Monday, August 22, 2011

UNDERSTANDING THE RESISTANCE

I recently did an interview with Gabriel Baron of RESISTANCE PRO. He is a partner with his with brother Jacques and Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins.  I wanted to know how such a partnership could come into existence and what it means for the world of professional wrestling.

SEE THE DEVIL MAY DO AS THE DEVIL MAY CARE
It starts with Dennis Rodman getting into the Hall of Fame.

AAW was promoting their second show at "115 Bourbon Street" a venue in Merrionette Park, IL and Dennis Rodman, along with Scott Hall, were going to be brought in to lend some name recognition to the event. A few weeks before the event, which was to take place on May 15th, Scott Hall had his much publicized health scare which pulled him from the show and Rodman was announced to be a part of the Hall of Fame. Rodman's Hall of Fame commitments took priority over the AAW event, and with both names out of the picture a replacement was needed.

Jacques and Gabriel Baron, who worked with AAW at the time, had met Billy Corgan, lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins, back in 2009 at a small benefit concert. They had hit it off talking about ECW and figured maybe this hardcore wrestling fan would be cool with making an appearance. He was more than happy to oblige.

The day after the show they heard from Corgan, who had such a great time that he now wanted to be involved in a larger capacity. The Baron Bothers approached their partners at AAW with the proposition of bringing the Smashing Pumpkins front man to be apart of the organization. They declined. "They have an awesome product and they have a specific set of fans they cater to which is cool. There's definitely a need for that in Chicago," Gabriel explained. "They just had no desire to work with him at all, which is fine....it's just different creative ideas."

But the Barons didn't want to pass up an opportunity such as this. They decided to break off their relationship with the company and go their own way. "Billy's got a vision and he knows we do too. We share the same vision," Gabriel said. It was their common vision about what wrestling could be that spurred them to form their own company.

The Resistance was formed.

TO BUILD A BONFIRE
The wrestling fan landscape is filled with cynics. They'd tell you they're realists, and often times they'd be right. How many times have companies promised to "change the face of wrestling as we know it," and fail to come through? It's become cliche for wrestling organizations to promise a big bang and give their fans the same old same old.

In an interview with WGN-TV, Billy Corgan didn't make wild promises about rocking the wrestling world. He was reserved and had educated answers about the industry. He spoke of young wrestlers not being given the tools to succeed at larger stages and how his company will provide that. He made reference to Chris Nowitski and concussion research and how the culture of wrestling has changed. Not the usual "shock and awe" tactics promoters usually employ.

On August 13th, Billy Corgan made an appearance at Wizard World Chicago to make an official announcement on the future of Resistance Pro. He spoke about the wrestlers needing to be able to talk and how they'd feature stories and "not be just another high spot fest." His focus felt more about what Resistance Pro would want from their wrestlers and what the company could do for them. Gabriel Baron confirms this vision. "His words were, 'My dream is to have people sign while they're working for us.' I don't care If we've got a core roster of 20 people and 5 sign on the same day. We lose 5 people, that would be the greatest thing in the world because it means they got the notice and attention they deserved." He went on, "We're looking at ideally taking people who are under-exposed or criminally under-exposed and showcasing them in a new way that they haven't been used before. So that WWE, TNA or even Ring of Honor takes a look at them and says 'Wow we never thought about them this way."

The first talent to sign with Resistance Pro.
One of those wrestlers is Harry Smith, who was recently released from the WWE. Gabriel Baron seems to be very excited about his future with the company. "He's got a ton of personality. A ton of it. And he's gotta let that shine. I know Billy and Raven are very excited about working on it with him to take him to the next level." At only 25 years old, there's plenty of time and potential for Smith to get to that next level that eluded him during his time in the WWE. "Harry's training in MMA now, and he's really expanding his repertoire. He's trying to find his true voice." Baron thinks the training in MMA will possibly tap into a different part of his personality that he didn't get to show in the WWE and that hopefully he'll be there again to show it.

Another name, one that has gotten a pretty intense reaction from the wrestling fans, is Teddy Hart. "He is a wild card in both his style and personality," Gabriel admits. "But talking to the guy now, he seems to have his demons behind him and he's intent on coming in and making a name for himself in this country. He's already done it in Mexico and Canada. He wants to do it in this country so he can write is own ticket."

