Major League Wrestling is back, and taking the wrestling world by storm. Founded by former WWE writer Court Bauer in 2002, the promotion found new life with MLW Fusion, which currently airs on BeIN Sports. Since the company’s revival on July 21, 2017, wrestling fans have a fresh product that they can be proud of. MLW showcases a variety of grapplers who are making their moves seen, and voices heard.
The stars of Major League Wrestling gave exclusive interviews to Still Real To Us, discussing their backgrounds, and the growth of the wrestling company that is gaining big time traction.
Jason Cade knows how to tangle with the best of them. His fierce style caught on with fans in a monumental way. Combining his agility with a death-defying moveset, MLW fans are often amazed by what he can do inside of the squared circle. Outside of the ring, the wrestler enjoys conventions like New York Comic Con, and playing video games with the little free time he has to himself.
Getting to perform at the Melrose Ballroom is a dream come true for Cade, who is from the Bronx. The only reason why he moved down south was because of the frigid weather.
“I relocated to Orlando because it’s too cold. I can’t deal with the cold anymore,” jokes Cade.
Jason went to high school in Atlanta, before moving to the Orlando area; where the word ‘cold’ isn’t in the dictionary. The up-and-comer knows that getting to wrestle in New York City is a big deal for any wrestler with big dreams. Madison Square Garden is only a few subway stops away, and the boys in the back know that there’s always eyes on their performances. New Yorkers are begging to cheer for someone, as their sports franchises have been coming up a bit short over the past few years.
“I mean, the Knicks don’t do it; so, I have to give them something,” says Cade.
The wrestler still has his John Starks jersey somewhere in his closet. It stays there, as a reminder of where he came from. In today’s wrestling landscape, it’s those childhood memories that push many of the wrestlers forward. They remember their younger years fondly–and the sacrifices it took to secure their spot in an industry that continues to evolve at a lightning fast pace.
“Growing up, all I ever wanted to be was a pro wrestler,” Cade tells Still Real To Us. “I watched Shawn Michaels. [Chris] Jericho, and Rob Van Dam. I loved Christian. I was a big X-Pac guy.”
It’s no secret that Cade likes high flyers, but he also enjoyed the work of icons like The Undertaker, Rock, and Triple H; as well as a couple of men that often get overlooked in the history of World Wrestling Entertainment.
“Guys like D’lo Brown and Billy Gunn, too. Guys that don’t get the praise that they should get. I think if a guy like Christian got more opportunities, he would have been a bigger star. Paul London and Brian Kendrick, as well.”
Cade’s passion for the wrestling business and its competitors led him to attending WrestleMania 28 in Miami, Florida. He walked around the WrestleMania Axxess area, realizing that he was ready to be fully committed to his dream. Cade recalls marking out when “Black Magic” Norman Smiley walked by him during the event. Three months later, he found himself in the beginners class in Florida Championship Wrestling. Smiley wound up being the man who trained Cade. For insiders that follow the sport, they know that Smiley is much more than “the big wiggle,” which got him a lot of attention during his World Championship Wrestling run in the late 90s.
“It’s crazy. Norman’s forgotten [more about wrestling] than most of us will ever learn. He’s just a genius when it comes to putting things together. He’s, hands down, the best person I ever learned from,” Cade glows of his mentor.
“The Flying Gambino” has an idea as to why Major League Wrestling stands out from other wrestling companies on the market. Not only does MLW deliver amazing moments inside of the ring, but the company knows how to make those moments look great, too.
“It’s the production values. The production values are better than any other promotion that’s out there,” states Cade. “The ‘powers that be’ in the office make sure that our content gets seen. People realize that.”
As Jason’s matches with Jimmy Yuta–his former tag team partner, Myron Reed, and Maxwell Jacob Friedman continue to impress television audiences; a larger-than-life athlete named Barrington Hughes inspires awe everywhere he marches. Weighing in at over 460 pounds, the big man is the master of the Purple Crush and Greetings from the Dirty South. While large in size, he has the voice of a soft-spoken gentleman.
“I’ve been a lifelong fan through my grandfather,” Hughes tells Still Real To Us.
