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I remember it like it was yesterday. Twenty years ago, April 23, 1999, I was pacing back and forth at my parents’ house in Climax, Michigan, the house where I grew up, the house where I fell in love with professional wrestling. I had just finished my Freshman year at Western Michigan University. Far more important than anything I felt I learned in a class from a book was what I knew was ahead the following day.

April 24, 1999, I stepped into a professional wrestling ring for the very first time, performing the duties of a ring announcer for Real American Wrestling in Bangor, Michigan. When I look back, it seems almost impossible that I have been lucky enough to be part of the professional wrestling industry for twenty years.

I’ve been reflecting a lot the last few days knowing the big 2-0 is Wednesday. I’ve thought about the bad. I’ve thought about the good. I’ve thought about the bitter. I’ve thought about sweet. I’ve thought about it all. No matter what successes anyone perceives I have or have not had in that time, I wanted to boil down 20 years of failures and successes, trials and errors into a few simple points. Maybe someone will find value in it. Maybe it’ll just make me feel validated summarizing a twenty year run in a relatively brief blog.

If I had to boil down the last twenty years into a few points I’ve learned from and I hope others may learn from as well, it might look something like this.

• Ears open, mouth shut! This is far from a Kevin Harvey original. This is something you hear from virtually anyone who teaches wrestling or is a veteran performer offering advice to younger generations. Why do I say this? I say this because a lot of times in hindsight, I know I would have just been better off to keep my mouth and/or keyboard shut. I know full well there are opportunities I gave up and others that passed me by because of this. 

• It’s ok to admit that maybe the role you have played the longest or are most comfortable playing might not be the best role for you. It took me the better part of 20 years to realize that I feel I offer far more value behind curtains and cameras than in front of them. I spent the majority of my time in various announcing and hosting roles. Sure, I can do them. I was maybe even pretty ok at some of them. But after all that time, I got out of those comfort zones. I found something that reignited my passion for wrestling. And I like to think I found places and roles with the companies I work with and work for now that offer for more value to them, their talent and their fans.

• There may come a time in your years in wrestling when you have to come to terms with the fact that “the big time” might not be in your future. It’s on you to determine how you process that and how you deal with that. It is a hard pill to swallow. Even if you might not ever go there, it doesn’t mean your experience is nullified. It doesn’t mean all that work was for nothing. 

Maybe, just maybe, it means all your experience, all your hardships and all your victories still can mean the world to you. And maybe they can mean the world to someone else too. 

Maybe, just maybe, you can put all that energy you used to put into “making it” and the experience and perspective you have into helping others find their way there.

Twenty years later, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been, and that’s knowing that my time to “make it” is gone.

I don’t know that I would have wished for this 20 years ago. But today, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

April 24, 1999: I did this for me.

April 24, 2019: I do it for them.

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Since the announcement of RISE – PRIDE & JOY June 30 in Chicago, we have heard from an overwhelming amount of people. We have heard from fans from around the world wanting to support in any way possible. We have also received inquiries and demo materials from many LGBTQ wrestling talents from around the globe, each hoping to be part of RISE for this event.

We would LOVE to provide opportunities for as many talents as possible at PRIDE & JOY.

We think there is a bigger picture here, and we want to create more opportunities than just one time at one event. PRIDE & JOY is about much more than “just one pro wrestling show.”

Since our inception, RISE has been able to leave a positive mark on the Women’s Professional Wrestling scene. To date, 172 women have competed in the rings of RISE,  114 were discovered from The Prospective Talent Pools from our World Class Development Seminars. We have been able to discover new talents and give them a platform to learn, grow and showcase their talent to a new audience through an organization that has carefully cultivated a network of partner promotions in a spirit of collaboration over competition.

One goal when we began was simple. Be Better.

That goal has not changed. There is still much opportunity not just for RISE, but ALL of professional wrestling to Be Better.

The time is right to expand the scope of what we do. We will still remain true to our mission of Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes. There is still opportunity for us to do much more.

PRIDE & JOY is not intended to be a one-off event. It is intended to be the beginning of additional focus for RISE. We believe we can leave a positive mark on Professional Wrestling by creating additional opportunities for representation, training, learning and development. We believe we can do this for Pro Wrestling’s LGBTQ Talents throughout the world.

We believe we can Be Better.

We begin June 29 with our World Class Development Seminar with Cassandro el Exótico, open to any and all performers in professional wrestling, more details coming soon.

We hit our first exclamation point June 30 as Pro Wrestling Tees Presents: RISE – PRIDE  & JOY at 5 PM at Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL, streaming LIVE, worldwide via iPPV on FITE.tv.

