The Self-Made Man: Court Bauer
I’m sure you’ve noticed that most of the Self Made Men I’ve profiled so far have been self-employed; entrepreneurship, after all, doesn’t really lend itself to punching a clock and taking orders. This week’s Self Made Man, former WWE writer Court Bauer, is unique in that he started his own company—Major League Wrestling—and only worked for the WWE after MLW shut down in 2004. Court’s independent, self-starter personality is ultimately the reason why he left WWE, but we’ll get to that later.
If nothing else, Court deserves some props for having the grapes to start his own wrestling company in his early twenties. Pro wrestling is a very difficult and extremely stressful industry to work in, which is why no one even remotely sane gets involved in it. It’s probably easier to make money betting on chicken fights.
But Court had passion and, in a roundabout sort of way, a game plan. As a freshman in college, he started attending small shows in Allentown, PA, and convinced the promoters there that he would work for free if they would break him into the business. They eventually relented (Court is nothing if not persistent) and brought him in, and Court learned about promoting events, dealing with venues and athletic commissions, dealing with talent, and the particulars of merchandise and marketing.
During this time, Court befriended Gary Albright, a wrestler with connections to All Japan Pro Wrestling, who connected him to a lot of business opportunities and introduced him to the broadcast and licensing world in Japan. Court and Gary decided to pool their resources and start a developmental territory (like the wrestling version of AAA baseball) to groom talent for All Japan, but Gary died before they could get their idea off the ground. Sad but undaunted, Court regrouped and took what he’d learned to start Major League Wrestling in 2002.
MLW was essentially a one-man-show with a then 22-year-old Court at the helm. He brought in talent, produced the company’s TV show, designed a lot of merchandise, negotiated with arenas, and tried to keep the budget under control. How he doesn’t have a full head of gray hair by now is a mystery, because he was also dealing with veteran wrestlers who were often older than him, and who’d been around the business longer. MLW ran for a shade over two years, until budget considerations forced it to close in 2004.
From there, Court was introduced to some people in WWE, including Vince McMahon’s daughter Stephanie, through his wrestling contacts, and he had the film and industry experience they wanted, so they hired him in 2005. Court has spoken candidly about his experience at WWE, and his approximation of the company is exactly what TSB expected a natural entrepreneur to say: too much groupthink and redundant politicking in WWE’s creative department and not enough people taking initiative and standing behind their ideas.
These days, Court is working out syndication deals for MLW footage in Asia, pursuing business development opportunities within MMA (including a reality TV pilot about Frank Shamrock), and working on Eastbound & Down, so he clearly wasn’t broken by WWE’s dysfunction; the guy still knows how to make things happen.
He also hosts a weekly podcast with wrestling personalities Konnan and Mr. Saint Laurent, and it’s awesome. Check it out for yourselves.
About Dave Kiefaber Dave Kiefaber is a Baltimore-based writer who regularly contributes to Adfreak and the Gettysburg Times. His personal website is at www.beeohdee.blogspot.com.