MLW Founder and Owner Court Bauer spoke with Alfred Konuwa of Forbes about MLW's presentation, making sure the promotion stands out from the pack, and why fans are turning away from WWE.
Earlier this week, both RAW and SmackDown had historic lows in the ratings. Bauer believes WWE's decline is partly due to today's technology, along wrestling fans wanting something different than what WWE has been providing as of late.
"WWE has been tracking downward in the ratings since I was at WWE in 2007," Bauer said. "Fans are sophisticated. They're selective. They are pursuing other outlets for pro wrestling. The climate is eerily similar to 1995 in that consumer appetite was sinking for WWE, but the hunger was still there. Fans, including myself, sought out something different and I found it in ECW and WCW. Technology has also helped move it along as with just two or three clicks you can be streaming something from anywhere at any point.
"I see wrestling represented on the streets of New York, I see it threaded through the cultural fabric today maybe more than ever before. WWE is like McDonald's: they're global, affordable and readily available anywhere, anytime but society wants more gluten-free, organic or just something different. Sure, McDonald's, like WWE, is everywhere—ready to be consumed, but not many enjoy digesting it."
In regards to MLW, Bauer feels like staying current and real is the best way to draw in fans who are looking for something different in their pro wrestling.
"Big fights have context and consequences," Bauer said. "When wrestling is clicking for me, it reflects what's going on culturally beyond pro wrestling. I sprinkle that into my recipe for MLW. You experience it in the conflicts, the music and feel it on MLW Fusion. We try to ride that wave of what we feel is cutting edge, but also keeps it as real as it gets. MLW presents a sport that feels culturally relevant. We're not parodying, we're not winking at the audience that they're in on it. We think different. We can't and don't want to play to the overcrowded diehard fan base that our competitors are targeting. We want to create our own jam."
MLW is also looking to bring its roster to an international audience as its show airs in both English and Spanish. Bauer broke down what the MLW audience is at the moment and how the atmosphere at his shows are different for diehard fans.
"We used our Spanish series to cultivate a neglected fanbase of first and second-generation Mexican-Americans that want a piece of home, so we give that to them with great lucha," Bauer explained. "That is 50-60% of our fanbase. Then, we have the guy who wants to crack open a beer and watch a wild fight. He wants that down and dirty scrap and carnage. That's about 25-30% of our audience. Then, diehards fill out the last 5-10%. Usually, diehards come to our show and are confused when they hear the air horns and can't do their cheerleading chants. Damn right. That's Mexican style and I love it."