With the official launch of AEW, many think that other promotions (besides WWE) will take a hit with another wrestling promotion in the market. But MLW founder Court Bauer actually sees value in AEW on the scene.
Bauer spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast where he talked about how AEW's presence could be beneficial to his company in the wake of MLW wrestlers MJF and the Lucha Bros signing with AEW as well.
"We signed MJF and Lucha Bros… we've had these guys for a while so there's a mutual coolness there," Bauer said. "There's not a problem. We don't block anyone from working anywhere. We only have one company where they're prohibited working for which is WWE."
Bauer then stressed the importance that their talent get reps by working elsewhere and that the true spirit of indie contracts is that you can work other places.
"By doing that, if they end up on national TV somewhere – that's great exposure. Now people are familiar with you elsewhere and also here," Bauer said before adding that for some older wrestlers sometimes the only way you can sign them is by giving them the option to wrestle elsewhere.
Even though AEW is a rival, Bauer thinks that their presence will be beneficial to the entire wrestling industry.
"I am very interested in the seeing the direction AEW goes. My philosophy is tide rises all ships," stated Bauer.
He then talked about the 90s and how WWE rose to the top, in part, due to poor creative decisions by WCW and poor financial decisions by ECW.
"As long as your business is running at a high level and clicking with your fan base, you're gonna do fine and the fans will support it. The fans will go beyond just one product," said Bauer. "If AEW does well…if MLW does well, then that's great for fans and the talent. It's great for anyone.
"For every success story in wrestling, that helps validate it to a larger audience. To licensing people. To TV people. To potential investors….You don't want a landscape where just one or two companies are successful – that doesn't indicate a healthy industry."
For now, MJF, Lucha Bros and others will be able to work for MLW and AEW. Bauer was asked if he's worried about his talent possibly becoming full-time AEW talent one day.
"We have very healthy and open lines of communication with [AEW] and I don't anticipate it being an issue…. Whenever you can find a way to work together and take the ego out of the equation, you find that life is easier and business is better," said Bauer.
Bauer said that things go south when you stop communicating whether in wrestling or just in life in general.
"The business problem people have in wrestling is ego…. Just get over it. It's important to stay humble but also to be strategic and see the bigger picture," stated Bauer.
MLW's next big show is Rise of the Renegades which will see MJF battling it out with Brian Pillman Jr. of The Hart Foundation. The two are embroiled in a heated feud that went up even another level when MJF talked about Stu Hart in hell during a recent promo.
"MJF and the Hart Foundation have had issues," revealed Bauer. "MJF considers himself a true dynasty-type player... You have two 22-year-old prodigies banging heads on April 4. Two really talented guys who are similar in a lot of ways, but the crowd seems to go with Brian Pillman."
Pillman and the rest of The Hart Foundation are working well as tweeners which is something Bauer hasn't always been a fan of, but in this instance it just works.
"They are cool heels and cool babyfaces. They can do some rule-breaking and get into that gray area. I hate the gray area in wrestling, but there is always an exception to that rule and The Hart Foundation is that exception," Bauer said before adding that both Pillman and MJF have unlimited potential.
"There's a reason why I signed both of these guys at a young age. I really see unlimited potential in both of them and I'm curious to see how they match up," said Bauer.
MLW Fusion airs every Saturday at 9/8 CST on BeIn Sports. MLW will present their Rise Of The Renegades TV tapings on April 4th from the Melrose Ballroom in Queens, NY. Tickets can be purchased at MLWTickets.com.
The full audio of our exclusive interview with Court Bauer aired on today's episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard in the embedded player below. In the full interview Court discusses the secret to MLW's success in Chicago, Jim Cornette joining the MLW commentary team, the advantages of MLW talent working for AEW, Bruce Prichard signing with WWE, the near riot at a recent MLW taping and more.