Effective today, 100% of all profits generated from RISE T-Shirt sales through Pro Wrestling Tees will be allocated specifically to our efforts in providing new opportunities for LGBTQ Wrestlers and LGBTQ talent in supporting performance roles. You will find our available selection at prowrestlingtees.com/kevinharvey.

As always, we appreciate your support of RISE.

Every day, you help us stay in business, move forward and provide opportunities.

Every day, you help us Be Better.

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Sunday, June 30, 2019 following the conclusion of The Chicago Pride Parade, Pro Wrestling Tees presents RISE – PRIDE & JOY starting at 6 PM/5 PM Central, LIVE from Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL, streaming worldwide on iPPV via FITE TV. RISE, largely known for Live Events and Episodic Programming showcasing Today’s Best, Tomorrow’s Brightest in Women’s Professional Wrestling, intends to put forth a Professional Wrestling event focused on a culture of inclusiveness. 

RISE Executive Producer, Kevin Harvey had this to say during the company’s initial announcement of PRIDE & JOY in a Live Stream on the company’s Twitch Channel, twitch.tv/risedtwa: 

“RISE

That word means many powerful things to many people.

To our talent and our fans, it has meant making a better environment for Women’s Wrestling, a place to train and develop aspiring women wrestlers. It has meant giving a platform to Today’s Best, Tomorrow’s Brightest to pass on knowledge and elevate new talents, building a pipeline of all of professional wrestling.

But the word RISE means so much more to so many communities.

June 30 is one of the the most important days of the year in Chicago for the LGBTQ+ Community. It is a day to come together, to embrace what makes us all different, unique and to unite everyone in one place, with one love. June 30 is one of the largest Pride Parades worldwide, and it happens right here in Chicago. In 2018, an estimated 1 Million people attended or marched in Chicago’s Pride Parade. 

June 30 will be a day without judgment, a day all will truly feel love on the RISE.

June 30, we want to bring our talent and fans together again in Chicago. We want to open our doors, our arms and our hearts to the members of the LGBTQ+ Community in Chicago.

June 30 RISE presents PRIDE & JOY at 5 PM Central from Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, IL, streaming LIVE Worldwide via iPPV on FITE TV.

This event is not about professional wrestling for RISE. It is about inclusiveness, inclusiveness of all cultures. 

It is about every talent, fan and attendee of this event knowing they are welcome at RISE. 

It is about taking what we do today to make tomorrow better.

For everyone.”

Tickets for PRIDE & JOY are priced at $20-$60 and will be available starting at 1 PM/12 PM Central Friday, April 19. All tickets will be sold through risedtwa.ticketleap.com.

Announced talent to date appearing at PRIDE & JOY includes Mercedes Martinez, Jamie Senegal, Team Sea Stars: Ashley Vox and Delmi Exo, Jake Atlas, Shotzi Blackheart, Dementia D’Rose and Joey Ryan. Many more talents will be announced in the coming weeks leading up to the event.

To keep up with all information for PRIDE & JOY, please follow RISE on all Social Media platforms @RISEdtwa. Information will also be available on the company website, rise-wrestling.com.

Parties interested in advertising and sponsorship opportunities, please email kevin@wrestlingpipeline.com, Subject: P&J Advertising

RISE – Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes, LLC was founded in Summer 2016 as a talent development concept for the globally renown SHIMMER Women Athletes. Several talents featured in RISE have moved on to other globally recognized brands such as SHIMMER, IMPACT Wrestling, All Elite Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment. Based in Naperville, IL, RISE has hosted World Class Development Seminars, Live Events and RISE – ASCENT Episodic Programming Tapings in many major domestic markets including Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Houston, Orlando and Pittsburgh. RISE has co-promoted Live Events and Talent internationally in The United Kingdom and Japan with partners BELLATRIX Female Warriors and World Wonder Ring STARDOM. In addition, RISE hosts video streaming services of the entire archive of Live Events and Episodic Content, available for $4.99/month at riseascent.com, Apps on iOS and Android Platforms and via twitch.tv/risedtwa.

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We love our Amazon Prime account! It helps us in many ways how we keep RISE going every day. We know many of our fans love your Amazon Prime too. If you love Amazon Prime and you love RISE, or maybe you’re looking to try RISE out, here is a great way to bring the two together.

Subscribers of Amazon Prime also receive one FREE Twitch Prime subscription per month. This FREE Twitch Prime subscription can be used for your FREE subscription to our channel on Twitch, located at twitch.tv/risedtwa.

