How do I start this one? Parrow is a man of many talents. He is one hell of a tag-team wrestler, a devastating heavyweight, world-travelled, a twink hunter, and now breaking into the realm of the deathmatch through No Peace Underground. He could so easily powerbomb you, double-team you with The End or drive you into a car without a second thought. Now, with his return to MLW, he’s targeting the biggest they have whilst organising a gauntlet of destruction for GCW and pushing the powerhouse limits of deathmatch. We here at SteelChair got the chance to talk to him. In part one, we discuss MLW, optimism, and wrestling in a pandemic. Enjoy!

 

First up, let’s start with the introductions since this is your first SteelChair interview. Could you tell us a bit about who you are, how long you’ve wrestled etc?

“My name is Mike Parrow. I go by the wrestling name Parrow, or as part of the tag team, The End. I’ve been wrestling for about 11 years now, starting in 2009, learning from the Dudleyz here in Orlando, Florida, at the Team 3D Academy. I’ve since worked for many independent companies, EVOLVE, MLW, PROGRESS, NWA, and All Japan. So, I have a pretty extensive resume at this point. That’s a bit of a background on me currently.”

You’ve just started your second tenure at MLW, what brought you back?

“What brought me back was I felt it was time. When I started MLW there was a lot of stuff going on. They were still in their re-emergence infancy stage, and there was stuff that I wanted to do in my career that would mean I couldn’t devote my full attention to MLW. It was always a dream of mine to go to Japan. I had the opportunity at that time, and I had to make the choice between the MLW schedule and the All Japan schedule. The cool thing about MLW is you actually have access to your owner. There aren’t 900 men in front of him you have to go through to talk to him. Court (Bauer) is very available to all his talent, and we had a real discussion, and he said it was way too good of an opportunity to pass up at the time. He wanted me to learn my craft, and MLW would always be here when I come home. He was true to his word, it was time to come back, and MLW is currently the only company focusing on heavyweights. No other company in the world has heavyweights. There’s what, 3 in WWE? None in AEW really, well there is, but he’s an announcer. Impact has a couple, but no one is focusing on true heavyweight wrestling as it used to be.

“Being a heavyweight is a dying art these days. Court and everyone behind MLW are trying to put an emphasis on heavyweight wrestling. To me, that’s an attractive point to MLW, and I always say this, for any young talent getting started in the business, MLW is a great port. Everyone who has gone through MLW now has something great they’ve accomplished. That first roster, everyone is either in WWE or AEW, are they not? So MLW knows what they’re doing. Young talent, MLW is where you need to be, and for me to get to work with young hungry talent, who all want to be world champion, you’re always going to have the ability to have great matches. I’m a driven person, so I like to have a challenge in front of me rather than not have a challenge.”

Have you had a chance to teach these young talents anything?

“See, the thing is, I still look at myself as extremely young in this business. I take every opportunity to learn what I can learn. The best thing about being older in the business is, you learn something new every day from the younger guys. Just like any other sport, you adapt, or you become a dinosaur. If you’re not able to adapt in this business, you’re irrelevant. Tom Brady is still a good quarterback because he is able to adapt to younger talent. He doesn’t tell them they’re wrong as they’re doing something. I try to listen more than I do teach. I did have opportunities where I got to learn from some great talent, and if a younger guy asks me a question, I’ll try my best to answer with my perspective rather than telling them it’s right or wrong. In wrestling, there is no right or wrong, it’s your story you’re telling. I hate when people say you’re wrong because there’s no such thing as wrong in wrestling. It’s a case of if you like it as a fan or not.”

