Metro Pro Wrestling celebrates five-year anniversary, brings ex-WWE star Tommy Dreamer to KCK Saturday night
Chris Gough’s Metro Pro Wrestling celebrates its fifth anniversary Saturday night at the Turner Rec Center. It’ll be five years of body slams, bloody brawls and busted Rob Schamberger paintings since debuting June 5, 2010, at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas.
Gough admits he didn’t know what he was getting into back in 2010. He’d previously worked as a writer with WWE before joining Time Warner Cable’s Metro Sports. But the wrestling itch never left him.
To celebrate the first five years, Gough is doing a little something different. Before the matches, he’s hosting a meet-and-greet with ECW original and former WWE star Tommy Dreamer.
Longtime Metro Pro fans will recall that Dreamer starred on the very first Metro Pro card. Face-time with Dreamer goes down at 5 p.m. and $20 tickets are still available. Then at 7, the anniversary show begins, headlined by Dreamer taking on WWE Tough Enough hopeful Mark Sterling. Gough is also promising a special guest: a former WWE wrestler who has never appeared on a Metro Pro show.
“When I can budget wise, I like to have an added bonus secret surprise where people don’t exactly know what’s going to happen,” Gough says. “That’s sort of fun to do because it’s lacking in wrestling now with the Internet and stuff.”
In a half decade, Metro Pro Wrestling has evolved into a mix of veterans (Sterling, Jeremy Wyatt, Derek Stone) and “up-and-coming stars in the Midwest,” Gough says. He counts among the rising stars the powerhouse Redwing (“I really think he has a high ceiling,” Gough says) and Bull Brady (“He’s extremely athletic and just a great physical specimen,” he adds).
“I really like where our roster is with the people who are available to us in the three-, four-hour radius of Kansas City,” Gough says.
The Pitch caught up with Gough to discuss his memories of the last five years of Metro Pro Wrestling.
The Pitch: Five years, what’s the most memorable moment?
Gough: It’s funny, if you look up Metro Pro Wrestling on Google, for the longest time, and I don’t know if it’s still there, but one of the top five or 10 searches was this headline from PWInsider.com that said, “Metro Pro shuts down.” It was within a a week of our first show. And so, really to be honest, the entire reason that Metro Pro is still in existence today five years later is because of the stubbornness of myself, who did not want it to die after the first show. The only reason that it would die after the first show — and that was never true — was I had a partnership with a couple of other guys, and it didn’t go the way that I wanted it to. … There was just really a bad relationship after that first show, and people were leaking that they were never going to come back again.
Then, long story short, I owned a third of the ring at that time, which is basically all that it takes to be a wrestling promoter. I bought out the rest of the ring, and then was like, we tried really hard to get this on television, and I had gotten my boss to be OK with it being on television, so I am not going to let this die after one show. So for this to go on five years after that is purely out of raw stubbornness. People wouldn’t know that, but that was probably our most pivotal moment was our first show, which was a success in many ways but also went four and a half hours. It was all new. We didn’t know how to do a TV taping. We had all of these matches, and they were way too long. Timing out your first wrestling TV show is not the easiest thing, but that was probably the biggest moment.
Who would you count as the most successful Metro Pro graduate?
Jeremy Wyatt told me years ago, “Hey, I saw this kid wrestle, ACH, and he’s really good. You may want to consider having him come to Metro.” So I give Jeremy Wyatt credit for that. ACH was so young. He moved to St. Louis from Austin, Texas, which is his hometown, and started coming to Metro Pro with the Commission and Dan Walsh and those kind of guys. They’d come over from St. Louis. The first time that I saw ACH it was obvious. The athletic prowess he showed was unbelievable, plus he could cut a promo pretty darn well from the beginning as a babyface, which I think is even tougher than a heel. Based on age and his marketability and his raw skills, he’s the guy that I believe has the highest upside of anyone that’s ever been on Metro Pro probably.
Ryan Drago, he had a cool gimmick, he wasn’t as young as ACH, but he got signed with a [WWE developmental] deal, and he’s doing a great tag team with the Vaudevillains in NXT. So it’s awesome to see him get that back because he’s a really good dude. But again, just because you sign a WWE deal or you’re on Ring of Honor, I don’t think that makes it the greatest thing in the world. Plenty of people have been signed to a WWE developmental contract, and they can maybe tell you that was the worst part of their life. I don’t know. I know some people would say that.
I still think Jeremy Wyatt, he’s older now, but I still think he could have gone on to do great things. Derek Stone has done a ton of great things in his career. Adam Pearce and Michael Strider: They’ve done great things. The world of wrestling has changed so much, so it’s hard to compare when Derek Stone as basically a TV job guy for WWE for over a decade and so was Adam Pearce. Michael Strider did that. That was a different way of measuring as opposed to now — oh, you got a performance center contract, awesome. It’s just different now.
