One of the top promotions in pro wrestling, Major League Wrestling has seen a significant rise in popularity over the years. With new signings, new TV deals and a major TV network, MLW has seen a dramatic growth this past year alone. One of the reasons for that is CEO Court Bauer.
The pro wrestling world, including MLW, has been dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, as they have been unable to hold events past TV tapings. Speaking with MLW in an exclusive, Bauer, discussed how he and MLW are handling this real world event.
"Yes, we have been hit very hard here in New York," Bauer stated. "Our offices are a half of a mile from the first containment zone in the country. It's surreal.
"My admiration and thoughts go out to everyone on the frontlines from the medical end saving lives and looking for medical breakthroughs, to those keeping the supply chain going along with essential services, first responders and all who risk their lives for us. They are true heroes. They're incredibly brave and selfless. This is a dark hour but because of them we'll see it through and eventually return to a normal, healthy everyday existence."
Several sports have had to postpone or cancel events altogether. The Olympics were moved to 2021 and WWE and AEW have been filming episodes of their products in order to get weeks of programming in. When MLW signs a major talent, it is expected for them to be at events. Due to recent rules of public distancing and disruption of travel, international stars have had to remain where they originally were. That doesn't stop the company, however, from continuing their goal of expansion.
"Beyond the disruption to live events, we had a few athletes slated to compete in Japan, Europe and Mexico, which is now delayed," Bauer went on to say. "Some of that complicates programming strategies, but it's more of a postponement than anything. For some in our locker room, it was their first tour and that is heartbreaking, but I expect everything will continue as planned upon a return to normalcy.
"As for the nuts and bolts of our business, we've had time to continue discussions to expand our domestic content offerings, plus focus on some ambitious projects as well as growing our global footprint. These are always priorities but right now we've been able to make significant progress on these fronts."
Bauer has plenty of ideas to help MLW grow. That includes something similar to the 1995 World Wrestling Peace Festival, where the wrestling world comes together to celebrate unity and to help those in need. He is hoping it will either take place in North America or Europe.
Speaking of working with international markets, MLW has been known to collaborate with a number of promotions. While everything is on hold, Bauer is looking to keep his relationships afloat.
"Surprise, surprise. We remain in business with NOAH," Bauer went on to say. "We actually had some talent teed up to come in and vice versa before the virus hit Japan. I understand it's come back pretty bad in Japan which is dispiriting.
"I should also give a quick update on Dragon Gate, as many fans are excited for their introduction. Because of the pandemic, visas and the process which enables them to legally be able to work in America has been significantly delayed. Things will pick up in due time but we're at the mercy of the realities of the world and government processing applications.
"Beyond Japan, I also want to praise Dorian Roldan and his team at AAA in Mexico. It's been an incredibly positive relationship. We're planning on some exciting collaborations on the horizon. I can't wait for everyone to see the MLW / AAA Super Series on MLW Fusion."
MLW's deal with BeIN has resulted in viewers all over the country. Bauer teased that during this time there will be a plan with BeIN and 50 episodes currently being prepared for that would result in them going into 2021 without needing to promote a live event.
As far as the talent goes, the promotion has propelled various stars in just a short time. Even in a loss to Davey Boy Smith Jr. at the Opera Cup Brian Pillman Jr. has become a fan-favorite. Stars are doing their best to show who they are during this time via social media. As far as future bouts and storylines go, Bauer has a few plans.
"Davey Boy (Smith) has been pushing hard for a crack at Fatu's belt," said Bauer. "Of course, National Champion Alex Hammersotne has been making his own case for a title versus title match on Twitter. They're both huge matches. Both are in the mix. In the tag team division, Lawlor and Garrini want a shot at the belts and I know the Von Erichs are on board, but I'd like to see Team Filthy formally enter the division with some matches before we go there.
"The future of Myron Reed as World Middleweight Champion is up in the air. Why reward Myron after the Pillman thing? Some would argue stripping him of the belt is in order. We were planning on a possible Pillman-Reed title fight but we very well could strip Reed as punishment. I'm in no rush to make a decision."