I am joined today with the men behind Metro Pro Wrestling, former Central States Wrestling promoter Joe McDonald and Chris Gough Last year Chris produced the wrestling documentary KC on the Mat. Chris is a Mizzou grad with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After college, he went to work as a television writer for World Wrestling Entertainment in Stamford, Connecticut. In 2004, Chris returned to his hometown to begin work as an anchor and reporter for Metro Sports in Kansas City.
Brian -Gentleman good to speak to the both on you today on the exciting news that Wrestling is about to come back to Kansas City. How did this adventure come to be?
Chris- I actually did a documentary last year called KC On the Mat, which looked at the historical look at Central States Wrestling. It aired here in the city and shortly after that I spoke with Joe about running shows here in Kansas City. I produce several shows on Metro Sports, an all sports channel in Kansas City, and eventually Joe and I spoke to the general manager of the station who gave us the green light to put together a wrestling show that will debut at Memorial Hall on June 5th. Two or three weeks after that we will air the Metro Pro Wrestling show on Metro Sports.
Joe –Chris had actually myspaced me prior to me leaving for California for my new job when I left CSW. I kinda blew him off because as a promoter you always get these guys who say “I am a former this or that” and you tend to go whatever. Thankfully in time we did get together.
Brian – Chris, please tell our readers your background in Pro Wrestling.
Chris – I was a lifelong wrestling fan who went to University of Missouri. In 1997 I got an internship with WWE, went back in 1998. After graduation I got full time job with WWE in 1999 where I started with WWE.com as a producer and did a show called Byte This and some other shows on the site. I then went on as a creative writer for WWE’S Monday Night RAW thorough 2003. After leaving the WWE I came home and took a job with Metro Sports as an Anchor/Producer.
Brian – Joe, At one time you were a wrestler tell us about that and how long did you run Central States Wrestling?
Joe – We ran for five years, prior to that I joined a school called the Monster factory based out of New Jersey. I begged my parents’ and they said “as long as your grades stay up”. I trained in 95, my junior year in high school and I didn’t really get a very good training, but I hit the road and did shows in ST Louis for next to no pay. There was also a promotion based out of Wichita Kansas that had weekly TV. That was a lot of fun as Derek Stone and Ace Steel where also there. That tells you how long I have known Stone (LAUGHS).
I was too young to wrestle in Missouri until July of 1996 because I wasn’t 18. To be honest I was not a very good wrestler. When I began promoting, I wrestled at times but I didn’t want to put myself over at the expense of the guys. It got to the point where I had to come to terms that I was not nearly as good as the guys I was booking so I stopped wrestling and focused on being a promoter.
Brian – Joe, What have you been up to since you parted ways with Central States Wrestling?
Joe- I went to California working with TV shows and films, like Last Comic Standing and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At the time I left there were a lot of things going on in my life, including the mentioned once in a lifetime opportunities. Once I got back home, I tried to jump start CSW but I didn’t have it left in me to do so. After the last CSW show I decided it would be best to take some time off and refresh my batteries. I don’t like to say I quit the wrestling business as I have kept up with what has been going on in the wrestling world, I just took a breather. And over the 12 months, Chris and I have been planning on making Metro Sports a successful wrestling promotion.
Brian – Joe, what do you take from your days at CSW?
Joe – There are no instructions on how to run a pro wrestling show. You learn by being on the road, what to do and not to do with the boys, How to treat the boys, the wrestlers always got paid by me. I never canceled shows, I made mistakes all of the time because I just did not know what to do. I will say that I have learned from all of those mistakes and hopefully I do not make them again.
I take some of the credit of CSW but I cannot take it all. It was a collaborate effort by several hard working people. What I did was give them a place to work and we all relied on each other to get the job done.
Brian – What is the goals of Metro Pro Wrestling?
Chris - The goal for 2010 is to have a TV taping once a month. If it increases then that is great, but first things first get that first show done so that we get enough footage to provide an exciting program. We are hoping to have a 1 hour show each week on Metro Sports, weather or not its four or six weeks of tapings for our show.
