I recently had the chance to talk to Maverick Wrestling owner Brandon Ficara. In the interview, we discuss Paul London becoming head of creative, what made Brandon want to get into the business, and more. Plus we got exclusive details on the matches for Maverick Wrestling next event on March 30th in Culver City, CA!
Andrew: I’m sitting with Maverick Wrestling owner Brandon Ficara in Valley Village, CA. We’re sitting in a lovely restaurant called Chiang Mai Urban Thai Kitchen. He’s here sipping on his tea and I’m drinking my lemonade, and I’m going to interview him.
Before we talk about wrestling, let’s talk about your background in business and entertainment. First entertainment. Talk about your background in that industry.
Brandon: I started early on in entertainment from my teenage years. Started out playing in bands in South Jersey. I started doing comedy when I turned 21 down in South Carolina. Went to Philly, New York, and came to LA. I did pretty well as a stand-up comic. That led to some acting gigs. I did some TV shows. My Name Is Earl, Weeds, Jimmy Kimmel Live. And that’s the real condensed version of it. Obviously, there’s a lot of stories along the way. But yeah, I’ve been around entertainment for a long time.
Andrew: Tell us about your background and some of the ventures that you’ve done.
Brandon. So in the more corporate-style of business, I worked for a long time in sales management and talent development. I’m currently a Forbes.com contributor. I do little articles for them through their Business Development Council. I’ve had a couple of my own businesses along the way. I had a business called Smash Door, which was a failed attempt at an online platform to help by musicians offering them more tools and giving them more shared power. But we were a little underfunded and it just got to the point where in the time it took us to put a lot of things together, a lot bigger companies were doing parts of what we were doing. So it was more bad timing than anything.
In addition to Maverick, I’m beginning a career as a corporate speaker. I have a book that I’m writing right now. That should be done in about four, five weeks. And then hopefully at the tail end of the year, I’ll start setting up some end-of-the-year bookings.
Andrew: Let’s get into wrestling. Here’s the generic question every interviewer asks a person involved in the wrestling business. How did you become a fan?
Brandon: Golly. I’m 43, so that puts me square in the Hulkamania phase of wrestling and Saturday morning cartoons. I ate it up. The only thing I didn’t like about wrestling at that point was that I was really into comedy and watching Saturday Night Live. I use to get irritated at Saturday Night’s Main Event when they would bump Saturday Night Live.
So yeah, I started watching the Hulk Hogan/WWF era and stuck with it. I loved everything they were doing. I remember when Brutus Beefcake and Kamala both debuted on the same episode of whatever WWF was calling their show at that point. And yeah, that’s how I got into it as a fan. It was like real-life superheroes.
Andrew: Have you had any experience in pro wrestling prior to Maverick Pro?
Brandon: I’ve worked…comedy has brought me in the sphere of wrestling, but not in the actual wrestling business. Just with a lot of wrestlers.
Andrew: So no direct work with any promotion at all?
Andrew: What inspired you to get into the actual business and did you try anything to get in it before buying a promotion?
Brandon: Nope. I didn’t. Never suspected that this was something that I would do. What inspired me was, I don’t know if you’re familiar with the Garcia’s? Roman Garcia?
Andrew: I think.
Brandon: So Roman Garcia is what got me into the wrestling business. It was a Maverick event I went to (as a fan) and I was waiting for the bathroom. His father, Anthony, was in the bathroom. And Maverick had a surprise wrestler. They had Brian Cage as a surprise and he faced Kevin Kross. Roman came bursting from the crowd. He’s banging on the bathroom door and he’s so excited. “Dad! It’s happening! It’s happening!”
At that moment, I was just like, I never, I don’t know if I’ve ever been that excited about something. Like, anything that brings that kind of excitement to people, I just, I was intoxicated by it. I need to be around this and part of this.
Andrew: At first you purchased a share of what was than Maverick Pro. Now you’re full owner. Let’s talk about when you first bought the company last year. How did that come about?
Brandon: It’s funny because there was a false start. The fella who previously owned it, who now has another company, he had bought it for a few months. Then he had some issues. When he was trying to get rid of it, I was one of the people he talked to. And I talked to him for a while and the timing wasn’t perfect. It seemed like something that had made sense, and I definitely wanted to do it. But something told me to hold off. So I did.
