Promotional Consideration is an on-going series at Last Word on Pro Wrestling that sheds spotlights on some of the top indie promotions around the world for your consideration, discovering their stories, the struggles, and their triumphs, directly from the promoters and owners mouths themselves. This week’s spotlight is a new indie promotion in Ohio called Hot Tag Wrestling, and we spoke with co-founder Ric Vickrey about the promotion and what lead to its formation.
Beginning this Saturday, October 26th, 2019, a new fed will debut with its first show taking place at Danny B’s Lounge located in beautiful Harrison, Ohio. Hot Tag Wrestling (HTW) comes to existence and promises to shake the foundations of the great state of Ohio and the Ohio wrestling scene. Headlining the show will be Major League Wrestling (MLW) talent, Kaci Lennox against Joseline Navarro. Food, drinks, comedy, pro wrestling and other forms of entertainment will be taking place on this special night.
Last Word On Pro Wrestling recently had the opportunity to sit down with the owner and promoter of Hot Tag Wrestling, Ric Vickrey, in a tell-all interview where he talks about his journey from his humble beginnings to his marketing company, his relationship with his Hitting The Marks Pro Wrestling Podcast co-host, Michael Jargo, the Hamin Media Group, Battle On The Border Wrestling, and his story on becoming the promoter and owner of Hot Tag Wrestling.
Take us from the very beginning and talk about your early days and first experiences with pro-wrestling and who were some of your influences growing up?:
“Well, I’m glad you gave me this avenue because you know anyone who works with me in a day, whether it be in pro wrestling, or marketing or just a crew that I run with. They’ll let you know that I love talking about myself. Maybe that’s why I’m built so great for this business of professional wrestling because I love putting myself over. But ultimately it goes back to humble beginnings, it’s about you know like many of us, you could probably tell a similar story, Will, and anyone who has a true passion, if they’re a performer, if they’re a fan, if they’re in the marketing side of this the office side of this, it’s about a true passion of an art form, which I believe is the absolute greatest form of entertainment that exists in our society. for me, that is professional wrestling… I am one of those individuals that what really captivated me, and I can pinpoint back where I fell in love, and it was WrestleMania Three and it was the bodyslam heard around the world.”
With such a strong passion and love for pro wrestling, you also have a love for something else, Hospitality. Speak to us about your experiences in the hospitality industry and where that love and passion came from.
“Well, it ties into professional wrestling, I guess we’ll start at the very beginning and tie where those came together, as I talk about when it was the bodyslam heard around the world. What was kind of weird about that was that I wasn’t a big Hogan fan. The first one that really grabbed me was I was a little Warrior. I can remember my grandparents, my uncles, my dad, they thought I was crazy, I was running around in my whitey tighties. I would take the shoe strings all off my shoes so I can tie them around my arms like tassels and I would have my mom paint my face like the warrior and I would run around outside. I was such a little Warrior. And as I grew up and as I saw the sport evolve, then there came the guy that really captivated me, who is my number one. Fourth grade, we had a little yearbook in there. It was 6th grade where it was when we switched schools from elementary to junior high. It was that “Where did you want to be in 20 years”, how they’re going to remember you for highschool, and you had a whole page. And the only person that I mentioned that I want to follow the footsteps of was Ric Flair. And it was then and there that I dropped the “k” in there and became the R.I.C. It was all about Flair there, and I could tell that he was a bad guy, and you could tell the difference from the NWA, and it was different from the outlandish world of WWF, and Flair, he had it all, he had the style, he had the look. Right around that time, you start discovering girls right? You know, they’re starting to blossom and such, you ever seen that “South Park” when Wendy’s friend, she starts getting the boobs, they’re all grunting you know like cavemen, you know that’s kind of what we’re like at that age. So you see flair with all the gorgeous ladies, you want to be like that guy. So as I got into my professional years later, you know, professional wrestling with the memories I had there and throughout high school and college, and it’s larger than life, and it’s these characters you should be in awe. You sit back and want to dream, in your wildest dreams, you live through them. and that’s the way I approach my marketing. Any kind of the strategies that want to do, I want you to be wowed, I want to blow you away with what we’re bringing to you. And in today’s age you know, I’ll keep things very basic, but I like to be, BAM! in your face, something very catchy, in professional wrestling what am I talking about with Ric Flair… the WOO!, The Rock, the catchphrases made him. As great as Stone Cold was, you remember Austin 3:16, the can of whoop-ass, with Hogan you remember “the vitamins, the prayers”, so it’s about being catchy. In all of my designs, in all of my strategies, you will see a tremendous influence from professional wrestling.”
