Dragon Gate USA Vice President and the co-founder of EVOLVE Wrestling, Gabe Sapolsky is featured in an interview in the latest edition of the WWNLive.com E-Mail Magazine, where he discusses the news made this past Friday that Dragon Gate USA and EVOLVE Wrestling were to merge in 2012. Highlights of the interview are below:
What led to the union?
GS:We always like to look at our strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments. Any business has to do this honestly during the course of the year. We decided we had two major weaknesses. The first was the gap in between EVOLVE and DGUSA shows. For instance, we went several months in between EVOLVE cards and due to the nature of DGUSA we will always have a 2-3 month window in between tripleshots. This makes it really hard to build momentum and get fans invested in all the happenings of each promotion. The other major weakness we had is that instead of being focused on promoting one website, one online store, one social network site and so on, we were stretched out promoting two. In every interview I did I had to promote DGUSA.tv and EVOLVEwrestling.com. It is a bit much. The union between EVOLVE and DGUSA solves both these weaknesses. We can now point everyone to DGUSA.tv. I think it’s a huge plus that everyone can buy DGUSA and EVOLVE merch and DVDs together. This is so much more convenient for everyone now. In addition, I love the way EVOLVE cards can now bridge the gap between DGUSA weekends. For instance, we had DGUSA on the June 3rd and September 10th weekends. That’s a long lull to try to keep fans interested. However, we did have an EVOLVE card on July 26th. That July 26th card would have made the perfect bridge between DGUSA weekends. We could have really made the July 26th EVOLVE card more important while at the same time helping the continuity between DGUSA weekends. So as you see this really helps turn two weaknesses into strengths. Also, one of our primary strengths is the exciting and deep talent roster we’ve built in the last 18 months. Now we will be able to focus on it more and keep momentum going. For instance, take Jon Davis. He has had an incredible year that has almost been under the radar. I feel this is because he came to DGUSA and had to start at the bottom and work his way up. At the same time, he also had to do this in EVOLVE. So he would build momentum in DGUSA and then have to start back again at square one in EVOLVE or vice versa. This way a guy in Jon Davis’ spot can build momentum and keep it moving forward instead of having to take any steps back. I think you will see lots more great talent rise and take advantage of more events with the same continuity.
Ok, well why keep both the DGUSA and EVOLVE brand names then? Why not just have it be called EVOLVE or Dragon Gate USA?
GS: That’s a good question and there really is a simple answer. We don’t believe you can have Dragon Gate USA events without Dragon Gate talent. The Dragon Gate roster is constantly on tour in Japan. This makes it almost impossible for them to come to the United States more often for the EVOLVE single shots. It would also be cost prohibitive to pay for several flights. I’m not saying you won’t see one or maybe two Dragon Gate talents pop up at EVOLVE, but that would be rare and difficult to pull off. That eliminates being able to promote all the shows under the Dragon Gate USA banner. At the same time, keeping the DGUSA name is very important to the Dragon Gate office in Japan. The goal of DGUSA is to help spread the Dragon Gate name and make it international. It is our job to do that and I believe in the Dragon Gate name and want to do that. Eliminating it and just using the EVOLVE banner would obviously kill that goal.
So will both brands keep a separate identity?
GS: Well, it depends on what you mean by that. Now all the stables, characters, titles and for lack of a better word, storylines, will be consistent in both DGUSA and EVOLVE. Stuff will happen in EVOLVE that has an effect on DGUSA and vice versa. However, we will keep the things you love from both promotions. EVOLVE will continue to be based on the won/loss records. EVOLVE will still have the no frills presentation. DGUSA will still be cutting-edge and kinda wild. It’s just now instead of having Chuck Taylor and Johnny Gargano together as Ronin with Rich Swann in DGUSA and then having Taylor and Gargano with Larry Dallas and ignoring their relationship with Swann in EVOLVE, you will have Ronin in EVOLVE just like they are in DGUSA. If they are feuding with Brodie Lee in DGUSA, that won’t be ignored in EVOLVE and will continue on EVOLVE cards. At the same time, the things that kept EVOLVE unique like the records and regulations will still be in tact, but there will be some tweaks. I think these tweaks will actually make the records and regulations more important and a more integral part of things.
What kind of tweaks in EVOLVE?
We are discussing that right now. Some of the ideas being thrown around are that the records will lead to Open The Freedom Gate Title shots or that those with the best records will get on the DGUSA events. I also think that there can be some interesting scenarios where wrestlers still aren’t allowed to fight after or before the bell in EVOLVE, meaning they will have to show some self-control and keep the emphasis on the bell-to-bell until the DGUSA weekends, when all hell can break loose. There are several other ideas being discussed on how to make the records and leader board in EVOLVE more important. I think it will be very interesting to follow and more will become clear in the future. I also believe things can happen on the DGUSA weekends to make all the EVOLVE cards bigger and better. There are a lot of ideas being thrown around now.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Everything about the union just made sense. Sal (Hamaoui) and I run the day-to-day of each promotion, we have the same webmaster, same graphics person, same video editor, same production house, most things are run and produced by the same people for both DGUSA and EVOLVE. Now instead of being focused on trying to build two brands we have everything unified and together. I believe this will make it easier for our valued customers to follow and support, it opens up lots of new booking possibilities and it let’s us build momentum with our talent and storylines. It has turned our weaknesses into strengths and now let’s us highlight our strengths more. This really sets DGUSA and EVOLVE up for a strong 2012. I finally want to add that we wouldn’t have done any of this without your support. We greatly appreciate it and are here to serve you with the most exciting and best pro wrestling we can. Thank you.