Baron Black and Jonathan Gresham recently spoke to Philip Lindsey of Daily DDT about their plans to kick off 2022 with the debut of Terminus on Jan. 16.
All roads lead to Atlanta as the two plan to co-produce their first independent wrestling show together. The announcement has garnered excitement and its fair share of speculation as the accompanying trailer accrued over 208,000 views.
Although fans don’t know much about the show’s card yet, Gresham and Black bring a level of respect from their peers and optimism from niche wrestling fans to this new venture. The former Ring of Honor champion is well-known for his technical prowess and his enthusiasm for underappreciated styles of wrestling. So, we can only imagine what kind of presentation he plans to bring to Terminus.
The show won’t have a shortage of talent either with notable names like Daniel Garcia, Bandido, Janai Kai, Moose, Alex Coughlin, and Dante Caballero on tap. Even more, the new promotion just announced that Lee Moriarty will also compete at the upcoming event off the heels of his excellent match with CM Punk on this week’s episode of AEW Dynamite.
Daily DDT can also confirm that Fred Yehi will also appear at Terminus. Gresham and Black were excited to reveal that the former AAW heavyweight champion is onboard at the end of this exclusive interview. First, we talked about the inception of this Black-owned promotion, which has been in development for at least 10 years.
“A lot of people do not know we trained together, we came up together wrestling in Atlanta, and we’re really, really close friends,” Black said. “That’s the best bro right there. A lot of people don’t know that simply because our career paths took different routes and we both, obviously, ended up in different destinations with different companies. We always remained friends, as we both are Atlanta natives, but we always had this idea of running a show together. And this idea extends way back to like 2010, 2011, so this is a collaboration that was years in the making.”
Apparently, the two planned to host the show in 2020 before COVID-19 changed everything, but the opportunity came up again this year. The EmpBruh revealed that they started moving forward again over the summer. In January, their vision will become reality with a fitting name that has ties to their hometown.
“A lot of people were talking about, obviously, The Walking Dead, because there was a place called Terminus in it but a lot of people don’t know the history of Atlanta,” Black said. “The city used to be called Terminus back in the 1800s, simply because of all the railroads that converge and all met in Atlanta. That’s how I believe The Walking Dead ended up using it in their series and that’s how they portray that actual sanctuary in their episodes where it was basically an abandoned train yard. So, basically, it was giving you a history lesson without even telling you. I wanted a name that represents Atlanta because it used to be a very hot wrestling territory. It used to be a hotbed for wrestling. A lot of historic things has happened here”
He and Gresham also spoke about how important it was to them to bring “Modern Age Grappling” to Atlanta, a city that used to be a focal point in the industry.
“It was very important,” Black said. ”That was one of the priorities. The show had to be in Atlanta because this is where we live. When me and Gresham were coming up here in like the 2010 era and on up, it wasn’t a lot of places to work in Georgia, in general, and it definitely wasn’t a lot of places to work in Atlanta. And it wasn’t bigger, independent promotions around where you can actually try to get your name out and get noticed as something that’s been kind of lacking for a long time.”
“Especially for a territory that used to be one of the ‘it’ territories back in the territory days, like, you had to go to Atlanta, you know what I mean? You had to go to Mid South. You had to go to Memphis. Atlanta just wasn’t that place anymore and there are so many hibernating wrestling fans here, it blows your mind. You only really see them come out when, say AEW comes here, or the competition comes here. And, that’s one thing we want to fix because there’s a lot of people here who don’t know, independent wrestling goes on in Atlanta.”
Gresham added, “It was super important to me because I’ve always wanted something more. Even when I was coming up and wrestling, I really didn’t understand the business as much as I do now. I would go to shows, and I felt like things could just be bigger and better considering that in the territory days Atlanta was a huge hub for professional wrestling and I just want that vibe and that feeling to come back again. Everybody still feels that way about New York, and I feel like Atlanta can have that same vibe for sure.”
With such a stacked list of grapplers and more to be announced, it’s clear that this is a carefully curated collection of talent. As such, the two co-founders of Terminus spoke about how they decided on names for the show.
