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Here it is.

I don’t know what’s too much to say, or what’s not enough.

But one way or another, it is coming out right now.

March 27, 2020 will be the final RISE Live Event and has been rebranded LEGENDARY – A CHARMING FINALE.

Why is this the last Live Event? The answer comes down to one thing – money.

A lot of people probably look at sold out shows stacked with some of the top names in Women’s Wrestling as well as some of the most prominent LGBTQ+ talents from around the world and wonder how they make money. The answer is simple.

They don’t. Period.

This has always been the case, this is nothing new. The business model of these global attractions was always to lose money at the door, then break even and/or profit on video sales.

But that has not even been close to the case. I want to do my best to not make this all boo hoo and whiny, and I do not want to even talk about any specific numbers. Basis for a benchmark though for the casual reader, our last iPPV LA ESCALERA made a net payment from FITE TV that only covered the cost of the video production +$16.

With the exception of the co-promoted The Summit in August 2019, all RISE Live Events have lost money. Every one of them.

RISE has never had any true sponsors, backers or anything of the like. It has always been funded by “some guy,” and support through purchased tickets, digital subscriptions and merchandise sales of our wonderful fans around the world.

And I am here to tell you, “some guy,” simply cannot take the various pressures of trying to fund this level of Live Events any more. I love our fans, I love the talent, I love the shows.

What I do not love is everything that comes with the extreme burden of what most would consider extreme debt.

Almost two years ago, the future of RISE was nearly certain doom. I shared where we were with our fans at the time simply because I have always wanted our fans to know what’s going on, the good, the bad and the ugly.

The truth is, nothing ever changed financially since the spring of 2018. I was simply too stubborn to quit.

I can look back in hindsight and see a lot of my faults. RISE grew too fast. I dreamed too big. And in the end, the combination of those two things has cost me.

No one held a gun to my head and made me do it. I took a lot of gambles, hoping there was a bigger market for what our Live Events bring to the table.

That’s the thing about gambling. Sometimes, you lose.

And the Live Events for RISE, as fun as they were, as good of things as they did for fans and our talent, were exactly that – a loss. A big one.

So, why isn’t this boo hoo?

This is NOT “THE” End of RISE!

This is the end of worsening the biggest burden financially for the company.

The best parts of this company, in my opinion, have been World Class Talent Development and working diligently to make safe spaces for marginalized talent.

And we can continue to do BOTH those things working with longtime partners and new ones along the way.

I cannot go into the full details here and now, but our relationship with Freelance Wrestling is growing and will mean much, much more as the year progresses. RISE is now hands-on full time at Freelance Wrestling Academy. And through Freelance Wrestling Academy, we will STILL be able to offer World Class Development Seminars. And we can still travel from time to time too!

And there is more in the pipeline that will ensure MORE content, NEW content is delivered to our subscribers at riseascent.com and our Apps on iOS and Android. We think you’ll like what we have coming up. We just do not have 100% of the pieces in place to fully inform of new programming that will develop young talent, showcase them through original, episodic content and introduce a new generation to RISE fans everywhere.

And we can do this without losing five figures of money per Live Event.

We will continue to offer online training through RISEedu.

We will continue to have RISE presence on events that will continue to showcase The Phoenix and The Guardians. And we are even working on joint efforts to bring about Pride and Joy 2 to Chicago, but not as a RISE Live Event, something much closer to The Summit with multiple partners involved.

Yes, the finances are the dark side of RISE, the bad side. But I try my best every day to not let that overshadow the immense good we have been able to do in wrestling.

And I continue to fight every day to make sure the best parts of RISE continue to do even more good, and to do so for a long time to come.

Thank you for your support of RISE, however you do so.

Now all that remains is to send RISE Live Events off into the sunset.

Join us March 27 in Berwyn, IL for LEGENDARY – A CHARMING FINALE. Tickets: risedtwa.ticketleap.com.

