2018 in the Rearview Mirror – A Blog from Kevin Harvey

rise-final-012018 is in the books. It was one hell of a year for RISE. It was ambitious. Some, myself included, would argue it was overly ambitious. We’ve lived. We’ve learned. And we’ve moved on to fight another day.

2018 saw 5 Live Events: SENSATION, STEEL, OUTBACK, RISE of The Knockouts and INSANITY. We also saw 4 sets of ASCENT Tapings: Pittsburgh, Naperville, Orlando and Berwyn, producing 22 Episodes of original content. We also put out our first behind-the-scenes documentary IGNITION. 

When I look at that number – 28 pieces of original creative content ranging from 25 minutes to 3 hours, I am incredibly proud of what we have done as a company with virtually zero financial resources. That’s pride in every wrestler, referee, announcer, commentator, manager, camera operator, sound operator, graphic designer, video editor, producer, writer and partner promoter. 

That pride also includes two very important groups of people…

Seminar Attendees: To all who attended our World Class Development Seminars, RISE on the Road Seminars and Online Seminars – thank you! Investing in the development of upcoming generations of wrestling talent is the very backbone of why our program was founded. Though not everyone from every seminar can be selected for immediate opportunities to perform, I hope you all walked away from your time with us better for the business of professional wrestling, learning more about the craft and learning more about yourself.

Fans: Without you, none of us would have a reason to put on Live Events and to develop a worldwide pipeline of talent for all of professional wrestling. However you support, tickets, merchandise, subscriptions, Patreon… I cannot express enough gratitude that you choose to support RISE.

Many thanks to our partner promotions in 2018. Their teams helped us put on the best shows possible and reach new audiences. Thank you Dave Prazak and SHIMMER Women Athletes, Justin Plummer and IWC, Bart Kapitzke and AWS Promotions, Alex Pourteau and Pro Wrestling 2.0, Rossi Ogawa, Melissa Deadrich and Sonny Gutierrez and World Wonder Ring STARDOM and Ed Norholm, Scott D’Amore, Don Callis, Sonjay Dutt, Gail Kim, Ariel Shnerer and IMPACT Wrestling.

Thank you Jon Moody, Jesse Forney, West Ghost Designs and IMPACT Wrestling’s Digital Art team for upping our game with logos, event posters and match graphics. Without a doubt, things got kicked up a notch this year…except the ones that sucked (those were done by me, probably at like 3:45 AM…).

Thank you Mike Robles, Ivan Cespedes, Ben Coile, Eric Tompkins and James Long. Never underestimate the power of a good video crew! From Live Events to assembling ASCENT Episodes to graphic effects to video packages, these are the guys who make real magic happen in post production.

Thank you Josh Mathews, someone who has done so much for RISE this year, connecting us with needed resources, often in ways that were not public facing, but extremely helpful in advancing our brand.

Thank you Jimmy Jacobs. 20 years have passed since we first met. Our lives took different roads. I could not be happier those roads were able to intersect all these years later, bringing your creativity and passion for making wrestling a better place to all facets of RISE.

Thank you to those who facilitated World Class Development Seminars for us this year: Mercedes Martinez, Madusa, Gail Kim, Scott D’Amore, Jimmy Jacobs, Sonjay Dutt, Nicole Matthews, Saraya Knight, Rain, Cheerleader Melissa and Lexie Fyfe.

Thank you to those who facilitated Online Seminars in 2018: Lenny Leonard, Dave Prazak, Portia Perez and Madusa.

Thank you to all those who support me darn near every day. Sometimes that’s just being a good friend who’ll listen. Sometimes that’s wrangling me back to reality when I’m off the rails. Thanks for reality checking me when I’ve turned into “Pepe.” But most of all, thank you for putting up with any of my eccentricities because you believe in what RISE is trying to do. Thank you for believing in the good it can do. In no particular order, thank you Dave Prazak, Pat Creed, Stephane Bruyere, Saraya Knight, Allison Danger, Lexie Fyfe, Cheerleader Melissa, Portia Perez, Mercedes Martinez and Courtney Rush.

Thank you to those who worked so hard for RISE and have moved on to their new careers in WWE. I love you and miss you dearly Deonna Purrazzo, Chelsea Green and James Long. Three of the best at what they do, three who deserve every global opportunity and accolade they have coming their way.

Thank you to Cierra McCauley and her entire family for letting our team be part of spreading your message through #DancerBeatingCancer. I only hope the moment Cierra got to share with the talent and fans in Berwyn in April made her feel even half as special as we all did just getting the chance to meet her and thank her for her bravery and selflessness for her cause.

Last, and by obviously no means least, thank you to every woman (and a few of the boys) who have performed in the rings of RISE. I know I lean on you quite a bit on show days. And that’s A LOT more on show days (and pretty much every day in between) for those women within any remote proximity to The Phoenix of RISE or The Guardians of RISE Championships. You all are saints and deserve the universal, “Thank you for putting up with my shit.”

In addition to these many thanks, there is one final item I would like to address here as we wrap 2018.

Many fans are concerned that RISE is no longer focused on Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes. I absolutely understand where that perception comes from and appreciate fans’ concerns. But, I assure you, we have not lost this focus. We are making some pretty big moves in RISE 12 and RISE 13 to double down, to give as many opportunities to Seminar talents as possible.

In fact, I plan to discuss some of the details I know full well lead to these concerns from 2018 in full in the very first episode of The Process which will be recorded January 6 LIVE on Twitch with full interactive fan Q&A at 7 PM Eastern Time. This episode of The Process will focus specifically on the events leading into RISE 8 – OUTBACK, RISE 9 – RISE of The Knockouts and the RISE – ASCENT Naperville Tapings and how the company very nearly folded. How near was it? It was so very near that Episode 13 had an alternate ending on paper only I knew. That ending would have been instituted if it were, in fact, the last RISE Event produced. The decision to roll with the original event conclusion was not made until just before intermission the day of the Naperville Tapings.

Join us for The Process: Kicked Out at 2! at twitch.tv/risedtwa January 6 at 7 PM.

By the numbers…

3 of our girls made their debuts representing RISE in Japan. 3 others would have had it not been for injuries.

4 of our girls made their debuts with IMPACT Wrestling.

In our first 2 years, 148 Women have competed inside the rings of RISE. Of those 148, 97 were Seminar Discoveries. That’s 65.5%.

Since RISE 3, we’ve stated that we hope for our events to be as close to 1/3 Featured Talent, 1/3 a core RISE Roster cultivated from our Seminars and 1/3 Seminar Discoveries. 

Those are pretty damn solid numbers, showing the future is bright. RISE has been and always will be about mixing Today’s Best, Tomorrow’s Brightest. 

And we have an even bigger focus on Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes and giving them  more opportunities to shine than ever before.

It’s not a coincidence that RISE 12 only has 4 matches announced right now. The rest of the card will be filled from The Prospective Talent Pool combined with announced talent not currently in advertised matches.

RISE 13 has our first ever RISE of The Contender match will have 30 spots. It is my goal to have “at least” 10-15 of those spots occupied by new Seminar Discoveries and past Seminar Discoveries returning from the voting polls currently open at rise-wrestling.com/rotcvoting. Without going too far ahead and revealing plans…and possibly spoiling parts of RISE 12…as of this writing, there are 22 opportunities for new Seminar Discoveries and those voted to return by fans.

This is who we are.

This is what we do.

This is Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes.

This…

This is RISE!

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