As previously reported Mikey Jay and Criss Fresh will be running a brand new national promotion in Australia, the first proper attempt at a consistently ran national promotion in this country since Mark Lewin’s High Risk Championship Wrestling in 1999. Appearing on the November 11 2021 edition of the On The Turnbuckle podcast, Mikey and Criss provided more details relating the new Renegades of Wrestling promotion, which will be detailed below. For more details and to hear the entire fun chat, visit their page on My Podcast House, or search On The Turnbuckle on your podcast platform of choice.
The Formation of the Promotion and Original Plans
On the podcast they went into detail about how the idea to run a national promotion together actually came about. They stated that the roots of the promotion can be traced back almost 3 years, while they were still in MCW. At that point in time, there were plans to do something with MCW at the time, including mention of a discussion with Jay Andrews about going on the road with MCW. That idea ultimately went nowhere, as they felt it would be difficult to tour nationally with the Melbourne City Wrestling name, and didn’t want to change the name due to the recognition it had built.
A lot of time was put into preparing the promotion, starting to really get rolling around when Mikey sold MCW. They said that the promotion might’ve happened sooner had the COVID-19 pandemic not taken place.
The Significance of Rhi Bell’s Role
One of the first things discussed on the podcast was them bringing in Rhi Bell as their head of social media. Criss talked at length about getting to know her over the past 20 years, and her journey from fan to an integral part of the scene in Melbourne. The reason they are bringing her on according to Criss is that she has an invaluable toolset and is one of the most qualified people in the Australian scene with regards to social media.
Criss also relayed how in MCW her genuine membership of the Australian wrestling community was important in gauging how the fanbase felt. Criss said constantly working with wrestlers and other aspects of shows made it easy for him to feel disconnected from his fanbase, outside of when people say negative things on social media.
Another key component in their decision to bring Rhi in is the fact that Criss and Mikey, as men feel there is too many men in professional wrestling, particularly in positions of power.
Deciding on the Name
Criss says he came up with the name of the promotion because of Rage Against The Machine. This came to him because of RATM becoming very relevant in society again, with people thinking there is a lot of over-governance in the world, both in politics and things like sport. Another reason the name was chosen is that the name Renegades of Wrestling feels like a perfect fit for a promotion working with Destroy All Lines.
Direction of the Product
A large portion of the podcast was devoted to talking about the direction that they are going to take Renegades of Wrestling in, particularly compared to the rest of the Australian scene and their own previous work. Mikey spoke at length about how his vision when running a promotion is usually based on what he is watching and hitting an attainable goal in terms of what can be presented from that. He alluded to the fact that the scope of what Renegades of Wrestling will be able to do will be far greater since they have Rhi on the team and a direct relationship with Destroy All Lines.
In terms of specifics, they didn’t go into much detail. Mikey stated that the product is going to be a hybrid of different ideas, including them doing stuff that has worked for them before and trying out new stuff too. Criss made the comparison to Velvet Revolver’s Slither and how it felt like something new, but you could definitely see the Guns N’ Roses style in the song.
In terms of immediate plans, Mikey stated that they will start slow, probably running monthly shows and eventually working towards are touring model where they do a tour around the country over a period of 1-2 weeks each month. Criss said that this would be the best possible model for them as he doesn’t feel that writing weekly TV is for him. They are not yet ready to announce where they will be running their shows, but are confident people will be happy with where they are running.
It was also alluded to that online streaming will be a key component of their philosophy, as they are a national promotion and simply making money at the venue will not work for them.
The Challenges of Running a National Promotion
Mikey spoke about how much of an undertaking running an international promotion is, saying that taking a show on the road is expensive, intimidating and daunting. They are glad to be working with Destroy All Lines, and would not be trying to run a national promotion under any other circumstances.
The relationship with Destroy All Lines is something that has been in the works for a while, with the two sides discussing ideas consistently and many of the bands and people in management at Destroy All Lines being big fans of the Australian wrestling scene. Mikey said that the constant talks with them and other business partners is part of what inspired them to make a national promotion in the first place, with them have many links interstate and in New Zealand.
Criss stated that Mikey is very much responsible for building their relationships with other promotions as well as Destroy All Lines, and that he particularly trusts Destroy All Lines with giving them the right advice to run nationally.
Mikey said that the plan for now is to have a core group of talent they feature regularly. They have a set number in mind for that core group, but that number may fluctuate over time. In addition to this core group, they will bring in people for specific storylines or who are known in the region where a show is being ran, as well as mix in some international talent. With regards to international talent, they have stated they would be using an MCW style approach of integrating them with local talent, rather than booking international vs international matches, as they feel that doing the latter hurts the perception of local talent.
In terms of the kind of talent they are looking into bringing in, Criss stated that they are going to attempt to be creative with their list management. They are looking to bring in people who they can do something different with compared to other promotions or people who just don’t get used much outside of their main promotion. The methodology behind this is it will help them stand out, unlike simply booking the same group as another promotion in the same way in the same state.
Another key component of their roster plans is making sure they have a happy locker room and positive morale. Criss relayed a story about how when he joined MCW in 2013 he told Mikey the locker room had a cultural problem and that everyone was miserable. This issue took them a couple of years to fix. With regards to Renegades, they say they are not going to bring in anyone they know are hard to work with based on previous experiences or what they have heard from talent.
With regards to how they are scouting talent, Mikey already has a list of names for people he’d book monthly, intermittently and for specific states. Mikey has been scouting promotions he works with through doing video editing, as well as through running Australian Wrestling Network. Mikey said that he is looking for people with a local buzz, which he says is easy to do in a world where promotions run on AWN and Fite TV. Criss stated that he trusts Mikey’s judgment since he doesn’t personally keep up with as much wrestling as Mikey, only usually watching stuff sent his way, if anything.
Working with Other Promotions
One of the key facets of Renegades of Wrestling is going to be working with other promotions. Criss said that he is big on everyone being able to work everywhere to get as much ring time as possible to be the best they can be at their shows. Criss also went into how he feels it has never been beneficial to anyone to run head-to-head on a local level, something I very much agree with. Criss said that running head-to-head is not going to help anyone draw a decent house, especially in a country where the amount of people that consume local wrestling compared to international tours is very limited.
Mikey stated they are not going to run the same venues as other promotions, nor are they going to run on the same night. The goal here is that they want to build working relationships with everyone in the country, much like the one’s that exist with most of the major promotions.
They also alluded to the idea that there are multiple promotions that exist in Australia and that they want people to spend their money on as many shows as they can afford to, although hoping that their promotion is one that people feel is better than any others.