation, top that with how we structure shows...because ultimately does a fan really want to spend three hours at a wrestling show in this day and age. The concentration span of a human being is getting shorter and shorter and shorted, because we live in a world where we can get anything at anytime, so you've got to look at your live shows and make sure that they are punchy and impactful enough that when people leave they want more. You don't want people leaving early because you've over run by an hour. You want people to leave saying "I can't wait to come back" and that's what we're going to do with IPW.

Johnny Storm won the IPW:UK title after this interview.

ATPW: If you wanted to sell someone on your product, what matches, moments or shows would you show them? 

BW: To give you an idea of some of the elements that we'll be bringing to IPW, I would watch Marty Scurrl vs. Will Ospreay from our tournament to crown our first champion which was on the War on the Shore event which was our second show, that's one I'd definitely watch. Mark Haskins vs. Marty Scurll is one as well to definitely give you an idea of where we are going. To give you a fresher flavour of how we try to unearth these talents before they break, Mark Andrews vs. Chris Ridgeway at Chapter Three would be a good indicator of how we push these guys into prominent positions. That makes sense for people to see going into the new era of IPW. Those are the free matches I'd say to watch to give a flavour of what we've achieved. That's not discrediting the rise of Ryan Smile. Ryan Smile vs. Josh Bodom, each an every match we've done with those guys was incredible feud, that just showed the talent that both of those guys have. Look at Ryan now, he's gone on to perform on some of the biggest stages and we're super proud of him. We took him in as one of our own and gave him a platform to be seen by some of these promotions and he's gone on and taken that and now he's one of the top guys in the UK. 

ATPW: You mentioned Chris Ridgeway and he's someone that I've seen fleetling at places like SWA and Pro Wrestling Kingdom and wondered why he wasn't in more places across the country. Now, he's your Fight! Nation Champion, so what made you decide to push Chris to fore front of the promotion? 

BW: I think with Chris, I saw that this guy had incredible technical ability. I watched some of his matches and saw that he was growing in stature as a performer and I just felt that with the right platform this guy could be the next breakout star of the UK and it might sound selfish but that's why we wanted to bring him into Fight! Nation and mould him, in a sense, to show that he can step up to those main events. To be fair to him, he's delivered. If you watch the matches that he's had for us, from his match with Mark Andrews where he won the title and no one would have expected, to his match with PJ Black that same weekend, to the match he had with Matt Riddle which was fantastic, that's on Fight! on Fite, to all the way to recently when he faced Mark Haskins, he's delivered. It was only recently when he faced Shane Strickland on FloSlam in a title vs. title match for IPW. 

Going back to your question the thing that drew me to him was that I feel like he has a unique star power about him, but no ones seeing it right now or no one saw it right then. If you give someone and opportunity and they can run with it and make it their own, then they're only going to look back at what you've done in a fond way and when Chris goes on to achieve even more in his career, if he looks back at what he did with Fight! Nation and what he's going to do with IPW and he's fond of it and thinks of us as a home then that's only good for our reputation around the world. We need to continue to have wins like that and we need to continue to create stars, we need to continue to push people. Not too early, don't get me wrong, you don't get pushed until you can run with the ball. At the same time, those guys get them into the positions that they can and too believe in them and give them the matches and the exposure that they deserve. 

ATPW: Do you kind of have to give someone the ball to see if they can run with it? 

BW: That's true, but you have to be careful who you give that ball to. If you try it too many times and it doesn't work on a regular basis, what happens is your brand gets discredited and we can't have that. As an overall brand, we can't risk it too often, but taking strategical risks on new talent and growing them can only improve your brand.

ATPW: Over the past few years we've seen quite a few British wrestlers break out internationally, guys who've worked for IPW and Fight! Nation, guys like Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay, Joseph Conners, is there anyone else on your roster who could potentially follow them to that level? 

