Heartland Wrestling Association holds a special place in the hearts of Ohio wrestling fans. HWA was a developmental territory for the WWE at the same time as OVW in Louisville. Founded by the legendary Les Thatcher in 1998, HWA alumni include superstars like D’Lo Brown, Jamie Noble, Dean Ambrose, BJ Whitmer, Matt Stryker, Lance Cade, Cody Hawk, Chad Collyer, Shark Boy, Solomon Crowe, and Nigel McGuinness.
“It has a place in wrestling and has impacted the lives of the people in pro wrestling so much,” says new owner Philip Stamper. “For some, it was the first independent wrestling company many came to know.”
HWA was almost an impulse by for the veteran promoter, who has been in the wrestling business since 1996. “It was a very sudden purchase. When I saw the announcement about it selling, it triggered a lot of thoughts – Les Thatcher was one of the first promoters I ever talked with and the legacy of Heartland Wrestling Association. I saw a chance to play a role in the next stage of HWA.”
Stamper was very pleased to see an immediate response from fans after announcing his purchase on Sunday, June 28. “Our Facebook likes jumped 14%, and we had nearly the same spike on Twitter. We’ve had a few thousand views on YouTube this week. I think it shows there is still an interest whether you live in the area or are a fan of its impact to wrestling.”
Stamper plans to keep HWA in Cincinnati, but while he knows the fans are ready to welcome them back, he asks for patience as he prepares to re-open the promotion. “I’m not going to blindly run into holding an event for the sake of holding an event. There is a lot of ground work that needs to happen before then.” Stamper also hopes to get the HWA video library organized in the months ahead.
The new boss has his work cut out for him, but he has plenty of reason. “A lot of people want there to be an event tomorrow. It does inspire me to move quickly.”