On the latest episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily, Wrestling Inc. owner Raj Giri sat down with MLW President Court Bauer. As part of the MLW Fightland broadcast tonight, there will be a special feature on the show called “MLW Embedded”. Giri will be part of the show along with Alicia Atout, Emilio Sparks and Andreas Hale, and Bauer explained the concept of the feature.
“For 25 years or so now, you’ve had the same format in wrestling. It’s one hour, two hour, three hour version of it, but essentially, all my competitors, including myself, have used the same format,” Bauer noted. “You think about the ’70s and how the evolution of wrestling changed from watching it in that era, and you go back and watch on the WWE network, or Peacock or YouTube, and then you look at how it evolved into the ’80s and how the ’80s model evolved into the ’90s model, that crash TV. And then it just stopped evolving, and you look at wrestling and fans love great wrestling matches.
“They love watching the angles. They love watching all that, but at the same time, they’re always on their phone when they’re watching it and they’re looking at what the latest gossip news is. They want to know. We do research and see what’s trending, what’s interesting. It’s all rooted in accessing and having information and knowing what the latest news is, the latest gossip, everything. You want to get that instantaneously, and wrestling hasn’t really gone there. And promoters, I think, are uncomfortable because you have to control that. You want to control control everything.
“When we were talking with Vice and spitballing what we could do a little differently and how they lead into such a news narrative direction with their program. I said, well, I’m such a news junkie for wrestling and everything. I think we should go there and just give complete autonomy to the people doing that segment. Let them talk about what they want to talk about. What are the topics? What are the stories they can break, and if it’s about another league, that’s fine. I think it’s interesting, and if more people are going to watch us because of that, I’m not afraid of that
“If someone gets signed, we want to know about it. If some companies for sale, we should know about it. We want to hear the latest from you guys. So having the top journalists in the game talking about, I think, is interesting. I think fans want to see what that is. So kind of like during an NBA game and you go back to the studios in Atlanta on TNT and watch Shaq and Barkley talk about not just the game itself but break down the latest stories and talk about it, that’s what we’re going to be doing here. It’s kind of like our halftime show, and we’ll be talking about the latest stories, or I should say you will be. I have nothing to do with it.”
The massive cuts WWE have made has created a larger free agent pool for other companies. Bauer discussed what MLW’s process is when it comes to signing free agents.
“Well, I always will have 5- 10% of my my roster that I will always carve out just for free agents,” Bauer revealed. “You try them, and you know that maybe there’s not longevity there either because of financial reasons, opportunities for them on the horizon or creative reasons. For me, I’m just like, this thing has about a two to three match kind of relationship in how we build this, and sometimes you go back and you’ll sign those guys, or you’re kind of counting down for that third match to happen, like, okay, thank god, we’re done with that.
“And it allows you to freshen up the card. You don’t know, sometimes guys you get are great. Sometimes guys come in and want prove that they’re not an a**hole, and they do a great job. And other times, wow, that guy’s an a**hole. So you just don’t know what you’re gonna get until you get it, and so having that flexibility for us gives us new fresh matchups. It allows us to shake up the card and usually, they’re coming off of big TV time. So it allows us to have just something different, a different dynamic to the show.
“With that said, you look at the talent pool right now in the free agency market, there’s a lot of guys out there or guys that have signed elsewhere that aren’t 100% exclusive. So you have these interesting things that you can look at and say, maybe we should try it out, and that’s what we did this past weekend with guys like Bobby Fish.
“He’s a free agent. We tried him out. We have a verbal commitment from him to do a few more shows, and if it works, hey, maybe we’ll do more. If it doesn’t, we had a good run, and we had an opportunity to have him in the Opera Cup, cool. So you always want that flexibility. You don’t want to have such a rigid thing where your roster’s locked. It’s the same guys and the same matches, and they’re just different angles to keep it going. WWE for 20 years have basically presented that. I think wrestlers are excited because MLW and other companies are giving you something different.”
Fish was surprisingly announced as Sammy Guevara’s first TNT Title defense. Bauer revealed whether the talks of MLW talent like Fish and Lee Moriarty going to AEW is a decision between the talent and AEW or if he is involved in those decisions.
“Definitely, there’s some type of communication,” Bauer stated. “I will say guys like Chris Daniels and Tony Khan have been very good, and it’s been a very easy, effortless kind of rapport. That’s always what you hope for. Historically, it’s easier said than done with with some companies, but so far, nothing but positive when it comes to those those relationships with AEW.
MLW have made many other signings this past summer along with Fish and Moriarty including Ezra Judge and Davey Richards. Bauer spoke more on what else will be talked about how “Embedded”
“There’s some guys out there that are interesting to us. You hear rumors about different guys, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys talking about in the free agency topic on ‘Embedded’ because there’s definitely guys out there you’ve heard a lot of things about where they’re going and then maybe that thing falls apart. Then you’re like, well, where are they going next? You guys are gonna give us the scoop this Thursday and Vice.”
NJPW star Rocky Romero has made some appearances in MLW, and Tom Lawlor is the current Strong Openweight Champion. Bauer spoke more on working with other companies including AEW and revealed what factors are considered.
“Well, it is funny, I was looking around, I said to someone in our locker room, you turn right and walk five feet, you have the booker from All Japan Pro Wrestling, Tajiri. You turn left, go around the corner, there’s the booker for IWA Puerto Rico, Savio Vega and over there sipping a slurpee is Konnan, the AAA booker, and so to have access right there to three different territories and open the door and give our talent opportunity to work over there, bring talent from their companies over to the U.S., that’s that’s kind of my goal,” Bauer explained. “And we’ve had great relationships with different companies, and I think you look at each one and you try to figure out if there’s a good fit, if there’s a casual thing you can do and then trying to navigate from a domestic point of view, which is harder.
“How does it work because you’re basically inviting tortious interference. You’re saying, come on over, and then it becomes kind of a recruitment process. We basically have some emotion yourself. So it’s a really delicate thing on the state side level. How do you do it? How much trust do you have, and then looking at the track record for other companies, how’s it worked out for them? When they open that door, does it lead to something where the tide rises all ships, or is it something where certain ships rise and the people are shipped up to the other ship and then they say, adios.
“You also you want to make sure your talent is featured in a way that’s consistent with what you’re looking for out of it and also, what the fans are looking for out of it. If all of a sudden, they’re so invested in their guys in their main event with talent in your company, and all of a sudden, they’re now doing strange stuff and not even really featured in another company, that’s kind of the surge of the fans that have taken that journey.
“You want to make sure that those fans are getting their guys being represented the way they want them to be represented. I’m the guardian and steward for that, and so I have to be careful with that. And that’s a process, and it’s a trust process and they have goals on the other side. It’s very complicated to make that mesh, and at the end, you both say that worked out great for us and you want that, that’s the goal. It just takes time and build a relationship. It’s a bit of a courtship. It’s a bit of a feeling out process. I’m always open to it. It’s just a matter of how does it work in actuality.”
MLW Fightland airs tonight on VICE TV at 10pm ET. Bauer’s full interview aired on Wednesday’s episode of The Wrestling Inc. Daily, which you can check out below. Bauer also discussed what’s next with VICE TV, free agents in the market right now, the Women’s Featherweight tournament and more.
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