BW: Yeah, I believe so. Ryan Smile has to break out within the next year, surely. He's without a doubt someone who if he puts his mind to it he can be a world beater, but that's down to him. Rob Sharpe, I believe can go on to do great things, Sid Scala is the most entertaining character on the British scene bar none and the question is whether that will translate to America, is the toughest thing for him. But I've no doubt in his ability and I think he has huge, huge potential to break that mould.

The one guy I'm most excited about and someone I feel very proud that we've looked at and nurtured in a completely different way to others is Adam Maxted. Off the back of Love Island, a lot of promotions booked Adam and put him in this primadona heel role, well I see Adam completely different to that. Adam Maxted to me is, if you meet him, is the nicest guy you'll ever meet. Like the nicest guy. The most willing to learn, hard working kid, who deserves all the opportunities he's getting. Combine that with the raw talent that he has, he can be a huge, huge star and a real beacon of light, not just for British and Irish wrestling, because he's putting the work in and he's using his work rate and his ability to better himself every time. And he listens, the number one component that people fail on more than most is listening and Adam gets ten out of ten for listening. So, if I was going to choose one, who I think will go on to do incredible things in wrestling, it's Adam Maxted. 

ATPW: I really like how passionate you are about some of the guys on your roster. It seems like you want to see them succeed and grow and obviously that's only going to help your company to grow as they become bigger stars...

BW: The fact of the matter is wrestling on the independents doesn't make 99% of people rich. They do this for the passion. So if the promoter who is supposed to be promoting them can't have the passion that they have, then the promoter shouldn't be in the job. Simple as. If I can't feel what they feel then why should I be a promoter? 

ATPW: Do you still watching wrestling as a fan? 

BW: You have to, because if you don't...I don't buy into the idea that anyone in the wrestling business isn't a fan anymore. You have to be a fan. Lets use another analogy, say for example is was a football manager and I have to go and watch football matches to scout my opposition or I'm watching football on the TV because I want to know whats going on in the game. Are they not football fans anymore? Of course they are! So, yeah, I'm definitely a wrestling fan and I'm proud to say that I'm a wrestling fan. 

ATPW: What have you been watching recently? 

BW: I watch a mixture of stuff, to be honest with you. My taste is very diverse when it comes to wrestling. I still keep up to date with what's going on in the WWE and TNA/GFW because ultimately they are the entertainment leaders so you should know what's going on with the number one brand in your industry. I still watch a lot of independents in the US. From the TV aspect I still watch Championship Wrestling from Hollywood to keep my eyes on TV production. I'll also watch EVOLVE, I'll watch House of Glory in New York, I'm a really big fan of what those guys are doing there. Then coming over here, I'm super super happy for PROGRESS and their continual growth and think them going into Wembley next year is only a good thing for British wrestling, so massive respect and support for them and I do stay on top of their product too. I watch New Japan, I wouldn't say I'm an avid watcher of New Japan Pro Wrestling, but at the same time I do keep my eye on whats happening in the market. If people are raving about something I will check it out and try to understand why they rave and rant and what makes a wrestling fan like or dislike something, because ultimately we can disagree about what's good and what's bad, but I have to sell tickets to these wrestling fans. So do I have to tell them that they're wrong or do I have to give them a product that they're gonna enjoy? That's why it's important that I watch all these different products to get a better understanding of what's working in 2017. If I had it my way, I'd probably just watch a bunch of 90s wrestling, but that's getting me nowhere. 

ATPW: So you being a fan feeds into you being a promoter and vice versa. It's all part of the same experience...

BW: Yeah, it's part of the same thing. Knowledge is the most powerful thing and me having a landscape of knowledge of what's going on and what's working and what's not is only going to helpful for my brand.

ATPW: Where can people find you on the internet? 

BW: Twitter and Facebook is IPW:UK. You can go onto IPW's website which is, that's where you can find the latest news, buy tickets to the shows, see the calendar of what's going on. And Snapchat which is IPW:UK! 


A big thanks to Billy for spending over an hour chatting wrestling with me! Check out IPW:UK on social media and go check out a show if you can. We wish the company and Billy all the best heading towards that big show in December and with everything going on during this exciting period for the company. 

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