A Letter to RISE Fans, Old and New: PRIDE & JOY and Beyond

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A Letter to RISE Fans, Old and New from RISE Owner and Executive Producer, Kevin Harvey

Having had almost a week to reflect on it, I’ve come down from the inevitable after RISE buzz that comes with working with an amazing crew, amazing fans and copious amounts of sleep deprivation before making this declaration.

RISE – PRIDE & JOY is my favorite RISE Live Event to date.

I am not talking about booking, creative or any inside baseball terms I could toss about leisurely.

I am not talking about financially, or any sort of box office or iPPV numbers.

I am talking about two things that I have heard over and over again in the days since PRIDE & JOY.

The first thing…

From many of the talents on the show, experience levels ranging from a few months to 31 years active in the industry, I was told varying forms of, “That was the best/most fun locker room of which we’ve ever been a part.”

Wow, that’s powerful stuff. That’s powerful to me because of the great care everyone in RISE has taken since its inception to protect a sacred place for talent and staff. This isn’t one person driving that. It certainly isn’t me driving that. It is everyone on the team.

Every veteran talent, wanting to make a better environment for younger talent to learn and grow.

Every young talent, having been chosen from a Seminar for an opportunity, listening to their veteran talents, producers and taking it all in, finding their place on a single event, and hoping for a permanent place on the team.

Everyone.

They are all brought in because of who they are. Wonderfully, unapologetically them, in front of and behind the curtain.

Everyone.

Everyone on PRIDE & JOY believed in what we were attempting to do at the event, with only select few knowing plans for the ideas of P&J to continue fully into the future, and not just be, dare I say it, “a June thing.” 

There was fun in that locker room.

There was representation.

There was inclusion.

There was love.

And now onto that second thing…

I’ve run the numbers, and over 50% of tickets sold to P&J were to first time attendees of RISE Events. And the day of the show, a very large amount of fans approached talent, staff and me personally to let us know something that was truly overwhelming.

“We’ve been wrestling fans a long time, but we’ve never attended an event. This was the first time we’ve ever felt welcomed.”

Wow.

I heard that once, and I wanted to cry. That was one of the overreaching goals of the entire project. 

Then another person came up.

And another.

Then different talents approached me, “Hey, Kev, check out what that fan right there just told me.”

Then another.

Then social media posts and messages.

Then some more.

Then some emails.

Though there is no way to ever officially measure this number. Based on known ticket sales hard statistics and word of mouth in varying forms, I estimate that between 100-150 people in total were attending a live wrestling show for the very first time.

And that’s AMAZING to think! That’s AMAZING to feel! But it’s also a big indicator that there is much more work to be done, not just by RISE, but as a professional wrestling industry.

To fans who attended RISE for the first time, please know that the feeling you had at PRIDE & JOY can be had at EVERY RISE Live Event. The tagline for P&J was, “Pro Wrestling’s Ultimate Event of Love and Inclusion.” But why would we ever stop that at one event?

No matter who you are, you are welcome at our events. By our talent, crew and our community of fans, you are indeed loved.

As anyone at Logan Square Arena heard from Ring Announcer Joe Dombrowski, there are only a few rules of conduct at RISE.

  1. Don’t be ignorant – if you need help with what this means during the show, you will be escorted out of the arena without refund and given directions to the nearest public library, elementary school or whatever resources you need to research what it takes to be a decent human being.
  2. Have fun!

That’s it, it’s that simple! 

And on another note, I went pretty far in depth on this topic on a recent Podcast with Squared Circle Sirens this week, so I will do my best not to be too redundant.

The name change.

Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes is out. Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions is in.

For those with concern, please notice that at no point have we said we are abandoning our focus on Women’s Wrestling. That could not be any more distant from the truth.

The Phoenix of RISE is still a Championship for Women Athletes.

The Guardians of RISE is still a Championship for Women Athletes.

When we started RISE, there were huge gaps in opportunities for women wrestlers. When I sat down with Dave Prazak to make the pitch that would ultimately become RISE, the mission was to backfill positions we knew would be opening in SHIMMER due to various exclusive talent signings. We thought we’d see.

“Well, let’s see who’s out there.”

That first Seminar – 40 women signed up. And I was only familiar with 4 of them before RISE 1 – IGNITE. It let us know how much work there was to be done, and how many talented women wrestlers out there needed a new platform.

In just over two months since P&J was announced, I have heard from an overwhelming about of talents worldwide who identify as LGBTQ+. With no exaggeration, in one 24 hour period between emails and DMs, I heard from 37 LGBTQ+ Athletes, wanting to be part of this platform. 

There was clearly a need to keep P&J going beyond one day, one month. 

No matter what the calendar says, the time is now for us to continue doing everything we have ever done to train and develop Women Athletes and give them representation on our events and others’ and broaden that focus to provide the same training, the same development and the same opportunities for LGBTQ+ Athletes.

In our time in business with the relationships we have built in the spirit of collaboration over competition, we have become a worldwide pipeline of talent for all professional wrestling.

That is still what we are.

That is still what we do.

We are RISE. And we are Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions.

Men’s Wrestling

Women’s Wrestling

Intergender Wrestling

Nah, folks, it’s just wrestling.

And it’s the greatest entertainment form on Earth.

For everyone.