AEW has promised to run itself more like a sports franchise than sports entertainment, but they aren't the only wrestling promotion borrowing aspects from pro sports.
MLW has turned to a Moneyball approach made famous in MLB and National Openweight Champion Alexander Hammerstone is an example of that. MLW founder Court Bauer talked more about their approach and Hammerstone when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
"Well when you look at him, he just has the it factor. He will turn heads at the airport or anywhere. He looks like a top-level guy and he backs it up in the ring and on the mic. He has an incredible aptitude and if you tell him something once, he'll go out and execute it. He has really thrived since joining us in February and we're really happy to see how he's developed in our system," said Bauer.
"He was a guy just out there in California and working in Phoenix. We play Moneyball at MLW as we find undervalued and undiscovered talent. He checked so many boxes and we put him in play in Philadelphia and we were blown away. He's exceeded all expectations and he really is a franchise player."
Hammerstone is the openweight champion and that belt was just established in recent months. Bauer discussed why they added a new title and what the purpose of the openweight championship is.
"It added a different dimension compared to the middleweight and heavyweight titles. It's a secondary or stepping stone title. It's the only title without a weight class so we can have a lot of funky, fun matchups," Bauer said before adding that they don't plan on adding any more titles for a while.
"I do not like having too many titles and this is probably where we're gonna be at. I don't anticipate adding anymore singles titles for the foreseeable future until you have an insane amount of depth. But I'm not even a fan of it then as the titles get diluted."
One championship that MLW doesn't have is a women's championship because there is currently no women's division. Bauer was asked if getting that started is in the cards for MLW.
"We do and we're putting together our list of the key things we want from a Women's Division. First of all, someone you can build around and second is the right type of depth," stated Bauer.
"We did a test run in 2018 and wanted to perfect it before we roll it out with a championship, and that's where we're at right now. It's on the board and more of a 2020 thing than a 2019 thing. In 2018 and 2019 we wanted to lock up our talent and then from there further enhance our talent…Now we're ready to focus on our Women's Division. I do not want to half-ass it. I want to do it right or all of a sudden day one lineage looks kinda funky."
Speaking of lineage, the latest of the Von Erich family has ended up in MLW as Kevin's sons Ross and Marshall recently signed with the promotion. Bauer talked about being able to land the third-generation wrestlers.
"They're different. They look different than a lot of the guys you see out there," said Bauer. "They are great brawlers and they remind be a bit of Terry Funk. When I first saw Terry Funk punch someone, well, yeah you're actually getting punched. These guys lay their stuff in and we work snug in MLW. They are awesome."
Bauer added that Kevin Von Erich is someone special to MLW because they both share the same mentor in Gary Hart. Kevin's sons also add a different element to MLW.
"They are great kids and they're something different. That's the thing with MLW, I like presenting variety. They are the old, Steve Austin-style brawler…the ass-kicking southern brawler," Bauer said before adding that there are also opportunities for Ross and Marshall as singles competitors.
The Von Erichs are one of the most famous families in pro wrestling and also one of the most cursed. Bauer was asked how Ross and Marshall have dealt with the pressure of being Von Erichs.
"We started talking to them in January and we closed the deal just before the [Dark Side of the Ring] special," said Bauer. "I didn't even know about the special…Watching that special on Vice, it was very emotional and powerful. It was my favorite and also the hardest to watch episode for me with what the family and Kevin have endured."
Bauer then talked about the special and how in it Kevin sees his children as a source of hope and inspiration.
"It feels like these guys are a hope for Kevin, for Dallas wrestling, for Texas wrestling and for the family's legacy. Having gotten to know them, they aren't trying to replicate what once was. They are paving a new path for them and their future. That's a lot to have on your shoulders and they've done a brilliant job at handling that pressure. They are great kids," said Bauer who was then asked if Kevin will join his sons when MLW goes to Dallas.
"I think the legend will once again return. When and where we'll see, but I'm very excited to see."
MLW airs every Saturday night at 9 pm EST via BeIN Sports. Every episode can also be watched for free via MLW's YouTube channel.
Bauer's full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it Bauer discusses MLW and NOAH's new partnership, a possible MLW women's division, MLW's "Moneyball" approach, The Von Erichs joining MLW, Davey Boy Smith's NJPW exit and MLW future, MJF signing with AEW while staying with MLW and more