On Friday July 8th F.I.G.H.T. Pro Wrestling makes its return with its first show in 3 years at the G Boone’s Event Center in Boonsboro, MD. With that in mind, The F.I.G.H.T.er’s Insider brings you this interview with Mike Noland who along with co-owner Mike Valentyne are striving to bring what they consider to be “THE Pro Wrestling Alternative” to Western Maryland.
What made it the right time to re-launch F.I.G.H.T. now after a 3 year absence?
A need to see what this vision could do with a larger audience. It didn’t sit well with me how things ended when we decided to put things on hold the last time through. When we first came up with this concept, I had a former World Heavyweight Champion tell me that it was one of the best promotion ideas he’s ever heard. So when we ran into the problems we had the last time around, it was a hard pill to swallow when things didn’t go the way we had planned. I blame myself for that, as I rushed into the first opportunities early on rather than waiting for the right opportunities to launch the promotion. Part of the reason for such a long hiatus was just waiting for the best possible opportunities to present themselves.
What we’re the reasons for the hiatus in 2013?
There were many reasons for the hiatus, but there were two in particular that stand out to me. First, we were running in an area saturated by about 4 other promotions, in a town that didn’t see wrestling as a fit for their community. We were informed after booking and paying for multiple dates at a local venue that the local government in Shepherdstown, WV did not see Pro Wrestling as a form of entertainment they wanted to see represented in their town. They cited issues with parking as the main concern as the crowds that came in were mostly from out of town. Their concerns were well founded, as the towns parking situation on a slow day is not very good. Imagine how it would be on a weekend. Combine that with the fact that Shepherdstown, while a great small town is kind of “out of the way” and difficult to get to on a Friday night after a day of work. However, we were committed to a building for four dates and we had to follow through on that commitment and needed to fulfill those commitments before moving to another location.
In addition to that, there were certain roster members that caused locker room issues that ultimately ended up costing us money and caused issues that made it virtually possible to remain sustainable at that point in time. Most of the locker room was filled with professionals who took pride in their work and genuinely wanted to see the company succeed. However, there were two or three individuals who were more concerned with their own personal agendas than seeing the company succeed. Ultimately, those few individuals made it virtually impossible to sustain success. Rather than put out a product that I felt would have been passable but not great, we decided to take a hiatus until the right pieces were in place for us to present a product that we would spend our money on.
That was the most important thing to me, the quality of the show. I never wanted to produce a show that came off as “bush league” or to have a fan regret spending their money on an event that we produced.
What do you think sets F.I.G.H.T. apart from other promotions?
Two Things: The presentation and the F.I.G.H.Ters Showcases.
Our presentation for F.I.G.H.T will provide the look and feel of the wrestling on National Television. The intimate setting and action of an independent wrestling event meets the look and feel of Monday Night RAW is the best way I can describe it. As far as production value goes, F.I.G.H.T will be leaps and bounds ahead of area independents. You’ll also notice the heavy emphasis that we put on independent and great local talent. Most independents will load their event with former WWE talent and completely forget to promote how great their local homegrown talent is or why the audience should care about said talent. That will not be the case with F.I.G.H.T. You will see great local and independent talent featured in stories that you can easily follow at our live events and through social media. Will we feature former WWE talent at times? Yes, but the emphasis and promotion will revolve around independent talents.
The F.I.G.H.Ters showcase matches will guarantee the wrestling fans a unique experience with each matchup. Instead of seeing the same match format 8 times over the course of an event, you will see that showcase matches provide situations that not only make each match unique and entertaining, but challenges each wrestler and molds them in to a better performer over time. Original, Innovative, and Progressive isn't just a fancy catchphrase. Its three things we take very seriously when presenting our product.
Talk a little bit about the very first event back in 2012 and the speech Steve Corino gave and what it meant to you.