“We wanted to highlight people that go out of their way and far and beyond to study the art of wrestling,” Gresham said. If you really pay attention to wrestling today, I feel a lot of young wrestlers, and even experienced wrestlers now, see the genre and the style of wrestling that is prominent in the business right now, and they more so cater to that style, because it’s easier to do. It’s instant gratification, the superkick, the dive, but the people that we have decided to use, they’ve been studying the craft and the art of professional wrestling to connect with a fan on a different level, on an emotional level.”
“I second that and that goes for a lot of wrestlers that come from different styles, as well, not just the pure technicians but also different styles,” Black said.
During their interview with Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com, The Foundation outlined his vision “Modern Age Grappling.” It’s roughly an amalgamation of the original rules of wrestling, Pure Wrestling Rules, and the style World of Sport popularized. It’s something he’s passionate about and he plans to implement it with the upcoming show.
“This style is, to me, a collection of different little things from each style from around the world,” Gresham said. “I often talk about how one of my favorite psychology’s philosophies and styles of wrestling is King’s Road, which is the All Japan style. To go into a little more detail, it started with the feeling out process that we still use to this day, which is known as, like, the chain wrestling portion of the match. But it’s like you’re learning your opponent as you go, and you’re educating the fan of those different techniques that you use so they can become attached to them to, later on, understand that these are big moves, or special moves, or whatever. So a lot of psychology from different styles as far as King’s Road, the Strong Style from New Japan, as well as the Lancashire or what some people would call the Mount Everest style of World of Sport wrestling, all of these are going to come together to create ‘Modern Age Grappling.’”
That’s as much as the former ROH Pure champion was willing to elaborate. As he and Black stressed, the fans will have to come to the show to learn more. However, The EmpBruh also made sure to emphasize their tagline, “where styles make fights.”
Most hardcore wrestling fans can recognize that some people of color have planted their flag in the industry, so to speak. Lucha Libre and Japanese wrestling have a storied history and its practitioners are highly regarded even among mainstream fans to a lesser degree.
Unfortunately, Black wrestlers are still often pigeonholed as merely gifted athletes or charismatic entertainers. Terminus is a great opportunity to prove Black performers are capable of so much more. This isn’t a show that won’t only showcase African Americans but it’s a precedent they’re hoping to set.
“That has been my mission since I started wrestling, Gresham said. “I looked at the landscape of wrestling and I saw African American wrestlers have been pigeonholed, and they kind of have to make that living a lot of times a little bit more in the background and the shadows. A lot of people see it like where we’re being suppressed, which I know we are, but then you have to realize that the individual thinks about themselves. But then they think about everybody behind them, their families, children, things of that nature. So, what’s more, important to the individual wrestler is making the money to take care of their family.”
“Right now, I don’t really have all of that to worry about so my legacy is very important,” he continued. “I want to help change the mold about Black wrestlers are used, and it’s seen. I always thought to myself, I believe Baron brought it up to me and some time ago that, you know, since the inception of the WON Awards, the best technical wrestler in the world, the Bryan Danielson award, I have been the only African American Wrestler ever nominated in that division. To me, that’s ridiculous when we have Fred Yehi. We have more Lee Moriarty, and historically, we had Norman Smiley. Why the hell hasn’t he been in there?
“We’re being suppressed and overlooked for what reason? In every other sport, we dominate.
In professional wrestling, which has always been booked by a different race that isn’t Black, we are not the best in the world. That bothers me and that’s something I want to help change.”
“I don’t think it’s changing the perception of what African American wrestlers can do,” Black said.
“I think we’re going to change the perception that African American wrestlers can do these other styles, you feel me because it’s only been really like, two different styles of African American wrestling that you see prominent on your screen, you know, whether it be the high flyer or the powerhouse. And there are wrestlers out there who do other styles. I think everybody feels that we are pigeonholed because you only see those two styles in front of you. Whether it’s on your TV screen or it’s on an independent level, that’s the two styles you will always see. At Terminus, you’re going to see that, hey, there are great wrestlers who do other styles besides these two.”
This conversation illustrates why there is a need for more Black-owned wrestling promotions. There are examples like Reality of Wrestling, F1ght Club Pro, Black Wrestlers Matter, Pro Wrestling VIBE, and West Coast Pro. However, there needs to be more like them and a concerted effort to support their growth.
