Don’t count Global Force Wrestling’s shoulders down to the mat anytime soon.
That’s the advice of GFW’s TV color commentator, Josh Mathews, who fought back against “completely false” rumors of the wrestling company’s imminent demise. On the contrary, Mathews said, the GFW is on cusp of several new and exciting opportunities to grow its audience internationally.
“I’m kind of disappointed in what I’ve seen out there this week . . . because we’ve been working so hard on these over-the-top platforms that we’re looking to be a part of,” Mathews told Newsday in a telephone interview Friday. “This company has been getting beat up for 15 years — maybe at times rightfully so. But I think now to have fake news out there about what we’re doing is sad.”
The rumblings of GFW’s struggles surfaced after the company acknowledged that the company’s founder and creative head Jeff Jarrett was taking an indefinite leave to tend to personal issues. Reports followed that GFW, which was formerly known as Total Nonstop Action, or TNA, was on the brink of being sold by its new owner, Anthem Sports and Entertainment — potentially to WWE.
Mathews said the rumor “doesn’t make any sense” given the various initiatives in the works to grow GFW. They include the launch of the Global Wrestling Network, a multi-platform digital streaming service, similar to the WWE’s subscription network, an IMPACT Wrestling Channel on digital television provider Pluto TV, new TV deals in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and an extension of the company’s deal with its U.S. cable home, Pop TV.
“Never once has anybody said anything about, ‘Well, we might not be around to do these huge things,” Mathews said. “I’ve gotten three or four phone calls from vendors and people that I work with saying, ‘Oh, man. I really hope you guys pull through. And it’s like, ‘No, no, no. We’re good. There’s nothing to pull through right now.”
Mathews acknowledged that the company has faced some challenges as of late. Viewership for its weekly primetime TV show, Impact, is a small fraction of what it was during the company’s peak on Spike about eight years ago. Its first live event swing through the northeast last month, which included shows on Long Island and New York City, drew only a few hundred fans, although Mathews said the size of the crowds “wasn’t a shock to anyone” in the company.
“It’s all about forward momentum and just bringing attention to the brand,” said Mathews, who joined GFW in 2015, following a 12-year announcing career in WWE. “You’re seeing a slow build. We’re moving in 5- and 10-yard increments. We’re not moving in Hail Marys.”
Mathews said GFW is considering running more live events in 2018, including a potential one in Toronto, home base for parent company Anthem, a broadcast and production firm that bought the wrestling promotion in January.
“Put any other company against we’re up against in these times . . . I don’t know if a lot of them survive,” Mathews said. “But Anthem, with their wisdom, they saw something. They came in. They breathed life into this company. And now here we are at the end of 2017 and there are all these things that are happening . . . And we’ll grow from there.”