All the best,

Kevin

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It’s official, we have a new all-time high for Seminar response in the first 24 hours. As of this writing, 60 professional wrestlers have filled out the registration form available at rise-wrestling.com/caseforchange. We fully expected this to have high interest and turnout, but this has certainly exceeded expectations.

As I have done since the initial announcements of A Case for Change Seminar and Tryout for Multiple Promotions and all communication since, I am trying to be as transparent as possible at all steps of the process with all involved.

First and foremost, as much as I would love to say there is time and space to give everyone who registers a shot – this is not realistic. Even with what we have already received for interest through registration, we have more people interested than we can realistically give personal attention to and truly evaluate when it actually comes down to Seminar and Tryout time on March 26 and 27 in Berwyn, IL in suburban Chicago.

I am writing this almost exactly 24 hours after we first opened registration. I have 60 registration forms to sort through and evaluate. We cannot even realistically execute our plan for Seminar and Tryout with even that many people.

So, here are some important numbers, infos, etc.

The Seminar and Tryout will have a maximum cap of 40 total attendees in the role of wrestler. Managers, referees, announcers and other less physical or non-physical roles are NOT being counted in this cap of 40.

I have made the decision to cut off registration either A: When I have received 200 registration forms or B: End of day Friday, January 31 – whichever comes first. I can not realistically review and interact with more than that based on my available time and resources. 

This Friday, January 24, I will begin sending out additional information and next steps emails to all who’ve registered. It is CRUCIAL for all prospective participants to reply to these emails as requested in a timely manner. Please make sure to double check your spam folders. All communication is being routed to whatever email address you put on your registration form. Please double and triple check that it is correct before submitting the form.

After Friday, January 24, if you have completed the registration form and have not heard from me within 48 hours of submission, please email me directly as a reminder at kevin@wrestlingpipeline.com, Subject: Case for Change Next Steps.

Now, if you want to attend this Seminar and Tryout for multiple pro wrestling promotions, it is highly advised to complete your registration form ASAP!

And one final update, we have added another wrestling promotion to the mix of scouting and recruiting organizations. Berwyn Championship Wrestling, based in our home at The Berwyn Eagles Club, promotes monthly events and will be on hand feasting their eyes upon what we suspect will be our strongest Prospective Talent Pool to date.

Thank you all for your time and interest in A Case for Change!

Sincerely,

Kevin

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Attention ALL Professional Wrestling Promoters Across The World:

You are cordially invited to attend RISE – A Case for Change, a Professional Wrestling Seminar and Formal Tryout taking place March 26-27 in Berwyn, IL in suburban Chicago.

There are two overall goals:

1: Provide a World Class Development experience consistent with the RISE brand, to invest our time and energy into developing a worldwide pipeline of talent for ALL of professional wrestling.

2: Conduct a formal tryout with multiple companies represented – AT ZERO COST TO THE PARTICIPANTS.

Before anyone takes this as a personal jab, look at the history of RISE. We look in the mirror and see A Case for Change in our own reflection. Our very foundation is providing a training experience, with no guarantees. But, historically it HAS always been with this carrot of opportunity, “what if I, the participant, am among those ‘a select few standout participants will be chosen to perform on (insert RISE event name here).'”

The more I have thought about the idea of monetized “tryouts,” the more it has caused self reflection. It has also lead me to believe there is A Case for Change for the entire industry, and it’s simply this.

Let’s bring an end to the days of monetized tryouts.

If there truly is someone out there from an independent starting to make their name on a larger scale to those coveted diamonds in the rough, should we not all WANT to see these people? If they are what is right for our shows, for our FANS, should we not WANT to do whatever we can to put our eyes upon these performers?

What I am NOT saying here is that all training and development should magically be free forevermore. I DO believe there is a time and place for charging admission for Seminars and such developmental programs. It is very specialized education coming from top minds in our industry.

What I am saying is let’s separate what is truly a learning and developmental experience of regular training, seminars and the like and the carrot dangling of opportunity – “what if they pick me?”