In 2014, you founded HERDD Marketing, a company that focuses on Social media management, Email marketing, Websites and S.E.O., Graphic Design, Content Writing, Promotions & Events and much more. Tell us about the story about how they all came about.
“Well you know, what really came about, as I go through my professional life and the journey I’ve taken. I was very fortunate, I was able to work here in the great state of Ohio. I was able to work on payroll, without all those regulations, you can work at age fifteen but there are all those regulations. So I was heavily involved in sports. But at sixteen, I went out and got my first job. And my first job I nailed. And I’m not gonna pretend you know, cause I’m some amazing employee that they had to have me. It’s about people you know. And because of the position I was in with sports, the upperclassmen had the same jobs, they recommended and they took me under their wing. They would say, we like Ric we’ve kind of taken him under our wing, in football. We’d like to have him here with us through the summer. He won’t give you any trouble, we’ll make sure he’s on time, we’ll make sure he works hard. We’re gonna teach him like at work how we approach football….and that’s what we’re here in society is to help each other…so I worked for a local park system, right here in southern Ohio right around Cincinnati, and I absolutely fell in love with it. Customer service and being able to interact with different individuals on the regular and hosting events, and just seeing people really have a good time, seeing the smiles and seeing the joy on their faces, and it reminded me so much of what I experienced with my greatest joys were, were from professional wrestling. And that’s where they tie together. Went to a community college, but I still worked and I was moving on the fast track through their management, and other things I became to really excel at and really enjoy and they were, putting together events, and I really enjoyed putting together showrooms, designs, designing our merchandise and how we were gonna promote those things. and that’s where my early love began for and through the years I went from working at the park, working in bars, kitchens, anything in hospitality is where I’ve really been at, and I’ve had my hand in everything, but the one thing that really stood out to me that I really truly loved, was to be able to bring it to life. To look at my co-workers and look as if they are personas in the ring, and how can we present that, how do we make them megastars, put them under a spotlight? How do we make them shine in the spotlight? And that’s what made me branch out on my own and star HERDD Marketing.”
In July of 2016, things began to change and thus, your story really began. The Wrestle Zone group was formed and it set off a chain of events that led to our introduction to one another, but then led to another introduction, Michael Jargo. Since then, you gents have certainly become the dream team and have provided a ton of in-depth analysis and thought-provoking questions on “The Hitting The Marks Pro Wrestling Podcast”. Why don’t you tell the audience how that story began and what that relationship led to, and if you can tell us about what that relationship means to you?
“Real quick back story on that, how I got to Wrestle Zone and all that. I joined over at Wrestling Inc. at the time and I got really heavily involved in their forums, and this is before I really understand these things, I mean we were really having fun, we started trolling the shit out of it, but we trolled it so much that we destroyed it. And we kind of branched out on our own, and we started our own forum and we kind of aligned with a few upstart dirt sheets at the time, and our own forum board was the PWC, and that kind of ran for about the course of two years. We all kind of got tired, you know, there wasn’t any kind of growth, no one was seeing any financials from it, the sites we were aligned with they would come and go… I was just looking for a new family, somewhere that I could reach out and talk pro wrestling. So I found Wrestle Zone, and from their forums, you know they kind of had their kind of clique over there…and then I started listening to the daily shows…and there wasn’t room at that time to jump on into the podcast, so my niche was, you know, I excelled at social media market. So I kind of took the helm over there and helped out on their Facebook discussion group. From that point, luckily, I started doing some side things, and that’s where I met you. This was before curtain jerker wrestle network became a thing. It started with Kevin Mize and I doing videos in our basement and then thinking we needed to expand, and we needed to do more news and we needed to bring people in. One of the first people I reached out to was you. And then we wanted to bring someone else in…you reached out to Jargo, you kinda knew he was hungry…so Jargo comes on board with Curtain jerker…after a few months you could see it fading. At that point, Jargo and I have a conversation, and he’s like, dude I just ordered a whole new studio. I need a podcast partner, I go what are you talking about? He said, here’s my plan… within two weeks we’re up and running. Within that time we’re having conversations… so we’re having talks from like 2-8 in the morning, so he said something like “if he had any hair he would’ve pulled it out, and Jargo says “I just want to hit that fucking mark”. I said, “dude, that’s the name of our show.”
A year and 4 months later on November 2017, the Hamin Media Group was formed, and since then has become a huge success for everyone involved. With over a million downloads, it’s safe to say you had a big involvement in that. Can you speak to the origins of the group and its success affected you in your pro wrestling career?
