Inside the Wide World of Indoor Sports, there is a robot dancing in a wrestling ring.
The hundreds of people in attendance for Beyond Wrestling’s show in North Kingstown, Lethal Lottery, are cheering on the madness going on in the ring. Eventually, the robot loses the match, but it is the beginning of what will be a successful afternoon for New England’s premier independent professional wrestling company.
Founded in 2009, Beyond began to grow in a big way when it moved its base of operations from Ohio to New England, eventually running regular events at Fete Music Hall in Providence in 2013.
Now running weekly live shows in Worcester, Mass., and running events throughout the region, Beyond has found a home in South County at the Varnum Armory in East Greenwich and now WWIS in North Kingstown. The show in North Kingstown drew the biggest live crowd in the company’s history.
“I think for a long time we’ve convinced ourselves that there’s a finite amount of wrestling fans out there,” Beyond promoter Drew Cordeiro said. “We’re kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel of who we can introduce to our shows and Beyond Wrestling. I think the new approach we’re taking is that we haven’t even scratched the surface when it comes to attracting people.”
It takes a village, and that adage is true for Beyond. Cordeiro has paired with Sports Entertainment Experience to help promote events in Southern Rhode Island and Connecticut. SEE is run by John Sepulveda, who operates the successful Feast Sandwich Company in East Greenwich.
With Cordeiro’s connections in wrestling and Sepulveda’s deft ability to market, promote locally and make new merchandise, the company has been able to grow, especially in the last year.
“He’s got a base of operations through his restaurant so he’s able to be hands on and promote events to the thousands of people that come through his restaurant each week. He also has partnerships throughout EG and South County so he can get the word out to different business. He also has a knack for merchandise.”
The local growth has been helped in a big way by Beyond’s massive presence online. With more than 1 million YouTube subscribers, Beyond has a digital reach unmatched in the world of independent wrestling.
By making quality local wrestling, featuring local wrestlers, accessible to anyone around the world, it creates a positive feedback loop where people enjoy the matches online and come out to see them in person. Combined with the marketing acumen of SEE, it has made for huge growth in South County and around New England.
“It’s not a shock to anybody that Beyond’s greatest reach comes through social media, especially YouTube,” Cordeiro said. “But because I do run the food truck, I am somewhat limited in terms of what I can do in terms of postering, flyering, reaching out to local businesses. SEE has been a major partner.”
The growth of Beyond has been powered by its fans who travel from as far away as Philadelphia to regularly attend shows. Ryan Gallo, a native of Mystic, Conn. and a URI alum, attends most Beyond Wrestling events regardless of location, and it’s the access and intimacy that keeps him coming back.
“When you come to this you get to see these guys up close and personal,” Gallo said. “It’s just more homegrown. You can actually follow these guys over a weekend and see them all over the place, catch up with them, talk with them. It’s great to see John Cena in the arenas, but you’re never going to be able to get close to them. They’re not untouchable.
“It’s a fun time. You get to let loose and see these guys before they get big. You can go up and say hello to somebody who’s going to be on TV some day.”
What has helped Beyond stand out from other independent companies is its presentation. There are seats available at events, but Beyond offers fans the chance to stand right alongside the ring. That type of closeness, especially in the smaller venues where the promotion runs many of its shows, breeds an intense, exciting atmosphere that the crowd and the performers feed off of.
Rachel Buckley, and her husband Andrew, travel around the country to see wrestling and rarely miss a Beyond event. Even despite living in Leicester, Mass., almost 90 minutes from North Kingstown, they were in attendance for Lethal Lottery.
“The crowd at Beyond shows is always the best,” Rachel Buckley said. “The show is always the best. Coming to Beyond is completely unlike any other wrestling that I’ve gone to. You get to know the wrestlers, the fans, and everyone is one giant family here. You’re right up against the ring. You can’t beat the action there. Sometimes you have to run out of the way when the wrestlers are flying at you. You’re actually a part of it at that moment.”
Beyond Wrestling has built itself as a place to watch the finest independent wrestling in the Northeast. It’s weekly live show, Uncharted Territory, which can be seen on Wednesday nights on independentwrestling.tv, has opened new doors for the company.
“Our monthly shows need to have massive turnouts and our weekly shows need to have high view counts,” Cordeiro said. “We want to grow rapidly. We’ve been doing this for 10 years and now is the time we want to connect with the most fans that we’ve had the ability to.”
The success in North Kingstown, and the crowds at events earlier this year in East Greenwich, have Cordeiro looking toward the future. Up next is Americanrana in July.
The promotion’s annual mega-event is slated to take place at the Premier Ballroom at Foxwoods on July 28. Beyond has goals to sell 1,000 tickets to a live event for the first time in its history and is looking past diehard wrestling fans to bring new people into the fold.
And Cordeiro is leaving no stone unturned. Already announced for the show is the wrestler who worked in WWE as John Morrison and won numerous championships. Also, the legendary tag team, The Rock N Roll Express, will compete at the event.
“Maybe that means attracting people that aren’t necessarily looking for wrestling but are looking for entertainment so what can we do for our live event presentation so they can come, have a good time, and want to become more involved,” Cordeiro said.