Joey Ryan has spent some time with ROH, Impact and WWE, but the majority of his pro wrestling career has been spent on the indies. He is also one of the founders of PWG which is arguably the top indie promotion in California.
Thus, Ryan would be a great person to talk to about the health of the indie scene and he did just that on the Not Sam Wrestling podcast.
“I do have pride in I guess how I have helped independent wrestling or just booking my own shows: Bar Wrestling out in Los Angeles, having that place for people to work. Just to keep it growing and keep it interesting and keep independent wrestling healthy,” said Ryan. “But I am finding that it is not just these people who have been wrestling forever are being noticed, but the wrestlers getting younger and younger. I guess it is like that with every sport; people are coming in and learning quick.
“You have guys like MJF, who is in his early 20s, I know he is with AEW now but these guys who are wrestling they are understanding it sooner, which there are things I didn’t understand until I was in my 30s. So, I feel like even if they are not in the industry already there are people that are training in wrestling school now who haven’t even debuted that are going to make a big splash because of all the available openings in independent wrestling.”
Ryan is now a promoter for Bar Wrestling which operates out of his hometown of Los Angeles. Promoting isn’t an easy thing to do and Ryan talked about the hardest parts of the job.
“There are things that are stressful about it. The thing that I don’t like the most is that, obviously there is a lot of wrestling out there and a lot of great wrestlers that want to work and they want to come out to LA and want to do a show,” stated Ryan. “But my shows are standing room only and in a tight space so I can’t have that audience there for four hours; I try to keep it to a tight 6-match card, two-and-a-half-hour card. We don’t even start the show until 9 pm because it is a weeknight and I definitely don’t want anyone there past midnight because it is a weeknight, so I can’t really just keep adding on matches.
“The difficult part is telling some of these guys that there isn’t a spot for you but having it come off as, hey, I don’t think you are good enough which is not the case. That is the most stressful part when having to tell people that there’s just not a spot for them but it’s pretty rewarding when fans come up to you or other wrestlers and are just happy with your show or what you have presented.”
Ryan likes the indie scene so much that he turned down an offer from AEW despite taking part in Being the Elite and appearing at All In. He talked about why he said no to AEW.
“It’s just finding out what can play and what can’t play. They are obviously a new company and they’re still figuring it out as they go, but as it came to decisions with them we realized that they are going to be successful without me, I am going to be succesful without them. Maybe our paths will cross at some point but there is no urgency to it and neither one needs the other right now. It would be nice to work with my friends but it is not a necessity right now until they figure out and learn their own product with how they present it,” said Ryan.
Ryan was a WWE enhancement talent early in his wrestling career and last appeared for the company in a dark match in 2013. He was approached about possibly wrestling for WWE again and then moving into a coaching role with NXT, but Ryan says the time wasn’t right to make that move.
“I try not to overthink on that level. It would always be nice to have job security or a place where you know you can still provide after your time in the ring is done. That does weigh on me because I am 39 now, which is something I think about, but I don’t want to get caught up in something that I don’t have an urgency to get to,” said Ryan. “I have to stop and realize that there are plenty of jobs in wrestling, whether it’s promoting my own shows or being an agent somewhere or having a spot in creative somewhere with my experience or starting your own wrestling school and coaching your own wrestling school, so there’s plenty of opportunities out there. I don’t want to jump on anything because I am worried about something. I don’t want to get scared into something that might not be the best fit for me so it does weigh a little bit, I can’t lie about that, but I have to pace myself a little bit and make myself realize that I don’t need that necessarily.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit Not Sam Wrestling with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.
Peter Bahi contributed to this article.