Shortly after his grandfather passed away, Barrington started training under Rusty Brooks. Brooks saw it all in the world of professional wresting, competing in World Class Championship Wrestling, the National Wrestling Alliance, and the World Wrestling Federation. Quickly picking up the pieces–and under the guidance of Brooks, Barrington had his first match in September 2011. He would go on to wrestle in front of his family in 2012 in southern Florida, which remains a special moment for the wrestler.
“[My family] is a traditional Jamaican family,” laughs Hughes. “They go, ‘We love you. We just don’t want you to get hurt.'”
Wanting to make his family proud, Hughes continued on; never losing sight of his dreams. Fast forward a couple of years later, Barrington heard about the revival of MLW. It was a chance of a lifetime for the big guy, and he wouldn’t let it pass him by.
“I sent my information in,” Hughes recalls. “They said, ‘Hey. We might have an opportunity for you.’ Here we are.”
For Barrington, MLW is a special place to compete because he remembered watching the organization as a kid on Sunshine Sports. He watched future wrestling icons like Christopher Daniels, Sonjay Dutt, Tommy Dreamer, and Mikey Whipwreck tear down the house for the company. Now, he gets to make his mark in the legacy that MLW continues to build.
When Hughes first walked into the business, he wore plain black trunks. Not anymore. These days, he sports Super Mario socks, and loud colors that you can’t turn away from. He makes a ginormous statement wherever he goes, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. He started studying old videos of New York Fashion Week, and the rest was history.
“There’s nobody quite like me in the wrestling industry,” smirks Hughes. “Colors, texture, and patterns are all very important to me. It goes back to me being in middle school. I was an art student. I was designing costumes in my little notebooks. I translated that into wrestling now.”
Inspired by artists such as Gianni Versace, Vera Wang, and Guccio Gucci, Barrington is truly stylin’ and profilin’. Eat your heart out, Nature Boy.
Barrington has his eyes on Kongo Kong, Shane Taylor, and Sami Callihan–who recently put on an incredible showcase at Impact Wrestling’s Bound For Glory. Hughes previously clashed with Callihan at MLW’s War Games on September 6, but wants to face him one-on-one. Getting to perform that night was a career highlight for Hughes, who remembers the crowd going berserk for the in-ring action. He received a hometown ovation that stays with him to this day. He hints at a potential clash with Callihan in the near future.
“He’s a madman. You study the tape. You go in expecting the unexpected. You know it’s going to be a fight,” Hughes grins. “You know you’re going to go in the crowd, and fight all over the building. The crowd is going to be entertained.”
Barrington found a new tag team partner in Kotto Brazil, who recently signed a long-term contact with MLW. Brazil, standing in at 5’3; while not the biggest man in the fight–makes up for it with the size of his heart.
Brazil did amateur wrestling throughout high school and college. Competing against a bunch of tough guys from Ashlyn University in Ohio, Brazil developed a competitor’s edge that would serve him well on the professional circuit. Being from the Orlando area–after moving from Haiti, it was a natural fit for the athlete to give it his best shot in MLW. He believes the mental aspect of his amateur background made the transition into the professional world an easy process for him. Brazil always had the end goal of being a professional wrestler in the back of his head. When he heard that the promotion was getting a reboot, Brazil scouted the promotion in hopes to make a name for himself.
Teaming with Barrington Hughes, “Smash N Dash” aspires to create a menacing mark in MLW’s tag team division. Brazil gave Still Real To Us the exclusive details on a tag team that might look odd on paper, but works like a well-oiled machine inside of the ring.
“We are going to try to shake this tag team division up, and show them what we can do. We are going to show them what the big man and Kotto can do,” nods Brazil.
Being an ‘Attitude Era’ baby, Kotto grew up watching The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, and the Dudley Boyz. Seeing those tag teams achieve a massive level of global success, Brazil has championship aspirations of his own.
“In this wrestling business, the gold is the validation. Whoever has the gold, is up on top,” explains Brazil. “We want to be on top. I want to be on top. [Barrington Hughes] wants to be on top. Having that gold proves that we are the best. I want to have the gold.”
