On today's edition of our very own WINCLY Podcast, Capitol Wrestling Executive Producer and Co-Creator Matthew Ryan was a featured guest. Ryan gave his thoughts on some current events going on in the world of professional wrestling, and he also explained the challenges associated with producing an internet-based wrestling show like Capitol.
Huge news broke late last month when it was announced that Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff will act as Executive Directors of RAW and SmackDown respectively. Ryan explained to listeners of the WINCLY that this creative move, he believes, was done as preparation for WWE's move to FOX this October.
"Well, I see it as WWE doubling down on their partnerships with FOX and NBC," Ryan said. "You're bringing in two people that have a lot of name value and recognition to a lot of executives who, now, watched wrestling back in the 1990's. These are people that remember who Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman are. And also, Paul Heyman's been front-facing for years working with Brock Lesnar, who's a corner stone in the company whether fans like it or not. So I think it's a really smart business tactic, and I think that Eric and Heyman still have something left in the tank."
Ryan thinks it's unfortunate that a younger creative talent didn't get such a monumental opportunity. Nevertheless, he sees this as something similar to a high profile sports team bringing in a reputable coach to help better their players.
"Of course, obviously you would love to see a young creative get the chance to do something like that, but Paul Heyman's been kind of shepherding all creative minds in the industry since ECW," Ryan explained. "So he might be able to bring the next generation of booker, writer, producer to that level as more of a facilitator. When you're a team that on the outside, you look like you're struggling, you need to bring in a coach that has a little bit of respect from not only the boys, but the respect of the industry at large. And if you're a network like FOX, if you hear that the guy that beat Vince McMahon for 83 weeks [in ratings] is coming in to help the WWE in a huge transition period, you really can't argue against it."
Unlike WWE, Capitol Wrestling relies on keeping their product relevant by using internet platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook. Ryan went into detail about what it's like to write a wrestling show and then pitch it to network executives thereafter.
"A lot of people don't know about modern wrestling so you try to just explain [to networks] what it is," Ryan said. "I explain it to people as, 'It's a 30-minute sitcom that happens to have wrestling in it.' Now, it's not a show where there's 4% wrestling and 85% talking - I'd say it's more like 75/25 or 60/40 wrestling to talking... We write it like a sitcom. There's a cold open every week, there's A blocks, B blocks, and C blocks, and I just say, 'It's the same half hour as every TV show there's just two groups of people that will fight."
Ryan gave specific details regarding the platforms that feature Capitol Wrestling and at what time. He's excited about their first iPPV that is premiering this Thursday night.
"We're across about 5 - 6 different platforms across VOD and cable television," Ryan began. "We're on the FITE Network; our time slot is changing. We're going to give an announcement about that this week, hopefully. Our time slot will be on Thursdays, right after Impact and Smash Wrestling. So those are great lead-ins, and working with the guys over at the FITE Network has been so easy.
"It started out with just our YouTube channel and Facebook channel partnering with Andrew Zarian, the guy from the Queens Network. But then we started reaching out more, starting to develop. We worked a lot on Twitch; in 2018, we got over 1.3 million viewers on Twitch last year," Ryan continued. "And then they pivoted away from wrestling and got a little bit back in to gaming outside of IRL [in real life] content. It's just been reaching out and trying to get to people. We have a great relationship with Mike Webber and FITE TV. We're doing our first-ever iPPV on July 11th at 8 PM on FITE for only $10. It's our whole show, our first-ever uncensored, live, iPPV from "Skankfest" at the Brooklyn Bazaar in New York City."
Ryan noted that David Sahadi has been a major positive influence to Capitol Wrestling's overall product. Listeners may recognize his name from his time with Impact, MLW, or WWE's "Attitude Era".
"We have Dan Bynum and David Sahadi as creative producers and consultants," Ryan said. "Dave Sahadi obviously worked for Impact, he's done work for MLW, he was one of the executives in WWE during the 'Attitude Era'; if any pay-per-view package or any major vignette in the late 1990's - early 2000's, that was most likely his doing and his work. His notes and his support of what we do has been really, really helpful over the past few months especially in talking to sponsors, talking to different networks, etc. It's been a huge key for us."
Ryan believes that production value is absolutely one of the most important parts of producing any independent wrestling show. He detailed the strategy that he uses when distributing Capitol Wrestling on the various social medias.
"We're consuming content every hour of every day; you have a phone in your hand that doubles as a computer, doubles as a movie player/TV player, so you're dealing with all this content," Ryan stated. "And you need to make it stand out. Guys shooting promos with their phones isn't going to get the job done. You need stark visuals, you need things to draw the viewer in, you need to stop the scroll - you need to do that in social media for anything, especially pro wrestling.
"Because there's so much content out there, there's so much competition right now at any level whether it's the regional, national, or even international, there's so much competition out there that you need to set yourself apart. And the best way to do that is visually because once you have a style, and identity, a calling card, people will know that and people will be drawn to it."
Capitol Wrestling presents it's first iPPV "Capitol Wrestling At Skankfest NYC" this Thursday night at 7 pm CST via FITE. Advertised so far Homicide makes his Capitol Wrestling debut against the Colossal Mike Law, Deranged of Special K battles Colby Corino, The Mr. Entertainment Scramble, and Luis J. Gomez battles Mike Harrington for the Ellismania championship and Harrington's job with GAS Digital.
New Episodes of Capitol Wrestling can be seen Monday's at 6pm on FITE and Fridays at 12:30 am on Fight Network UK. Capitol can be viewed on-demand via Impact+, YouTube, Facebook, and Nothing Else On.
Ryan's full interview with Wrestling Inc was included in today's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it Ryan discusses the history of Capitol Wrestling, Capitol's upcoming international TV tapings in Nashville, working with Kevin Nash and Wrestling For Innocence, WWE hiring Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff in creative roles, working with Seth Rollins' Black & Brave Academy, Sonny Kiss and Nyla Rose being signed by AEW and more.
You can check out past episodes of the WINCLY here.