The Self-Made Man: Super Dragon
This week’s Self Made Man is making a go of it in perhaps the most unforgiving, capital-scarce industry there is: independent professional wrestling. At a time when venture capital is vital to the success or failure of startups, pro wrestling might as well be a square hole for would-be promoters to throw money into; even World Championship Wrestling, which was backed by Ted Turner’s Scrooge McDuck money vaults, went belly up.
Enter Super Dragon and his company, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. They’ve been around for a decade and have become one of the best wrestling promotions in the country, as well as a place where many wrestlers (even people within WWE) want to work. They regularly draw sellout crowds to their monthly shows in Reseda, CA, which are considered among the best in wrestling right now, period.
Because of PWG’s longevity and recent surge in momentum, Super Dragon is this week’s Self Made Man.
As a wrestler, Super Dragon (real name Daniel Lyons) had an aura that few others on the non-WWE independent circuit could match, even if his wrestling gear looked like it was made out of old Trapper Keepers. He was a fierce competitor who never spoke, preferring to communicate via middle fingers and in-ring mockery, and was as aggressive with fans as he was with his opponents.
But, as the injuries and road miles piled up, Dragon wondered if there was a way to wrestle in one area and not go totally broke (or live in Japan, which was his only other option for steady work). He decided to start his own local promotion in SoCal, and got five of his friends to pool their money together and help him get it off the ground as co-owners. ??The original plan was to put on one show and see what happened, but things took off quicker than he’d expected. California isn’t exactly teeming with wrestling opportunities, so a lot of local guys were eager to perform in PWG, and their enthusiasm wasn’t lost on fans.
As the company grew, they were able to attract talent from other parts of the country, and they’ve become the best company in the US—even better than WWE, in my opinion—in terms of building talent and letting guys improve. A lot of this is due to Super Dragon’s ability to pair guys up as opponents and give them the freedom to figure out their characters without micromanaging them.
PWG also sets itself apart from other wrestling companies by not assuming that their fans are dumb. The company’s in-house PR is snarky and hilarious, as are the names of their events, which definitely helps them stand out.
As of 2008, Super Dragon runs the business and match-making aspects of PWG. He also does the video editing and authoring for their DVDs, and makes the excellent DVD previews for the company’s Youtube account.?
I’ll leave you with PWG’s most recent DVD preview now; the event is called Matt Rushmore.
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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.