As regular readers will know, the Royal Ramblings team went 'on tour' at the beginning of this year, looking out some of the best independent promotions the UK had to offer. The business that we kept coming back to, that kept receiving warm praise and whose management team, as Drew Galloway put it "knows how to have a good time" is IPW: UK. If you read out first piece about IPW, you would know it is a company that as we put it "exudes professionalism and quality", or that according to our live review, left us with "no question that it was worth the drive, the investment of time and money".
At the heart of IPW is promoter and founder Daniel Edler, a greatly respected doyen of the wrestling scene. Dan, as we have said before, is resolutely focussed on quality, has a vision and an amazing depth of knowledge which has served IPW well. However, in order to better understand the company's secret to success we thought we should talk to the talent to find out from them, why they keep coming back.
For British wrestling's MVP Will Ospreay, it all comes down to opportunity. "Everybody's heard of IPW" he told us. "It has been around for so long and still has the name, so the draw is that it's opportunity elsewhere. If you wrestle for IPW that means you're probably one of the best".
For the London Riot's James 'JD' Davis, who started watching IPW as a fan before becoming headlining talent, there is another draw: "These shows as a wrestler backstage are some of the most fun" he told us. "Everyone knows and is comfortable with each other. It's very laid back but still very professional. They're never a hassle and always a joy to come to".
IPW has its own backstory and as Ospreay tells us, it has buoyed him and others to watch the company grow. "I've seen it go from strength to strength" he says. "I feel like the shows are some of the best in Britain really". A fan from the beginning, James Davis recalls that "it was like a little cult". "Every month Dan would put on a show in this little hall and you'd get 300 people". "Everyone came to every show, everyone knew all the storylines". When the Orpington Halls were renovated it was, says Davis, "a massive blow to the company" which lost its "spiritual home". Now though, with shows in a number of towns, Davis believes the brand is "probably at its strongest point".
As the company has developed, so has its fan base. As we wrote in our first IPW article, we were impressed by the inclusiveness of the events which cater to those from across the generations, to avid wrestling fans and others. The London Riots work all over the country and reflecting upon how the IPW crowd compares to others, James Davis told us that he appreciates the diversity of the audience. "The majority of places we work, there are wrestling fans who know everything. They're all over 18, no families". This, he says, is in comparison to IPW which is "a mix. You've also got families, you've got a few more kids". "It's not the kind of super-wrestling fans who watch everything, it's actually a bit more casual which is a bit more fun to perform in front of because they're not analysing everything you do". This can however be a challenge. As Rob Lynch of the Riots told us "Sometimes you have to do a little bit more because they're getting warmed up but that's an important part of what we do, making sure you can get that reaction and that they always end up coming up." For the Riots, he believes this is "an important part of our development, being able to get used to working with different types of crowds. They're all going to respond to different types of things"
One aspect of IPW shows that often provokes a strong reaction is the appearance of a visiting international talent. We wanted to know from IPWs reigning World Champion, Germany's Bad Bones, how he had come to work with the promotion and his take on the crowd. "The first time I came over was 2006 for a training seminar" he said "Dan took notice and told me he had a show on and that he'd like to have me on it. He wanted to see how I feel and how people react to me". At that show the fans chanted "please come back" which Bad Bones "really appreciated". "So I started in 2006 and now it's 2015 and I'm still here and I'm the champion which means the world to me". The title, according to Bad Bones, "has a history". "If you are the champion - and I am the first German champion of IPW - It means something and it helps you along". He believes IPW has a great reputation abroad and tells us German fans have been known to buy IPW DVD's and more. This culminated most recently in a joint IPW-WXW (Germany) show, another feather in Dan Edler's cap.
For the home-grown stars, the booking of the international talent has also been a source of pride. James Davis tells us that Dan's "is the first promotion to really have enough trust in us to allow us to wrestle all the import teams" and as Rob Lynch adds "It's always nice to have that, knowing that promotor thinks that of you" and it is this last remark that underlined for us IPW's allure for the talent. There is opportunity, trust, respect and ultimately loyalty.
At IPW, stars have a solid platform from which to grow and develop. They become part of a family that has their best interests at heart and enables them to have fun whilst putting their bodies on the line for other's entertainment. For all these reasons and more, IPW will continue to be a leading British light. Tickets for and details of forthcoming IPW:UK events can be viewed on the company website. You can follow them on Twitter at @IPWUK.
Look out for our forthcoming standalone interviews with Will Ospreay, Bad Bones and the London Riots.
Above: Mason Ryan and Dave Mastiff lock horns at an IPW event