To be completely transparent, RISE will continue to offer training and development year round in various ways, and we will continue to charge admission fees for such things – when they are presented as exactly that: training and development without implied opportunity.

Anything in relatively proximity to our events, we know there will be hope to be picked for an opportunity, and our days of charging for the prospect of that opportunity are over.

If you are serious about recruiting. If you are serious about seeing what talent is out there. If you truly want to build the best possible pipeline of talent for your respective promotions, we are putting our money where our mouth is, not the money of the participants.

And we cordially invite you to take that first step with us March 26-27.

I have reached out to many of you in the last few days, and I anxiously await your responses.

If I have not reached out to you directly, to accept my invitation, please email me directly: kevin@wrestlingpipeline.com, Subject: Case for Change Participant Promotion.

And my final ask for everyone, fans and those inside the industry, is this:

It is unrealistic for EVERY promotion EVERYWHERE to magically be part of this event in March. If a promotion is not listed among those participating, there are no reasons to criminalize or demonize anyone. Sometimes, the answer is as simple as, “it just did not work out.”

A Case for Change – This is NOT to fling mud. This is NOT to start a Social Media fight.

This IS, I hope anyway, a chance for many of us to unite and help move the industry forward, building a better future, not bleeding it.

Having said all that, I truly hope we will be adding many more logos to this initial graphic and future graphics.

Thank you for reading. And thank you, however you do so, for caring about the future of professional wrestling.

Regards,

Kevin Harvey

Executive Producer, RISE – Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions

It was close. It came down to the wire. And in the end, the RISE fans votes resulted in a tie for 2019 RISE Wrestler of The Year. This year’s honors go to reigning Phoenix of RISE Big Swole and “The Ballsy Badass” Shotzi Blackheart.

Big Swole had a BIG year in RISE! She went the complete distance in RISE of The Contender at LEGENDARY. Entering at #1, Big Swole was in until the very end. She survived fighting in a ring with 29 other women…well 31 if you count the outside attack from Team Blue Nation. The attack from Jessica Troy and Charli Evans seemed to take Big Swole out of the contest. But, in the final moments, Big Swole would power her way back into the ring, eliminating Steph De Lander and breaking the contest down to Big Swole and Zoe Lucas.

That final showdown would set the stage for several Main Events for RISE. Swole got her first chance at Zoe Lucas’ Phoenix of RISE Championship at LUMINOUS. Zoe was ruled the victor. However, due to the underhanded circumstances of the match’s conclusion, a rematch was granted at The Summit.

And it was at The Summit Big Swole defeated Zoe Lucas to become The Phoenix of RISE. And to top off one of her career’s biggest moments, she was crowned champion by one of the greatest legends of all time, Bull Nakano!

To date, Big Swole has defended her title successfully against Double D Rose and Laynie Luck. And we know Kylie Rae is now the #1 Contender going into LEGENDARY 2020 this March in Berwyn, IL!

Through our first few years, there are few names as synonymous with RISE as Shotzi Blackheart. The Second Phoenix of RISE, Shotzi was the one of the key players at RISE, helping put the promotion on the map.

This year, Shotzi was entangled in a brutal feud with her former Balls of DOOM partner, Delilah Doom. They faced each other several times, the feud only growing in intensity each time out. Shotzi Blackheart and Delilah Doom added three more matches in their storied history in RISE, their final contest happening at The Summit.

In her farewell to RISE, The Ballsy Badass finally had her one-on-one match with “The Demon Assassin” Rosemary. At LA ESCALERA, Shotzi was able to vanquish her tormentor once and for all in a No Holds Barred match.

Shotzi moved on from RISE to WWE NXT in 2019. And our entire team could not be happier to see the young lady we first met as a Seminar hopeful at RISE 1 continue to learn, grow and improve to catch the eyes of the whole world, and now The WWE Universe.

Congratulations to Phoenix of RISE Big Swole and “The Ballsy Badass” Shotzi Blackheart, 2019 RISE Wrestlers of The Year!

