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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

IZW: Changing the Wrestling Business

Poster coming soon!

They broadcast a weekly wrestling show and a monthly pay-per-view, have Fatal Four-Way Matches, TLC Matches, Ladder Matches and Cage Matches, sell a plethora of merchandise, including dozens of t-shirt designs and DVDs, but this isn’t the WWE or TNA.  This is Impact Zone Wrestling, known to its fanbase as IZW.  Based in Lawton, Oklahoma, IZW produces weekly Saturday night shows from the Impact Zone and through a series of shrewd business moves by IZW founder and owner, Johnny Z, IZW is starting to change the wrestling business.

IZW produces roughly 9 hours of new television content per month, 6 of that being free on a worldwide basis and one 3-hour pay-per-view broadcast via the GFL Combat Sports Network at GFL.tv.   That’s more original programming than Ring of Honor (ROH) and equal to TNA Wrestling.  Only the billion-dollar WWE produces more total television shows than IZW in North America.  The shows can all be viewed at the consumer’s convenience as once they are broadcast live, they go into a huge media library in the GFL database and can be watched and re-watched on video on demand (VOD). The shows are also delivered on multiple devices including the Internet, iPad, iPhone, Droid products and the Roku box and all shot in HD giving the consumer even more power when it comes to viewing IZW content.  

For those unfamiliar with the federation, IZW has an old school feel to it that is reminiscent of the rough and tumble styles of the old NWA and Mid-South promotions.  And although IZW could be considered a throwback to those promotions, nowadays it looks more like a fresh, cutting edge, new style of wrestling compared to what fans are bombarded with on a weekly basis by the Big Two.  While the Big Two are busy recycling wrestlers and feuds back and forth and from years gone by, companies like IZW are creating, building and presenting new and innovative wrestlers and feuds for future generations.  All of the creativity, ingenuity and risk taking are not coming from  huge media conglomerates, it’s coming from a fast-thinking, groundbreaking, relatively small promotion in Southern Oklahoma.

IZW is more than your typical Independent.  It’s more than a stepping stone or feeder organization, it’s the place where stars are born and where they thrive and where they stay.  Along with an inventory of talented wrestlers from Oklahoma, wrestlers such as Dusty Rhodes, Vader, Al Snow and more recently Brent Albright have laced up their wrestling boots and went to work inside an IZW ring.  IZW is not a place that’s just a stopover for wrestlers looking to get experience, it’s a place where veterans and former world champions come to wrestle the same caliber of athlete that they faced during their title runs with companies such as WWE, WCW, NWA, All Japan and New Japan.  It’s a company that has a veteran locker-room and a rich history of memorable matches that fans in Oklahoma and the greater Mid-South hold in the same esteem as any other matches from any other promotions in the country.

At the helm of IZW is owner, founder and mastermind Johnny Z, a savvy business man who has had the foresight to build things the right way in Lawton.  Owner of several outside businesses, Johnny Z has assembled the right team both in and out of the ring that leaves his competition, in Oklahoma and really across the country on the Independent scene, in the dust.

IZW is a  new kind of Independent wrestling organization, if only an Independent in name only.   With a professional production team that presents everything in HD, a global broadcast distribution deal through GFL.tv, merchandising that rivals organizations like TNA or ROH,  a marketing arm and PR presence across various social media mediums, its own sports complex, the Impact Arena, where IZW runs its weekly shows, and most importantly, a locker-room of top notch wrestlers, IZW is the place to be for wrestlers that are looking to make their mark in the business.

Along with the two centerpieces of IZW, current IZW World Heavyweight Champion Aaron “The Real Deal” Neil and former Champion Jermaine Johnson who are in the mists of an epic feud that has spanned over a year, IZW sports a loaded roster including Impact Division Champion Jordan Jacobs, Rage Logan, Double D, Damien Morte, Kevin Morgan, Randy Price, Gary Tool, Erica, Starr, Eric Rose and Cody Jones to name a few.  Each wrestler from top to bottom is proficient in the grappling arts, and are placed on television with a compelling matchup and rivalry and not just used as filler, which cannot be said for the two-hour shows presented by the “Big Two”.

The next superstars of the business will come from a place like IZW.  Look no further then who holds the World Championship belts in WWE, CM Punk on RAW and Daniel Bryan on SmackDown.  Both garnered a huge following around the Independent circle, most notably with ROH, and that backing finally made WWE take notice.  That trend is going to have to continue if professional wrestling in America is going to get back to where it was in the late 1990’s at the height of the “Monday Night Wars”.  The Big Two don’t develop talent as much anymore as they acquire it.  WWE and TNA are going to be forced to take notice of IZW and its stars and quite frankly try and raid the company for talent and ideas.  But unlike Independents before  them, IZW has all of the pieces in place right now to compete, at least on some level, with those corporate wrestling companies.  

IZW is a new type of wrestling promotion, something that couldn’t have existed even five years ago.  It has the wrestling-based in ring action of a highly decorated Independent, yet the production values and global reach of an international company.  And the best news for fans is IZW has made its content easily accessible to everyone.  If you’ve never watched IZW, go to GFL.tv and you’ll be instantly connected to hours and hours of free content as well as have the ability to purchase iPPVs.  If you’ve ever been a fan of pro wrestling, you owe it to yourself to check out IZW.

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