That might be one of the most logical things I’ve ever heard. It’s really open-minded…

“Well, wrestling is an art form at its barest sense. So is any sport, it’s an art form. There’s no wrong way to play the sport if you’re winning. If a person is continuously winning, then why does it matter how they’re winning? In wrestling, it’s become this structure. Anything does it like a movie finds a structure. Marvel found a structure where everyone is going to continue to buy that type of movie. That’s what WWE is. They are Disney. They know their structure. There’s nothing wrong with that structure, that structure works. There’s no need to criticise it, but then not everyone likes a Marvel movie. Some like DC. Others don’t, but why keep criticising them. They obviously have fans if they keep making movies. It doesn’t work if there’s no fans, but if there’s a fan for it, then it obviously worked. I don’t like it when people say there’s a right or wrong way to do things. No, there’s different ways of doing things, but a right or wrong, that is extremely finite. Then, you get to the same wrestling over and over again and not growing the fans. Especially now, in 2021, there are so many more fans we could bring into this business. So many more fans that have been alienated for so long because there was a strict way of doing things. But there are people out there now proving that theory was dumb. So, I hate when people say that, so I say what I said.”

Going off your heavyweight point, you just declared a challenge to one of the biggest heavyweights in MLW now, Mil Muertes. What prompted that?

“If you’re not challenging someone, and I said this today on Twitter, it’s who you challenge that makes you. It’s not about your wins or losses, it’s about the positions you put yourself into. I can’t keep beating up little guys. I have to put myself out there. Who better to go after than Mil? I’m mean, he’s mean, let’s see who’s meaner.”

I can’t argue with that logic. Though it is fun to see you beat up little guys, the Twink Gauntlet was incredibly entertaining…

“It’s a good thing wrestling is full of a lot of twinks these days. I do get the opportunity to have a lot of twink matches. If you enjoyed that, you’re going to enjoy the Twink Tag gauntlet coming up at this Collective.”

To understand the rules of that, are they sending two twinks out at once against you, or have you got a tag partner as well?

“I do indeed. This’ll be a bit of a spoiler, but I do indeed have my tag partner with me. Breaking news, and these will all be twink tag teams. You can announce it. You’re allowed to announce it, it’s my twink gauntlet. I can do anything I want. I took it from EFFY. He’s no longer allowed to call the shots on that one.”

Well, thank you for that. Just to end my little MLW section. Where do you think the company can go in the next few years? As you said they’re still in their infancy, what do you think they can do, and what would you like to see them do?

“I think they’re capable of doing a lot. Look at what they’ve accomplished in such a little bit of time. See, there’s different ways of doing things. AEW made a splash, spent a whole bunch of money, and became the big kids on the scene straight away. But there’s something to be said about making something slow, building a foundation. Getting things right. I think MLW gets the little things right. How they film things. The production, the storytelling. All those little things build a successful company. When you start smaller, you also have a knack for finding young talent. MLW does a good job of that. Young talent you wouldn’t even know existed and young international talent too. They’re not just going for the Americans. They’re going to Mexico for the Luchadors, working with Japan. After the pandemic, I see indie wrestling, in general, having a giant boom in January of 2022. I see a giant boom coming in independent pro wrestling, which will be a turning point for MLW. It’s going to be a massive year.

“Once this pandemic is over, I really do believe for MLW, the sky’s the limit on what is able to happen because we’re about to see the biggest wrestling boom in history. I foresee it coming. Even now, as this pandemic is hopefully grinding to its end, you’re starting to see in the states wrestling coming back. Australia just started having their shows. Japan’s been running theirs, and fans want to see it. We’re going to see a whole different style of wrestling. Fans want the edge back. As you can see, we just had our first deathmatch on a major PPV. That’s a huge turn in wrestling. You have a different group of guys coming up and the kind of Attitude Era kids. The kids who were young during that Attitude Era. They started loving it then, so that’s where their focus is. Your Mick Foley’s were your heroes, not your Hogan’s or Stings. Your Rock or Stone Cold. A lot of the guys coming up now weren’t even alive during the Monday Night Wars. So, we’re about to see one of the biggest wrestling booms, I predict. Especially with the British scene coming back. There’s so much talent in the British scene. The level of new talent out there is going to propel so many companies, not just MLW. Impact, AEW, WWE, the influx of young talent is going to help these companies grow massively.