After the jump, Gough discusses his favorite Metro Pro story lines.
Is there a story line that you look back on now that you’re really proud of?
Jeremy Wyatt has grown leaps and bounds since he started. He’s gotten way better on the microphone. He’s proven he’s one of the best wrestlers in the country. … We did the indie world tour. We’ve done a lot of stuff with him that featured really good matches with him and outsiders from our territory. Those have always been a highlight.
Specific moments are cool, like the first time we did the painting situation with Adam Pearce where Rob Schamberger gave Michael Strider his poster-sized painting of himself because Strider was going to retire and Pearce hit the ring, took the painting and smashed it over Strider’s head. That’s always an iconic image in Metro Pro’s history because that’s something that Jerry Lawler did back in the day with people in Memphis and Ultimate Warrior even did that. That was a really cool moment when that happened.
There’s this really cool picture with Michael Strider when this fraternity from KU came down and they brought an ungodly amount of people dressed up. It was one of the Strider-Pearce matches, and there’s this great picture where Strider is chopping Pearce, and they went in front of those kids and did it and he’s in his little stance out there with his arms spread out and it looks like a million people around him.
The early years were different too with Trevor Murdoch and Derek Stone and Bull Schmitt and Michael Strider. They really helped build it from that point. Then a lot of those guys stopped working as much or limited their schedule or moved away or whatever, so you had the new guys.
How has Metro Pro evolved through the years?
In five years, I can tell how much independent wrestling has changed. There used to be a lot of guys the size of Michael Strider or Derek Stone or Bull Schmitt or Trevor Murdoch. Bigger guys. Now the indies are different. Guys now are athletic in different ways. They do a lot more aerial stuff, a lot more acrobatic stuff. I wouldn’t say they’re more athletic than some of those big guys because those big guys can move great for their size. But it’s just a different show now, and you have to change with the times too. Some people like it; some people hate it.
I see inter-gender match cards now. That’s fun for a match. But I’d rather have a hodgepodge of different things. I’d rather have a brawl. I’d rather have a technical match. I’d rather have one tag. I’d rather have a ladies’ match. Whereas sometimes I think the gimmicky stuff gets a little too overused now.
What stories didn’t work out the way you thought they would?
This is an obvious independent wrestling problem is that because it is not for money and it’s for fun more than anything, just real life gets in the way of most things that you have to do. If anything is ever ruined, it’s, of course, injuries. But also, “Hey, I know I have this match, but I have to work Saturday or my boss says I’m fired.” Stuff like that would happen.
So a lot of times when a story line is going well and people either get injured or just real life gets in the way, that’s just always the problem with indie wrestling and that’s always why when people are like, “What do you have planned for six months from now?” Six months in indie wrestling might as well be 20 years. So many things could happen between now and then. This guy could get a contract to WWE. This guy could decide his wife and kids are more important and he doesn’t want to travel around the country anymore. That happens every week, month, just all of the time.
Continue reading to find out the future of Metro Pro.
You went on hiatus for a little while. You’re now doing six shows a year. Is this what Metro Pro looks like moving forward?
I think that’s fair to say. What I found for a balance for everything is a show every other month is the best for me personally and professionally. We were doing a show every month in Turner Rec Center in Kansas City, Kansas.
Not only is it sort of taxing on the fan base that has to pay because as with everything, going back to the evolution of Metro Pro, I don’t want to just have local guys. I like to branch out and bring in guys from different areas. I don’t want to use the same 20 guys all of the time. Since the beginning, I’ve always wanted to use bigger name guys, whether it’s former WWE, former TNA, Ring of Honor guys, whatever. I wanted to use those to enhance our show, and not just to have them come in for an autograph appearance, but to have them come in and have a segment or angle or match that would be really fun.
Because of that, you have to be aware of how much you tickets should cost, you have to know how much all of your costs are. In the state of Kansas, we have additional costs that a lot of states around us don’t. So we have to keep that in mind. Economically it’s better to have a show every other month.
Also, I have a child, I have a job, I have a wife, I have a yard to mow. I have a lot of stuff to do. So it’s just easier to do it every other month for me personally. I’ve seen other people do that. PWG out in California does that, and I think it works out good for them. They have a different situation, but at the same time, I think it leads to bigger crowds and makes people anticipate it more.
It’s sort of like the old baseball vs. football thing. Baseball, there’s 162 games, so there’s 81 games at home. So, if you miss 10, you’re like, oh well, I’ll go next weekend or whatever. Football, you only have eight games at Arrowhead, so it’s a lot bigger deal. So when you go from 12 to six, it’s a lot more must-see action than if it’s every month because we were going on some of these months where there was only three weeks between shows. That’s a lot of planning and money and time to ask people to do every three to four weeks. I think that’s where we sit. That’s the economy in general and the wrestling economy right now, that seems to be a good fit.
Tickets for Saturday’s show are still available. Get them here.