Then the original Maverick owner ended up buying it back. But he was looking for, at first I think an investor? So then I got approached for that. And I was like “well, okay” then we talked about it. I basically just said “look, I have an interest, but my fear is that I’m going to put money into something and that the business side of it isn’t going to be run the way I’d want it to be run. Then it’s gonna be frustrating. I’ll buy if I could buy 51%.”
That happened on August 12th, 2018. When I purchased 51% of Maverick. The reason why I did that was that I had nothing to do with planning the promotion and wanted to protect myself. I’m the kind of person where I don’t need to have all the answers. I don’t need to be the person who does everything. But if I’m going to have my name attached to it, I need to understand what’s happening so I can have at least some sort of control.
Andrew: Before you bought Maverick, there was a lot of controversy surrounding it. Past associations with various people with questionable backgrounds. Cancelations of shows. Poor marketing. Was there any fear when you purchased this promotion?
Brandon: Yeah. Yeah. But I also…there was some. To be honest, I knew that I was getting kind of a blank slate personnel-wise. While there might be a couple of people who have had a bad experience, we’ll try to win them back. But ultimately, you hit the nail on the head with the poor marketing. Any mistakes they made is essentially like screwing up in a dark match. There really weren’t a lot of eyes on it. So I can come in now with a clean slate. And that’s why we’re polishing up the brand a little bit. We’re just doing things in a better way. I can’t control the past. And I don’t try to. I don’t apologize for what’s happened before…
Andrew: You didn’t know then.
Brandon: I didn’t know, and I still don’t know the exact…with every story, there are a million versions. The things that stick out to me that were absolute were that shows were canceled. The talent that I had to talk with right when I bought it were upset at Maverick. Fans were upset at Maverick when I bought it for the same reasons. We’ve done what we can to make amends with anybody we can.
But on the other hand, I didn’t do it. And I can’t necessarily…if somebody just didn’t like their experience and doesn’t want to work with us, that’s unfortunate. But I didn’t cause it and there’s nothing I can do.
Andrew: Let’s get into the split. You know how SoCal is. It is one giant sewing circle. A little detail gets out, and all of a sudden everyone knows. There had been rumors that the split with whoever was involved with Mav Pro wasn’t amicable. I was sent a screenshot of a message by Brian Farmer to someone. In it, he said “If Andrew ever wants the true inside scoop about Mav, I’m open to it since I’m not involved. Fucking VH1 Behind The Music. “
I reached out to him, but he never got back to me. So I’m here to ask you directly what exactly happened from your end?
Brandon: Honestly, that was before my time. I talked to Anthony Pastor (previous Maverick owner) to try and purchase it at that time. But I…Brian, who was still involved with Maverick until fairly recently…I never heard, I don’t know what that…I honestly don’t have a good answer for that. Nobody ever told me that there was ever a big dustup. In the way it was posed to me, there was a family health issue and because of that, [the previous owner] wanted to step away and sell it.
Now in that process, maybe there were some feelings hurt. I don’t know. Its before I was in the situation so it’s hard for me to…Number one, I didn’t really give a shit. And number two, you know, I have no skin in the game or hard feelings toward anybody.
Andrew; So what you’re telling me right now is that at least on your end and since you’ve become an owner, there’s been no drama in the company?
Brandon: No. Not really. Putting on a wrestling a show is drama in some ways. All it is is drama. So-and-so goes “we can’t get them in,” “we gotta book that last spot.” I take my hat off to so many guys for running for so long. They’re earning whatever they make because that is a tough situation. But no real drama. Even when I bought 51% and bought the rest, even that time it was pretty amicable. Now some people can feel, you know…
Brandon: Yeah. Like, at any point. I’ve been in business long enough to know that if something doesn’t go exactly the way somebody wants, they might harbor resentment. But from where I could see, everything was done in the fairest way possible. With consideration of all parties involved.
Andrew: So how did you become the full owner?
