This past week, Global Force Wrestling’s press call was held by two seasoned campaigners in Bruce Pritchard and Dutch Mantel, probably best known for their on-screen roles for WWE as Brother Love and Zeb Colter, respectively. With experience dating back to the territorial era and stints in the back-room setups of both WWE and the old TNA, these guys backed up their frank and honest appraisal of GFW’s current situation with their breadth of knowledge, and fielded a lot of questions on the seismic changes in the company.
As well as being on Impact as on-screen talent, Prichard has been hired as a consultant under Jeff Jarrett, and Mantel confirmed that he was one of the first brought in by Anthem/GFW in a consultancy role. Mantel’s managerial connection as Colter with Jake Hager (Jack Swagger) was explored with Mantel admitting some interest and calling Hager a ‘great, great talent, a great great performer… [and a] great great athlete.’ However, he also said that Jake is ‘enjoying the break’ so we can mark that one as a future possibility.
TV ratings have been used as a journalistic yardstick for Impact over its history, and whilst Prichard admitted it was: “…not on the greatest network in Pop,” (later sending a pleading message for them to get on more cable-systems) he also rightfully pointed out that days of TV ratings relevancy are long gone. Social media response is a good indicator according to Mantel, and whilst we may be undergoing an: “explosion of wrestling interest…like 20 years ago, people are consuming wrestling differently, such as 1,000 or 2,000 [fans] at an independent show.”
While that sounds good for GFW’s live event push, it doesn’t mean we’re going to see any immediate changes to the way Impact is produced. Both guys underlined the difference between running live shows for the house audience and producing it for TV, and the sheer cost increase involved. Prichard summed it up well, and despite being ‘a live TV guy’, it comes down to the ‘basic economics of whether it’s feasible.’
The possibility of a UK pay-per-view is something that Prichard seemed a little more positive about. In the 21st century world of on-demand, PPV’s don’t need to be at a routine time anymore. If the fans are given: “Something unique, something they’re interested in, they’ll tune in at 12 o’clock.” This tied in well with his assertion that Anthem, GFW’s parent company, has the “skills, capability… and platform,” to make a Netflix or WWE Network on-demand successful.
As both men had notable tenures under the company’s previous management, comparisons were sought between then and now under Anthem and Jarrett. Prichard was unequivocal: “It’s a completely different company to what I left the environment is night and day.” He cited the new organisation’s coherent direction and clearly defined personnel roles. Mantel concurred, calling the former ‘a rudderless ship.’
They weren’t so agreeable over how the next big GFW star (names mentioned: EC3, Lashley, Drake) would rise however, with Mantel shouldering the responsibility as one of the creative team, while Prichard insistent that it was up to the talent to seize the opportunity with their performances. The truth is probably, like most things, a bit of both.
When John Hennigan, Taya Valkyrie and their Lucha Underground status were mentioned, Mantel admitted that alongside AAA: “We’re trying to get working relationships.” It sounds speculative still, but the international connections are good for an expansive feel to the product. Whichever world-class wrestlers come in won’t be facing facing Davey Richards however, after his amicable departure from GFW earlier this week to become a doctor.
“I wish him all the success in the world,” said Mantel, “What stuck out was his passion.” Prichard echoed that by wishing him ‘nothing but the best of luck.’
So what’s the future of GFW’s creative direction? According to Prichard there needs to be a ‘focus on simplicity.’ Mantel gave a slightly deeper view, referring back to an earlier story of his days booking in Puerto Rico. “Keep it simple and listen to the fans.”