Pro wrestling streaming service Powerbomb.tv brings festival to Old Forge
OLD FORGE — Summer music festivals like Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo showcase a variety of musical styles in an effort to appeal to as many patrons as possible. On June 11, Old Forge will play host to the area’s first professional wrestling Bonnaroo — streamed live worldwide.
Powerbomb.TV’s Break the Barrier Festival, scheduled for 3 p.m. June 11 at 1 Maxson Drive, Old Forge, is the recently-launched independent wrestling streaming service’s first live event. Co-founder Gerard Durling said the event is all about exposure.
“The idea of Break the Barrier is to create opportunities for guys that don’t have as much exposure to showcase what they can do and give them no restrictions,” Durling said. “Just go and put on a match and tell your story the best way you want to.”
It means exposure for Powerbomb.TV too. The service, which works like contemporaries Netflix, Hulu or WWE Network, is still building its library. After the obligatory trial period, Powerbomb.TV is $10 a month, or $100 for an annual subscription.
Currently, 31 different wrestling promotions stream through the service. Durling would like to increase that number to 50 by the end of the year — he’d also like to bring the service to a level of financial healthiness that allows Powerbomb.TV to make flat-rate deals with independent wrestling promoters.
“I’m hoping this show opens up opportunities for us to increase our subscription base, which ultimately will help us put more money into independent wrestling groups and give them better opportunities to work with us.”
Durling said he invited the wrestling promotors that currently stream through Powerbomb.TV to submit matches for Break the Barrier. Organizations that are currently part of Powerbomb.TV programming include C4 in Ottawa, Ontario; IWRG in Mexico; and Ohio’s Olde Wrestling — the latter bringing a particular style to Old Forge.
“Olde Wrestling is unique, theatrical wrestling,” Durling said. “For that match in particular, we’ll be doing a couple special things to make it feel like home for them. We’ll have a referee dressed in costume for that ‘old time-y’ feel; we’ll have haystacks in the corner of the ring; there will be spit cans outside the ring; and the stream will be in black-and-white when that match goes on.”
Powerbomb.TV has also booked showcase matches for the event, including “Art of Wrestling” podcast host Colt Cabana, whom Durling called the perfect example of an ambassador for independent wrestling.
Cabana has made a living off the independent wrestling scene. Two of his 18 years in the squared circle were spent in World Wrestling Entertainment — two years he referred to as “my least successful years in pro wrestling.” Cabana isn’t just making the statement for the sake of controversy, though. He’s found a way to connect with the new generation of wrestling fans on his own terms, and they’re connecting with him, too.
“I always thought I was alone in this world of people who were obsessed with professional wrestling,” Cabana said. “I was very much obsessed with it as a child, and there weren’t a lot of people around me that were obsessed to that nature. I think because of the Internet and because of all the mediums that have allowed people to say, ‘Hey, I also was obsessed or am obsessed,’ that’s why now all of a sudden there’s just so many people who’ve come out like, ‘Hey, I love wrestling.’”
Cabana suggested that fans in love with WWE’s brand of large-scale, arena-packing action may find something special in independent wrestling’s intimacy. Given that train of thought, maybe Breaking the Barrier isn’t professional wrestling’s Bonnaroo. Maybe the more accurate term is independent wrestling’s Warped Tour.
“It’s such a different live experience,” Cabana said. “In a big arena, you’re just kind of a spectator, whereas in independent wrestling, you’re a part of the show. It’s so intimate and it’s so fun. There’s a difference between big, arena-style wrestling and the indies, the underground scene. You’re welcomed into this community with open arms, even if you’re not sure what you’re about to get into.”
On June 11, Cabana will get into the ring with Orange Cassidy. Durling made the match because he considers Cassidy “one of the most underrated comedic wrestlers that exist in independent wrestling,” and wanted to “see what they can create together.” Cabana versus Cassidy is just one match on the approximately five-hour event. Attendees can expect to sample a variety of styles, from lucha libre and technical to comedy and theatrical wrestling.
No matter the style in the ring, Durling was adamant that the most important part of the show will never step inside.
“What goes into a great independent wrestling show is the presentation of the show, the performers on the show and, most importantly, the audience being engaged in the show,” Durling said. “That’s going to be a part of our performance at this show. Everybody will be engaged with the audience.”
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @GeneAxtonTL
IF YOU GO
What: Wilkes-Barre-based professional wrestling streaming service Powerbomb.TV’s first festival, Break the Barrier
Who: Professional wrestlers from a variety of backgrounds will compete
When: 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. June 11
Where: 1 Maxson Drive, Old Forge
How Much: Ringside seats are $20, general admission is $15. To purchase tickets, visit tix.powerbomb.tv.