From a humble start in wrestling, Brandon Tolle traveled all over the globe on his way to some of the biggest companies in the world.
By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
Brandon Tolle, head official for WWN Live and current Impact Wrestling referee, has officiated matches all over the world. His resume boasts matches in the US, the United Kingdom and even a recent seminar in Australia where he recently spent eight days.
The world traveler had the most humbling of beginnings in the Midwest, however, before he would go on to ply his trade worldwide.
“I got into the business in 2003 in Kentucky for a company that was honestly more of a Christian outreach company,” Tolle explained in an exclusive interview with The Gorilla Position Editor In Chief Ryan Boman. “I paid my dues – went to shows, built rings, helped set up.”
It was while Tolle was working from the bottom up that he found his calling. “About six months in, I went to a show and the promoters forgot to book a referee,” Tolle said.
His trainer, also at the show, asked Tolle if he would take the opportunity and Tolle agreed. By the end of the show, he and his trainer agreed that Tolle looked and felt like a natural officiating the action more than being a part of it.
After working throughout the Midwest starting in 2007, Tolle became an official for Ring of Honor in 2008 alongside Todd Sinclair and Paul Turner. Tolle split his time also working for the National Wrestling Alliance out west, including for Championship Wrestling for Hollywood officiating matches with then-NWA Worlds Champion Adam Pearce.
In the fall of 2012, Tolle would find a place to call home as he began his tenure with WWN, working for the now-defunct Dragon Gate USA and Evolve. Today, Tolle is as much as fixture there as head booker Gabe Sapolsky.
“To put it in perspective, my first Evolve show was Evolve 11 and we are now coming up on Evolve 108.”
Throughout his time officiating, Tolle also spent considerable time in Canada working for Border CIty Wrestling. His association with BCW founder Scott D’Amore would bear fruit when Tolle was brought into Impact Wrestling along with Kris Levin and John E Bravo at last year’s Bound For Glory pay-per-view.
The world of Impact has been an eye-opener but one that Tolle has handled well. His first night with the company was the aforementioned November pay-per-view – a first for Tolle who had done iPPV shows and others that were streamed online but never a cable pay-per-view. Tolle said the experience of learning to hit time cues and work within those parameters have helped him grow.
Tolle also says he is in good company in the current Impact locker room, which is looking to stake territorial claim to the industry. The hungry roster, Tolle said, works hard each night to not only grow their name, but that of the company they now call home.
“The roster that’s here and the talent that’s here has given 110% every night out of the gate and I believe it shows in the television product,” Tolle said. “We had ‘Redemption’ in April and I believe it was a redemption in terms of a relaunching point. We are now forging our future with this company.”
Tolle likens his success in the industry to the basic tenet that a referee is the ‘silent’ third man in the ring – with an emphasis on silent. “The best referee is the one that’s not seen,” Tolle said. “If a referee is paid attention, nine times out of ten there’s something wrong. If you’re watching a match and you don’t notice the ref, they’re doing their job.”
Tolle’s desire not to be noticed in the ring is his way of lending to the otherall bigger picture as he believes the story should be at the the forefront. In his opinion, those moments that fans are buying into the match and the story are the reason they’re watching.
“Even in this era where we have the internet and the ‘smart’ fans try to know everything we’re doing – even the lifer fans – everybody still wants to see that suspension of disbelief,” Tolle said. “It’s the suspension of disbelief that creates those moments that people can just enjoy wrestling. Even your hardcore fans that buy tickets to everything religiously, even they want that suspension. I’m a huge proponent of that because it’s what got me into wrestling.”
Tolle said that aside from those moments that fans can truly can sink their collective teeth into, what has helped the growth of wrestling is the openness of companies willing to work together and the proliferation of platforms that the sport can be seen on. He cites Evolve’s relationship with Progress Wrestling as well as Impact’s relationships from several companies ranging from Defy Wrestling to Lucha Underground and several points in-between. Tolle believes that a wide range of talent and styles – and the ability to see them all – is responsible for the growth of the sport in the modern era.
“I believe that we are in an era of collaboration. Impact has a great formula for that with the partner promotions we’ve worked with across the world,” Tolle said. “It’s not a big world anymore. I said this at some of the seminars I did in Australia – with the technology and the platforms we have available now, wrestling from around the world is more accessible around the world than it has ever been. Because of that, the talent pool is a lot deeper. To be able to draw from that pool across all these different companies around the world is bringing wrestling up as a whole.”
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