But the company isn't just about the men, the company signed Shawn Michaels Wrestling Academy graduate Simply Luscious. At the moment she's the only female on the roster, but her involvement won't be a novelty.. "Billy and I are both real big proponents of women's wrestling," Baron says. "You've got a great company like SHIMMER in Chicago. They show beautiful technical wrestling from these women who are amazing athletes. But at the same time it's missing some of the entertainment." He feels that Resistance Pro's focus on bringing out characters in their wrestlers will help make female athletes that compete at an independent level more accessible to mainstream audiences.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

To help do this they hired Raven as an agent. Having competed in WWE, TNA, ECW, and WCW, Raven has been on the national stage and understands the importance of character to get one noticed. He was able to get noticed so much, that he held titles in all of those companies. Raven found his voice in Extreme Championship Wrestling, a company who's philosophy Resistance Pro seems to parallel but understand they cannot simply recreate or copy.

GET ON THE BOMB
The first hurdle is their first show and building the brand from there.. Though there isn't a deal in place for any type of TV or PPV(internet or otherwise), the first show will be released on a DVD that will include vignettes and maybe even some backstage access to the show. "The way we're going to film it will be different than your typical indy show. We plan on shooting vignettes different than you've seen before."

The backstage content won't be anything that will shatter any illusions, but it is meant to help grow a personal connection between the company and the fans.. To help facilitate that relationship, they'll be releasing vignettes via social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. These will not only be about the promotion as a whole, but about the individual wrestlers. "With the first show we're going to get a lot of folks coming because they're Smashing Pumpkins fans. They may not know Jay Bradley or Simply Luscious and this will get them to be looking forward to seeing that person. We want them to develop more of an emotional connection to people."

The first show is on November 25th, at the Excalibur in Chicago. Gabriel hadn't been there before but he's very excited about the venue. "The room we're in, it's got four stories of balconies surrounding the ring - it almost looks like a prison."

Kevin Steen is the most recent signing revealed.
After the first show, the goal is to try and run a show every month. As for performing outside of Chicago, Baron explains that their options are open. "Billy bounces back and forth between Chicago and L.A. so I know he's already talked to some venues out there about it, possibly for next year. We're definitely interested in doing Milwaukee. We think that would be a great market to tap into. Right now it's about establishing the brand name and seeing how much interest we have."

I BELIEVE IN ALL THE WAY
Many speculators have wondered what exactly Billy Corgan's role in the company is. Is he seriously apart of this company or are the Barons using the rock star as a special attraction to garner interest? Gabriel sets the record straight, "Billy is so extraordinarily hands on. He's very very committed to it. Billy is not a gimmick"

In one conversation, Billy told Gabriel that if he were on tour in England and Resistance had a show on a day off, he'd fly back on his own dime. "Billy being involved isn't a gimmick as far as just us saying, 'Oh we've got a rock star who's here, he's hanging out on stage!' He's more worried about being back stage and producing his vision as far as how wrestling should be, how these characters should be portrayed, and what the business should be in general. It's extraordinarily important to him."

And it's not all about the creative end. Corgan is looking at this as a business. "He's already got a five-year plan written out." Baron told me with a chuckle "Realistically he's one of the smartest business people I've ever met in my life. Everything is business. He still has fun with it and he enjoys it but he looks at it like running a business."

With Corgan's involvement, along with a shared vision that focuses on helping wrestlers make the most of themselves, it appears that there's a lot to be excited about as a fan and as a member of the industry. While it's too early to tell if Resistance Pro is the "real deal", the approach of its partners feels refreshing and level headed. They're clearly passionate about wrestling and about making a difference in the world of professional wrestling. I know I'll be at the Excalibur on November 25th to see if they can.

You can find out more about Resistance Pro by checking out there website at resistancepro.com, checking them out on facebook, or by following them on twitter @RESISTANCE_Pro.


Also, the four section titles are lyrics from Smashing Pumpkin songs. First one to name all the songs gets my respect for at least 24hrs. Think of all you can accomplish with that.

1 comment:

  1. I think the first one is from Cupid De Locke, the second and third ones are from Where Boys Fear to Tread and the last one is from Thru The Eyes of Ruby.

    Interested to see how Resistance Pro develops. Couldn't be any worse than TNA, anyway.

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