Show: Wrestling Epicenter
Guest: Court Bauer
Date: 10/06/2021
Your Host: James Walsh


Court Bauer is the owner of Major League Wrestling and he spoke to the media yesterday to promote tonight's big MLW Fightland airing on VICE. Be sure and set your DVR's for this one as the main event will see Jacob Fatu defend against Alexander Hammerstone - A match 2 years in the making!


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To listen to some highlights from the media call, visit





On the injuries sustained at MLW Fightland:
"Hammer (Alexander Hammerstone) had a nasty sprain. You'll probably be able to notice it within the first 5 or 6 minutes. And, you'll see the referee give a thumbs up which is a little too obvious! (laughs) We didn't know how bad it was at the time. A few times, Fatu said, "Hey, you want to go home early?" Hammerstone said, "FU, we're going to keep on going!" That guy is tough. He wasn't going to let that injury deny him what happened in that moment. He will be back, we believe, for our November show. Nicole Savoy had a pretty serious injury. SHe was actually stretchered out of the building. I believe it was a strained sternum. It was really scary. We didn't know! We feared it would be multiple broken ribs. Thankfully, we always have at least two doctors on sight." TJP tweaked his knee - I don't think that is a major thing. Somehow, I tweaked my knee. I don't know how. I'm 43 and out of shape! (laughs)"


On how he selects young new talent for MLW:
"That's a really good question. When I first see them, it is usually on my Twitter timeline. After I see them, I do a deeper dive into what they are and then I look at their character - Are they coachable, can they balance all that, and do they have star potential? If they have all that and they can go bell to bell, my job is easy - It is just to showcase them. Sometimes to package them... Sometimes to just give them a little confidence. But, in general, you look for do they have the "It Factor.""


On how he picked talent for the original version of MLW in 2002:
"You know, I probably had more of an uneducated eye back when MLW first started. For example, Harry Smith was 18 years old... He was studying for his mid-terms... He was still in high school! (laughs) Guys like Rocky Romero were very young in his career. TJP was like 19 years old... I guess it was just something that I stumbled into."


On how ECW and Paul Heyman inspired the original MLW in 2002-2004:
"One of the guys that inspired me was Paul Heyman - Another Westchester guy here in New York who made it big. One of the key things he did was find talent and accentuate their strenths and minimize their weaknesses as well as find them before anyone else does. Look at Bubba Dudley, Taz, Joey Styles, and even Sabu... And, he showcased guys like Rey Mysterio and Psichosis before anyone else did. I mean, I was inspired watching ECW in Junior High School. He (Paul Heyman) might be who to blame for me ever getting into wrestling! (laughs) I mean, this guy lives like 15, 20 minutes from me and he runs a wrestling league? And, it is funny, in 2001, I was at the last ECW pay per view, Living Dangerously (he means Guilty as Charged) at the Hammerstein Ballroom. And, I was backstage next to some of the Samoan's students - Gene Snitsky... We were all looking for a job! And, I saw Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman running around and I was like, "Ah, man! I just want to get some face time to see if I can get a job here!" Little did I know what was going on with ECW at the time! (laughs) But, my goal was always to work for ECW. That was my game plan. And then, ECW went out of business."


On what he learned from his first crack at MLW which had a heavy ECW influence:
"Well, I guess you know why there was such a big ECW influence now. (laughs) I didn't know how to book then. I knew what I wanted but I didn't know how to express it. I coudln't get it down on paper at the age of 22. I hadn't honed my instincts. And, I didn't have a mentor. I learned a lot about the business from guys like Afa and Samu who were incredibly patient with me as well as from guys like Gary Albright and Doc Death (Steve Williams). But, I hadn't really been around a booker. So, Terry Funk and Gary Hart were really instrumental with that. Gary Hart in particular. He was willing to answer always some dumb questions and he was always so patient with them. I learned so much from Gary. In wrestling, a lot of times guys will bust your balls if you're asking too many questions. But, Gary would stay on the phone with me for hours and just let me pick his brain. That is one of the greatest things in wrestling - When guys pay their knowledge forward. And, that is what I am able to do now. I'm able to take guys and pay that knowledge forward and not hold it back but share it. I was lost before I had Terry Funk and Gary Hart. They taught me so much."


