Todd Keneley is a commentator for the United Wrestling Network's Championship Wrestling From Hollywood. Previously he worked as a commentator for Impact Wrestling. Keneley discussed how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected UWE's business when he joined The Wrestling Inc Daily podcast earlier today.
"It has been tough but that's where you lean on the fact that we have a 10+ year film library. So, we have this idea of trying to create these new digital segments to really bring the fans that know us closer to the product and the talent, and for the fans that don't know us, to maybe turn their heads a little bit," said Keneley.
"Heritage Hall, for instance, is looking back at some of the alumni that have come through. So far, there was a Daniel Bryan/Bryan Danielson-Sean Waltman match, an early Young Bucks match, a match where Timothy Thatcher and Drew Gulak were our tag team champions teaming against Reno Scum. I find this in wrestling where sometimes you look back and you look at what the main event was on a Raw or SmackDown and go, 'Man, that was like a dream match!' You forget that it even happened and with us too, I would think Thatcher and Gulak against Reno Scum is kind of a tag team dream match in today's world. And we had it years ago so it's revisiting some of that stuff.
"We just put on a match with Adam Pearce, who is working as a producer in WWE and is going through a battle right now with COVID, but he's seen now more breaking up fights on TV when he used to be in fights with us. So, we put a street fight up from our show with him. We've got a lot of great content in addition to that as The Push is a documentary-style segment on our current talent. We talked to our Heritage champion Watts who was a contestant on Tough Enough. He had a friendship with Shad Gaspard – God rest his soul – who really inspired Watts and helped him out and kind of mentored him."
Keneley also praised the Dave "Marquez Mentality" and how their founder's work rate helps tell the story of the company.
"We kind of rewound the clock 10 weeks back on TV hoping that at the end of that – going through our last 10 weeks of TV – we'd be ready to ramp up again. I think we are gonna return to filming live sometime in July and hopefully new episodes will debut in August," revealed Keneley. "So, we haven't just been sitting idly behind and we've been trying to pump out some good content as much as we can without having new, fresh in-ring content."
He then talked more about their planned tapings for July and how the safety measures they have in place affect everyone differently.
"It's tough and everybody is different too. You can have all the safety protocols – you see what's going on with WWE at the moment – it's hard and every talent is different too. We might be set and have safety protocols at the venue, which we do because New Japan recently shot at our venue, Oceanview Pavilion, for their upcoming weekly series and that was a great test run for us," said Keneley.
"That's gonna debut on New Japan World coming up on the 3rd, so the venue is good. Then you might have individual talent and it's every bit their right to say, 'Look, I'm not ready for this yet. I'm not ready to come back and I don't feel safe.' So, it can really throw a wrench in things in terms of creative and booking. You might not have certain talent and you might not even have champions. So, we're trying to make it all happen and I think we're moving forward and I think we're gonna be good to go later in the month.
"There's also works on another new project under the United banner that would be weekly and potentially live. So, we're really trying to strike and make our place in the business when other people maybe are down, if we can go it safely."
Keneley brought up Adam Pearce's name and was asked about Pearce getting COVID-19 while working as a producer for WWE.
"I was really saddened to hear that. "Scrap Iron" was such an integral part of our program for years. Obviously, he held the NWA World Heavyweight Title on our program kinda in its heyday and behind the scenes as he was writing, booking and producing," said Keneley. "He was everywhere and that was some of the on-the-job training that helped him get to where he's at. He worked a backstage role at ROH at one time and now, of course, what he's doing with WWE.
"So to hear that he was one of the ones infected, he seems to still be posting and telling everybody to stay safe. It seems he's doing decently well, all things considered, and I'm sure he'll quarantine himself and hopefully kick it and not need any serious medical treatment. But it's sad because this is a business we all love and there's the old mentality the show must go on. In some instances that's correct but you've got to take a good, hard look at everything when stuff like this is happening and so many people are being infected. I'm sure the Scrap Daddy will kick out and fight his way out of this and be back breaking up fights on camera soon, knowing him...
"It was cool to see him get a little mic time too during that Intercontinental Title tournament and making matches. That was cool to see."
Another former alum of Championship Wrestling From Hollywood is Joey Ryan, who was called out recently during the #SpeakingOut movement. Keneley discussed his reaction after hearing about the multiple allegations being levied against Ryan.
"Just like everybody else, a feeling of betrayal and disgust. Joey was one of the first people I met in the business. He was a trainer at UPW – obviously long runs in Championship Wrestling From Hollywood. We were at Impact at the same time and then Hollywood again after Impact," stated Keneley.
"[I was] just shocked and I feel horrible for the victims. Anytime someone uses a position of power to take advantage of other people it's just not right and it's really disheartening and sad. I lost who I considered a good friend and I feel certainly worst about the victims than I do about that. It's hard.
"Then you hear stuff like Candice LeRae who made a statement and was tag team partners with Joey and good friends with Joey for years saying she didn't know and Dave Marquez saying he didn't know. That's the case for me too. At Impact we'd maybe hang out afterwards at the hotel or bar, have a drink and go our separate ways. At Hollywood, everyone would drive in, you'd do the taping, we'd film 2-3 episodes, 'Hey great seeing you. Great taping' and we'd go our separate ways. So, I didn't see that dark side of his life. It just makes you sick to your stomach to hear someone you hugged and shook his hand and chatted up with for so many years was doing this behind the scenes. You never know who you can trust, you know?"
For more information regarding the United Wrestling Network please visit UnitedWrestlingTV.com. You can follow Todd on Twitter @ToddKeneley. Todd's full interview aired as part of today's episode of our podcast, The Wrestling Inc. Daily. Subscribe to get the latest episodes as soon as it's released Monday - Friday afternoon by clicking here.