Written by Gary Mehaffy for WrestlingObserver.com
In the first of my two-part look at independent wrestling, I looked from my point of view as to how PWU (Pro Wrestling Ulster) is being run and how it caters for both the hardcore fan base as well as the casual audience. I also talked to a few of their roster to get their ideas on how the company had developed and what the future might hold, both for the company and for them as individuals in the wrestling industry.
As I mentioned in the previous piece, PWU currently bring in one ‘import’ for their Supershows. These have included Shelton Benjamin, Matt Sydal and the current PWU Champion, Al Snow. My time looking at PWU has pretty much come full circle, as at their first Supershow in August 2014 they brought in (then) newly released WWE superstar Drew Galloway and, now – on their 6th Supershow – they have brought Drew back; now, however, he is a top name in TNA, and is the current Evolve, Dragon Gate USA and ICW Champion (amongst others things!).
We caught up after the show on April 6th, 2015, to talk how he has seen the company grow, how UK and Ireland fans are driving a lot of the products to bigger and better things, his hectic travel schedule, the responsibility of being a multi-company champion, emulating Ric Flair, becoming like Ultimo Dragon and much more.
Has he seen any improvement and growth from both the performers in the company and the company itself?
“Tonight, from what I watched, the standard has improved dramatically. They were good before – and I don’t know what happened (to cause it) but everybody has been working hard to improve their appearance and their in-ring work – from what I saw through the night, the wrestling was great. The fans are really responsive.
The guys I was in with – big Tron, Luther Valentine and Joe Hendry – they were awesome. We had a fun match, we told a good story with the big man (Tron) in there and had a little fun with the brawling, had a little fun with the new foes (The Murder) – they’ve a storyline going where the guys ran down – a lot of fun in the match as well as seeing the rest of the show and seeing them do so well was awesome.
Irish wrestling is starting to catch up to the UK. Scotland is booming right now, England is booming right now and Ireland is on the right path to be booming as well, so it’s awesome.”
How he feels seeing a hardcore group of fans that follow the product:
“Absolutely, that’s the best part about it. ICW in Scotland – they’re so invested in the guys there, the see them in every single town. When some of those guys have got the talent or the gimmick that those guys are invested in, that’s awesome to get those responses, and as you say they’re coming to see them, not just myself or whoever happens to be in at that time. That’s what you need. That’s how you build your brand.
The guys who are imports – I’m from Scotland, but I guess I’m still considered to be an import (laughs) – to get the fans initially and then you get them invested in the characters there and you don’t need them (the imports) eventually, and that’s what happened in Scotland. It’s happened in England and now it’s on its way to happening in Ireland and that’s awesome.”
The appetite of UK fans for wrestling and how they react to it:
“The UK fans are unreal! There’s nothing like the UK fans. It’s obvious when you watch the WWE TV tapings, for instance, or the TNA TV tapings, the fans are like football fans – soccer fans! They’re just mental! That’s how you can describe it – we’re absolutely mental, we act like we’re at a football match. We chant, we go crazy, and that’s awesome.
American fans are awesome and very respectful and they get loud and they’re very passionate, but the UK fans we have the football crowd mentality which is awesome. And it really adds to the show because crowds in the like of ICW and Rev-Pro, and places like Progress and Southside, places like that, have built this awesome fan base, and they are loud, they are vocal. I’ll use ICW as an example – that’s my home company – the fans are part of the roster! It’s pretty cool when the fans become part of the roster.”
You are now ICW/Evolve/Dragon Gate USA champ – and are effectively on a world tour a la the old NWA World Champion. Does that bring those belts up to the fore and give the companies more visibility?
“That’s 100% the idea. Since the Evolve belt (which) I won in my first match back, to the Dragon Gate (belt) I just won last week – that was a very special moment for me. That was like my official coming – (laughs) let’s use a different word; arriving – on the American independent scene. It’s like “Drew’s here – Drew’s one of the guys!” I think a lot of people thought (Johnny) Gargano was going to win that match, especially with (my) the TNA thing going.
I’ve been given a platform to perform. It started off as Trent Barretta getting injured and then “Let’s try this….” With Gabe and Sal believing in me and giving me that chance to show the world what I can do, they’ve helped me massively, like ICW has – everywhere has. PWU has just given me the chance to wrestle around the world and show people what I can do.
I win these titles, and also the Danish title, I was in Australia 10 days ago, I was in San Jose where I won the Dragon Gate belt – and also had the Evolve belt. I was in Tampa then flew to Scotland – I got to the Barrowlands (Arena) at 8pm! I was wrestling in San Jose (on the) west coast on Saturday, made it back to Scotland for 8pm for my match at 10pm in front of 1500 people! Then I did another show in Scotland, flew to London last night and I’m in Belfast right now (Portadown). The goal is – this is simple, and I just did an interview so if you can get this out first, you can have the exclusive – my ultimate goal is to become the first travelling champion since Ric Flair. That is the goal.
Every belt I get – getting back to the question – I’ve used this quote a lot, paraphrasing JFK: “Ask yourself not what the title can do for you, ask yourself what you can do for the title.” The titles, I don’t want them to define me, I’m defining the title.
(Fans will the say) “Look – there’s Drew Galloway! I’m learning about ICW, I’m learning more about Evolve and Dragon Gate, I’m learning Australian wrestling, Danish wrestling, Scottish wrestling – things I didn’t know about!” That’s my goal – to put eyes on the world of wrestling. To have the entire world watching it. It’s as simple as that – to be the first travelling world champion since Ric Flair. If I get my hands on the TNA title – it’s the big one to add to the list! I’d need an entire entourage of people to carry those belts! Ultimo Dragon, I’m coming for you!”
Drew, it must be said, looked really tired after all of the travelling mentioned above – but he didn’t go easy in the ring or phone in his performance; he left it all in there. He was trying to not only bring eyes to himself, and the promotions whose belts he proudly carries and represents, but also to the promotion that he is wrestling for – in this instance, PWU. On the night, after the match was over he put over the promotion, the roster and the fans. Not in an insincere “Hey, thanks for having me – you’re all great too!” way, but in a genuine manner, encouraging the fans to continue following and supporting PWU, and independent wrestling in general. He knows that the more eyes that are focussed on the independent scene the more that wrestlers can make a living and achieve their dreams, and then more independent promotions can build their company the right way. And, as DDP said back in the day, “That’s a good thing.”