It’s been an adventurous first thirteen months for one of BritWres’ youngest and most ambitious promotions. For a show launched by a crew of Youtube personalities, WCPW has arguably done far better than it had any right to. And whilst many have legitimate reasons to dislike the promotion, I’ve been a champion for them for some time.
It’s not always been easy, though.
Ultimately, I bat for WCPW because they clearly have the tools to not only succeed, but provide a strong and competitive platform for wrestlers in an industry where competition is a good thing. Hence why it was disappointing to see plans to make WCPW’s Loaded show into a live event on Monday nights fell through due to Youtube’s poorly implemented advertising restrictions. Happily though, Loaded is set to return live on WhatCulture Extra on August 3rd.
With all this in mind, here’s what I feel the blueprint should be for the new series. And yes, the title is a parody of one of WhatCulture’s popular series, so to keep on brand – Adam Blampied and co, do it better.
Give the Brand a Strong Identity
From the moment WCPW was announced, the brand has suffered from the negative stereotype of ‘Youtubers Doing Wrestling’. And whilst I totally understand why you’d want to bring some crossover appeal by using the likes of Adam Pacitti or King Ross on WCPW television – I’ve seen enough John O’Clock shirts to know these guys definitely have a following – stuff like the lame Pacitti Club angle earlier this year have only doubled down on said stereotypes.
The fact is, WCPW have big international ambitions – their Pro Wrestling World Cup and working relationships with New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor prove that. And whether they wish to acknowledge it or not, they ARE a direct competitor to WWE now; the Fed have been happy to let their UK Championship talents still work major indies like PROGRESS and ICW, but the ‘no live broadcasts’ stipulation in the contracts has kept them firmly at arm’s length from the likes of WCPW. And since World of Sport Wrestling has lapsed back into cryosleep, now is the perfect time for WCPW to get serious, consider what it wants to be, and put clear blue water between themselves and previous negative stereotypes.
Start New Storylines & Follow Them Through
The postponement of Loaded has left WCPW treading water for the past few months, and the Pro Wrestling World Cup being the sole focus means existing storylines have largely ground to a halt outside of occasional non-tournament matches.
With a revamped brand identity should come a similar freshening up of storylines.
Joe Hendry’s run as heel rockstar World Champion has been money; who should be the person to dethrone him? Will it be the winner of the Pro Wrestling World Cup, or one of his own Prestige faction turning on him? What of Gabriel Kidd’s story arc from loser to Internet Champion – where next for him? How about new challengers for the other belts?
And speaking of these various divisions…
A Renewed Focus on the Women’s Division
WCPW’s Women’s Division started off strongly; the super talented Nixon Newell and fast-rising Bea Priestley paired up in a feud that culminated in Newell being crowned the first ever WCPW Women’s Champion. Good stuff. Right off the bat a women’s division was established.
Then things wavered. Newell went away on an extended tour of Japan, and having Priestley ‘steal’ the title off Newell before she left and hold it up in a state of dispute was confusing and messy – why she didn’t just beat Newell for the title in the first place, I’m not sure. Regardless, Newell did come back and reclaim her stolen title, before actually losing it to Priestley soon after regardless. D’wut.
Since then, the division has flatlined. Newell was signed by WWE, and Priestley’s 123-day reign as champion (for real this time) featured a grand total of two defences, before she lost the belt by proxy to Kay Lee Ray when she pinned her enforcer Viper at Built To Destroy II.
Suppose we should be grateful a man didn’t win it for KLR, right?
Joking aside, inspite of Newell’s departure the Women’s Division still has a strong core. Priestley, KLR and Viper are super talented wrestlers who all bring unique qualities to the table. Assuming the latter two aren’t signed permanently to WWE deals post-Mae Young Classic, it’s time WCPW used this trio to re-ignite their Women’s Division. The breakup of Viper and Priestley presents a ready-made feud, and there’s no shortage of potential challengers to bring in for KLR’s title; heels like Jinny Couture or Katey Harvey, or faces like Toni Storm, Lana Austin or Session Moth Martina.
With a stronger focus on women’s wrestling across the industry than ever before, WCPW can’t allow their own division to stagnate. They clearly have the talent to bring in – time to give them something meaningful to do again.
Promote a Positive & Inclusive Fan Culture
I was dismayed to read multiple reports coming out of Built To Destroy II of negative fan behaviour – harassment, abuse shouted at the wrestlers, and even missiles being thrown into the ring after the main event. WCPW issued a strong statement of condemnation, and going forward it is important they back up such words with actions.
British wrestling in 2017 is a scene that, for the most part, prides itself on being progressive and accepting. Promotions like PROGRESS and Pro Wrestling:EVE have demonstrated a commendable attitude to welcoming fans from all walks of life whilst taking a zero-tolerance approach to negative fan behaviour. PROGRESS co-owner Jim Smallman has a very clear message he likes to deliver at the start of every show; drink what you like, chant what you like, but be considerate of those around you, and obey the one very simple rule of PROGRESS which is…don’t be a dick.
Simple, clear, and un-preachy.
And anyone who wants to claim this somehow leads to dead crowds has never been in the Electric Ballroom on show day.
None of this is to generalise and say all WCPW fans are bad. Not at all. My experience at their first London show last November was very positive. But ultimately, I’ve seen enough recent reports of garbage behaviour from shows to safely say that the time has come for WCPW to be proactive on this issue. The Loaded reboot presents a great chance for WCPW to draw a firm line in the sand and assure fans attending their shows that they will feel safe and comfortable. A great atmosphere can be what turns a new fan into a devout follower who buys tickets for every show – and a toxic one can equally be what turns a fan away for life.
I say all of the above out of a desire for WCPW to succeed. They have all the tools, money and ambition to do just that. And another platform for wrestlers to forge a great career for themselves is, as the phrase goes, best for business. So with Year One in the books, now is the time for WCPW to push forward, earn the trust of fans new and old, shake off the ‘youtubers playing wrestling’ moniker and fulfill their potential.