On learning patience:
"The thing I learned most from that time was to be patient... At 22 years old, that isn't easy. I was like Scarface and ready to take on the world, "COME ON!" But, it doesn't always work that way. I think any experience, good or bad, as long as you're willing to look back on it and be honest, you can learn from it."

On having discussions with Adam Scherr:
“ We did talk with Braun Strowman for a little bit. We didn’t come to terms with him on a deal.”


On his discussions with Bo Dallas: “We had conversations with Bray’s brother [Bo Dallas]. Right now, he seems more interested in his farming. I understand having to recharge for another run. He seems more interested in his farming. I don’t knock him for it.”


On his approach to signing free agents: “We’re looking and evaluating talent all the time to see if it’s a good fit from a product point of view with our fans, will it mesh. What we’ve noticed is there are some names who are big stars, high profile guys, and they come in and are embraced by our fans. There are others were it’s like, ‘Yeah, we know they are buzzing and they are from a big company,’ but it isn’t their jam. It’s a really delicate thing. You’re a chef and certain ingredients will work and certain ones won’t. Every scenario is different. 90% of our roster is signed. That like 5 to 10% that is open for payroll and budget that we have flexibility creating matchups, sometimes it’s just a fresh two to three month commitment and it’s a handshake deal and at the end of that, they go off to another company, maybe we help enrich and negotiate their position and they do something somewhere else, that’s fine. Sometimes, we present them with a contract and sign them. It’s nice having flexibility to try things out. Sometimes, guys will come in very motivated to show the world that the other company slept on them. Sometimes, they’ll come in kind of broken by the other company and it doesn’t work out because they are not in a good head space. It gives us time to test the waters.”


On how long he was in talks with VICE TV: “[The negotiations] started probably, I would say, maybe a year or two ago, and it was kind of quiet and things were kind of moving at a slower pace. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes, and you kind of start to learn about each other and what the goals are for a network or a league and you start to kind of kick the tires on what is it going to cost? What is it going to look like, and then of course, the pandemic hit and everyone’s budget, our ability to see what’s on the horizon, when we’re gonna do new shows and things, we had no idea. So then everything kind of hits a speed bump, and then you kind of rebuild the momentum as people get more comfortable with what’s on the horizon beyond the pandemic or as the pandemic gets kind of manageable as possible, given the conditions we’re under. So it’s been a little bit of a journey, and to see Vice grow out its presence with Dark Side of the Ring and how big of a hit it’s been, the logical next step is to create a block of programming and have an actual wrestling league featured, and we’re very happy and honored to be on that main voyage with them.”


On the future of MLW on VICE: “Everything’s on the table. We are having conversations with Vice. We’re talking with a bunch of people because to me, the thing you want to do is you want to be a great partner to all your partners, but you also want to look at how you can cut the pie, and a sophisticated model for every league now, whether it’s in wrestling or any other sport, is to try to have as many deals as possible, unless someone pays you the big dollars to say, hey, this is ours. This is exclusive. If you look at like ECW, they had one deal. When that deal collapsed, it was such a fast snowball down the hill that became an avalanche for the league. For us, it’s really important to look at the pie and say, okay, there’s English rights in linear and in streaming. There are Spanish rights in linear and in streaming. So I want to be able to slice up that pie as much as I can to squeeze as much juice out of it and have as many discussions as I can have.

“There’s discussions about reality program. There’s discussions about live specials. There’s discussions about spin-off shows, the weekly shows. There’s a lot of stuff in English and Spanish, so I’m having all those conversations, and we’re happy to see where we take this. We’re excited to where we take this with Vice as we explore every avenue we can. That’s my responsibility in running this thing, I got to talk to everyone.”

