Since the fold of WCW in 2001, WWE has essentially enjoyed an unimpeded run as the top game in town (heck, the world) in the pro graps industry. With the rise in streaming technology (and one might argue the staleness of WWE’s product at times), the door has opened for promotions like NJPW and ROH to fill a void in the wrestling fan’s heart. While indie promotions aren’t necessarily going to challenge the WWE in terms of financial success and mainstream appeal, there are opportunities to be had for the indie promotions to find a strong audience.
One such indie promotion is Maryland’s MCW Pro, who recently graduated one of its biggest stars, Lio Rush to WWE’s NXT brand. The promotion operates shows mostly in the Maryland area and has an online pay subscription service, Rage TV. I spoke with MCW Pro’s GM and jack-of-all-trades, Phil Stamper, to talk about his career both in and out of the ring, as well as his insights on the indie scene and who he sees as the next big thing.
In addition to his current role with MCW Pro, and appearances on Impact, Stamper has also worked with CZW (as Nate Stein), Pro Wrestling Unplugged, Rockstar Pro in Ohio, Legacy Pro in PA, Wrestling Revolver, IWA East Coast, and Grand Slam in Old Forge, PA.
Q: How did you first get into wrestling?
Phil Stamper: I was a fan at about ten or eleven years old. I was one of those kids that in middle school sent a letter to WWE and WCW saying “how do kids do this wrestling thing?” I actually got a letter back from WCW, along with a “buy our book” ad, but they mentioned their training schools.
Later, when I turned 18, I didn’t want to join an industry that had a lot to do with drug use so I started working behind the scenes and was working and paying my way through college. And then a couple years later I got a misdiagnosis of a precancerous condition. Even though it wasn’t cancer, it gave me the now-or-never mindset about my wrestling career.
Who helped you along the way?
I trained at The Dominion (Owings Mills, MD) and a lot of guys were great about saying “hey man let me show you stuff.” I went to guys like Al Snow, Chris Hero, Mike Quackenbush and Brian Wenzel (OVW); he was one of two people on OVW TV who didn’t have a WWE contract and I learned a lot from him especially. I keep finding people that are great to learn from. You need to, in order to stay relevant. When people turn to me now (for advice), it freaks me out.
Which wrestlers have inspired your own style and career?
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