Q&A: Matthew Ryan, co-founder of Capitol Wrestling

Originally published at https://www.postwrestling.com/2019/01/23/qa-matthew-ryan-co-founder-of-capitol-wrestling/

This year, Capitol Wrestling out of New Jersey will celebrate two years in operation that coincides with the biggest week of the year taking place in their backyard.

Following a year where the upstart group began producing content on the Fite TV app and live specials on Twitch, they are looking to make a bigger imprint in 2019. The promotion recently announced a deal with the Global Wrestling Network app along with television distribution deals with RNN in the New York metropolitan area and an international streaming deal on the China-based Shuaijiao platform.

We recently had a chance to speak with Matthew Ryan, the co-founder of the group for a look at the evolving business of professional wrestling at the independent level and where Capitol finds itself in that crowded landscape.

First off, can you share some details about your own background and how it led to Capitol Wrestling?

I’ve been a wrestling fan all my life, it was literally my first memory. My passion for wrestling and radio would bring me to broadcasting in college and starting a wrestling radio show. After being able to do commentary for a few companies, I was able to help start producing events in the New York area and started forming the seeds for Capitol with my co-creator Marcus Dowling.

We were passionate about creating an alternative that brought old school storytelling and presentation that mixed with modern styles and aesthetics and that’s what we’ve been able to deliver since 2017.

How did the deal come about with the Global Wrestling Network and what are your goals with the streaming content deals?

The GWN deal came the same way all of our deals came to be, an ask. We reached out to Anthem regarding some potential opportunities and from there we were able to get on-board and begin the process of putting all 94 episodes on GWN to join FITE, Twitch, and our other digital partners including a new deal in China.

Our goal with our streaming deals is to not only develop revenue through viewership but showcase our content to a dynamic cross-section of viewers. FITE provides the potential for more crossover due to MMA, boxing and other combat sports on there who may enjoy our throwback presentation. For GWN, it’s to attract the hardcore wrestling fan who would want to see the stars of the future or want to embrace alternatives.

What are the hidden factors that attribute to a successful independent wrestling promotion in the marketplace in 2019?

Building within your market: Looking at companies like PWG, DEFY, PROGRESS, ICW, and other companies with buzz, you develop your region you find what the area wants or more importantly needs, and then you build from that until the world knows who you are.

Your promotional content is very well done and having a solid digital presence seems imperative at this level. Can you elaborate on your digital strategy and when you began working with your editor Zane Decker?

Our digital strategy is to present ourselves as a major brand and to curate everything we put out as an important piece of content. In wrestling, you’re told to not waste any motion or movement, which is what we do with all of our content.

Zane and I both grew up on a steady diet of 90’s WWE, which was full of promos, video packages, and vignettes, which help us define our characters and our wrestlers as three-dimensional beings.

Zane was one of the first people we hired when we started Capitol. He was living in Australia at the time and had been working as a photographer and budding videographer, and he messaged me at 4 am wanting to get on-board. Since that day he’s been the only person to edit and direct Capitol Wrestling television. He helps curate our brand and has been a major key in defining us as a company.

2019 is shaping up to become an advantageous period for talent with companies vying for talent and big money being offered. How does this change in the landscape affect a group such as yourselves, if at all?

It forces us at the regional level to be creative and double down on local talent as building blocks for the future.

Heading into 2019, we’re looking at the local landscape and how we can create enough lanes for our talent to succeed. We’re cooking up some ideas that have me and our creative team excited.

Last week, you announced a television deal with RNN out of New York, what is the value of this deal and where do you gauge the popularity of pro wrestling among television outlets presently?

For television networks, 2019 is a testing ground for pro wrestling. With WWE starting a multi-billion dollar deal on USA and Fox, whatever AEW has planned, as well as the potential growth for ROH and the pivot for Impact, the market can expand or contract for TV.

While our timeslot is early, more people are DVR’ing content more than ever and allows us to get creative with our marketing and advertising (such as our #attackatdawn and #setyourdvr concepts).

Also when you go to a local or regional business for advertising or sponsorship backing, showcasing that you are in 21 million homes across the largest media market in the world is easier than explaining digital reach and platforms, at least as of now.

Who are some of the performers that are regulars at Capitol Wrestling that audiences should be keeping an eye on?

Matt Macintosh is going to break out in 2019. He became the MVP of the company in 2018 and busted his ass to be on-top and proves us right every time out.

Darius Carter has all of the potential to be a great television heel the more he gets chances to showcase himself and his throwback style to audiences, same can be said for Ken Dixon.

Anthony Gangone is probably the best pure wrestler on the team right now, and I want to see him wrestle Jimmy Rave (who along with Deranged are our lead agents) very badly.

Having produced content for Fite TV, Twitch, and now embarking on television, what are the challenges of going from a live event business to producing content that will be broadcasted?

Our focus is the best experience for everyone. Our live events are structured for the best live event possible, from there we are able to cut our television to add things you didn’t see in Hoboken. Utilizing themes like the “Capitol Carnival” or our planned April 7th anniversary event, we want the fan in the audience to feel like they’re a part of something special, and then have our TV audience feel like they’re peering inside the world of a wrestling company and witness how all of these events play out over the course of six weeks.

With WrestleMania weekend coming to New Jersey/New York this April, how did your promotion decide on a strategy in terms of presenting your product on the most competitive week of the year?

We knew that everyone was throwing the kitchen sink from Wednesday through Saturday, and we knew that as a company we needed to be wise in how we went about running that weekend.

Sunday and Newark were perfect fits for us to build our branding around, as not only we knew we had the day to ourselves (outside of the BC block party), but Newark is less than 20 minutes from Metlife Stadium and would be a perfect place to ensure fans going to Mania were able to get to the show with more than enough time.

We’re suckers for 90’s culture, and with the Fugees being from Newark, and our move to be a little more aggressive in the marketplace made “Ready Or Not” as the perfect name for our Anniversary event.

What kind of experience do you aim to deliver at your live events, such as next Saturday’s “Watch Your Step” event in Hoboken?

I want every single fan walking into Hoboken on Saturday in love with one aspect of our company. Whether it be our wrestlers, our presentation, our partnership with Comedy Fight Club (recently featured on the Tonight Show) or being able to have a group night out with their friends

The goal is for our shows to be a unique and intimate show where you feel a part of everything that goes on. Great Wrestling, Great Moments, and the ability to escape the every day for three hours.

Capitol Wrestling presents Watch Your Step on Saturday, February 2nd at 301 Garden Street in Hoboken, New Jersey at 7 pm featuring Matt Macintosh, KC Navarro, Ariela Nyx, and others. Their second-anniversary show “Ready or Not” is Sunday, April 7th in Newark and their weekly show can be seen on FITE TV.