The major companies are making incremental steps to become more inclusive but African Americans have a chance to make a larger impact on the industry. Whether some fans recognize it or not, there has been a ceiling for Black wrestlers for a long time. You don’t see many of them becoming owners or recognized among all-time greats.
That’s something that needs to change and the demand for that progress puts that much more pressure on new promotions. Gresham and Black spoke about their goals and how the response to their initial announcement has affected them.
“The pressure is excruciating,” Black said. “We weren’t expecting that outstanding reception that we got. It was just a brainchild of me and Jon, that we wanted to do since we started training together. The card fell where we could finally do it, but the reception, it was like, oh, man, what does this on my back? I feel some pressure, you know I’m saying. It’s like everybody’s like this is it? This is what they want to see.”
“They want to see another company come up and thrive. They want to see another big, independent promotion. I’m glad to see that, because we want to do that for the city of Atlanta, most importantly. But yeah, the reception we got, people showing support, people from all different companies in the industry is like, I’m starting to feel like, yeah, this is what pressure feels like. Cause now it’s like are we going to deliver? But we’re confident in what we have.
We know what we have is going to be historic, but you also have that in the back of your mind from the pressure. Like is this going to be enough? Is this going to be enough to satisfy everybody’s expectations of what we have?”
“I am so nervous for a number of reasons,” Gresham said. “l won’t open Pandora’s Box on all of them. Sometimes I have to take a step back because I care so much about the industry and business of professional wrestling that I really get worked up. Certain things that are so clear and they should be implemented but they aren’t.”
“I’m just so passionate about professional wrestling and certain things just worry me. So, Baron knows that I’m concerned and worried about so many aspects of what we got going on. So, I am, I am like, trying to manage that, and then my real life, and, you know everything that’s happening with me. So, I’m really kind of stressed out, to be honest.”
“We’re expected to do so much, and it’s like we can’t do everything on the first show. So, we get pressure from just running the show, but then we get pressure from our people. And it’s just like, hey, just be on the journey along with us, and just support however you can. Whether it’s buying a ticket, or just retweeting something. It’s like, hey, everything takes time, you know? It’s just so difficult because everybody doesn’t understand. Like a fan doesn’t understand what it takes to run a show. They want so much. They expect so much. Use this guy or use this guy and it’s like hey, everybody has their time. Everybody has to be patient. Things have to play out.
Money has to be made. It’s just so much that goes into it, and this project is to help the Pure technical wrestler but it’s also to help build up the African American community within wrestling.”
“There are so many things that this promotion is trying to accomplish. We can only tackle one thing at a time. I feel like so many companies have come and gone, tried to do so many things at once when you just have to tackle one thing, and accomplish that one thing to move on to the next. So that’s what I’m trying to do, in my mind, and not be pressured by the fans and friends, and different things like that.”
“What really hits home for me, is representation for our community, and directly for the community in Atlanta,” Black added. “I came up in the project. So, when you come from that background, there are only two ways that you get out of that that our community sees. Either you throw a football, or you shoot a basketball. That’s the only way to get out of it. And that’s just the image that’s been instilled in the Black community for so long. So, I was like, if we can build this thing in Terminus and we’re working with Kroc Center. They work with a lot of youth. We have a lot of young people who are going to attend this show from third grade all the way up to high school and a lot of them are African American.”
“So, I want them to see that, hey, there are other options for you to do things. It ain’t just throwing a football or shooting a basketball as your only way out of this situation that you are in. You can also do what we’re doing, or you can do whatever you want to do. I’m an example of someone who didn’t take my family’s advice. ‘Hey, you need to go to college, or you need to throw the football or shoot the basketball.’ That’s not what I love to do. I don’t want to do it. I ended up going to trade school anyway and becoming an electrician and did nothing with it because my heart wasn’t it. That wasn’t my passion. I was like, you know what I’m going to do this wrestling thing. So I want to show the Black youth, most importantly, that this is what I chose to do. And you can still choose what you want to do. Ain’t just those two options, if you come from the same background I did.”
Be sure to follow Terminus on Twitter for more updates. Their first show is set for Jan. 16, 2022, at the Kroc Center in Atlanta, Georgia.