 

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We saw many top teams and several new ones pass through RISE in 2019. Above them all, fans voted reigning Guardians of RISE Tag Team Champions The Killer Death Machines, Jessicka Havok and Nevaeh as the 2019 RISE Tag Team of The Year!

One of the most experienced tag teams currently on the scene, Havok and Nevaeh spent the majority of the year embroiled in a wild feud with Paradise Lost. The two teams faced off in wild matches ending in Double Countout, a crazy Rosemary’s Rules match (where The KDMs would ultimately win The Guardians of RISE) and a match where truly just everything went at Regional Rising Stars Tournament – The Midwest Bracket.

The Killer Death Machines have defeated all challengers, but what team will step up to the plate to challenge Havok and Nevaeh in the year to come?

It will surely be a huge task for anyone stepping up to the reigning Guardians of RISE – The 2019 RISE Tag Team of The Year – The Killer Death Machines!

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In a landslide, the fans of RISE voted the No Ropes, Submission Only Match for The Phoenix of RISE Championship between Champion Mercedes Martinez and Challenger Kylie Rae from LEGENDARY as the 2019 RISE Match of The Year.

The first page of this story was turned at INSANITY. Moments after Mercedes Martinez defeated Tessa Blanchard to become Phoenix of RISE in the longest one-on-one Women’s Wrestling match of all-time, The Latina Sensation laid down the gauntlet for young girls to step up and try her, because she is at the top of her game.

Kylie Rae returned to a thunderous ovation as RISE fans saw her for the first time since she broke her collar bone representing RISE at STARDOM in Japan. It was apparent, we had a Champion. We had a Challenger.

Their first confrontation at ROW on The RISE saw Mercedes nearly tapping out to Kylie’s Charity Case finishing hold, but reached the ropes for escape. Mercedes was finally able to pin Kylie’s shoulders to the mat, but not without the using the ring ropes for leverage.

To level the playing field as both competitors had a case against the ropes factoring into the result of the match, the Main Event of LEGENDARY was set – No Ropes, Submission Only.

In what was truly one of the best matches ever contested in a RISE ring, Kylie Rae was able to make Mercedes Martinez tap out to the Charity Case, becoming The 6th Phoenix of RISE.

Just as emotional as the match itself was the aftermath involving Miranda Alize (like the drank), Zoe Lucas and New Nation and the women’s roster of All Elite Wrestling. So much happened in the final moments of this show leaving many memories and sending a shockwave through RISE the rest of the year.

If you have not yet seen this match, watch today at riseascent.com!

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The fans of RISE have spoken! There were so many memorable moments in our rings in 2019, not necessarily matches or results, it was hard to pick just one for any voter! In what was one of the closest categories for this year’s voting, RISE fans selected Cherry Bomb Returns to Face Off with Rosemary at LEGENDARY as the 2019 RISE Moment of The Year!

The Multiverse can operate in strange ways! At LEGENDARY, during the Guardians of RISE Tag Team Championship match between Paradise Lost and The Killer Death Machines, Rosemary more than made her presence known, becoming hands-on throughout the contest. When it seemed The Demon Assassin was ready to deal a death blow to Nevaeh, a mix of very familiar music started to play, and a familiar face emerged.

Happy Bunny Allie? – No!

Dark Allie? – Not even close!

IT’S CHERRY BOMB!!!

Cherry Bomb evened the odds to the match and set forth a course of events that would see new Guardians of RISE in The Killer Death Machines and rekindle a feud with Rosemary.

And a feud that put both talents on the map would see its finale inside The Steel Cage as part of the Double Main Event of LUMINOUS!

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We have listed every match from 2019 RISE Events (excluding any matches not released on RISEascent.com or DVD/Blu-ray) in the polls found at the link below. Please vote for your favorite match from each show. Next Monday, we will place the winners from each event into one final poll to determine that RISE Match of The Year, as chosen by the fans of RISE!

