Prior to Ring of Honor going on hiatus, The Bouncers, Beer City Bruisers and Brawler Milonas, have been steadily climbing through the ROH tag team division and are looking to one day become champions.
With a professional wrestling landscape that is growing rapidly and continuing to introduce new philosophies and promotions that are changing the way pro wrestling has been done for several decades, The Bouncers have chosen to remain loyal to Ring of Honor and now, they are explaining why.
In a new interview with Fightful’s Sean Ross Sapp recorded before ROH's hiatus, both the Bruiser and the Brawler explain why they have so much gratitude for the way that Ring of Honor treated them throughout the pandemic and discussed a 2019 talent meeting that led to changes within the promotion.
Fightful: I’ve heard from several wrestlers about this meeting. It was basically a talent meeting where they brought in a bunch of you guys to the headquarters and they said, ‘What do you want us to change? How do you want us to get better?’ They put a bunch of stuff up on a whiteboard and from what I heard; they changed a ton of stuff. That had to instill confidence in the roster that they were looking at things and going, ‘How can we get better?’ and asking their creative minds of the roster how do they do it? What do you remember about that?
Beer City Bruiser: I remember it was really cool because we all had a voice. We all got to speak. It literally went around the room and discuss your feelings and stuff like that. It was really cool to be heard. There was, right at first, that little trepidation. Like, ‘Are they going to listen to us, or is it just a thing to keep morale up?’ Then slowly we started seeing the changes that were on that white board change. Then it was like, ‘Oh, they are listening to us.’ It was cool because some of the stuff that came up—and I’m not talking little, little things—major things were changing. It was really cool and it made me proud to work for a company like that. Because they’re listening to the talent. They’re listening to the guys that are out there and are putting their bodies on the line and stuff like that. They’re listening to us to make it easier for us. I think that’s why when the pandemic hit and we had another big town hall meeting like that over Zoom, we were all able to speak what we felt going into the pandemic. Because when the pandemic started none of us knew what was going to happen. We didn’t know anything going on. The company is willing to listen to us. Because we had done that first meeting and they had listened to us, going into the pandemic it was really cool because we know, ‘Hey, you’re gonna hear our voices. You’re gonna listen to us. You’re at least going to consider what we’re feeling right now.’ I appreciate working for a company that listens to its employees and wants us to be better. Because they know if we’re better behind the scenes, on camera we’re going to be better.”
Brawler Milonas: “Yeah, and it’s great to feel like you have a voice. I think the ironic thing of it all, some of the stuff that was out there—and I don’t want to rehash negative stuff—but it’s like, we’re all guys at Ring of Honor, we’re a lot of guys that just cut our teeth on the indies. So we weren’t used to some of the perks and the things that a company like WWE provides and does. Ring of Honor was already doing a lot for us that they don’t get credit for. There are certain expenses on the road that if you worked for a place like WWE, it’s coming out of your pocket. Where Ring of Honor takes care of certain things like that. So there’s so much the company’s already doing for us and to have that voice for them to want to make it better, just made it solidified even more what I already believed.”
Fightful: “Throughout the pandemic, I heard nothing but great things about how ROH treated their talent. Not just their talent, [but] talent they weren’t even obligated to treat well and they had on per appearance that they paid for those appearances that they had scheduled as well.
Brawler Milonas: “Yeah. They did things they didn’t have to do. Me and Bruiser were under contract, but we were working per night. I don’t think a lot of people even realized that about us at that point and we didn’t miss a paycheck. We did not miss a paycheck and the paychecks kept rolling in week after week when they didn’t have to. They were under no obligation. I think there’s so many people that have that same story. They didn’t cut anybody. They didn’t release anybody. They didn’t cut production staff or anything like that. Ring of Honor took care of everybody.”
Beer City Bruiser: “We did a reset and the reset was one of the best things that happened to the company. I remember being in Vegas. Brian was getting on his plane when they canceled everything. So Brian wasn’t in Vegas, but I was in Vegas. I remember landing in Atlanta for my layover and everything was cool, and then landing in Vegas and that’s when the e-mails and the text messages came out of everything getting canceled. You have that worry like, ‘Okay, what’s going to happen?’ I remember them sending a request that ‘If you’re in Vegas, meeting tomorrow morning at this time at Sam’s Town. If you’re not in Vegas, stay home.’ We discussed what was going on. They discussed some empty arena matches just to see what the feel was like. Mandy Leon stepped up and she organized a thing for everyone that was in Vegas, for all of us to get together and go out on the town and forget about what’s going to be happening. ‘Let’s just focus on being together right now, the few of us that are here, and let’s have a good time.’ She went above and beyond to do that. It was awesome. When the pandemic hit and they did the reset, like Brian said, we were per night guys. My number one worry is wrestling is my job. That’s how I make my money. Obviously, there’s no wrestling going on anywhere. It was like, ‘How am I going to support my family?’ I have daughters getting ready to go into college. I have bills and all that.
"Ring of Honor said, ‘Don’t worry. We’re gonna take care of you guys. Help us put up content, we’ll take care of you.’ So Brian and I created Happy Hour. Never missed a paycheck. Never. If we had any concerns, they’d call us once a week and check in on us mentally, which employers didn’t do at the time. They’d call, ‘Hey, how are you guys doing? Are you holding up?’ It was awesome. Then when they did the reset and the production came out, we weren’t on the Pure tournament, obviously, because Brian hadn’t yet made a switch to Pure, but we got to see it on TV and it made us excited because, ‘Man, look at this. This is awesome. The video bar, the new ring set-up. This is gonna be great when we get back to work.”
Brawler Milonas: “You know this, Sean, you’ve been covering this industry for a while. This is a cold business. This is a hard business. This is one where companies and people and individuals make hard decisions and decisions that affect bottom line and I think Ring of Honor deserves a ton of credit for doing the right things. Because it would have been easy for them to say, ‘Hey, look. We gotta cut, we gotta cut, we gotta cut,’ like some other places were doing. I don’t think people realize, Ring of Honor is owned by a large corporation. So the set-up is while Ring of Honor isn’t this giant wrestling company, it’s big, but it’s not on the scale of a WWE from a number of employees standpoint. There’s still finances and things like that impact us that impact everybody. They chose to do these things they didn’t have to. I think they just deserve so much more credit for that.”
You can check out Fightful's coverage and review of ROH's Final Battle 2021, the final ROH event before their hiatus.