Many talented people are working hard to make NOVA Pro a household name.
Northern Virginia is known for various things: awful traffic, a high cost of living and a melting pot full of people from all over the country. One thing it’s not known for is professional wrestling. NOVA Pro Wrestling is looking to change that and in short order.
In charge of the wrestling promotion are the Kings- Mike, Jr. and his son Mike E. King. The father/son duo have an infinite passion for professional wrestling that spans all levels from the indies all the way to the WWE.
I recently had a chance to sit down with the younger King. He’s twenty-two, but King is wise beyond his years with plenty of industry experience on his resume. I picked his brain about the beginnings of NOVA Pro, the life of a promoter and where things are headed for the young company- starting with Friday night’s American Slang.
Just like the promotion, you’re a product of Northern Virginia. Where did you go to school?
Mike E. King: I went to West Springfield, then Northern Virginia Community College and George Mason University.
Where did your wrestling fandom begin?
King: WCW’s Starrcade ’97. I remember sitting on the couch and loving what I saw. Ever since then I watch as much wrestling as I can. Tapes, DVD’s, Youtube, WWE Network- all of it.
When did it first occur to you that you wanted to start up a promotion?
Growing up in Virginia, this area has never had anything to call our own in regards to wrestling. My dad and I for years would discuss how we would run things if we had a promotion. He’d go to shows with me and we’d fantasy book. After researching and planning it out, we co-founded NOVA Pro. Sometimes a job is just a job- but running NOVA Pro is way more than just a job to me. It’s a passion.
What experience helped prepare you to run your own promotion?
King: I’ve been helping out at different promotions for years. I worked with a lot of talented promoters/wrestlers and learned how to handle a locker room. I’m still learning every show but that experience in different promotions has been invaluable.
A cornerstone for NOVA Pro has been another Northern Virginia product, Sonjay Dutt. He went to Lake Braddock and George Mason and has wrestled all over the world. I met him when he was cutting his teeth in the business at a show in Dale City, Virginia. It was one of his first matches. Ever since then, we have built a solid relationship. When he heard about our idea to start NOVA Pro, he was all for it and has been instrumental in its success.
CWF Mid Atlantic out of North Carolina is a very well-run promotion. It’s a hotbed for wrestling down there. Then there’s the CZW Academy out of Blackwood, New Jersey. There’s Absolute Intense Wrestling out of Ohio and Maryland Championship Wrestling in Joppa. The management and talent from all those promotions are very professional and a pleasure to work with.
What goes into the thought process when selecting names for your shows?
The unique show names are accompanied by great artwork as well. Who’s behind that?
King: I have a friend in Michigan named Hayze who designs them. I’ll give him an idea of the concept of the show and wrestlers involved, and he runs with it.
What goes into the selection process for venues?
King: People don’t respond well when you mention “professional wrestling” in Virginia. There are a lot of hang-ups on the phone. But like applying for jobs, you have to keep at it and call as many as you can. You have to make sure it won’t cost you an arm and a leg and that it is acceptable and accommodating for the workers and wrestlers. We lucked out with the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax. They have been real easy to work with and we look forward to more shows there in the future.
Speaking of talent, you have quite a knack for building shows with elite stars. Aside from Sonjay, who else has helped NOVA Pro get to where it’s at?
King: So many wrestlers have helped make it a special promotion. Tim Donst, Veda Scott, Cedric Alexander, Logan Easton Laroux, Cutie and The Beast and Bobby Shields are just a few. I’ve been told if Shields has a bad match on your show, you aren’t doing your job right. That guy is a class act and very skilled.
The reason we can put on the best shows is because everyone works towards making each card better than the last. They aren’t solely trying to get themselves over, but the rest of the talent and NOVA Pro.
Cedric Alexander. He is a part of WWE’s Cruiserweight Classic later this month on the WWE Network. Your thoughts?
King: Cedric totally deserves it. He is one of the absolute best in the world. His personality and character are leaps and bounds ahead of the curve. Like the rest of our roster, he is a true professional and not just in it to get himself over.
How do you look to shine the spotlight on women’s wrestling?
King: We look to have at least one women’s match on every card. There is trouble booking female talent, as the pool doesn’t run as deep as the men’s- especially in Virginia. There’s two schools in the DC/Maryland/Virginia area: GXW in Richmond and MCW in Maryland.
Veda Scott has been incredible to work with as a promoter. I met her at an AIW show, and we knew
What other types of obstacles do you run into when trying to set up a show?
King: Dealing with the state athletic commission can make it more difficult. People will tell you, “sign this guy, or that girl, and this team”. But it’s not that easy. In Virginia each wrestler needs a license to perform. There’s an application process and a fee attached. If you wait too long and don’t obtain it, we cannot let you wrestle. It’s taken very seriously.
American Slang will be your fifth show. How did NOVA Pro get to where it is today?
King: In September 2015, we co-promoted our first show Nova Project with GXW Wrestling. I think of it as a pilot episode, gauging interest in the product. Then in January, we had Stay Vicious. In March we had Last Exit to Springfield, followed by our most recent show in May, You Only Move Twice.
Each show is a learning experience. Now five shows in, we have a core roster who we can rely on and book around with more certainty than when we started out last September. We also get to know our audience better and send feelers out via social media to see how they will respond to certain thing- like merchandise.
You’ve mentioned the talent fans have seen so far. Which new stars should they be on the lookout for in the future?
Donovan Dijak from Ring of Honor against the “Ace of the Mid-Atlantic” Arik Royal. It’s an honor to get him on our card and let fans in Virginia see him live.
We also signed Shane Strickland for our August 12th show One Crazy Summer. He’s out of Southern Maryland and has been on Lucha Underground as Killshot. Bringing in new talent like them will only make it better for everyone involved.
What’s on tap for the rest of the year for NOVA Pro?
King: After our August show, we are holding Nova Project 2 in September. After that, we plan on holding one on October 22nd. November 25th’s Paradise by the Dashboard Light will be our final show of 2016. We’d love to book shows as often as we can.
Any last words for anyone who is on the fence about attending?
King: If you’re a wrestling fan in the DMV area, I want you to see for yourself that we put on great shows, and the best ones in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s something special and we are only improving every show. You don’t want to miss out on it.
NOVA Pro Wrestling’s American Slang is Friday, July 1st at the Jewish Community Center in Fairfax, Virginia. Tickets can be purchased on their site here.
Follow them on Twitter @VAWrestling and Youtube.
All images used in this article were from NOVA Pro Wrestling’s Facebook page.
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