This is a job I've been putting off doing for a number of weeks now, but has been swirling in my mind ever since, so please forgive and indulge me when it comes to the length of the following ...
In September of 2007, I was told about a new wrestling promotion that would be debuting the next month, and asked to be a part of it... at the time, that promotion was called "Pro Wrestling Ohio". I was excited about the idea, as it provided me a chance to expand my creative duties to a level I never had before, and help expose a new audience to what I felt were some of the most promising young talents in this part of the country. Such an undertaking wasn't without tribulations. On a beyond paper-thin budget, and more passion and dedication than I can describe, the journey began. Critics said we wouldn't last six months. No way, not even close. I'm proud to be sitting here six years later looking back on what was.
Over the next several years, we had some ups and we had some downs, just as any promotion would. There were days I would wake up eagerly anticipating working on PWO projects. There were days I would wake up dreading it. But, through it all, the goal of myself and everyone involved was to make the promotion, the television, the talent roster, everything therein, the absolute best it could be under whatever circumstances we were dealt. It was never perfect or ideal, in independent wrestling it never is, but I was and am so proud of what we were able to create the vast majority of the time. As a staff, a roster, a company, and a business, we grew... and we grew up. Every year was noticeably better than the last, and more doors opened for the future.
For those unaware, I worked in a creative capacity for the entire past six years, about five and a half of those six as the head of creative. Essentially, I, along with a few others, wore the matchmaker or "booker" hat. It was extremely strenuous at times, but a position I loved. In late-2011, things began to change. Circumstances necessitated me taking on more responsibilities in the front office, working more closely with first the television production (which I also enjoyed), then later also venues, sponsors, insurance companies, charities, merchandising, and financing. With that, plus our scope now reaching far beyond just Ohio, the "PRIME" name was born and the machine moved forward.
Over the next year and a half, we had some good stretches and we had some not-so-good stretches. While I had a very talented and dedicated team working alongside me, a large burden outside my main focus of the creative & TV production was still upon me, especially financially. What was once a fun and creatively fulfilling outlet that took up part of my "wrestling time" had turned into an overwhelming endeavor that was eating up ALL of my time. By mid-2013, I was decidedly burnt out. I didn't want things to change... I NEEDED them to, for the sake of my own sanity.
In the beginning of 2013, Fox Sports acquired SportsTime Ohio, the network we aired on since 2007. Formerly independently owned, STO was undergoing a slow transformation into a more corporate environment. With that change came new policies, rules, regulations and requirements. One of those requirements, in the form of an insurance policy, would have more than doubled our annual budget for producing a television show. By the end of July 2013, the new network structure was in place, and PRIME Wrestling was temporarily pulled from the airwaves until these new requirements could be met.
Now, Fox is COMPLETELY within their rights to ask what they did of us... but I knew in my heart this was the change. As much as I had given of myself mentally & financially over the past 18 months... there was no way I had the resources left to jump this big of a hurdle. The timing of said hurdle, coupled with other issues going on within our team... health issues, business issues, personal setbacks and other professional endeavors... all coming in a perfect storm, each one making the operation more challenging in its own way... I'm not sure how many of you believe in fate, or "a sign", or anything like that... but it became very clear to me it was time for all of us to make some difficult decisions.
With that in mind, and a heavy heart, it is my duty to make public & official for the first time, that Wrestlelution 6 on October 20 of 2013 was the last scheduled PRIME Wrestling live event for the foreseeable future.
I'm very proud of Wrestlelution 6. I feel it was one of our strongest events ever, if not the strongest. It was an incredible "final chapter" for a company and for everyone who was such an important part of it. For the final story to be told to be the handful of members of the "PRIME Foundation" re-claiming the legacy of what they had built from the forces working against them was beautiful and poetic. All usual merchandise shills aside, I really hope all of you who have ever supported us watch that show, be it on DVD or digitally, through us or Smart Mark Video or anywhere else. It means a lot to me, and I hope it means a lot to all of you.
Will PRIME Wrestling ever run an event again? Maybe. After October 20, there were talks of planning on doing more events on a more limited basis, but things never materialized. In the right place, at the right time, and for the right reason, I would absolutely do it again, no questions asked. I just know that, unfortunately, that isn't here and it isn't now.