Brandon: I took a shotgun…
Brandon: You know, after the October show, what it really came down to more than anything, I realized that Maverick needed to make a bigger investment if it was gonna get over the hump. My partner at the time just wasn’t as willing to spend the cash. And we all have our goals, right? So I basically said at that point “well look, you were here first. Let’s figure this out. If we don’t invest, I don’t think it’s gonna work long term. You take a few days and think about it. You can either buy me out, or I can buy you out.”
I’d rather fail fast and do what I want to do than to know that we’re kinda limping in. And I said, “if you want to do something that is on the budget you want to do it on and leave things the way it is, then instead of banging heads on it just buy me out and then it’ll be fine.”
So that’s how it happened. After a month of conversations, it just arrived at the thought for me to buy it.
Andrew: On Christmas, you guys announced that you had a new staff. I want to go over two key names from that announcement. First, Killer Kross. Kevin Kross. Whatever you want to call him…
Brandon: Sir. I like to call him, sir.
Andrew: I don’t think it’d be smart to call him “Killer” Kevin Kross. Cause, you know…not a good idea when you think about it.
Andrew: He’s your guys’ “Brand Ambassador.” What exactly are his duties going to be as a Brand Ambassador and how much involvement will he have in Maverick?
Brandon: He’s got a ton of involvement. Because of his schedule in the ring right now, we wanted to make sure we weren’t overloading him with actual day-in, day-out duties. But having talked to him a lot right around the time I was buying the company and really picking his brain on things, I came to find he’s just a really sharp dude. I think he gets this business. I know he hasn’t been around as long as some people, but I always look for people who have their head and heart in the right places. He’s somebody who sees it clearly, he’s smart, and he wants to do something special in his career and with Maverick.
As I was talking about purchasing the rest of it, part of it was “I know what I don’t know.” A lot of the problems Maverick has had was because from the outside it was considered a bunch of wrestling fans running a wrestling promotion. Well, I acknowledge that. I want better than that. So I wanted to bring in people who are “wrestling business” people. That allows me to be a business person and an entertainment person.
So in that regard, Kevin was an easy pick to share kind of share Maverick with.
Andrew: Paul London is your head of talent relations and creative. He’s replacing Brian Farmer, who was previously in charge of talent relations and creative. Personally, I think this is a great move as Brian wasn’t experienced enough to be in the position he was. Besides the experience, what do you think Paul London will bring to the table that Brian couldn’t?
Brandon: Brian Farmer was somebody who started this company I purchased. I will always have a level of respect for somebody who tried to do something. In the end, I respect that. I appreciate it. I worked with him for a brief amount of time and found him to be a really nice guy.
But, obviously, Paul London brings a level of credibility that only a handful of people in the world have. Looking at it more from not as “How is Paul better than Brian?” But really if we just look at this as “What does Paul bring to the table?” So much. He’s a daredevil in the ring. When you look at his early Ring of Honor stuff, he’s somebody who helped set the stage for this level of indie wrestling kind of explosion. I find him to be one of the most genuine people I’ve ever, ever spent time with. I think his mind for the psychology of the story is incredible. He’s somebody who every single talent I’ve talked to is like over-the-moon about the opportunity to work with him in Maverick.
Those are just the things he brings talent-wise to the table. Now from a credibility standpoint, I believe that between him and Kevin, I think that people can trust that Maverick is going to look out for their performers and not just have kooky ideas. We’ll do things in a way with the highest level of respect for the craft.
Andrew: Will we be seeing Paul London entering a Maverick Wrestling ring?
Brandon: Ooh. You’d have to ask Paul London. In all honesty, Paul is far more valuable to us outside of the ring. Would be it awesome and would I geek out as a fan to have him in the ring? Absolutely. But if that is his choice, if he wants to, that’d be swell. If he doesn’t, there’s still a ton of value with what he’s doing with us.
Andrew: Next show, March 30th. Culver City.
Brandon: Heck yeah.
Andrew: Now the lineup hasn’t been announced publicly. Do you want to give us an exclusive?
Brandon: I’ll give you an exclusive right now.
Andrew: Let’s do it.
