Former ECW Original Ian Rotten (real name John Williams) announced on his personal Facebook account on Saturday that IWA: Mid-South, the company he’s owned and/or booked since 1996, will be closing it’s doors for good in February of 2018, following the final event already booked. In his posts, Rotten attributes the declining attendance and financial instability as the issues.
IWA Mid-South has had it’s fair share of controversy in it’s 21-year run of operations, including two other scares of a close down. In 2009, they announced the company’s closure, only to retract the comments a few weeks later and restructure it’s format to running smaller shows. They closed down again in March of 2011, but returned in June, when founding owner Ian Rotten sold the company to a new ownership group featuring Vince Jones, Kevin Adams and Mike Miller.
Despite it’s on-again-off-again issues, IWA Mid-South was one of the few independents from the mid-90s to survive the industry collapse following the WWE buyouts of WCW and ECW, first by continuing the hardcore legacy of ECW alongside CZW and then embracing what would become the indie norm of more technical and athletic contests in the early 2000s. Much of the change came at the hands of Dave Prazak, who joined IWA Mid-South in 2000. Prazak left IWA Mid-South in 2005 and would start SHIMMER, North America’s top female promotion, alongside Ring of Honor‘s Allison Danger.
But throughout the early 2000s, as new promotions like Ring of Honor, PWG and CHIKARA were starting up, IWA Mid-South became a breeding ground for many top indie stars, offering them a venue to showcase a style that was being largely ignored by the WWE or upstart TNA (although both would eventually come around over the decade). The list of wrestlers who are either bona fide WWE Superstars or indie legends that came through IWA Mid-South in the early to mid-2000s is staggering: Seth Rollins, CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn (aka El Generico), Kassius Ohno (aka Chris Hero), Arik Cannon, Joey Ryan, Cesaro, Matt Cross (aka LU’s Son of Havoc), BJ Whitmer, Jimmy Jacobs…the list goes on and on.
And while IWA Mid-South embraced these new indie revolutionaries, it still remained one of the premier death match companies in the country, with it’s King of the Death Matches tournament that continued to run up until this year. It was also the home for two other huge tournaments, including the Ted Petty Invitational, an indie tournament similar to PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles, named after former WCW and ECW Tag Team Champion “Flyboy” Rocco Rock. Past winners included Chris Hero (twice), AJ Styles, Matt Sydal, Low Ki, Mike Quackenbush and Kongo Kong. This year it also marked the return of the Candido Cup, a tag team tournament set up to honor the late Chris Candido.
While IWA Mid-South has announced it’s closure a few times in the past, at 47-years old, Ian Rotten simply isn’t as young or hungry as he was in the past. With falling attendance rates and mounting financial losses, this time it just might stick.