“I’m interested to see what MLW can do, as right now, the core group of guys there are special. Just sitting there during our first tapings made me want to be there. It was a uniquely different experience because we had no fans. I got to sit there as a fan watching my competition, realising they’re just as hungry. When everyone is that hungry, the sky is the limit of where that company can go. Nobody is complacent. That’s the best thing that came from this pandemic. Nobody is complacent anymore; no job is safe. That causes people to want to do this. Before this, think how many people were just collecting cheques at companies. When that happens, they’re not happy. When you’re not happy at work, you’re not productive. The pandemic change all that, they realised, “I actually love this.” This is my love; this is my passion. There’s this big hungry talented group of people ready to go, and it’s just going to cause this greatness in wrestling.

“MLW has heavyweights, Luchadors, and people so hungry to do their jobs, truly, it could be one of the top three. I’ll put it out there, they could be a top-three company within the next three years. Just looking at their track record before the pandemic, look at what they were drawing. They weren’t bringing in giant stars, they were making their own, and they were drawing massive crowds. That’s pretty wild even if it is the second incarnation of MLW. When it came back, they came back strong. They’re so successful because they have a strategy, and they have a plan. Every business has its ups and downs, but the one thing MLW has always been with me is open and honest. You can’t ask for more than being able to answer your questions.”

What’s it been like trying to wrestle in the pandemic?

“When the pandemic happened, I had just gotten married. Actually, my anniversary is Sunday. One year ago, the world stopped. We had a lot of things planned. We had Japan. We had many things me and my tag partner wanted to accomplish, and it was all gone. Days turned into weeks, weeks turned into three weeks, weeks turned into months, and then we were going into the summer, and I hadn’t even wrestled, hadn’t been in a ring. At one point, I thought it was over. I thought the one thing to beat my dream out of all the obstacles I’ve had thrown in front of me, was going to be a world pandemic. But I got lucky. I got opportunities to get back in the ring and work. There was a lot of criticism because nobody knows with this disease. Should you do it, shouldn’t you do it, but like you’ve got people working at Target every day since the lockdown and nobody cares about them.

“Since we’re public figures, everybody attacks the independent wrestlers for working a show. You’re a super-spreader event. Well, you go to Walmart, which is also a super-spreader event. Everything you do outside of your home is a potential spreader event. There has to become a point where you start moving forward instead of backwards. If you try to take every precaution that is laid out for you safely, then how are we going to do this. It took me a little while to have “the talk” with my husband, is this the right thing to do? We talked about it, and we agreed as long as the precautions are taken, testing, and all that, I will do the show. Everything that I did do, the testing was there. But it’s a pandemic. It’s going to happen. Unfortunately, that is the reality we’re living in day to day with anything, not just wrestling.

“You live over there; you guys are still on lockdown. So, it’s hard. Especially here in the states, where some of the states are in strict lockdown, and then the state I live in has had no lockdown since last June. It’s hard to explain to people I don’t live under rules. You have to enforce your own rules. I’m blessed to be able to wrestle, and I take events that have the precautions they are taking. As long as people are getting tested and wearing their masks, I’m for it. Now, are there fans at shows that slip up and don’t wear their masks, sure? They try to enforce it, but halfway through a match, well, it’s hard to stop a match halfway through to get people to put their masks on. After a match, they’re told to leave the building or put the mask on. A lot of people do comply, especially wrestling fans. I’ve definitely learned with wrestling fans that they want to watch. They want to be there, so they tend to be more compliant than even people flying on an airline. As long as they’re getting to watch what they love, then they’ll take all the precautions to watch what they love. That’s the experience I’ve been seeing at shows and them policing themselves because they don’t want it to end, and they want to be out of their house. So, it’s not just the wrestlers, it’s the fans. That’s a cool thing to see on the independent scene. I have been blessed to have the opportunities I have. I’ve had some crazy matches so far, in fact, I think I’ve had some of my craziest matches in a pandemic than I have my whole career.”

I’m going to get to them soon. Have you struggled with the whole no-fans/restricted fans shows?