Brandon: We’re going to have a main event of 15-year WWE veteran and legend Bob Holly against Kevin Kross for the newly minted Maverick World Championship. We have Katarina Leigh defending her title against Madison Rayne. This will be a rematch between the two of them from earlier in Maverick’s history. So there’s some history there. That should be fun.
We have Facade, from the east coast. He’s a high-flying badass. The thing Paul London is most excited about is this match I’m talking about. It’s Facade against Brandon Cutler. Cutler is a tremendous talent. I think he’s a guy who is super talented and deserves to have matches like this on a regular basis. And then we’re going to have The Promise Land (Matt Vandagriff & Biagio Crescenzo) against Keita Murray and Daniel Moon…
Andrew; Will JOSHUA be there in the corner of the Promise Land?
Brandon: He will not be at this show because of some cheating on the last couple of shows. He’s banned from the arena that night. But I have a feeling he’ll return on the next show. But yes, he will not.
Then we’re going to have really fun men’s and women’s matches. A four-way and a three-way. But those are the highlights. And the match I’m excited about since I was a 20-year veteran of stand-up comedy is Dick Justice vs. Zicky Dice. I think that it’s gonna be a lot of fun.
Andrew: Gonna be a lot of shenanigans?
Brandon: Well, who knows. Zicky Dice is the self-proclaimed “World’s Greatest Midcarder.”
Andrew: In March you guys are going to be running on a stacked month of shows. PWG is holding its 200th event. GCW is coming back to LA the day after PWG. PCW has their thing the day before Maverick. AWS is running their anniversary show the week before you guys. Bar Wrestling will most likely be running. How do you see yourselves fairing when it comes to appealing to fans? Do you think your event will satisfy fans who would have to choose between going to your show over other shows?
Brandon: I think that’s a fair question. There’s a lot of competition right now, and I think March is an indication of it. I also think that every month is starting to get that way. It’s a competitive marketplace. I think it’s important that we continue to attract and appeal to the faithful indie fans of LA. But we also…somebody’s got to start broadening that audience a little bit. I’m a big fan of all of these other promotions as well. It’s not a matter of trying to squeeze the life out of somebody. It’s a matter of “how do we get more people in the scene?”
Andrew: To follow up on that, has there been any problems with other promotions since you purchased the company?
Brandon: Since I purchased it? No. I’ve heard stories from people who were around before. And since I didn’t experience it I can’t comment on something I heard second-hand. But um, yeah. Nothing so far. I don’t care what other promotions do. I mean, I get excited as a fan. If somebody books an awesome show I’m not going “Oh man, I wish that was our show.”
I’m not jealous of anybody, and I’m not afraid of anybody. We’re gonna do what we’re gonna do. We’re going to try and do things a little bit differently. Offer a different flavor to the scene. And we’re gonna do our best. Every day, and every show we do. From there, the fans will respond and we’ll flourish. Or they won’t, and we won’t.
Andrew: What are your goals for Maverick Wrestling? Where do you see the promotion in one year?
Brandon: I happen to have a one-year plan. A one, two, and five-year plan. The goal for this year is to get to the point where as a business, we hit an equilibrium. Like now we’re obviously just dumping cash into something. That’s what investing is. But, we want to hit an equilibrium where we might not be in the black, but we are sustainably holding steady. And I also want the promotion itself to find its voice from a storytelling standpoint and to kind of get out processes down.
In two years, I want to get to the point where we’re profitable. But also, probably more important to your readers, we want to get to a place where we’re expanding the venues we’re using and starting to talk about maybe taking things on the road. As we get into five years, I don’t see any reason not to push for something where we have a show somewhere. A weekly show. Whether it’s on a streaming service or TV.
That’s where we’re headed. We’ll see how we do on the execution. I’m expecting bumps along the way. A lot of new people. New spots. But I think we’re hopefully going to entertain the shit out of people in the meantime. We can figure it out behind the scenes, and away we’ll go.
Andrew: Any final words to the wrestling fans in SoCal?
Brandon: I love you all on a personal and deep level. And I want you all to come to the March 30th show to see an incredible lineup.
Maverick Wrestling’s Ctrl Alt Del takes place on March 30th, 2019 at the Spry Society Academy of Fitness in Culver City, CA.