Will Ospreay approached WrestleTalk with an idea. What if we put on an empty arena show where all proceeds go to wrestlers who are suffering as a result of coronavirus’ impact on the industry? On Monday, that idea becomes a reality as Will Ospreay and WrestleTalk present, “WrestleTalk Showcase: No Fans Monday” on Monday, March 16th at 12 PM PST.
Make no mistake, whether you’ve tested positive for the coronavirus or not, all of us have been negatively impacted by this pandemic in one way or the other. Schools are being forced to close and universities are moving to online coursework, sports have all but vanished, cities are on lockdown, venues have been forced to close their doors, large gatherings are being canceled or advised against and of course, people are losing their source of income for an unknown amount of time including professional wrestlers.
In the wake of all these cancellations…
Support the independants. Be it wrestling, music, etc. Buy their merch, support them through Patreon, share their stuff. The gig economy is going to a HUGE hit and many don't have the safety net necessary to survive this.
— EVIL UNO of the DARK ORDER (@EvilUno) March 12, 2020
As fans, seeing sporting events and wrestling shows cancelled hurts. It sucks. But our loss of entertainment is nothing compared to those who are losing work as a result of this pandemic. Due to CDC, WHO and state/city recommendations regarding how to stop the community spread of the virus, many government officials have instituted bans against large gatherings. In some places, there are limits of 1,000 people allowed at events. In others, as low as 100. And that means that even the smallest of independent wrestling companies are seeing opportunities to hold shows being taken away from them.
The need to put on those shows is what is keeping wrestlers able to feed their families and keeping the doors open for some of these small promotions period. Most recently, David Bixenspan published a great piece for VICE, talking about just how devastating cancelled shows, specifically those as part of WrestleMania Week, would be on the wrestlers and the indie promotions that rely on this time of year to stay afloat.
@OTT_wrestling fans, made this go fund me to try help out. We don't know what the financial impact may be on OTT, so if anyone has any spare cash or wants to donate ticket refund money follow the link, lets show that we are the best fans in the worldhttps://t.co/eBJSoeAJkD
— Adam T (@cluelesnerd) March 12, 2020
While WWE and the city of Tampa are seemingly playing a game of chicken regarding which party will ultimately be the ones to say that WrestleMania needs to be cancelled/postponed, the indies may not have the luxury to wait. The list of companies pulling out of the April week grows by the day, even though their events are still a ways away. In the more immediate future, companies have been forced to cancel shows this weekend such as Ring of Honor, which announced their 18th Anniversary and Past vs Present cards for this Friday and Saturday were off and Evolve Wrestling which postponed their EVOLVE 147 and EVOLVE 148 cards to May.
Even WWE and AEW have been affected, with the former needing to move this Friday’s SmackDown and likely next Monday’s Raw to the Performance Center in Orlando and the latter needing to move next week’s Dynamite to Daily’s Place in Jacksonville. And those are the bigger companies, the ones that have built-in “home” arenas as it were. The ones who have recourse for if venues cancel and they need to scramble to schedule TV for any given week. Most companies aren’t that fortunate and as result, throughout wrestling, promotions of all sizes are being forced to consider what comes next at a time where uncertainty is all we know.
A lot of people talking about supporting Indy wrestlers at the moment which is fantastic.
Let’s talk to some local promoters about how we can support them if and when they can’t run shows. They stand to lose significant money and without them we have no local wrestling.
— On The Turnbuckle (@OntheTurnbuckle) March 13, 2020
To that end, Will Ospreay and WrestleTalk are trying to do something about it. On Friday, the two sides announced plans to hold an empty arena, FREE show on Youtube, the proceeds of which will come through donations made on the site. All proceeds will be split equally among the wrestlers and crew working the event. In addition, WrestleTalk has created a special limited edition shirt where all proceeds will again be going to the wrestlers. The design and message is simple, “Support wrestling – Screw coronavirus.”
The show is stacked with top level talent and features matches that are going to make people want to tune in. David Starr takes on Callum Newman, The OJMO takes on Paul Robinson, Kyle Fletcher faces Connor Mills, Rampage Brown and Nathan Cruz go head-to-head against Robbie X and Kid Lykos II and in a first-time ever main event, Will Ospreay will take on his girlfriend Bea Priestley. More matches and wrestlers are set to be anounced in the coming days. But truly, it’s not about the card that was put together. It’s about the intent behind it.
“My idea was a lot of people are now in self isolation, loads of people are a little bit worried about this and a lot of independent wrestlers rely on these bookings to make their livings, to pay their bills and eat their food,” Ospreay said in the video announcing Monday’s show. “They need this money. They need to be out to wrestle. So I thought, why don’t we just put on a nice dream match card with loads of independent wrestlers and just put it out there live on Youtube?”
Ospreay went on to mention that he didn’t know where to start and that’s where WrestleTalk came in. Having a prior relationship with them through their WrestleTalk scholarship which was won by Ospreay’s protege Callum Newman last year, the Assasin reached out and the timing couldn’t have been better. WrestleTalk was set to hold their first ever show on Monday but had to postpone due to coronavirus. However, they had an arena that was booked and just sitting there. Everything fell into place and as Ospreay said, “WrestleTalk has been incredible at harnessing years and years of backyard wrestling that we’re used to putting on Youtube and now we’re gonna do it live. I’m gonna go back to the backyard in a weird way.”
All proceeds from this show will go directly to the wrestlers and crew, AND you can go and buy your "Support Wrestling | Screw Coronavirus" t-shirt right now, which will also help support those wrestlers and crew! https://t.co/3IojNCHDO8 pic.twitter.com/1gjt7ugJDm
— WrestleTalk (@WrestleTalk_TV) March 13, 2020
The wrestlers, referees, commentators, and the rest of the crew are working free of charge, with their only proceeds coming from the donations made by fans through the live stream and t-shirt sales. In a way, according to Ospreay, this event was as much about getting the wrestlers booked as it is about giving back to the fans, who right now are looking for anything to take their mind off of the reality of the coronavirus and how its impacting day-to-day lives.
“You guys, you fans at home have been wonderful,” he said. “You guys have been awesome so we want to give something back to you.”
In times like these, it’s great to see people coming together and hopefully, this kind of solidarity within the wrestling community will continue. Perhaps companies will even come together in the good of the performers and the good of the fans. In the meantime, continue to support wrestling and the men and women who put their bodies on the line for our entertainment. Visit their Pro Wrestling tees stores, buy their merch, subscribe to the Patreons, podcasts and streaming/ VOD services, and buy the shirt because now more than ever, we need to support wrestling and screw coronavirus.
Stay tuned to Last Word on Pro Wrestling for our coverage of the ongoing and changing news around the coronavirus and its effect on the wrestling industry as it develops. We are committed to keeping our readers informed and updated. 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.