Joe- We really don’t want to put the cart before the horse, we know that it will take 3 months before the TV really will provide the full benefit of advertisement. We are currently advertising Metro Pro Wrestling via print, Television, Radio ect , when the second TV taping airs we will have had two weeks of shows on Metro Sports that will create a buzz and then by the third we will have ran 6 or so weeks of TV. By the fourth week we will hope to see a return on the exposure from TV.
Brian – Will all shows be at the Memorial Hall?
Chris – For the time being that will be where the shows will be ran. Memorial Hall provides us with a great venue with a historic feel for our debut. Excellent lighting and a superb sound system will give the fans at the show that special feel and those watching at home that professional look. But Brian it’s like all business it comes down to money. If the fans show that there is interest by coming, we would love our shows to be there all of the time but if financially it doesn’t make sense to run shows there we will pull back and find other venues that we have scoped out.
Joe – If we didn’t have TV we would be running an armory or high school gym, to be honest without TV I don’t know if I would have given this another try….well I can’t say that, but it surely wouldn’t be on such a grand scale. Without TV there is only so far that you can go in Indy wrestling.
When I started CSW I borrowed ten thousand dollars. Out of that, six of it went into buying a ring while the other four went towards running shows. I ran for several years on that and then took on a partner. We tapped out at CSW, we got to the point where we had a show with AJ Styles we had four hundred people and that was as big as it got in Lawrence Kansas. Now we are in Kansas City, it’s a lot bigger than Lawrence. We now have a bigger fan base to draw from, TV and two guys that have industry specific background to both wrestling and TV. We most defiantly are not doing this to fail, we feel as if we have all the tools in place to succeed.
Brian – Who should the fans expect to see at Metro Pro Wrestling local and nationally?
Chris – The first show fans will get to see ECW Original’s Tommy Dreamer and “the King of the Streets” Angel,
along with 3 time WWE Tag team Champion Trevor Murdoch. We want to bring in the establish star to bring in the casual fans that don’t follow the Indy’s. It’s always good to bring them in but we also will be showcasing some of the top talent in the Midwest. Joe knows the local talent as well as anyone.
Joe – Yes, I hate to go back to the past but what I set up to do with CSW was to bring up all the local talent from Kansas City, St Louis, Missouri, Iowa, or just so simply the best in Midwest under one roof, just as Ring Of Honor had done. We had a great run with Michael Strider and Mark Sterling.
2009 MWR Wrestler of the Year Mark Sterling (Photo Credit Mike Van Hoogstraat)
This isn’t going to be a CSW retread, certainly we will use some of the guys that I am comfortable with. Mark Sterling for instance is in my opinion one of the best wrestlers in country right now. The man lives and breathes pro Wrestling. Jeremy Wyatt I put him in that category as well.
I have known Matt Sydal (Evan Bourne) since day one and when his brother Mike Sydal told him he wanted to learn how to wrestle Matt told him to go see the guys (Strider and Sterling) in Kansas to learn.
The 2009 MWR Tag team of the Year the Hooligans will make their debut in Kansas City . ((Photo Credit Mike Van Hoogstraat)
The Hooligans, who I have only seen on tape. Chris actually found them on your site and called me and said you need to check these guys out. I looked at a couple of matches of theirs on YouTube. They were awesome, they have that “it” factor. You can attest to that Brian, you have been around them a lot; I have only dealt with them via phone and e-mail. I called Sterling and Wyatt who I trust to get their thoughts on their work. They vouched that they were for real and that was good enough for me.
Angel and Domino Rivera were two guys I had teamed up at last few CSW shows I ran and had big plans for. Chris and I feel like they can make an impact.
The Mississippi Madman (Photo Credit Mike Van Hoogstraat)
The Mississippi Madman is someone that has a ton of charisma we believe that the fans will get behind.
The Ultra talented Jaysin Strife (Photo Credit Gary Giaffoglione)
Jaysin Strife, I have always been a big fan of as well. We are not a closed door company. If we see someone that we feel that the fans will enjoy and can help Metro Sports we will take a good look at them.