“One of the things there…one of the early greatest pieces of advice was from Bin Hamin, and he said when you surround yourself with great people you’ll achieve great things, and I took it as an ultimate compliment because Big Ray, he came and sought us out, each and every one of us…Jargo, you and me. He recognized the people that were thriving inside of that group that… and he wanted to offer an opportunity, you know whether it be in social media, you know, supporting that, bringing that up, or having their own show, he presented that, that was all Big Ray. He and Bin had this vision, and you know, Bin is a big-deal guy. He’s rolled with some of the best, and when he’s looking around he’s looking at people like strangler Steve, like Big Sal, like Papapdon, Stevie Richards, whoever it might be… when Ray was looking at other individuals that could compliment them because you gotta build that mid-card right? You gotta build that undercard… Ray saw that and Ray came to us, I remember the phone call from him,… I wanna give you guys a Monday show, I shot right up from my bed and I cracked the side of my head with the ceiling fan…he said the only thing you gotta do, you gotta have a skype call with Bin. At this point, you know, all I know is that he was very tight in his character. He was pretty hardcore into that, I was terrified, absolutely terrified…but he put me at ease and he welcomed me and he said to me, I love every bit of your movement, the social media marketing, everything, I want you to continue that here, and I want you and Jargo in our Monday Locker room show…”
This year your career headed for a big change, as your involvement and success through HTM and HMG led to working with Battle On The Border Pro Wrestling as a commentator. Talk a bit about your passion for commentating. What kind of work goes into that role and how it affects an entire show?
“I wanted to become a Picasso, the great ones are because you’re painting the picture of the amazing talents in front of you. They’re doing the illustrations, they’re doing the visuals, but verbally, if you can take them to the next level and let them shine. That’s what it’s absolutely all about, to bring that passion from professional wrestling, that’s what you get from commentary, that’s what you get from play by play. For me, it’s about excitement, it’s about the individual, and it’s about the emotion. Especially on the Indie level. Anybody can call any move…but it’s about the emotion, you are painting a picture, you are telling the story of these great ring warriors. Truly the individuals…but ultimately it’s about those in the trenches, that have sacrificed, that are putting the hours in the gym, in the ring each and every week that are traveling the cities especially on the Indy scene. It is our duty to represent them and the grandest light, and that’s how I approach it when I sit down in the commentary booth.”
What’s your preference in commentating matches? Play-by-play or focusing on the storyline?
“It’s about hitting big spots and making things shine. So I will call big moves when need be, you know, when there’s a high impact, you get excited for that. I don’t care about chain wrestling. On the indie scene who does? We’ve all seen that right? You know the moves, you know a hammerlock and a hip toss. But then we’re talking about stories. Some times on the indie scene, that’s a little difficult because a lot of people don’t follow week to week or they don’t have a program or they only run shows every three months, six months, something like that. So to me, it’s about the individual. One thing that I am very proud of that. I’ve adapted, I work in very subtly. I’m working in their social media. I’m working in an individual like Hooks, who has got blood splattered all over his shirt, “WELL THEY’VE JUST RUINED HOOKS SHIRT, BUT IF YOU WANT A CLEAN ONE MAKE SURE YOU’RE AT PROWRESTLINGTEES.COM/HOOKS.” You know, work that kind of stuff in, you can subtly traffic. I’m very proud of that.”
You are now promoting and will have your first event coming up. How is it that in a matter of months, you went from commentating at Battle On The Border and now you’re the head of your own promotion?
“Well, first of all, one hundred percent I want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Denim Blevins from Battle On The Border wrestling. He is still to this day remains a friend. There is tension between us. But I’d like to thank him and I want to respect Battle On The Border Pro Wrestling, they are a tremendous family-oriented and a tremendous family show based out of southern Ohio here. I encourage anyone to support them. But when I announced Hot Tag Wrestling as so many listeners have heard, territory wars. He was not happy. Very much not happy with me embarking on this new venture. And I didn’t mean it as an attack in any way. There had been a parting of ways with some upper management and Battle On The Border. Not management, between production and management if you will. And somewhere in there, I was presented with an opportunity from an old friend of mine, his name is Danny B. He wanted professional wrestling. We really couldn’t get with the local promotions so I said, you know what dude, I’ll just do it…I’ll try something here, and get it off the bucket list. and I’ve been trying to get more into marketing, before Hot Tag Wrestling, I created Hot Tag Marketing with the intent of helping independent wrestlers, promotions, through merchandise, through shows, through whatever they needed, it was a spin-off of HERRD, focusing on MMA, sports leagues and especially professional wrestling. But then I had this pro wrestling show kind of tossed on to me and I’m kind of that individual that kind of jumps on it, I’m gonna do it. To me, it’s a bucket list thing, and to pull something together I’ve done events, bar events. While professional wrestling might be different, bar business events are just as different. You get just as many crazy characters and personas wanting to do whatever they want here. you’ve gotta organize everything, get everything to light. So it’s just as crazy. But it has been a hectic ride, so we jump into this thing, ready to go. When I announced this show, not running against anybody. Well, the other promotions didn’t like it, the territories didn’t like it. So we go into panic mode, and you have to do what you have to do to survive, so I start calling their competitors and start going out of state. And now I’ve had to reach out and I’ve grown outside my wrestling family, and have met some individuals that are serious about supporting us and serious about backing us. I’m kind of thankful that this turmoil got brought up.”
