Following the launch last week of the WWE Network via all sorts of devices, it was only a matter of time before an independent promotion attempted to take advantage of the platform that wrestling fans have been drawn to by the big boys from Connecticut – and from today (March 5th 2014), such a promotion will begin a new endeavour to try and draw eyes to their product via a growing platform that WWE has a presence on.
AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined – which started out in 2004 as “All American Wrestling”, but has since moved away from that name – is one of the top independent promotions in the United States today. Operating throughout the general Chicago area, with their home-base in the suburb of Berwyn, AAW runs shows every month featuring a mix of talent from larger promotions such as Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate USA and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, and mixes them with young local talent looking to make names for themselves amongst the fan-base at large. Regular stars include the current AAW Champion “The New World Man” Shane Hollister, Juntai Miller, Heritage Champion “Money” Matt Cage, Keith Walker, and tag teams such as Zero Gravity (Brett Gakiya and CJ Esparza) and Kung Fu Manchu (Louis Lyndon and Marion Fontaine). Each show also attracts various well-known stars such as Michael Elgin (currently one-half of the Tag Team Champions as part of an odd-couple tag team, Men of the Year, with “All Ego” Ethan Page), Jimmy Jacobs, Eddie Kingston, Silas Young, Colt Cabana and ACH. Kevin Steen came in late in 2013, and briefly held the AAW Title before losing it back to Hollister. The likes of Sami Callihan and Samuray Del Sol were regulars in the promotion before being signed by the WWE, and back in the day, Tyler Black was one of the company’s hottest stars before he became more well-known in ROH, and eventually in the WWE as Seth Rollins.
At their first show of 2014, January’s “The Chaos Theory”, it was announced that as of March 5th, AAW would debut a new weekly show, “AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined”, on Roku, through the MaddyGTV channel. Many small promotions will present their shows through YouTube, or on local cable TV channels in poor time slots that they pay for, but what makes AAW’s new show significant is that they will be viewable every week on a device that is growing in popularity and convenience, which fans can simply hook up to their broadband connections and start watching. What makes this more of a big deal is that if wrestling fans want a break from the WWE Network, but still want to watch some action, then AAW is so far the only alternative available to them on Roku boxes.
The MaddyGTV show gives AAW another advantage over rival promotions. Whilst they share space with the likes of AIW, CHIKARA, Beyond Wrestling and various other promotions on Smart Mark Video, having to rely on word of mouth and promotion for fans to choose their shows above the vast array of options available to them on that website, with the weekly MaddyGTV show on Roku, they have a unique spotlight to promote their live shows and their talent to people who otherwise would have been unaware of them. The shows, likely to include matches taken from recent events, as well as promos and other content filmed exclusively for the show, should act as a tool to guide fans towards both attending the shows live in Berwyn or other towns such as Merrionette Park and Pontiac, and towards Smart Mark Video to buy DVDs and MP4s.
The one potential downside to the new show is that compared to the WWE Network, where you can watch any programme whenever you want, it seems as though you are only able to watch the AAW show whenever MaddyGTV airs it on their schedule. However, with this in mind, and also for those fans without Roku boxes, AAW will make the show available for free on their YouTube channel, at youtube.com/AAWPro. The key goal at the end of the day is to raise awareness of the promotion in a way that other independent promotions have so far not been able to, and as the first promotion through the door, AAW hopes to get a leg up, and earn a competitive advantage over some of its rival promotions who may consider a similar tactic given how successful it may end up becoming.
Given contracts handed out by promotions such as ROH and DGUSA, AAW may be limited in talents it is able to feature on the programme, but this will prove a great opportunity for guys like Hollister, Lyndon, Cage and Miller, who do not have the name value of the ROH and DGUSA talent who appear in AAW, to become more well-known, and perhaps get opportunities in those larger promotions. Either way, AAW have chosen an opportune time to enter the streaming content market, and if it results in getting more fans, packing their shows to the rafters, and selling more DVDs and MP4s, the MaddyGTV show on Roku will have proven to be a massive success.
“AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined” will air every Wednesday night at 8pm Eastern Time (1am Thursday morning UK time) on MaddyGTV, available on Roku boxes. Check roku.com and MaddyGTV.com for more information. MaddyGTV should be available worldwide – UK viewers can go to http://ukrokuchannels.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/roku-uk-channel-store-weekly-roundup-48.html to make sure they are able to access the channel on their boxes.
AAW are online at http://AAWrestling.com, on Facebook at http://facebook.com/AAWPro, on Twitter at @AAWPro, and on YouTube at http://youtube.com/AAWPro, where the show can also be viewed. DVDs and MP4s of AAW shows are available at http://SmartMarkVideo.com, with a VOD streaming option at http://SMVOD.com. Their next show, “EPIC: The 10 Year Anniversary Event” will take place on March 21st at the Eagles Club in Berwyn, Illinois – tickets are still available at the AAW website.