Considered the number two wrestling news source for years, the Pro Wrestling Torch is going strong today as among the tops in the business.
Founded in 1987 by editor and lead writer Wade Keller, the Pro Wrestling Torch has long existed in the shadow of Dave Meltzer’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter. Keller played WCW to Meltzer’s WWF for years—well, up until the 90s, when he was playing WWF to Meltzer’s WCW when pro wrestling fortune, for a time, shifted more toward Turner’s WCW group and Vince McMahon’s WWF floundered in a ratings and creative hellstew.
These days, the site touts itself as the one that reaches the most wrestling fans every week, a claim that is dubious at best, unless strictly adhering to the narrow net the site casts in order to proclaim itself so.
The PW Torch does offer a frequent live, call-in show on BlogTalk Radio that no doubt reaches a number of wrestling fans in a way few other sites can claim. It also makes its weekly newsletter available on Kindle—something the Wrestling Observer still has yet to do.
One of the Torch’s longstanding, key selling points is the weekly newsletter, edited by Keller, and assistant editor James Caldwell, which is probably best compared to the Figure Four Weekly newsletter rather than Meltzer’s Observer newsletter.
It features a weekly feature story, followed by countless reviews of wrestling shows from the week, and other notes from around the wrestling world. Occasionally the Torch still offers the feature that put it on the map—that being written interviews with wrestlers past and present lending their perspectives and points of view on the wrestling industry.
Over the years the Torch has boasted a plethora of interviews in its Torch Talk feature with wrestling personalities from Verne Gagne to Mick Foley.
These days, editor Wade Keller has continued the tradition, offering live interviews with guests in his Torch Talk series on his LiveCast, interviewing notable guests like Lanny Poffo on his decision to allow his famous brother Randy Savage’s posthumous induction into the WWE Hall of Fame, as well as Sean Waltman on WWE developmental talent of today.
Unlike many of the other top wrestling news sites on the web, the Torch boasts an air of longevity and legitimacy few can rival. While the days of digging up dirt behind the scenes, with locker room scandal and gossip may be long gone in the pro wrestling insider business, the Torch ably manages to continue a tradition of offering top-notch interviews with well known wrestling personalities, publishing articles and editorials with a strong perspective of the wrestling industry, and being a leading provider of breaking news in wrestling.
The latter among those is made possible chiefly because the Torch boasts among the largest staffs of writers in the wrestling insider business.
Keller and assistant editor James Caldwell are joined by other writers such as Sr. Torch Columnist Bruce Mitchell, Sean Radican, and Pat McNeil, who all lend their opinions to top stories in the business each and every week, as well as who provide their voices to the many Torch audio shows available to download, both by members (ad-free) or to the public (with ads) from BlogTalk Radio.
The site’s VIP features tend to offer little in the way of exclusive wrestling news articles, however. By and large, the news one might see on their homepage throughout the day is the same news members read in the VIP section.
The site, like many other free sites covering wrestling news, breaks its news articles up into clearly identified articles covering topics of the day, with headers alerting readers to whether it is coverage WWE, TNA, ROH, Japan, etc..
The Torch also clearly labels each article with an easy to find byline letting the reader know who is reporting the news they’re reading—a novel concept which seems to be followed by all but one of the major wrestling news sites.
The benefits of Torch membership are focused on VIP audio shows from the site’s personalities—including daily VIP Hotlines from Keller, and weekly shows from Mitchell—as well as VIP, subscriber-only “overtime” segments with LiveCast guests.
There remains, too, the weekly PW Torch Newsletter which is downloadable as a PDF, or as a text document on the site, too.
Interestingly, one of the things that sets the Torch newsletter apart from the Wrestling Observer and Figure Four Weekly newsletters is that it actually offers digital exclusives to members who download the PDF rather than receiving the print edition in the mail.
Many of the articles in the Torch elaborate further on news originally talked about during the week, and on their audio shows, and often explore angles a little deeper than time or space permit during the week. Seldom does the site hold back news strictly for the newsletter.
If there is one drawback to the the site it would have to be the varied audio quality on the shows. Often times the audio sounds as though the host is calling in over a phone line, with static and drop offs occurring more regularly than one would expect for a premium wrestling news site.
The Torch’s reliance on third party software like BlogTalk Radio may actually be hampering its ability to deliver high-quality, better-than-expected content to its listeners on a consistent basis. Between that and Wade Keller’s frequent, absent-minded mistakes in plugging his microphone in properly, there are times when the audio shows presented are unbearable to listen to.
Still, one gets the feeling in consuming the content at the Torch that these are professionals who take seriously their role in presenting the best content they’re capable of to their readers and listeners. Their commentary is thoughtful, timely and well-presented more often than not, and while Keller tends to read his VIP Audio reports verbatim from previously written material (which can tend to leave them feeling forced and less than organic, or conversational), the points of view presented are thorough and provide a knowledgable perspective that is neither too cynical, nor sycophantic of today’s wrestling product.