Beyond Wrestling has been getting a good deal of buzz recently. Whether it is over a million subscribers on YouTube, buzz generated by an intergender match or the recent announcement of a weekly streaming show, something is always going on with Beyond. I interviewed company owner Drew Cordeiro to learn more:
For those learning about Beyond Wrestling and Unchartered Territory for the first time, can you tell our readers more about the promotion and the forthcoming show?
"Beyond Wrestling was founded in May of 2009 with our first "event" taking place at the Mega Championship Wrestling gym in Elyria, Ohio. The purpose was to create an environment free of politics to allow wrestlers to perform to the best of their abilities without any restrictions. The goal from the start was to give back to wrestling by providing overlooked and underrated wrestlers a platform to gain notoriety. We are mindful of our ethos with every decision that we make. Considering the changes to the wrestling landscape in 2018 and the changes we anticipate in 2019, we will be launching the live, weekly "Uncharted Territory" program on 4/3/19 to give the next crop of independent wrestlers a bigger spotlight than ever before."
Your promotion's Youtube success is well documented, how will the content of this program on IndependentWrestling.tv be different from what is shared on Youtube?
"As it stands right now, the majority of the content on our YouTube channel is repurposed from our monthly live events. Mondays are dedicated to intergender wrestling, Tuesdays showcase an active member of our roster with two bouts that demonstrate the range of the performer, Wednesdays focus on women's wrestling, Thursdays feature competitors that have gone on to become superstars, and Fridays spotlight an IWTV partner promotion. I would anticipate with the amount of content that we will be creating on a weekly basis starting in April, our YouTube channel will also include content such as event recaps, wrestler interviews, and Top 10 features besides our daily free matches. As previously mentioned, through our partnership with IWTV, we have also started featuring partner promotions at YouTube.com/beyondwrestling over the past few months. Our hope is that those relationships will continue to grow. We will work toward the "sweet spot" where the content on YouTube.com/beyondwrestling and IWTV will complement and enhance each other. However, nothing can replace the live element of our weekly "Uncharted Territory" series which will be exclusive to IndependentWrestling.TV subscribers."
With payment policies on Youtube being shaky at times, is this an important step to continue to diversify your revenue streams?
"YouTube is totally unpredictable. Without going into too much detail, we currently earn about 1/10th of what we were making before wrestling on YouTube was "demonetized" in April of 2017. With that said, we never gave up on YouTube as a platform and YouTube.com/beyondwrestling exploded in popularity in February of 2018 when we started promoting a more aggressive release scheduled. So here we are almost two years later, with more than 1,250,000 subscribers, and it's kind of a wash. To me YouTube is like the stock market, which means that it is NOT A RELIABLE way to generate revenue. Maybe it sounds silly, but the best way to support Beyond Wrestling is to subscribe to our YouTube channel and watch every video we release. If every one of our subscribers watched every match we put up for free, we would literally be able to release all of our content for free and waive admission fees for our live events. Realistically, based on the way YouTube works, that isn't going to happen, which is why IWTV has become such an important component of our promotion. When fans sign up for IndependentWrestling.TV and use promo code BEYOND, if they stay on as subscribers for more than 20 days, that goes a long way to support us. There's nothing like watching pro wrestling live, and we wouldn't be able to broadcast our events without the production equipment IWTV brings to the table. As an aside, I think it essential that we don't put all of our eggs in one basket when it comes to streaming media, which is why we utilize both YouTube and IWTV, but it also gets confusing for fans when a wrestling promotion's content is available on EVERY possible platform."
Do you feel that consistent weekly live programming is the future of independent pro wrestling?
"Not for everybody else, certainly not. This isn't a knock on mainstream companies like ROH or AEW or MLW who may be heading in that direction, but as far as I'm concerned, if you are offering exclusive contracts and have major financial backing, you are not independent wrestling. I know it's gotten kind of mucky over the last few years given how much crossover there has been between companies, but true independent wrestling companies are more than just an alternative to WWE programming. As far as I can tell, we are the the only authentic independent wrestling promotion in the unique position to run a live weekly program because of our YouTube resources and relationship with IWTV. With that in mind, we will do everything in our power to strengthen the independent wrestling scene, so that wrestling companies that don't have the means to broadcast 52 events a year can still flourish. If a local wrestler has a breakout performance on our "Uncharted Territory" program they can return to their home promotion with a higher profile which will hopefully mean more eyeballs watching."
What are your goals for the show?
"We are doing something that has never even been attempted before. Beyond Wrestling is producing "Uncharted Territory" to ensure the prosperity of independent wrestling for 2019 and beyond. Independent wrestlers have been getting signed to exclusive contracts at an unprecedented rate which is awesome for the guys and girls that grew up wanting to wrestle on television. However, I am fearful that this mass signing is going to disrupt the pro wrestling "ecosystem" as it were. There will be less experienced independent wrestler and veteran performers available to teach the next generation, which could lead to a situation where the quality of independent wrestling performances drop drastically within the next decade. If the shows suck, you're going to lose fans. By creating a live, weekly program we are hoping to replicate our success over the years by giving more wrestlers than ever before a shot at their "big break" which in turn will strengthen the independent wrestling scene. If more wrestlers are getting signed than ever before, then we need to give EVEN MORE wrestlers an opportunity to connect with fans to help raise their stock. By running events weekly instead of monthly, we have an even better shot at helping fans discover their new favorite wrestler. Eventually, our goal is grow the platform to a point where hundreds of wrestlers can make a comfortable living on their own terms, without having to sign an exclusive contract."
Follow Lavie Margolin on Twitter @Laviemarg