That’s right, for Amazon Prime subscribers, you can have access to every RISE Live Event, every Episode of RISE – ASCENT and more, our entire video archive, for FREE! It will not cost you one additional cent!

In addition to a GREAT price, the Twitch platform makes it possible to bring the video content of RISE to your computer, smartphone, tablet, XBox and Playstation gaming consoles and more!

This is a great way to support RISE! Use those Prime benefits today! If you do not subscribe to Amazon Prime, you may still subscribe through Twitch for $4.99 per month to access to the same content across the same platforms.

The Twitch channel is now fully up to date, including the most recent Episodes of RISE – ASCENT and LEGENDARY!

 

Two major matches have just been signed for RISE – LUMINOUS May 17 in Los Angeles! We can also confirm that LUMINOUS will be available on iPPV via FITE.tv!

We first saw them collide in an opening round matchup of the 2018 Mae Young Classic. May 17, LUMINOUS will see a return match between former Phoenix of RISE Champion, “The Latina Sensation” Mercedes Martinez and “The Queen Bee” Madison Rayne! These two revered veterans of the ring surely represent Today’s Best.

Mercedes has not spoken to RISE Management since her loss of The Phoenix of RISE Championship to Kylie Rae at LEGENDARY. We have only received correspondence from her agent to confirm match and travel details. We truly do not know what to make of the lack of communication, but it is most certainly unsettling.

Madison returns to RISE in her first appearance since INSANITY’s Queen vs. Queen match. Rayne lost a very competitive match to Jinny. But, if there’s one thing we know about Madison Rayne, it is that she will continue to evolve, not dwell on actions from the past to strive for relevance in 2019.

And in a showcase of Tomorrow’s Brightest, “The Ballsy Badass” Shotzi Blackheart will take on “SUPERSTAR” Miranda Alize.

At LEGENDARY, did we finally see the emotional breaking point of Shotzi? Shotzi launched a full on attack on Delilah Doom with a chair, then blocked a poison mist attack and ran off “The Demon Assassin” Rosemary with the weapon. Blackheart has been through a great deal at the hands of Rosemary and her friend turned foe in Delilah. With Shotzi effectively throwing that match in a deliberate disqualification, what could that mean for her opponent May 17?

The self-professed “SUPERSTAR” Miranda Alize showed her true colors at the conclusion of LEGENDARY. After her best friend and Wily Smilies tag team partner Kylie Rae defeated Mercedes Martinez in a grueling No Ropes, Submission Only match for The Phoenix of RISE, Miranda entered the ring, seemingly to celebrate. Then, with one cutter, became the most hated woman in Chicago. With Miranda snapping to a point of having to be pulled off by Mercedes Martinez, the recent behaviors of both her and Shotzi have this match has quite high tensions already!

Los Angeles fans, tickets are still available for LUMINOUS and can be ordered at risedtwa.ticketleap.com.

And for those who cannot be with us in person, we hope to have pre-order information up very soon on FITE.tv!

#Representation Matters

In the past couple days, it has been evident that Kofi winning THE title raised a sense of pride in people’s hearts. This was not just a win for all, but this hit differently for people of color, especially the Black community. As monumental as it was, this caused a ripple effect in taking a closer look at the independent scene of wrestling. There are tons of promotions scattered across the world but the reoccurring theme within most is the lack of representation regarding ethnicity.

This has been shown throughout the history of wrestling, with which the trend seems to continue. Imagine walking into a locker room and being the only one who spoke your language or resembled your features. No one to understand your trials or your culture. This is current life of women wrestlers of color.

The responsibility of addressing this unseen bias does not fall upon women of color but on the promoters themselves. Who among them are willing to step back and take a good look at their roster and make change? Being truthful with not only themselves but with wrestling as a whole and say “we need to do better.”

In 2016 a similar conversation led a company to take ahold of this charge. They challenged the archetype and the comfortability that is held so dear by taking this issue to the forefront, thus the start of RISE Wrestling. Since its inception, diversity has been their top priority. Their seminars have produced a variety of talented wrestlers and they’re consistently establishing new talent.

Recently, they conducted a battle royal named RISE of The Contender. Thirty women entered this bout with hopes of victory however, the true importance goes far deeper than that. The makeup of this match was just as diverse as the background of each contestant. These women, picked predominantly from seminars, hailing from different ethnic backgrounds presented an array of shapes and sizes. Each one given an opportunity to individually stand strong as the women they are.