Can you tell us more about the show and all the other matches that are taking place?
“Well I’m telling you, it’s like I said, it kind of forced me to break out of my shell, and to reach out to different individuals, and I’m so glad that happened because I met some tremendous talent. And when I look at this card and what we assembled here, and what this thing is, it has completely blown me away. But as we sit here, let’s start with the venue… Danny B’s, it has a tremendous setting in Southern Ohio, which has a great bar and a great music venue and they have a great spot that we’re gonna put this ring in at, and they are so welcoming. They’re very excited, and when I sit here and look at this thing, it’s like, Wow. We are the wild west of pro wrestling. We’re not ECW. Think more Shotgun Saturday Night. We’re gonna give you personas, characters and a good time. You’re gonna sit you’re gonna laugh, you’re be excited, you’re gonna be on the edge of your seat, you’re gonna yell. Our main event is lit. I’m bringing Major League Wrestling’s own Kaci Lennox. Now I know most people know her as just that sweet voice backstage, but let me reassure you, she is vicious in that ring, she can absolutely go. She is bringing her A-Game to Ohio. She’s never been here before, she’s looking forward to two things, trying skyline chili and whooping Ass!, that’s what she’s here for. On the other side, you have Joseline Navarro. She has wrestled some of the best in the world. She’s taken down just recently, Trey from The Rascalz. She’s beaten Women Of Honor former champion Kelly Klein plenty of times. Zoe Sky was her old rivalry she put down, she put down everyone in front of her. I’m happy to have her booked on this show. I predict that six months from now she is going to be working for a major organization because that’s how good she is. She is one of the hottest Indy talents going in the western hemisphere right now. She is simply incredible and those two are gonna headline the show. Our next main event, you’ve got Ricky Cardinal. This guy is dynamic as you can be. He’s so dynamic, a week after our show, he’s taking on Shane Douglas. When I first reached out to Ricky, I said, dude, you’re gonna be our franchise, but I don’t want a franchise, I don’t need a franchise like that, I need a dynasty, I’m gonna dub you the dynasty. He’s going to be lined up against legendary Larry D and he’s going to be highlighted on the IMPACT Wrestling show that Saturday before our show. We’ve got some big flavors there, we’ve got two young kids in our first bar brawl. These guys are hungry, they’ve called me individually and have asked me what weapons they can bring, I’ve actually had to shoot some things down here, they do NOT like each other. Our big opening match, we’ve got Reverend Roberts. He’s got a problem with us running our show in a basement of an old church, we’re gonna have to hear his preachings. But we’re bringing this guy up from the mountains whose gonna take him down, The “Appalachian Wildman” Victor Vargas, ready to take him down, that’s gonna be absolutely insane. The Ed’s… I don’t want to be around them. I don’t even know the opponents for them. We’re still out there searching we’re still going out across the country. Anybody who wants to face these guys are actually insane, and we got a few surprises.”
You’re here now and you’ll be at Danny B’s on October 26th. What’s next?
“I think at this point my partners keep saying, let’s just get through this first show, but I’ve already started scouting shows for 2020, and we’re gonna keep going. I’ve actually had people reaching out to me for this, because they see the excitement, they see the promotion, and it’s actually spilled over to HERDD Marketing and they love the movement and they’ve seen the passion and I’ve told them, hey, you’re gonna get a wrestling style marketing for whatever you’re doing. I’m looking more and more for all of us. I know you know, I almost spilled some beans on something and how big things are gonna be for HMG, and that’s gonna spill over to Last Word On Pro Wrestling, and I do want to say I love all the things you’ve guys have done, especially Jamie Greer over there, and all the things Jargo and I are doing.
Hot Tag Wrestling will take place at Danny B’s Lounge on Saturday, October 26th, 2019 located at:
6987 New Haven Road., Harrison, OH 45030
To get your tickets, please message Hot Tag Marketing or call
513-227-6504. You can also visit Danny B’s Lounge. TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE – (Have to be 18 years and up for admission.)
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can hear more from Ric Vickrey and Hitting the Marks Podcast on your favourite podcast providers.