During the shutdown of most of the world in 2020, the time frame of more than a year when most places weren’t open, one of the ways a group of friends maintained their sanity when stuck at home for long periods of time, was to set up Zoom calls, the almost standard of many meetings post-shutdown, to talk shop. One of the participants of these internet conferences was Bobby Piskor, a 20-year veteran of the independent circuit that has wore nearly every hat possible in the professional wrestling business. Between his role as the best official in the region for the International Wrestling Cartel, an accomplished in-ring competitor for several years around the tri-state area, work as a graphic designer for many wrestling-related events, and published author of several books, very few have the level of dedication and passion for the industry as Piskor.
Affectionately known as “Potter” among his peers for his resemblance to the JK Rowlings character, Bobby organized the virtual meet-ups with his wrestling pals to not only pass the time of the shut down, but to reflect on their respective accomplishments in the sport. A topic of conversation was 3 Rivers Wrestling, an alphabet soup organization from the early-2000s that quite frankly didn’t necessarily mean all that much in the history of Pittsburgh wrestling, as it was relatively short-lived and other companies that still exist today went on to surpass it. However, to that group of friends, the initials always held a special place to them personally because of what it symbolized to not only their start in the business, but more importantly, their friendships that have last more than two decades.
“A bunch of my friends got together weekly on Zoom while we were all in lock down talking about the old days. On these calls, we shared stories and memories of our upbringing. A lot of us started working shows for the original 3RW in the early 2000’s. At that time, 3RW was a launching pad for a lot of Pittsburgh wrestlers. They had a local TV program on public access, which gave the men and women some regional exposure. My first professional wrestling show was for 3RW, so I hold it in such a special place. It was also the first time I met Daron Smythe, and Dash Bennett,” Bobby explained.
The fact that the original 3RW was a starting point for them gave the seasoned grapplers the idea that they could give back to the industry in the same way, providing a platform for the young talent of today to get valuable experience and exposure for their career. As the details of the concept were discussed, the goal was to mix the experience of the veterans involved with the potential of the newer talent to create a unique roster for the project.
“We kept talking about the original 3RW and how it gave so many of us our first shot in Pittsburgh indie wrestling and how we wanted to make a place for the next generation of wrestlers to cut their teeth, plus allow some of us old guys to have one last hurrah,” said Derek Tuttle, who wrestled for several yeas as tag team specialist Daron Smythe.
“I hope to help the younger generation launch their careers, giving them a platform to perform. We have a strong veteran presence in the locker room so hopefully the men and women working for us take advantage of the knowledge we all have,” added Piskor.
Bobby, being a true jack-of-all-trades of the grappling arts, went to work on the logistics of the project when he secured a ring, the venue, the talent, and developed the ideas for distribution of the content. As much as this organization meant personally to those involved, Bobby had a keen sight of how to make the most of it from a professional level as well. When the reality of the concept became more concrete, how remarkable it was that the twenty-year absence of a company would be relaunched with a new mission was notable even to those involved with it.
“Somehow the running joke became this promotion from 20 years ago, 3 Rivers Wrestling that most of us had a connection to, I guess the joke became a little more serious as the people involved with the previous incarnation of 3RW gave their blessing to use the name. From there, I was surprised to hear that this was really happening,” said Dash Bennett, a mainstay for years on the Pittsburgh and West Virginia scene.
Just a few months ago, the group of longtime friends and ambitious young grapplers gathered together for a closed-set taping with a limited audience to adhere to safety guidelines for the initial 3RW presentation. In just the span of a few hours, more than a dozen bouts were filmed, and weekly shorts that feature a match and interview segments have become routine viewing every Monday on Youtube since the digital platform gives the younger stars the type of exposure that Piskor looked for when he put the concept on paper.
“I thought the tapings went well. Like anything, you can pick apart things and there is always room to improve. To set up, film 17 matches, 45 promos, and clean up all within five hours was amazing. Kudos go out to everyone who helped out. The YouTube format was Derek’s idea. People have short attention spans. There is no need to show all of your cards before you get to play. I think the shorts have been fun. Its simple story telling, and YouTube provides a great platform with a large audience,” Bobby commented.
“I hope to create something that gets someone the exposure they deserve to level up in wrestling or gives them an opportunity to get reps in and get better so they can make the next step,” Tuttle added.
Aside from Bobby, Dash, and Tuttle, other well-rounded veterans like Troy Lords and Mike Law, who had a tremendous match-up at the tapings, joined the roster of youngsters as well. The Runway, the duo of Calvin Couture and Tyler Klein, are considered by many pundits as the next break-out tag team of the Pittsburgh scene, were two of the athletes that were considered a must for the project that focuses on stellar young talent. Chase Gold and his sidekick the talented, Ella Shae, who recently made news with her appearance on All Elite Wrestling’s Youtube show, were also standouts from the 3RW tapings.
“We had an opportunity to work with The Runway already, who in my opinion are criminally underutilized in this area, and the potential of mixing it up with some of the areas top teams is highly motivating for me,” Dash Bennett said.
With several more weeks of Youtube shorts to be aired in the next few months, it looks like the 3RW project is off to a great start, but those involved already look to the future for this passion project.
“Ideally, I’d love to create something that held regular events in the tri-state area of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. Right now, we are taking it one step at a time, Tuttle remarked.
“I would like to see 3RW run some live events in front of crowds. COVID screwed up a lot of things. Originally, we wanted to have the tapings in front of a live audience, but restrictions prevented that,” Piskor commented.
Perhaps, the biggest takeaway from the entire 3RW project is that in a business full of liars and con artists, some wrestling friends developed a plan to not only celebrate their friendships, but also to help the next generation of the sport, which is certainly rare for the often carny independent wrestling scene.
“Professional Wrestling is my passion. It’s the one thing I can say I am confident in. I have been fortunate enough to have shared locker rooms and rings with so many amazing talents over the years. I have learned from so many people that I like to pass down information to the younger generation. I want to see everyone become successful,” Piskor concluded.
For more information about 3RW, you can go to https://www.facebook.com/3RWWrestling
To watch the 3RW series, you can subscribe to the Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEqxbJxuWZc7jsqj7Ekb0WA
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Until next week
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