This emphasis on creating strong roles for women of color is just as imperative as building the space for them. RISE has shown and proved this in numerous ways by taking a stand saying diversity matters, representation matters. As a whole the wrestling community holds the power to yield change by banding together to shatter the glass ceiling, allowing talent to shine through. A chance is all it takes, be the change, close the gap for it truly does matter.

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I don’t know that there will ever be a better piece of marketing material for a RISE Seminar than the image at the top of this blog. It’s been said a lot of our Seminars and Shows, “Talent took a chance on us. Now we take a chance on them.” I don’t know that any collection of four women personify this more than New Nation, the stable lead by The 7th Phoenix of RISE Zoe Lucas, and rounded out by Charli Evans, Jessica Troy and Steph De Lander.

Charli and Jessica, two young dreamers from Australia took a chance, flying to America to take part in a RISE Seminar with Dr. Tom Prichard. They had no guarantee other than a world class learning experience. They ended up making their American debut as Team Blue Nation taking on Britt Baker and Chelsea Green, Fire and Nice at RISE 3 – MEDIC. Just months later, they would take that same chance once more, only this time they found themselves in an unreal position for an up and coming tag team, they joined forces with the legendary Aja Kong to take on the team of Hiroyo Matsumoto, Rachael Ellering and Dynamite DiDi.

After this standout performance, staying cool under pretty intense pressure, Team Blue Nation would become permanent members of the RISE Roster. They would be part of the Tag Team Awakening, nearly winning the Four Corners Elimination Match at RISE 9 – RISE of The Knockouts to become the first Guardians of RISE Tag Team Champions. Though they came up short in this bout, Blue Nation has worked their way to a future title shot after their victory at LEGENDARY over Team Sea Stars, Ashley Vox and Delmi Exo.

Now, let’s talk for just a minute about Steph De Lander. The young Australian once known as Facebrooke, she took a chance on RISE 7 – SENSATION with no guarantee other than a world class learning experience with Mercedes Martinez. Facebrooke would make such a good impression in the Seminar, she received an opportunity to be part of the famed #TFAZLGGOTPWEPWEP – The First Annual Zoe Lucas Global Gauntlet Of True Pro Wrestling Excellence…Plus Whoever Else Participates. This would be Facebrooke’s first brush with Zoe Lucas, but certainly not her last.

Facebrooke returned to train with Gail Kim at LEGENDARY. Her career in transition after returning from injury, it was time for a change. Facebrooke had recently shed her mask in her home promotions in Australia, showing the world the true identity of Steph De Lander. But, the timing needed to be right to show fans in America just exactly what she means to do in pro wrestling.

With the best draw in RISE of The Contender, Facebrooke entered at number 30. With only her former opponent Zoe Lucas and her best friend from home Shazza McKenzie in the ring, Aerial Monroe down and out after the attack of Blue Nation, it seemed Lucas was doomed and Shazza was poised for revenge after the attack introducing New Nation at RISE – ASCENT, Episode 20 – Something New. Shazza and Facebrooke gave the big “Likes This” thumbs up. However, upon Zoe’s warning, Shazza turned around to eat a monstrous boot to the face from Facebrooke. 

After disposing of McKenzie, Facebrooke removed her mask, tossing it on the fallen body of Shazza and revealed Steph De Lander as New Nation’s newest muscle.

And then there’s Zoe Lucas.

Zoe originally was not even supposed to attend the RISE 4 – WARRIORS RISE Seminar in Norwich, England with Mercedes Martinez and Madusa. There are not many times in a wrestler’s career when a booking cancelling is a lucky scenario, but in this case, it may have truly worked out for the best. Zoe attended the Seminar with no guarantee but a world class learning experience.

After making an impression upon Dave and me in the Seminar, we let Zoe know she was our pick to come to America for opportunities with RISE and SHIMMER. As it turns out, this would be the last we would see of sweet, young Zoe.

Marking her American debut at RISE 5 – RISING SUN, Zoe would have the unenviable task of taking on a true Legend of The Eagles Club, Cheerleader Melissa. Though she would not come out of this scenario with the win, she showed our audience her personality, tenacity and refusal to give up. It’s not unfair to say she took a beating and just kept going. She proved herself a contender in a building where much of the best women’s wrestling in history has occurred. 

Returning at RISE 7 – SENSATION in the aforementioned #TFAZLGGOTPWEPWEP, Zoe may have used smoke and mirrors with laughs at the sheer ridiculousness of such a hashtag, she proved herself the victor. In one match, she bested La Estrella, Facebrooke, Skilled Death Artist #6, Valentina Loca and Thunder Rosa. Though some competitors in the match were more formidable than others, no one could take a victory over five wrestlers away from Zoe.

