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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

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A few nights ago, I was sitting on my deck, enjoying a nice breeze on a pleasant Chicago area night. I did some thinking while I was out there. I did a lot of thinking actually, a lot of reflection. I thought about how much changed in the wrestling world looking looking at a precisely one year span – July 1, 2018 to July 1, 2019.

July 1, 2018, RISE was not in a good spot. As a business, times were tough – very tough. Times were tough enough that RISE – ASCENT Episode 13 slated to be taped July 8, 2018 had two versions – what Jimmy Jacobs and I had on paper, and the alternate ending I kept to myself. That alternate ending would have been the formal end of RISE. Obviously, we lived to fight another day. We lived to fight another year. We live to fight to this day.

July 1, 2018, no one would know All Elite Wrestling was even on the horizon. Heck, even the global landscape of WWE has changed so much in that time. What I really want to center on here in this moment is one of the hardest things any independent company can go through – losing their talent to exclusive contracts.

Before anyone goes too into reading between the lines, I am happy as a guy could be to see talents who used to perform for us be able to MAKE A LIVING with ANY MAJOR COMPANY. There, I said it…moving on…

Whether they were part of just one event, or like most on this list, part of some of the most crucial stories ever told in our rings, they were extremely important to our company and our fans. The following is a list of talents who RISE has been fortunate enough to have be part of our events who we have bid farewell to since July 1, 2018 in no particular order…

Mia Yim

Kay Lee Ray

Viper

Karen Q

Britt Baker

Kris Wolf (retirement)

Rachael Ellering

Kylie Rae

Chelsea Green

Allie/Cherry Bomb

Deonna Purrazzo

Leva Bates

Jinny

Toni Storm

Penelope Ford

On JUST this list alone, 5 teams we worked so hard to establish starting at RISE 7 to introduce The Guardians of RISE Titles strong out of the gate are now gone from RISE. WDSS, Bones of Contention, Fire and Nice, Fight for Evers, Wily Smilies – all no longer able to compete in RISE.

If you think the point of this is to complain, it’s not. It’s to illustrate just how important this Sunday is to RISE and just how important future of RISE is to the future of all professional wrestling. But we’re going to come back around to this Sunday in Berwyn, IL.

Still looking at that same one year span, even more has changed. With PRIDE & JOY, we learned so much about the landscape of pro wrestling. We learned about so many talents worldwide who identify as LGBTQ+, talents who showed us just how much room there is for pro wrestling to be better, to showcase LGBTQ+ talents year round, not just on Pride centric shows.

July 1, 2019 was the day after Pride Month ended. It was the beginning of a new year, a new era for RISE. We let it be known at the conclusion of PRIDE & JOY we were no longer just a company Developing Tomorrow’s Women Athletes. We are now Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions.

We continue our work to identify, develop and showcase talented women wrestlers from around the world.

We also have a new scope of work. It’s important work. And that work includes identifying, developing and showcasing talented wrestlers who identify as LGBTQ+. We have very plainly stated, it does not matter what your gender identity or sexuality is, you are welcome in RISE – in our locker room for talent and at our events for fans. Whoever you are, however you identify, you have a home with us, friends!

Now, let’s circle back to this Sunday…

This Sunday at 3 PM, RISE kicks off one of the most important events we have ever done. This event is our first making good on our promise, our commitment to showcasing LGBTQ+ talent since June 30. This event is centered around a tournament to showcase 8 of the top up-and-coming talents based in the Midwestern United States.

Yes, we have lost some very important players from our team. But the very nature of RISE has ALWAYS been to build a bench of talent, that worldwide pipeline of talent for ALL of professional wrestling that we mention so much.

Does the advancement of talent such as Deonna Purrazzo hurt RISE? No! It gives us pride to see one of our team showing the global audience why she is so special.

The advancement of Deonna Purrazzo opens a window of opportunity for a young talent like Elayna Black.

The signing of Karen Q gives us the chance to cast a spotlight on someone like Hawlee Cromwell.

As Britt Baker sets out to change the world, our world changes and gives Queen Aminata a place to shine.

Kylie Rae’s smile lit the room brighter than any ring lights ever would. And now, talents like Laynie Luck have the opportunity prove they are Today’s Best, Tomorrow’s Brightest.

Yes, we’ve said, “Farewell,” to Allie, Chelsea, Rachael and Mia. Now, we help the world say a more profound, “Hello,” to Max The Impaler, Evil Sierra, Sophie King and Valentina Loca.

Just how important is Regional Rising Stars – The Midwest Bracket’s actual bracket?

VERY!

Add to this our showcase matches with Effy vs. Devon Monroe and Jake Atlas vs. Priscilla Kelly, the bigger picture of the future of RISE starts to become clearer.

And personally, I just cannot wait to see what The Bunz of Steel Challenge – Fans Bring The Weapons from Double D Rose brings. I think this whole segment is poised to steal the show.

All these words, and I haven’t even MENTIONED the Championship Matches yet?!

The Final Battle of The Killer Death Machines vs. Paradise Lost for The Guardians.

Big Swole’s first defense of The Phoenix.

Folks, the nature of RISE is to be constantly building. Constantly rebuilding. And not just our own roster – helping develop talent for the betterment of all of wrestling.

This day one mission remains unchanged.

And to succeed in this mission, we need everyone’s support – always.

