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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.

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Labor day weekend will be a GIGANTIC weekend for professional wrestling with all eyes of the wrestling world upon Chicago as AEW presents All Out August 31 at Sears Centre Arena August 31.

The next day, September 1 in Berwyn, IL, RISE presents Regional Rising Stars – The Midwest Bracket. #RRSTourney will be centered around an 8 Woman, Single Elimination Tournament featuring up-and-coming wrestling talent based in the Midwestern United States. With so many fans from other areas of the world, we want to show new fans just how talented the Women of the Midwest are!

The first round matches are as follows:

Laynie Luck vs. Hawlee Cromwell, Sierra vs. Queen Aminata, Heidi Katrina vs. Elayna Black and Big Mama vs. Valentina Loca.

In addition to the complete tournament, we have signed two very special non-tournament matches (so far…).

First, after their thrilling battle as the final two participants in Through the Door at PRIDE & JOY, fans and talent have spoken, and both will be happy to know that at #RRSTourney, “Hell’s Favorite Harlot” Priscilla Kelly goes one on one with Jake Atlas!

And in what promises to be an grudge match for the ages. Paradise Lost, the team of Raven’s Ash and Dust with “The Demon Assassin” Rosemary will challenge The Killer Death Machines, the team of Jessicka Havok and Nevaeh in a rematch for The Guardians of RISE Tag Team Championships!

What a weekend it will be! Don’t miss Regional Rising Stars – The Midwest Bracket September 1 in Berwyn, IL All Out Weekend!

Tickets, just $10-$30 at risedtwa.ticketleap.com.

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

“The Ballsy Badass” Shotzi Blackheart is a name synonymous with RISE and synonymous with EQUALITY in professional wrestling. Her entire career, Shotzi has fought for and represented equality in wrestling everywhere she goes, always up to the challenge of any wrestler, no matter how they identify.

Hear these words from Shotzi Blackheart ahead of her Global Open Challenge for the Sabotage Wrestling War of Genders Championship at RISE – PRIDE & JOY, now available with unlimited replays on FITE.TV

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Pride month is over…or is it? As they say, “Time flies by when you’re having fun.” But just because it’s July doesn’t mean pride isn’t celebrated all year round. About 3 years ago I went to my first pride parade. And to me I saw so much freedom and nothing to worry about. PRIDE & JOY really meant so much to me, so I wanted to share a little about myself and about the event itself. Here goes…

I grew up attracted to girls and never truly knew why or how to come about it. I mean who didn’t find the pink ranger hot? Right? Ha! When I was in middle school, I came out to three of my best friends at the time. One of them, just didn’t understand how a girl could be attracted to another girl— I lost someone who I thought was a friend. I was afraid to be fully open after that, especially towards both my parents. I didn’t want to lose them by being disowned. I felt like I could never be myself in front of them, I felt trapped and stuck living a double life.

About three years ago I finally had the courage to come out to my parents— it took me at the age of 26 to finally speak up. It was the scariest thing I ever had to do— and even though they both didn’t want to believe it at first, they’ve come around to accept me.

Like most super heroes, we sometimes hide who we are— because we’re afraid what the world might think. It’s 2019– gay marriage is legal in all fifty states. There is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. Don’t let uneducated, ignorant people bring you down. Chase what makes you happy— be the happiness because that’s what this world needs, a fucking rainbow! Don’t let one miserable grumpa-lump (yes, that’s a word now) ruin your day or ruin your happiness.

Be yourself— that’s more important then stressing over judgment. Look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are! There is no such thing as “normal.” We are all weird in our own ways— and that’s a good damn thing! I’ve been told many times how I’d go to hell because I was committing a “sin,” or how I needed to be “cured.” It took me years to be comfortable with myself, it’s crazy how long I’ve waited. How much I wished I could’ve just once spoken up in middle school, in high school or during my college years. I felt like I’ve wasted so much time hiding. But things take time and everything happens for a reason— eventually everything falls into place.

RISE – PRIDE & JOY was special. I’ve done a few RISE shows now, but this one to me just meant so much more. I’m just happy I was able to be apart of this show. Share that moment with my Sea Star Delmi who accepted me from the very beginning. Every match I got to watch delivered, the crowd was hot from beginning to end. There were so many flags throughout the venue— so much pride. The main event was unbelievable! That was the first time I got to watch Cassandro el Exotico perform in the ring in person and I literally popped for everything!

The heartfelt speech Mercedes gave out at the end— says a lot on how RISE is developing performers, and not just women athletes but also men. Together we’re all equal. Together we all RISE above the hate.

Thank you Kevin Harvey for putting together such an incredible and meaningful event for all. Until next time RISE, love Ashley Vox

At RISE – PRIDE & JOY, fans in Chicago and worldwide on FITE.tv witnessed a collision of epic proportions. Witness the colossal power of Joey Ryan and Double D Rose when they go SUPER SAIYAN! Catch the replay of this amazing event, Pro Wrestling’s Ultimate Event of Love and Inclusion, now available with Unlimited Replays on FITE.tv and FITE Apps across all major platforms.

After her Main Event Match with Cassandro el Exótico at PRIDE & JOY June 30 in Chicago, “The Latina Sensation” Mercedes Martinez shared very passionate words with fans in attendance and those watching at home on iPPV on FITE.tv.

Among those words, Mercedes revealed the new mission and the new name of RISE – DTWA.

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We have received many requests in recent months for two things – 1: Some variety of Women’s Wrestling Live Event the weekend of AEW’s All Out in Chicago. 2: Some variety of tournament.

Well, Sunday, September 1, we intend to do BOTH!

In our primary Chicago home, The Berwyn Eagles Club in Berwyn, IL, we introduce the first in a SERIES of Tournaments we are looking to host in the back half of 2019 – The Regional Rising Stars Tournaments, showcasing young, up-and-coming talents of their geographic areas.

Up first is The Midwest Bracket! This 8 woman, single elimination tournament will take place at 5 PM, tickets now on sale, priced $10-$30 at risedtwa.ticketleap.com.

The first talent confirmed for The Midwest Bracket – Big Mama!

We will also have a few of the established stars of RISE on hand. The first talent announcement we have in non-tournament competition, Dust will be in action – maintaining her position as the only member of the RISE Roster to be part of every single RISE Event.

With so many fans visiting Chicago, it is our hope to truly shine a spotlight on young, hungry Midwest talent who may be unfamiliar to fans from other areas.

We hope to see YOU at Regional Rising Stars – The Midwest Bracket September 1!