On having Jacob Fatu vs. Alexander Hammerstone take place on free TV: “Well, I’ve always believed, it’s something Vince [McMahon] taught me, you always want to give your fans value, and so when I think about that, I want to give the fans the most I can for the least amount and that’s how you build your audience,” Bauer explained. “That’s how they know that you’re not trying to get every dime out of the fan and exploit them, especially in times like this. We’re recovering from some pretty, pretty hard times. A lot of people lost their job. I want to give fans our biggest match in history and be able to give it to the max amount and selfishly, put it in front of the most amount of audiences I can. Vice is that solution, and so that’s a great scenario because we wanted to do something big and noisy for Vice and when we were talking about it, I’m looking at what my notes are. It says Fatu – Hammerstone. That’s it, and that’s a match that I talked about with Fatu and Hammerstone about February 2020. This is where I’m going, and it’s going to be with Hammer winning the Battle Riot, which was slated for July 2020 in Philadelphia.

“I had no idea when the pandemic hit, it would be that big of a delay. I thought well, 12 – 18 weeks maybe and as time went on in the world, how everything went and so a year later, we’re still looking and tracking for that. And then we we stuck with our plan. The way I design everything is when I have a plan, I stick with it, unless we have to call an audible because of injury. The fans don’t take to something, but otherwise, I really am very big on long-term booking, and that was a match they both knew. They knew the outcome. They knew everything almost two years ago now. We stuck to our guns on that. We just had a vacillating schedule because of everything that happened in the world, and we had to tread water doing empty arena shows, but now that we’re back, it’s 200 miles per hour.”


On the wrestling format getting stale over the last couple of decades: “For 25 years or so now, you’ve had the same format in wrestling. It’s one hour, two hour, three hour version of it, but essentially, all my competitors, including myself, have used the same format. You think about the ’70s and how the evolution of wrestling changed from watching it in that era, and you go back and watch on the WWE network, or Peacock or YouTube, and then you look at how it evolved into the ’80s and how the ’80s model evolved into the ’90s model, that crash TV. And then it just stopped evolving, and you look at wrestling and fans love great wrestling matches.

“They love watching the angles. They love watching all that, but at the same time, they’re always on their phone when they’re watching it and they’re looking at what the latest gossip news is. They want to know. We do research and see what’s trending, what’s interesting. It’s all rooted in accessing and having information and knowing what the latest news is, the latest gossip, everything. You want to get that instantaneously, and wrestling hasn’t really gone there. And promoters, I think, are uncomfortable because you have to control that. You want to control control everything.”


On the MLW Embedded segment tonight: “When we were talking with Vice and spitballing what we could do a little differently and how they lead into such a news narrative direction with their program. I said, well, I’m such a news junkie for wrestling and everything. I think we should go there and just give complete autonomy to the people doing that segment. Let them talk about what they want to talk about. What are the topics? What are the stories they can break, and if it’s about another league, that’s fine. I think it’s interesting, and if more people are going to watch us because of that, I’m not afraid of that

“If someone gets signed, we want to know about it. If some companies for sale, we should know about it. We want to hear the latest from you guys. So having the top journalists in the game talking about, I think, is interesting. I think fans want to see what that is. So kind of like during an NBA game and you go back to the studios in Atlanta on TNT and watch Shaq and Barkley talk about not just the game itself but break down the latest stories and talk about it, that’s what we’re going to be doing here. It’s kind of like our halftime show, and we’ll be talking about the latest stories, or I should say you will be. I have nothing to do with it.”


On the topic of free agency coming up on tonight’s Embedded: “There’s some guys out there that are interesting to us. You hear rumors about different guys, and I’m looking forward to seeing what you guys talking about in the free agency topic on ‘Embedded’ because there’s definitely guys out there you’ve heard a lot of things about where they’re going and then maybe that thing falls apart. Then you’re like, well, where are they going next? You guys are gonna give us the scoop this Thursday and Vice.”