Kotto is a believer in “learning your craft” when breaking into the world of professional wrestling. Brazil took notes on Kurt Angle; who is the golden standard of defying the odds to become one of the all-time greats. There were other athletes, too. Brazil sat down and examined Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, and Brock Lesnar. Kotto thinks that a wrestler doesn’t necessarily have to be one style to succeed on the professional level.
“Study the people who went from amateur to pro,” Brazil explains to Still Real To Us.
On the other side of the spectrum is Richard Holliday. Holliday carries himself like a star. He walks like one, and talks like one. Pro Wrestling Illustrated recently wrote that he is the “One To Watch.” It’s a big endorsement, and Richard knows it; make no mistake about it. Trained by former Four Horsemen member Paul Roma, Holliday does very well with his own, personal presentation. When a person comes into contact Holliday, that person automatically knows he has an unlimited upside. The way Holliday shows up to the arena before he performs makes a powerful statement. Holliday wears a very expensive suit, with shoes to go along with it. Fans automatically take notice. It’s hard to turn away from a sharp dressed man.
“When it comes to MLW Fusion, fans can be in store for an absolutely phenomenal show. In terms of when I walk through the curtain; that’s when the ‘Ultimate Consumer Experience’ begins,” nods Holliday.
He’s not wrong. The fans in Astoria were buzzing upon Holliday’s arrival. The grappler knows it’s because of his “Ultimate Consumer Experience.” It’s more than a catchphrase to Richard Holliday: it’s tangible. Saying that a person is marketable, and being a person that is marketable are two completely different things. Holliday is a college-educated man, with a degree in marketing from Southern Connecticut State University. He boldly explains to Still Real To Us that the college was lucky enough to enroll him.
“I don’t believe that it’s the institution that makes the man. I think that it’s the man that makes the institution,” Holliday smirks. “I could have received a degree from anywhere, but it’s the matter of fact that I have that degree. It’s legitimate. I understand marketing. That’s all this business is. It’s marketing, at its core.”
Fans leave talking about Holliday, and the wrestler isn’t going to turn down the free word-of-mouth publicity. Anytime people utter the words, “Ultimate Consumer Experience,” it’s a good day for Holliday.
“The ‘Ultimate Consumer Experience’ is everything that I embody, as the most marketable man in wrestling,” Holliday tells Still Real To Us. “I give them something different. I give them something unique. I give them something where they can go home and talk about. It’s not really a play on words. That’s exactly what it is.”
Some people might call Richard Holliday cocky. Richard would tell you he’s just extremely confident in his ability.
“I live the lifestyle. A lot of people say that they do, but this is truly me. God helped me out, a little bit.” assures Holliday. “I didn’t chose to wake up this way.”
Holliday’s determination plays into who he is, and what he brings to the table to MLW. He knows that social media is a powerful tool that is to be utilized correctly. By being on top of his game, he knows that his consumers will have interaction with him directly, which results in a bigger following for the star-on-the-rise. Wrestling fans are known to be very vocal on social media. Holliday takes advantage of this by embracing the platforms to boost his own marketability.
“Social media is the most important thing, in the broad landscape of marketing,” Holliday states. “Twitter and Instagram are really powerful. Facebook was the pioneer behind it. I think [Twitter and Instagram] are quicker, and easier to digest. It’s a quick fix.”
Long term, Richard has a plan for expansion all over the United States. Competing on all of MLW’s New York City cards, he wants to bring his “Ultimate Consumer Experience” out of the Northeastern region heading into 2019. The brash star recently signed a new contract with MLW, along with veteran wrestler PCO. Holliday plans on branching out to Florida, and even Chicago. Holliday knows that there are consumers everywhere who are dying to be buzzing for what he, and the MLW roster has to offer. He tells Still Real To Us that he wants to turn Major League Wrestling into Marketing League Wrestling.
“The entire roster at MLW is extremely talented, and it doesn’t take an educated man to see that. MLW has clearly invested in its roster, and its product. That speaks volumes,” concludes Holliday.