“When I started wrestling, independent wrestling was dead. There was no such thing. There was no British scene, no American scene. There were no fans. I wrestled in a barn in front of four people, and three of those people were family of the “promoter.” For my group, wrestling was dead. The only place you could potentially work was ROH, but the tops guys had that on lock with their friends waiting in the wings. You couldn’t even get into ROH at that point. When I started 11 years ago, wrestling was dead, no one was drawing crowds of more than 10 to 15 people. Then a group of hungry worldwide indie guys said, well, there’s still a lot of wrestling fans out there, let’s try something different. One of the main reasons the independents died was because a lot of the old guys didn’t give back. Either they were still wrestling, or they just stopped. When I say this, there’s your mainstream indie wrestling companies like GCW, there was no such thing as a GCW. CZW at the time was maybe the closest, but they had a partnership with ROH, so at the time, you had to know someone to get in there.

“Every company was up north, or you had the southern companies. That’s where me and EFFY started. We started in the South, which is a different place to start wrestling, but I will credit the South for me being able to do what I’m able to do in the ring now. In southern wrestling, you have to be a character. They could care less what moves you do. They don’t care. They want to be entertained. They are paying you money to be entertained. The northern fans are smart fans. They all want to be wrestlers; they could tell you if you’re chain wrestling wrong because they’ve watched 37 hours of Daniel Bryan. They’ll come up and tell you. That’s not annoying because they have a passion for wrestling, just like I do. So, I don’t look at it as a negative because, to me, they still have a passion for it. The passions are different, but that just goes back to everybody likes wrestling differently. Everyone has that armchair sports coach that’s northern wrestling fans. That shows me how big of a wrestling fan they are. Rather than take the negative from it. There’s a negative for everything since the other person sees you as their toy. There’s negatives and positives to each way you look at it. Every fan from around everywhere is different because they watch wrestling differently.

“So, coming up from the south, it was even harder getting into that Northern market. So when I started, there were no fans, and now performing in a pandemic where there’s no fans just reminds me of when I started. It didn’t bother me because I knew people were watching me at home. You just had to change your perspective. As long as I am entertaining at least one person, then I’m doing my job. I don’t care if there’s 100,000 people or one person. That’s my job because that one person tells another person who tells another person. Now I have ten new fans who may have never watched wrestling, meaning I did my job. Every wrestler’s job is to grow the business, to leave it better than they found it. Your job is to get more fans, not the ones that are already here, somebody already got them. You have to get the new fans to the business. That’s how the business survives, we pass on our knowledge, and those new fans pass on their knowledge. It’s a cyclical thing, but we went through a whole era that didn’t pass on their knowledge. Now people are doing it again. Right before the pandemic, wrestling was really hot. When you can have ROH selling out MSG, that’s a big deal. You had PROGRESS selling out places in England. It got so big; WWE bought into it. That’s a billion-dollar company that saw this indie company and had to have it. When I first started, that would have never happened. I try to see the positives of it.”

That’s a really optimistic way to look at things. I find a lot of people have grown pessimistic about the business…

“I have to be optimistic. My whole life changed when I came out three years ago. Realistically, how I was booked changed, my opportunities went down, so I have to be optimistic because I have to believe I can, at least, help change things for the other open athletes. If I’m just a pessimist, or I’m negative, what am I doing for anybody? Negativity in a locker room or anywhere is cancer. I played sports my whole life, when that negative seed is planted, it grows and grows and ruins everything. A leader in any shape or form can’t be negative. You can’t lead through negativity; you have to lead through optimism. Especially at this time, being a pessimist right now, it’s not good. Especially for your own mental being. There’s not a lot of opportunities out there, so you have to find the positive. When you find the positive, you find the opportunity in that positive. That’s the way I look at it. Rather than looking at what you’re not getting, find the one thing you can get and grow upon the opportunity. That’s what I tell younger guys. There’s no such thing as a bad opportunity in pro-wrestling. Do that opportunity to the best of your ability, and more will come from that point. You need to start somewhere. You can’t start at the top, that’s a rarity in this business. That’s like winning the Lotto. It happens to like 0.001%. I’m doing Steiner math over here. That’s the way I look at it.”

Parrow on Social Media – Twitter, Instagram

Watch Parrow in MLW – YouTube, FUBO, DAZN, BeInSports, ROKU

Watch Parrow in No Peace, YouTube, IWTV

All images courtesy of MLW.com/Twitter, GCW Twitter, Earl Gardner Photography, Parrow Twitter,