In the past week, the UK wrestling scene has been rocked with allegations from two women about misconduct from two prominent members of the British wrestling scene: longtime UK promoter Daniel Edler and wrestler James ‘Strangler’ Davis. Edler is best known for founding International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (IPW:UK) in 2004 and Davis made his mark as part of the popular tag team The London Riots. Edler sold IPW:UK last summer and started a new promotion, Spotlight Wrestling, while Davis moved on to a more prominent role with PROGRESS following the break-up of the London Riots. But with both men having such strong past associations with IPW:UK, many members of the wrestling fan base have continued to direct their ire towards the promotions, despite the fact that Edler hasn’t been involved since last summer’s sale, and Davis hasn’t worked for IPW since losing in the IPW Super 8 tournament last October.
IPW:UK has a long history with the BritWres scene. Before PROGRESS (founded in 2012), before Revolution Pro (RevPro, 2012), before Southside Wrestling Entertainment (SWE, 2011), Preston City Wrestling (PCW, 2011) or ATTACK! (2011) or Fight Club: PRO (2009), there was IPW. It was founded in 2004, long before the UK wrestling boom, and was the early home of such British superstars as Drew McIntyre, Jimmy Havoc, Mark Haskins, “The Villain” Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre Jr., Will Ospreay, Rockstar Spud…the list is endless. But when the UK indie scene exploded internationally in the past five years, it appeared that IPW was getting left behind. While PROGRESS, RevPro and others became household names for wrestling fans around the world, IPW was becoming a footnote.
But that’s where Billy Wood comes in. He is the man responsible for the new aura with IPW, the man who purchased IPW from Edler last year, who has been bringing back old stars and integrating them with brand new ones, rejuvenating a relic from Britain’s wrestling days of the 2000s with a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm. We spoke with Billy today about his vision for IPW going forward, what IPW has on the burners for 2018, and the horrible allegations against the former regime.
Last Word on Pro Wrestling: What interested you in taking over IPW:UK in the first place? Was it for sale or did you make the first move to acquire it?
Billy Wood: IPW:UK has a lot of great in ring history in British Wrestling, however, I felt it took a bit of a dip. Throughout my professional career, I’ve always loved a challenge, I truly believe that IPW with its in ring history, with the right management and a plan in place it could rise to the top. I actively reach out to the previous owner, negotiated a deal, signed in July and fully took over from September 2017.
Who makes up the new IPW ownership? Is it just yourself?
IPW is owned by International Pro Wrestling Limited (formerly Creative Control Agency Limited) which is solely my company. Whilst I am the sole owner, we are a limited company and I have a management committee which includes the current IPW ring announcer Chris Hatch and his wife Sarah. We are like a family and I have a larger advisory board across production, show management and creative. One man on his own has limits and whilst I am a bit of a workaholic, I couldn’t fulfill my vision without the huge team we have. I usually say ‘IPW isn’t mine, it’s OURS’ and I sincerely feel that.
With an international boom in UK wrestling, what new plans do you guys have to revitalize IPW and bring back to the forefront alongside surging names like Progress, ICW and RevPro?
Slowly, surely and with substance. Since we took over, it was about repositioning without disrespecting the in ring history. Our Undisputed event in December was the show that finally showed where we can go. We changed the logo, which went from silver to gold, we increased our live show production and, in my opinion, increased both the entertainment aspect of the show, combined with incredible in ring quality. We aren’t cutting corners, this doesn’t mean we aren’t giving guys opportunity because we are. Ashley Dunn, Kelly Sixx, Kurtis Chapman, Jay Garner, Maverick Mayhew, Connor Mills, plus more to come, have all been given opportunities with us (and taken them I might add!) and at the same time we have the very best wrestlers in the world today part of our shows, Pete Dunne, Will Ospreay, Jimmy Havoc, the comeback of Luke Phoenix, Dave Mastiff, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee and our current IPW World Champion Austin Aries just to name a few. We have a real exciting balance, we care about our brand, we care about the output and we want people to be proud to be watching IPW.
We recently saw an IPW invasion of Defiant Wrestling. How did that all come together? Will 2018 see an expansion of alliances or working agreements with other promotions, UK or otherwise?
The Defiant thing came from an organic discussion and exchange of opinions. We also had a deal with Aries which was exclusive, Aries held his end of the bargain but an opportunity came knocking so we thought we would do something together. I am not here to stop anyone making money and if it can be beneficial for everyone than why not! Regarding other partnerships we are part of the United Wrestling Network alongside our partners Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, CZW, Main Event, FSW & more, I have a great relationship with David Marquez and his knowledge has been fruitful. We also are in discussions with some companies I cannot yet name about some crossover which can put IPW further on the map as we continue to grow.
You guys recently launched IWN Live, a network for emerging UK promotions as well as IPW. How has the network been received so far? Any new promotions being add soon?
IWN Live is growing in numbers monthly! We have promotions from both the UK and the USA, we will be adding a German promotion to the network soon plus in discussions to add more international promotions.
IPW is known for their Supershows and last year we had the Super 8 – are there plans to add some new “marquee” events alongside the regular events?
The IPW schedule is bigger than its ever been. We have monthly shows in Milton Keynes at the coolest warehouse, check the graffiti on the walls! Our larger shows will take place at the Clapham Grand in London and the Casino Rooms in Rochester which is the current home of the ‘Supershows’. We have dropped the term ‘Supershow’ because we believe the quality of our shows are across the board and therefore its more about our fans either traveling or keeping up on IWN Live each and every show we do. We will have 5 ‘marquee’ yearly events a year, so far these are ‘International Battle Royale’, ‘The Anniversary Show’, ‘Super 8’, ‘Undisputed’ plus one other to be named. However each of our shows we will make MUST WATCH.
Obviously the big elephant in the room is the current scandal with former IPW owner Daniel Edler and former talent Strangler Davis. The victims have been quite vocal in their support of the new IPW ownership and insisting your hands are clean. But how is this impacting IPW currently and what steps are being done to make sure this type of behaviour is kept out of professional wrestling?
Firstly, our number one priority with this is that the young women are supported. They are brave and should be applauded for speaking out, no one should be muted if put through any ordeal – we have publicly and privately supported and will continue to do so. Daniel Edler has been exposed for something that is inexcusable, the proof is there for everyone to make a judgement on. We never asked for people to be vocally supportive, especially the victims but I think it speaks volumes about what the current IPW is all about. It makes me proud that people can see through the previous owners association and see how we conduct ourselves and how we operate. I can only hope it doesn’t affect us, especially as so much progress has been made in the last 6 months and we are buzzing again. We are currently looking at starting an IPW Training School this year and will make sure any trainers are fully checked officially and put procedures in place to allow trainees to never be afraid to have a voice. I am a big advocator that no one should be scared to speak up. We all have to be vigilant and protect each other, if you know something, speak up, if you suspect something tell someone in the management structure. Investigating something doesn’t necessarily mean the individual is guilty, however being diligent never hurt and I believe it’s a duty of us all. The minority of individuals will not ruin our business and they will not stop me and my team putting on the very best shows we can for the fans who spend their hard earned money investing into our brand, our brand is IPW.