It meant the world that Steve would speak so highly of the promotion on night 1 of working for us. I remember when Steve walked in the building that evening and saw one of the concept brochures that we put on every seat before the event started. He looked at it for what seemed like forever. After a while, he passed the brochure over to Ernie Osirus and found me and Mike Valentyne just to tell us how awesome he thought the whole concept was. It was great to hear and we knew we were on to something after that. We were just happy that Steve liked the idea. The speech at the end of that show is still one of my single favorite moments I’ve experienced on the independents.
For the July 8th show F.I.G.H.T. is offering a VIP package that is very different from what other promotions offer. Would you tell the fans a little bit about the ticket packages being offered and the unique setup running at the G Boone’s Event Center?
GBoones, in addition to being a great event venue, also is home to a great restaurant. When we first scheduled the event, we knew we wanted to give fans a different experience than the other independents. Every single independent offers ringside seating, but we wanted to go a step beyond that. We have an opportunity to offer upscale seating, similar to club level seating at a sporting event. Table seating instead of traditional stadium seating with a completely unobstructed view in addition to an included meal provides a unique and comfortable setting while still being able to take in all the action and excitement that F.I.G.H.T has to offer.
If you want traditional style seating, no worries. You’ll be blown away no matter where you are sitting. The arena style seating provides wrestling fans with a great seat, no matter where you're at.
How did setting up the F.I.G.H.T. Championship Tournament come together? It seems like a great mix of familiar faces in the region along with names the fans don’t get to see every day like Brutal Bob Evans, Tanner Reynolds, Wildman Robbie Page and The Scout Jake Manning.
Over the last 3 years, I’ve kept an eye on the independents as well as kept in touch with talent that we have used in previous years. When in the planning stages for the return of F.I.G.H.T, the one thing we wanted to do right out of the gate was to crown a champion. What better way to do that than a championship tournament. If we were going to do a tournament, I wanted to make sure we brought in not only top talent from the area, but top talent from around the independents as well as great talent that the audience may have not seen at all yet. Robbie Paige is a guy who fans in the area know very well, Brutal Bob Evans is another guy that has a pretty good following due to his career in Ring of Honor. Jake Manning is a newcomer to the area, but has made a great name for himself on the independents. Then you have a guy like Tanner Reynolds who right now, is a relative unknown. However, I think he'll be a big deal in another year or 2. He's a very talented performer, he just needs the right platform to ply his craft. I think F.I.G.H.T can be that platform to help him get to the next level.
For local wrestlers and those striving to break into the business, there is a seminar being conducted by Brutal Bob Evans. What can the participants expect and explain the opportunity that is available to the potential stars of tomorrow on July 8th.
They can expect 5 hours of the most hands on training experience they could ever get out of a training seminar. This is a great opportunity for any up and coming wrestler to take part in. Most of the seminars you see focus primarily on ring psychology, which is important. However, there is so much more to learn to be successful in the wrestling business. Bob goes beyond just ring psychology and provides insight on all facets of the wrestling business that you will encounter while working in the industry. This is a great learning opportunity for anyone involved.
This 2 part question is for you. What are your earliest memories being a wrestling fan and how did you both get to this point wanting to bring F.I.G.H.T. back to the fans in Western Maryland?
I grew up in the 80's and while I watched wrestling then, I was too young to remember most of it. The first memory of wrestling that stands out in my mind has to be the 1994 Royal Rumble. My dad was a big Undertaker fan and ordered the event for the Casket Match between Taker and Yokozuna. I remember Taker rising from the casket after being locked inside of it and thought it was the coolest thing I'd ever seen. That event is a big reason that I’ve always been an Undertaker mark. That combined with the Owen Hart heel turn on his brother, and the double Royal Rumble winner (Luger/Bret) made that event stick out to me. I’ve been a fan ever since.
As far as bringing F.I.G.H.T to Western Maryland, it has always been a dream of mine to promote my own wrestling event in Washington County. I was born and raised here. This is my home. It has been a dream to promote wrestling in the area where I grew up and became a fan. I never thought there would be an opportunity to make it happen, but I'm thankful the opportunity came about. It’s going to be a fun experience and I am looking forward to making this thing a success.