Sunday, June 18, 2023

Remembering 3PW

Today marks the 18th anniversary of the final 3PW event. Two months after this day in 2005, the quickly rising independent wrestling promotion that was selling DVDs nationwide, closed its doors for good.

3PW was founded in 2002 by Jasmin St. Claire and Brian Heffron (former ECW and WWE star The Blue Meanie), and quickly gained a reputation for its hardcore style of wrestling that featured blood and weapons, but 3PW featured high-flying action as well. Many wrestlers who appeared in 3PW are very well-known in the industry today, such as AJ Styles, Chris Hero, and CM Punk.

Despite their financial struggles, 3PW was one of the most popular independent promotions in the Mid-Atlantic Region, drawing 700 fans to one of its 2004 events. In 2005, Mike Hawes became the General Manager of 3PW and tried to turn things around for 3PW financially. It was Hawes who brought me into 3PW, and I started doing a column for the promotion. I believed that 3PW had the potential to become much bigger than they already were and he was very open to my ideas. I pushed for many changes behind-the-scenes. I had encouraged management to improve the production quality of their DVDs, which led to them dealing with a different production company. I also believed that it was very important for 3PW to have a TV deal. Management had planned on waiting for its fan base to increase before getting TV for 3PW. I explained how getting TV for 3PW is what would increase its fan base, and Hawes then gave me the green light to find networks that were interested. Two networks were very interested, and I encouraged 3PW management to meet with them as soon as possible. Unfortunately, Richard McDonald, who was the CEO of the company at the time (he joined 3PW at the same time that Hawes did) instead opted to shut 3PW down, due to losing interest. The final 3PW event was headlined by Justin Credible and Amish Roadkill, with Roadkill successfully defending the 3PW Heavyweight Championship.

That was not supposed to be 3PW's last day of wrestling action. The plan was for 3PW to go on a brief hiatus, while 3PW management decided on new business strategies. 3PW was doing well- along with national distribution deals for home video & DVD, it could get attendance figures of 400 that year, and had good business relations with Impact Wrestling, which enabled 3PW to bring in stars such Abyss and former NWA World Tag Team Champions America's Most Wanted. The plan was for 3PW to return that September, but it was not to be, due to 3PW's financial issues eventually becoming something that Richard McDonald was no longer willing to undertake.

A lesson that can be learned from 3PW's story is that even if a promotion is popular, and even if the morale of its employees is up, it can still go out of business. Up to that point, I had never been a part of promotion with a fan base as supportive as 3PW's. They took a dream that started in Philadelphia, and helped make it grow into a company that was recognized across the United States, and outside of the country as well. They stayed devoted to 3PW even when things seemed bleak. Perhaps if 3PW had been receiving some type of significant financial backing and the promotion had not been in a financial struggle, Richard McDonald would have felt motivated to keep 3PW active.

Nonetheless, 3PW left its mark on the wrestling world and I'm glad that I could be involved with 3PW. It was the biggest promotion that I had worked for on a regular basis up to that point, and working for 3PW put me in connection with the UK-based 1PW, who I worked as a columnist for. So my experience of working for 3PW was a positive one.

And 3PW would not have been possible without Brian Heffron. He saw the potential for a new promotion, and Heffron was willing to put in the hard work to make it happen. He was a key part of 3PW's success for three years, not only being co-founder of the promotion, but also continuing to be involved with 3PW up to its last day, through both good times and bad.

Will 3PW ever return? It seems unlikely, as everyone who was involved has gone their separate ways and moved on to other things. But the pro-wrestling industry has repeatedly shown that you should never say never.

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