Court Bauer was the guest on this weeks Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast. As MLW Fusion prepares to launch on beIN Sports this evening, there were many interesting takeaways regarding the new endeavor. Here are 26 things we learned:
1. Following WaleMania III last year, Court, Wale, and Mister Saint Laurent were talking in the parking lot at 3am. Though Court was hesitant, the two talked him into doing a one-time show. As that show approached in October, everyone was surprised by the support MLW received from fans and the press. They were able to secure sponsorship from large companies and ended up turning a considerable profit.
2. It was decided a second show would be run. By that time, Court’s juices were flowing and he began looking into securing a television deal.
3. They felt WrestleMania season would be the best time to roll out the televised product, since all eyes are on the business at that time.
4. Court was in talks with “a pretty big wrestling company,” but grew frustrated quickly as he felt he was being asked for too much and the dealings he was having didn’t appear to be in good faith.
5. Court says perspective and experience allow him to handle business better now than he did in his 20’s. He recalls Vince McMahon calmly and rationally dealing with far worse situations than he’s experienced and says he understands that now.
6. After moving on from wrestling after his years with WWE, Court realized the business was a part of his soul. As such, he considers the beIN Sports opportunity to be very precious.
7. MLW is presented as a sport. They do not go heavy on promos. Court learned from working with UFC Fight Pass how to present a combat sport and is applying a lot of that aesthetic to this product. He is not trying to outdo what WWE does.
8. Through calling baseball games for the 17 years he’s been out of wrestling, Tony Schiavone’s approach as an announcer feels much more authentic and unscripted than MLW’s competitors.
9. Showcasing different wrestling styles from around the world is an important part of the MLW product. Court feels it’s important to treat such styles as a centerpiece and not a side attraction.
10. Court feels that WWE putting Kid Rock into the Hall Of Fame in 2018 was “a little strange” and dated. He feels wrestling is oftentimes behind the times culturally.
11. Wale performs the opening theme to MLW Fusion, and Court says it’s the coolest opening to a wrestling show you’ll see in the present day.
12. The “blueprint” of MLW is hybrid wrestling – blending brawlers with Luchadores, for example, and assessing key strengths and advantages. Based on the rules established from that, the viewer will see how a wrestler like Sami Callahan or MVP fit into that format.
13. The plan is not to mimic MMA, but try making the product feel as real as it can.
14. There will not be a commissioner or GM, but rather matchmakers. Wrestlers who break the rules will be fined or sanctioned.
15. Court feels variety amongst wrestlers is important. He cites the fact that all wrestlers today look like underwear models and he wants to move away from that.
16. Court refers to beIN Sports as “the fastest growing sports network in the world.” He goes into sell-mode describing the network in a way that tells you he is fully invested in working with them. He says the network loves wrestling and the MLW vision and that they have a “long term partnership.” Both sides are heavily committed to one another.
17. Nelson Sweglar, who was the head of production for the WWF from the 70’s into the 90’s before grooming Kevin Dunn to take over, is a part of the MLW team.
18. Bruce Prichard is a senior producer and agent for MLW.
19. MLW Fusion will be a part of beIN Sports “Friday Night Fury,” which also features an MMA show and a boxing program. There will be “a lot of complimentary crossover” between the shows.
20. Court recalls Vince McMahon saying the only reason house shows were still operating was because they were valuable to the talent in terms of learning repetition in their performances.
21. MLW encourages their talent to work for as many different companies as possible.
22. MLW will target markets where they draw high television ratings as tour destinations in the future.
23. MLW would like to pursue international “sold shows,” citing WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble next week as the biggest sold show in the history of wrestling. He added he “would love to know how many zeroes were on that check.”
24. Court says his obligation is to shield MLW from risk. His biggest challenge is having the discipline to say no to various deals depending on whether he feels they are right for the company.
25. When asked if he thinks WWE sees MLW as potential competition or even as a future partner of sorts, Court reveals that WWE’s VP of television strategy, Chris Chambers, was in attendance at this years WaleMania.
26. Court does not feel WWE sees MLW as any kind of threat. He says WWE is an unstoppable, massive machine.
The interview began with Bauer discussing how he first became a wrestling fan and how he got his start in the business. It concluded with a conversation about Triple H and the current WWE product. To check it out, visit the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast.
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