Nate Bash and Benjamin Sailer are a tag team that I am excited about being a part of the company. I feel as if we are really stacked in the tag division and have a heavy emphasize in tag teams.
Brian – Let me ask you Chris you have been with WWE who many feel have diminished tag teams in the past few years. Are you excited about tag teams as much as Joe?
Chris – Before we go any further let’s not forget we dragged Michael Strider out of retirement so fans will most defiantly have that to look forward to. That guy is willing to do anything. But he was done. When Joe first approached him about Metro Pro, Strider wasn’t going to do it. He was enjoying his life off the road. But we told him the game plan and it stoked that flame. As far as tag teams go your right it was a pretty dead deal down there. Granted there were some great teams during the Invasion with the Dudley’s, The Hardy’s Edge and Christina with some exciting matches with ladders. That seemed to be the last real run with teams other than just throwing two guys together. Anyone growing up in the 80’s remembers how big the tag teams were in the WWE and NWA. Myself I am a big fan of a team when they get together and hit their moves and work as a team, you just done see that in the Big two err one.
We didn’t set out to focus so strongly on tag teams but it just so happens that we are fortunate that we have talented guys who happen to team up. I believe that many fans on the Indy scene love tag team wrestling so I hope that it will be a big draw for us.
Brian – Chris, what kinda style should fans see at Metro Pro Wrestling? With the debut of Tommy Dreamer will be see old style ECW Wrestling or WWE/ECW? What style do you prefer?
Chris- My background is WWE and that’s the style I worked with, did I agree with everything no but no company is perfect. I know that WWE takes a lot of slack for what they do but a lot of that has to do with over saturation. With WWE TV storylines need to go so fast because of the amount of shows that need to be done. Sometimes it can take away from what you are doing.
Here at Metro will “Extreme” be the norm? No. Will there be guys that have that in their background and at times will that be sprinkled in sporadically. Yes. As a fan I was a big fan of ECW and still have fond memories of them. The problem is that the style trickled up towards the WWE and every match feature blood in the first match, people jumping off 40 foot ladders. Nothing could top it so it meant less.
What we hope to do with Metro Pro Wrestling on TV is character development. I am all for pure pro wrestling in the ring and we will have that but it’s not so much the storyline that matters as much as is it is for the fans to care for the wrestlers to make the storylines mean anything. I feel as if that is what is lacking in wrestling on TV. I am not going to say I know how to do it better than the next guy but I do know going into this that the wrestlers will have an opportunity to shine on TV. From the top to bottom they are going to be able get their name out to the casual fan.
Joe- Too put it in perspective I was once told by a very smart guy and I am sure he was told by another smart guy. Wrestling is like a three ring circus “You have to have your flyers, you have to have brawlers and you need have your freaks. You need to have something for everyone.” We have to do a little bit of everything for this to succeed. Our balance will be found with the traditional wrestling fan that just likes wrestling but our job is to make the show interesting.
You hear a lot of older fans say that back in my day it wasn’t such a soap opera. But the truth is, it really was. There have always been stories in wrestling. Storylines have just adapted over the years to fit the current world climate. The beautiful thing about early ECW was that you had 2 or 3 matches on their show and the rest was you had advertisements for their next one. During the show you may have had one hardcore match – Tommy Dreamer going hardcore with Raven all over the arena. Then Psychosis and Rey Mysterio flying all around the ring then you had Dean Melenko and Eddie Guerrero in a mat classic.
I would like to see Metro be a little bit like that. You have storylines mixed with wrestling and in the end you have entertainment because of that.
Brian- Any last words for the MWR Fans
Joe – I hope that people give us a shot, come on out and I feel as if their money will be well spent. Come support the guys as we have household names mixed in with some guys we feel will be able to get to the next level. I hope people come to what we hope will become a successful endeavor in the wrestling area. I would also like to thank Martin Thomas for letting us use the CSW Library. That was a really cool thing of him to do.
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Be sure to catch Metro Pro Wrestling’s debut television taping on Saturday, June 5, 2010, inside Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas. Tickets available now at MetroWrestling.com, TicketMaster.com or by calling the Memorial Hall ticket office at (913) 549-4853.