And then, the fall came around, and this is where this story starts to take a turn. 

Prior to RISE 10 last October, we taped a few Episodes of RISE – ASCENT as part of the VIP Meet and Greet before INSANITY. Some, including Zoe, Charli and Jessica felt this a bit of a slight, being on a “pre-show” match (despite being filmed for ASCENT) after their successes in the rings of RISE. So on Episode 20 of RISE – ASCENT, something happened… Something New.

This Episode sparked the birth of New Nation, and it would prove to be the very beginnings of a stable that would send a ripple through RISE and place them in one of the most controversial and highest profile moments to date.

Zoe Lucas, having won RISE of The Contender, also had “A Guaranteed Match for The Phoenix of RISE at an Event She Will Be Able to Name.” No one ever said, “Zoe cannot name LEGENDARY.”

And that’s how it went.

After the shocking turn of events seeing new Phoenix of RISE Champion Kylie Rae’s friend and Wily Smilies Tag Team partner Miranda Alize beating her down mercilessly until being stopped by Mercedes Martinez, the apparent long game, a months long plan was revealed by New Nation. And, suffice it to say, they won.

After exercising her contract for a title shot, Zoe Lucas, flanked by all members of New Nation, Charli Evans, Jessica Troy and Steph De Lander, walked in and defeated Kylie Rae to become The 7th Phoenix of RISE.

And only moments later, New Nation would find themselves across the ring from some of the most buzz worthy women in all of wrestling, the women of AEW – Brandi Rhodes, Britt Baker and Nyla Rose.

Now, to bring this back to the original point of this blog.

What can attending a RISE Seminar do for Prospective Talents? We would not have known any of these talents had they not reached out to us to take part in their first Seminars. 

They took that chance on us.

And clearly, we are taking that chance on them.

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A new addition to our events March 29 will be Early to RISE – A Women’s Wrestling Mini Convention. Beginning at 3 PM Central Time, fans will enter the Berwyn Eagles Club for a full afternoon of access to talent appearing at LEGENDARY as well as SHIMMER’s weekend tapings.

In addition to being a Meet and Greet without the time and space crunch typical of RISE and SHIMMER Intermissions, we will also have several exclusive behind the scenes moments, interviews and more. On top of all that, we will have several matches showcasing talent from the day’s LEGENDARY Seminar with Gail Kim as well as Seminar Standouts from prior outings!

Matches we can share for now include Allysin Kay taking on AQA and “The Lone Bone” Ray Lyn squaring off with “The Baddest Blackbelt” Janai Kai. Other matches are currently in the works and we are hoping to share ASAP!

For those who cannot make it to Chicago, you may be in luck! We will be streaming many of the events from Early to RISE LIVE on Twitch for FREE! Hosts Alicia Atout and Joshua Shibata will take over our Twitch Channel which you can find at twitch.tv/risedtwa.

In addition to hosting Early to RISE, Alicia Atout will be taking over all RISE Social Media, so be sure to follow us on all platforms @RISEdtwa.

Get ready for some fun!

Those who want to be with us in Chicago, tickets are still available for Early to RISE at risedtwa.ticketleap.com.

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RISE Live Events always have a fun surprises, and among the most popular of those are often what talents make their debut from our World Class Development Seminars! This Friday, a number of aspiring Women Athletes will be part of our next World Class Development Seminar, headed by Gail Kim and supported by Jimmy Jacobs, Brandon Tolle and Kevin Harvey.

After a morning and early afternoon of learning the art of professional wrestling, specific to a televised environment, several of the women will be chosen for matches at Early to RISE – A Women’s Wrestling Mini Convention at 3 PM and our massive iPPV Event LEGENDARY beginning at 8 PM.

The Prospective Talent Pool for this Friday includes several returning faces as well as many new ones such as…

Jenna Van Muscles

Sophie King

Bel Pierce

Danika Della Rouge

Rocky Radley

Kara Noia

Sloan

Harlow O’Hara

Avista Varlowe

Angelique Winter Poppaea

The Ultra Violette

“Rookie Jen” Jenna Lynn

Phoebe

Big Mama

Dani Grey

Vanity

Branae

Diamond Hitz

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Who will be selected in the pool to be part of Early to RISE and LEGENDARY, the largest roster of Women Wrestlers ever assembled for a single event? Tune in LIVE to find out!

Early to RISE will be streaming at twitch.tv/risedtwa.

LEGENDARY will be available on iPPV via FITE TV: https://www.fite.tv/watch/rise-13-legendary/2oid7/