I need to thank and acknowledge a number of people. Johnny Gargano & Gregory Iron sacrificed more than anyone will ever be able to realize or understand to make the past six years a reality. Production staff like Mike Moran, among others, were invaluable to our process, and we wouldn't have had a prayer without them. Thanks to Pat, Jim & Dawn at STO for believing in us all those years. Our sponsors over the years, who allowed us to present the quality of shows we did. Others like Bobby Beverly, Matthew Justice, Matt Cross, Josh Prohibition, Dan Arkham, Ben Fruith, Zach Gowen, Bobby Shields, and even my old nemesis Marion Fontaine, sacrificed a lot for something they believed in, and is something I will never forget. Guys like Jason Bane, Sons of Michigan, Jimmy Jacobs, Facade, DWS, Valentino, Aeroform etc brought instant credibility and intrigue to our product. Unsung workhorses from our early days like Mike Tolar, Jimmy DeMarco, Virus & Morty Rackem may not have been around for the majority of our most-watched and memorable events, but helped lay a foundation of quality that was adhered to and built upon from there on out. Pedro, Aaron Maguire, Vic, LaBar, Tom Dunn & Clemons were all vital cogs in the machine as well. Our latest crop - Castle, Madrox, RSP, Jay Flash, Aiden Veil didn't have the time to reach their full potential on TV, but absolutely will elsewhere and the sky is the limit. I mean to leave no one out, everyone was an important part of the process (well, almost everyone -- a few snuck by me I'd rather forget about).
Looking back, I see our six years as a success. It didn't always show that way on paper, and it sure wasn't always fun, but for a group of guys some thought would fizzle out after a few months -- or maybe even the first show -- we were able to do some pretty cool things. International online DVD distribution. National and international television syndication. Four live internet-Pay-Per-View events. Being part of the historic Cleveland Autorama and spend five years running big events at the Nautica Pavilion. Working hand-in-hand with amazing legendary talent like Kevin Nash, Greg Valentine, Al Snow, Rhino, Tito Santana, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Paul London. Working with future stars on the cusp of stardom like Shiima Xion/Zema Ion, Brodie Lee/Luke Harper, Ashley Lane/Madison Rayne, Colin Delaney, Michael Hutter/Derrick Bateman/Ethan Carter III, and the stars whose breaks are yet to come, but will in the very near future. Grabbing the attention of the wrestling world when Johnny Gargano tried to end Gregory Iron's career, or when Marion Fontaine finally struck Justin LaBar.
Looking ahead, the PRIME name won't go away. This website will stay in tact, and remain updated when new news is available. The PRIME Facebook, YouTube & Twitter accounts will stay active as well. I plan to do a ton of things with the PWO/PRIME library... starting with releasing (hopefully) all of our "lost" shows that never made DVD, starting with late 2011-early 2012 and then our shows from this past summer, most of which never made it to television OR YouTube. I also plan to do "Best ofs" of many of our most memorable stars and themes. These will be must-haves for anyone who doesn't own our entire collection and is interested in the best of the best in what we've done.
Anyone who follows my career outside of PRIME knows I've already had my hands in several other projects. I'm in the process of launching Joe-Dombrowski.com and will continue my path as an announcer, writer, content producer, and merchandiser. Please feel free to find me on Facebook (/JoeDombrowskiwrestling) or Twitter (@Joe_Dombrowski), as I'll always post PRIME updates as well when they happen.
Lastly, we wouldn't have lasted even six days without fans... so thank you guys. Your support always drove us forward, through good and bad, and your loyalty was among the most difficult things to factor in when weighing recent decisions. The Justin Summers, Jill Dials, Leonard Bibbs, our buddy Kayden, etc. You guys are as much a part of this company as anyone I've mentioned. I hope you show the same support to support other area promotions I feel strongly about, such as IWC Wrestling in Pittsburgh and Remix Pro Wrestling in Marietta, OH.
It's been real, Cleveland.
"It is easier to try than to prove it can't be done."
- Joseph Dombrowski
PWO/PRIME Wrestling TV