We also have one poll for Moment of The Year. We had a lot of emotional moments this year in RISE, not necessarily involving matches or their result.

Head on over to rise-wrestling.com/motyvoting now to cast your votes!

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Whenever you did it, however you did it, if you are reading this, I am going to go ahead and assume in some way, you supported RISE in 2019. And for that, I sincerely thank you.

Out of curiosity today, I decided to put together some stats, and I was actually kind of shocked when I started making tallies. There is a lot we accomplished this year. Some numbers I knew because we openly marketed them/humble bragged about them. But, wow…what a year.

Let’s start off with some of the more obvious numbers.

In 2019, 4 Women held The Phoenix of RISE Championship. The year began with “The Latina Sensation” Mercedes Martinez as Champion, The 5th Phoenix of RISE. Kylie Rae defeated Mercedes in a highly emotional contest at LEGENDARY to become The 6th, but her moment was cut quite short. Of course, it was cut short by Zoe Lucas, who would become The 7th. And today, The 8th Phoenix of RISE is Big Swole.

Just this week, it was formally announced Big Swole has signed with AEW. Please consider this my formal statement that Big Swole is STILL Phoenix of RISE. And she will continue to defend as Champion and compete in the rings of RISE.

In 2019, 2 Tag Teams held The Guardians of RISE Tag Team Championships. Paradise Lost started the year with Raven’s Ash and Dust defending the titles. The Killer Death Machines, Jessicka Havok and Nevaeh won the titles at LEGENDARY and reign as The 2nd Guardians of RISE Champions to this day.

Based on our upcoming schedule and potential defenses, it looks as though The Killer Death Machines will set a new record as the longest reign of either championship in our now 3+ years of operation.

In 2019, we set a new, all-time record for the largest roster of women wrestlers ever assembled for a single event at LEGENDARY. At LEGENDARY, 54 women competed in matches. 2 Women were on commentary, Allysin Kay and Veda Scott. 6 Women were involved in the event in non-wrestling capacities – Gail Kim, Allie (Cherry Bomb), Brandi Rhodes, Britt Baker, Nyla Rose and Rosemary.

LEGENDARY would also see the debut of our first non-binary competitor, Sophie King during her brief, but memorable moment is RISE of The Contender. Sophie would go on to have more moments in 2019 too.

In 2019, we widened the scope of what we do to create opportunities for development and to showcase skills at PRIDE & JOY. We transitioned from Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes to Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions, looking expand our efforts for wrestlers in the LGBTQ+ community.

In my opinion, the most important stat of 2019 is 100+ of the fans in attendance of PRIDE & JOY were first time Live Event fans. And I do not just mean RISE Live Events fans. A HUGE amount of people reached out to me and different members of our team to inform us PRIDE & JOY was the first time they ever attended ANY pro wrestling event. It was the first time they felt represented. It was the first time they felt welcome.

Representation Matters, and we will continue this focus as we move ahead into 2020.

And now, here are the numbers I really didn’t believe as I was tallying them.

In 2019, 93 matches transpired inside the rings of RISE, spanning 2 Countries and 4 states.

In 2019, 115 professional wrestlers competed inside the rings of RISE:

102 Women Athletes

12 Male Athletes

1 Non-Binary Athlete

In 2019…I cannot even tell you how many people attended Seminars. Honestly, it’s just too much labor to count it up, going through old emails and PayPal invoices. But, it was a LOT. Easily over 100.

In 2019, we formally joined forces with Freelance Wrestling Academy. This is effectively the RISE Wrestling School for anyone who asks the question. Isaias Velazquez handles the beginners classes. Jesus Bryce (Benjamin) handles the advanced classes. I have joined both more often than not every training day possible the back half of this year, doing whatever possible to use RISE resources and pay it forward to the new generation of talent from our local scene.

Whether you’ve realized it or not, several wrestlers who’ve been part of RISE this year came by way of Freelance Wrestling Academy, some in dark matches, others making formal debuts at Live Events. Those wrestlers included, Davey Bang, August Matthews, Elayna Black, Storm Grayson, Warbear Eda and Jay Raves. And that list will grow in the months to come.