See just how important this next step in the constant evolution of RISE is.

See what happens when new talent gets the brightest spotlight.

Be with us in Berwyn, CLICK HERE.

Or be with us from the comfort of your own home via your internet connected devices, CLICK HERE.

 

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This one is not going to read like a press release, but please consider this an official statement from RISE – Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions.

My name is Kevin Harvey. As most who will read this already know, I am the Owner and Executive Producer of RISE – Developing Tomorrow’s Wrestling Attractions. This piece is not about touting whatever self-important titles I could give myself. This piece is falling on my sword as everything day to day outside of show dates falls on me.

As many of you probably saw today, RISE, through our Social Media and website, were openly marketing our Video Library available at Twitch.tv, an Amazon property.

Only now have I had a chance to review the day’s social media engagement in full. After hearing concern from a few of our followers, only then did I realize the bigger picture of some things happening in the world outside my bubble.

I had zero knowledge there was an Amazon Strike today. Being at work all day (outside of wrestling), being generally caught in my own bubble within wrestling, and nearly all things I follow outside those worlds being overrun with headlines and commentary in the world of politics – this somehow was completely off my radar.

As such, I did know it was Prime Day. I knew little else of it beyond the fact it was a hashtag. I took a brief moment after hearing from a few RISE fans to inform myself about the issues at hand by simply searching #PrimeDay and #AmazonStrike.

I encourage all to do the same.

What I learned in this brief research was this. RISE has been promoting our channel, touting #PrimeDay and directing our fans to use their Prime Accounts to get free subscriptions to our Twitch Channel.

And knowing now what I did not earlier today, I really wish I had not done so.

For better or worse, the filter used in RISE decisions is “what is the right thing to do.” And promoting and directing traffic to this channel was not the right thing to do.

As such, anyone who signed up for our Twitch Subscription Service today will receive a code for one free month instead to riseascent.com. We made the promise of free access to our content today, and this is the best way we can deliver. Those who signed up for Twitch today will receive a direct message from me with a coupon to use for access on our other platform.

In the long term, we have several subscribers to our Twitch Channel who have paid for access to content too. We cannot simply pull the plug on the service entirely without negatively impacting those to whom we’ve made a promise of content delivery.

I will be watching the Amazon situation from here out, and time will tell if we elect to continue to use this platform.

For now, my personal apologies to employees of Amazon and their friends and families. Once I became aware of bigger picture issues, I too was put off by my own actions and promotion of Twitch today of all days.

We can do better.

We can be better.

And it all gets better when we all work together.

Thank you to those who shared your feedback. Thank you those who support us every day.

Thank you for reading.

Kevin

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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.

Hey everyone, RISE Executive Producer Kevin Harvey here. It’s no secret I write damn near everything on this site, but this is one I felt it was important to slip into first person.

Last Sunday, we accomplished something incredibly special at RISE – PRIDE & JOY. And by we, I mean RISE. And by RISE, I mean every single member of our roster, staff and crew. And by RISE, I mean our existing fanbase watching live in Chicago and on iPPV. And by RISE, I mean all our new fans, new WRESTLING fans – wrestling fans who shared they attend a pro wrestling event for the very first time because, though they have been fans for varying lengths of time, it was the first time they felt welcome to attend a Live Event.

Over 50% of tickets sold to PRIDE & JOY were to first time RISE ticket buyers. I was approached the day of the event as well as many of the talents and staff too by fans from that 50+% who had never attended a wrestling event before.

And THAT, I feel, is the most important statistic one can say about RISE to date. We reached completely NEW fans. We opened our doors and our hearts to EVERYONE (ok, everyone ages 21 and over…) and connected with more people than ever before.

I would love to say pro wrestling is a perfect world, but it is not. It has come a long way, and RISE, again, ALL of RISE came together and took a positive, tangible big step forward.

In addition to THAT stat, three very important speeches were delivered at PRIDE & JOY. Yes, I said speeches. These were not “wrestling promos.” These were three talents using a platform to speak their mind.

And some of what was said by Shotzi Blackheart, Effy and Mercedes Martinez might make some a little uncomfortable. The words might rattle some cages.

Good.

They were supposed to…

And now, if you have not yet taken a look, please view the videos below:

Wrestling Shouldn’t Segregated, Especially By Gender – Shotzi Blackheart

The Line Has Been Drawn – Effy Arrives in RISE

Mercedes Martinez Presents The New Name of RISE

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What if there was a wrestling program on Monday nights that was exactly that – wrestling? What if there was something fans worldwide could see with no segments, no promos – just matches? What if we did this tonight, and possibly other Mondays in the future?

That is exactly what RISE is trying beginning tonight at 9 PM Eastern. FREE on our YouTube Channel (CLICK HERE), we present an alternative to other traditional Monday night programming.

We start this experiment with one hell of a wrestling match, the 75 Minute Iron Woman Match for The Phoenix of RISE Championship from RISE 10 – INSANITY between “Undeniable” Tessa Blanchard and “The Latina Sensation” Mercedes Martinez. Witness this record-setting match as Blanchard and Martinez put on the longest-ever women’s one-on-one match in history.

Let’s spread the word today on Social Media!

This isn’t about #WomensWrestling. It’s #JustWrestling, and that’s the hashtag we will use in hopes of reaching professional wrestling fans who are looking for something different, a product with #JustWrestling at the center.

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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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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.