One of the early founders of the Pro Wrestling Guerrilla promotion, Joey Ryan, was a guest on Chris Jericho's Talk Is Jericho podcast. Ryan looked back at his evolution in the independent pro wrestling scene from the time he first left PWG for TNA/Impact Wrestling until he returned to the promotion in 2013.
"When I got signed to TNA, I was exclusive there. It was back in 2011 because back then, TNA guys couldn't work the indies," Ryan explained. "I left the promotion because I had to. I was in TNA for 13 months which was a funny story too; it was one of those things where they signed me for a year with a year option and then when my year was up, they sent me a FedEx saying that they are going to pick up my option and then a month later, they fired me. Thirteen months I was in TNA and then when I came back to the indies. I started to do PWG again but I wasn't doing any office duties because I was part of the machine before, and I left for the year, and different people were picking up different jobs, and it was running smoothly. So I just came back as talent at that point. I guess that would have been 2013 when I came back, and then 2015 or 2016 was my last show."
Ryan went into detail about how, unlike New York and some northern territories, working in southern California granted some contracted performers the ability to wrestle new opponents in front of new crowds.
"Southern California is kind of an island on its own," Ryan said. "You can use these guys under Evolve contracts because Evolve didn't care, and you can use these guys under TNA contracts and ROH contracts. You can have all of these dream matchups that would only take place there because Evolve and ROH aren't letting talent work together in New York because that is both their territory. But Southern California is away from everything which, at that point, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels, you can book them through TNA. So a lot of stuff got under the radar which was creating some dream moments, and it was the whole boom of social media and stuff and the footage being available faster."
With stars like Johnny Gargano, Adam Cole, and Trevor Lee all impressing in PWG prior to debuting in WWE NXT, Ryan considered the impact that both WWE and AEW will have on PWG's roster going forward. Ryan sees this as part of the natural cycle of talent finding their place and he believes that it allows for new stars to be ushered in, like the rapidly developing MJF.
"It could [affect PWG] in theory. The Young Bucks were able to get ROH to 'okay' them to do PWG so other ROH guys were like, 'Why do they get to do it and not us?' PWG is the only place in the States because ROH doesn't travel to California, so they got the okay and now it is in every ROH deal where the one west coast promotion ROH guys can work is PWG," Ryan explained. "Wrestling just rolls with the punches. If you take all these guys off the market it gives the opportunity for these other guys to step up and become stars.
"Obviously I'm just pulling examples off of my head but, Adam Cole gets signed to WWE, and is off of the market, and then all of a sudden an MJF steps up," Ryan continued. "And maybe the opportunities are not as prevalent as if Adam Cole is still around taking bookings. There's a lot of talented guys out there that just need an opportunity. So far it's been okay. Promotions have bounced back and found guys to fill the void. I mean, it's definitely taken a hit because those guys are established stars but I think it's not the end of the world or doomsday for independent wrestling."
If you use any quotes from this article, please credit Talk Is Jericho with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.