In 2019, tonight in fact, we start HORIZONS Weekly Seminars. Open to all wrestling roles, all gender identities. We will offer formal RISE training, on par with our World Class Development Seminars every single Thursday. For now, the Seminars are based in Berwyn, IL. In 2020, we are looking to take these on the road as well as move into a new facility in Chicago, but more on that as time passes.

We will also have LIVE content every Thursday on YouTube. We hope to have matches most weeks, but that will depend on Seminar signups and experience levels in each Seminar. Tonight for example, only one Seminar attendee has had matches prior, so we likely will not have matches tonight.

In 2019, we had 5 LIVE iPPV Streams on FITE. Thank you to my dear, longtime friend Mike Robles of Smart Mark Video Without him, these would not have even remotely been close to possible to make happen.

And I was torn about putting this last part in, but, here goes.

In 2019, there is one very important number where we have to place focus. For as many moments as we had, for the sold out shows and fairly well attended Seminars, one thing we did not do – profit. Not one cent. That cannot and will not continue to happen in 2020. RISE will simply cease to exist if we cannot turn the financial boat around and sail for profitable waters.

The Live Event Model, if I’m being frank, will never make money. The level of talents involved, the transportation and logistical costs, we would have to double or triple ticket prices to make the Live Event profitable. And I’m not about to do that.

So, we can either scale back…immensely…in a way where the caliber of shows would change. Or, we can simply try this.

Let’s get more EYES ON RISE. Tweet it. Instagram it. Facebook It. #EyesOnRISE.

There is no such thing as a bad way to support. Even the free ways help in some way, because it’s all #EyesOnRISE.

One FREE way everyone can support, watch our YouTube Channel. We have uploaded the entirety of Year One. I started uploading Year Two this week, and you will see more and more content from 2018 soon, including the first several episodes of ASCENT. Watch our stuff, share our stuff. It all helps get #EyesOnRISE.

Subscriptions to riseascent.com are also a big help. Though not free, $4.99 is a pretty solid price to get our entire library of content (including full shows as opposed to heavily edited down YouTube matches). Plus, you get all Bar Wrestling Shows featuring many, many talents you know and love from RISE. You also get content from these great providers: AAW Pro, Angel Gate, Atomic Championship Wrestling/Rogue Women Warriors, Bombshells Ladies Wrestling, British Empire Wrestling, Chaotic Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Eve, Ladies Night Out – Title Match Network, Queens of Combat, Gangrel’s Wrestling Asylum and Wrestling Theology Fellowship. And remember, a login to riseascent.com also opens access to our Apps on iOS and Android.

You can get 12 months now for a discounted price of $40 through December at rise-wrestling.com/holiday.

And, though it’s not exactly #EyesOnRISE in-ring product, it certainly helps. A couple of ways you can wear RISE, getting our tees, hoodies and more:

prowrestlingtees.com/kevinharvey

teespring.com/stores/rise-wrestling (20% off using code HOLIDAY through December)

I do NOT share this to be Mr. Doom and Gloom or be some carny SOB to spike any particular sales, etc. I do NOT share this to try and shame anyone for “not supporting enough.” Let me circle back to the first paragraph of this article.

“Whenever you did it, however you did it, if you are reading this, I am going to go ahead and assume in some way, you supported RISE in 2019. And for that, I sincerely thank you.”

I thank you for all you do to make what we do worth every bit of investment we put into developing a worldwide pipeline of talent for ALL of professional wrestling. If you love what we do, share it with others you know who love wrestling.

Let’s share what we love.

Let’s not look at any of this as a negative.

Let’s look at this as making 2020 the year of getting more fans involved in what we do.

Let’s make 2020 the year we get more #EyesOnRISE.

Our fans are amazing, and we continue on through your support.

You really are THE BEST!

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Kevin Harvey

Executive Producer, RISE – Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions