I wrote this several years ago, somethings have change some have not. I may update this is I get some replies we will see. I hope that the people that read this understand were I am coming from. See it for what it is and enjoy.
The sickness, like “Rowdy” Roddy Piper talks about in his book, In the Pit with Piper, I am infected with the sickness of professional wrestling. Only I suffer from the fan version of the sickness not the one that infects the wrestlers.
I have tried to hide the sickness, only to have it come sneaking back into my life sometimes after years of absents. Just like some can’t shake VD I just can’t seem to shake the wrestling bug, it will not let go of its hold over me. I usually try and hide my feelings about wrestling from most people in my life just as you’d hide a mistress as most people don’t understand. They look at it as either being fake or stupid and as if you like it you must be a few sandwiches short of a picnic, well maybe I am a little nuts to be watching wrestling and be over 40 years old, but I am selective about what I watch.
Sports Entertainment VS. Pro Wrestling
I love Pro Wrestling, when done correctly is like fine theatre and ballet. It drags you in and tells you a story from start to finish making you want to believe it. Actual wrestling takes place and interviews hype matches, there are very little if any skits. There may be blood there may be tits and asses but it makes since and everything falls into place.
I hate with a capital H sports entertainment. It’s like watching bad amateur dramatics. Bad skits and worse acting, I have seen porno that was better written than some of the skits I’ve seen in sports entertainment. Sports entertainment insults your intelligence and leaves you wondering what is going on. Recently I watched ECW and out of an hour show about twenty minutes of it was actual wrestling, and the matches that they had where pretty much squash matches with absolutely no real effort put into it. The wrestlers seemed to be just, “calling it in.”
Sports Entertainment has no soul; you have wrestlers that have to have gimmicks created for them just so the corporation can exploit them and their image to sell everything from Video Games to T-Shirts. These wrestlers change gimmicks like most people change their underwear. Women are treated as nothing but sex objects they have to have big tits and no real wrestling ability to succeed and if they have small breast but can wrestle they must be lesbians. Story lines are created by writers not wrestlers or bookers; the same story lines seem to be repeated over and over with no creativity what so ever.
I understand that the promoters of sports entertainment are trying to make money just like any wrestling promotion; however there is a fine line between having a soul and not having a soul or selling your soul to make money. It boils down to how low will you go?
Another thing that is killing wrestling is the lack of time on TV. Back in the mid-80’s on any given weekend I had a lot of choices in wrestling. There was Mid-South, WCCW, World Championship Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from
, WWF, Portland Wrestling, AWA and a
lot more. Florida
Now what is on TV? Not much WWE brands, TNA, PWO and NECW, the last two are only if you have a dish or live in the area that they are broadcasted in. So, wrestling on TV is very limited. (Update NECW is already off of Comcast sports NE and is not only available on Comcast on-demand feature, the lasted two shows on Comcast sports NE.)
What has taken wrestling’s place on TV? Infomercials and more importantly MMA/UCF type shows, which compete for the same fan base as wrestling does. If promoters don’t start getting good quality programs on TV wrestling will go back to being seen only in person at the carnival Yes, it cost money to go on TV, but if you can’t reach people in their home the chances of your promotion really succeeding is very low.
Wrestling what to do and what not to do
Let’s start with promotions. Honestly there really needs to be something like the old NWA. This is the only way that wrestlers will grow and promoters can have some sort of control over a territory, let me explain with a little more detail:
One thing that in my opinion that has really killed wrestling is that lack of a central governing body over multiple regions. This will allow wrestlers to grow by moving them to different areas giving them the opportunities to wrestle different people and not ware out their welcome in one promotion. Without having an NWA like promotion wrestlers seem to be more likely to stay in the same area and wrestle the same person over and over again. Quite honestly I never want to see Billy Two Eagles and Buddy Wayne wrestle each other ever again. Several years ago every promotion seemed to have them go against each other and after the second or third time it just was boring. Further more if two guys are just learning the sport never wrestle anyone different how are they going to ever really grow as wrestlers?
As for promotions back in the day when the NWA was around everyone had their area that they ran shows in and everyone stayed in their area, occasionally you had rogue promoters but that was few and far between. Talent was moved around and there was only one promoter for a town.
Now there is a true glut of promoters out there. Let’s take
for one. A few years ago
you had three or four different organizations running shows in the area and for
the most part all of them seemed to be drawing a few hundred people at best,
but I was at shows where there was maybe 25 people there and they where mostly
friends and family of the wrestlers. Portland,
In a town the size of
should be only one promotion maybe two if you really want to stretch it. This
would actually keep some conditity in the matches. I have been to one promotion
where two guys are feuding and in another promotion they are the best of
friends or my favorite one is a wrestler is “injured” in on promotion, but just
fine in another. All this does is make things convoluted and takes away the
legitimacy of the sport. If you have one promotion then you don’t have to worry
about things like this coming up. Portland
Honestly I don’t see anything like the NWA ever happening again, egos and anti-trust litigation pretty much would put a stop to that, but something needs to change.
My number one complaint with a lot of the indy promotions is when the promoter/owner decides he wants to do a Vince McMahon and get in the ring and throw his weight around by making wrestlers kiss his ass or putting the wrestlers in can’t win situations or worse yet wrestle. Examples: Rob Black and Lizzy Borden in XPW, Ron Niemi in
and as of late
Ken Stillwell in the Portland ExtremeWrestling Promoters and Owners should be treated
the same way as small children, seen but not heard. Florida
Referees are very important to the context of the match; from start to finish they control a lot. They tell the wresters how much time they have left and when to go home (i.e. end the match). They do a lot more that that they give credibility to the match, if there was no referee there would be no match. It is okay to show the referee miss interference from the outside or be incapacitated in some way, however the crooked official to me is almost as bad as the promoter coming down and interfering in the matches. It’s like well we are all out of ideas so we will have a heel referee. Occasionally having a rouge official will work, but more time than not, it’s too predictable and makes for a bad move for a promotion.
Also, the attire for a referee should be a black and white striped shirt and black pants. No baseball caps, dew rags, no T-shirts and no jeans. You need to look professional, not like you just walked in off of the street.
With wrestlers you need a good mix of talent, young wrestlers and old alike. The old wrestlers can teach the young guys the ropes and give them experience that they need with a variety of talent and the older wrestlers can still do their thing.
While we are talking about wrestlers lets broach the subject of ring names. The following names should never be used again:
1. The Assassin
2. Mr. Wrestling
3. Anything with the word Jihad in it
4. The Beast
5. Anything with Ninja in it.
6. The Psycho
7. Super Destroyer
8. Mr or Dr X.
They have been used so many times they are far from original, so try something different for a name be original.
Some names that I have heard that are so bad, I really have to ask what the hell where they thinking. Here are some that come to mind:
1. Muscle Gang What would you think? Tag team champions? No just a guy who looks like one of the Wyanns brothers with a lot of muscles.
2. Khan Kussion I mean seriously what the hell are you thinking, especially if you are working as enhancement talent.
Maverick Yeah I wanna be sued, so I am going to take the same name as an
NBA franchise. Good move. Dallas
4. Gluteus Maximums Calling yourself fat ass, that will move your career up the ladder I bet.
5. Maximum Capacity Again a big fat guy, see number 4.
6. John Doe Way to be original, I will give this guy credit he does wear a mask, so in away I think it kind of works. I guess if could be worse he could have spelt it John Dough (please do not look this name up if you are at work with that spelling).
7. Jeremy Ron Think about it for a second.
8. Allan Sufferllo Kind of funny in away, but still what the hell are you thinking?
9. Krotch Seriously is that the best you can come up with. When I first heard this name I thought I miss understood, no it really was Krotch. What’s next Krotch Rot or Itchy Krotch?
Bottom line a name shouldn’t be a joke name. This isn’t punk rock where having a silly name is a positive thing, this is wrestling and you want a name that jumps out and suggest powerful winner not let’s be cute and clever.
This will be pretty short and sweet. Don’t use something stupid like claming to be from the future (New Breed & Lazertron in WCW) or to be 300 years old like Lepprokon (PXW). This is saying I am a joke, please don’t take me seriously, which is not what you want to project as a wrestler or a promotion. Have a gimmick that makes you stand out and you are comfortable with, that is half of the battle
Short lived OWF handbill
Matches and Cards
First off make sure that you have matches that makes since and are coherent, no one wants to watch a match and at the end go, “that made no sense what so ever.” A few years ago NWF put on a match at the Clark County Fair Grounds as part of the fair. One of the matches was a “grudge match” featuring “Playboy”Buddy Rose Vs. Col DeBeers. Yeah this was some grudge match before the match they told us how much respect, admiration and love they had for each other, yeah some grudge match there. I just watched a DVD from a promoter from
who I’m not going to name, but he had a bra and panties match on the card.
Normally these things are train wrecks but this was even worse that that this
was a 747 plane crash. It was a guy Vs. gal bra and panty match, and it was so
bad, naturally the guy lost and to make things even more confusing there was a
run in from some wrestler who had a grudge against the gal so what does he do
he attacks the other guy in the match, and yes he has a bra on, for the love of
god make it stop, but I guess there is no god because the next thing I know the
manager valet of they guy that came out gets her top ripped off by the gal that
was in the match. I think the icing on this turd was that the gal who was
wrestling was in a leg brace and couldn’t even really move. I was left going
what kind of idiot books a match this stupid that makes your promotion look
Next don’t have a bunch of gimmick matches on the same card. Seeing ten matches that are all steel cage matches or three way dances gets really old pretty quickly. Same goes with hardcore matches, seeing match after match of people hitting each other with florescent tubes and cacti gets old quick.
Another example of bad ideas for having a gimmick match just to have a gimmick match I recently watched was a flag match. That was okay but at the end both the wrestlers attacked the referee and placed their respective flags over top of him. What? That made no sense at all and the announce team didn’t seem to understand what was going on either as to what had just happened.
This should fall under the next section, but I’m going to put it here. Make sure that the announcers know what the stipulations of the match are. I just watched a submission hold ladder match. The announce team had no idea what would cause the match to end; it seemed stupid and made the promotion look amateurish.
Cage match battle royal. I have seen these before and they usually work like this: Guys get thrown out of the ring and the last to wrestle to a pin fall in the ring, right? Wrong in this promotion they decided to have a bring your own weapons cage match battle royal. It was a mess, you had guys coming and going as they pleased, no one went over the top of the cage everyone went through the cage door and potted plants where involved, not a good idea.
Matches need to make since and tell a story in the ring like theatre, hardcore is great and I am glad that it is used, however if in every match someone goes through a couple of tables or gets beat with a chain, and bleeds; then those chair shots, tables and bleeding really start to loose their value. If they are used sparingly they can really make the crowd pop.
While we are talking about matches lets talk about “run-ins.” Run-ins can work if done sparingly, however if you start doing a WCW type angle when every match ends with someone interfering what does it say about your promotion?
Using a combination of styles; mat, hardcore, luchadore and submission wrestling adds a lot to the matches and will keep things from being too repetitive.
While we are at it lets talk about promotional “Invasions.” Don’t do it I have to admit that the first ECW Vs. WWF Invasion was great and wonderful to watch. Everyone after that has just plain stunk. It just doesn’t seem believable. If you have two organizations that are really feuding the feud will be settled in the court room not the middle of the ring.
Lastly and this may sound strange coming from me, try to stay away from profanity in promos and announcing. Hearing the word “Fuck” after every other word lessens the words impact and just gets repetitive also it may cost you fans. I am not saying that you need to keep in PG, just use the profanity sparingly.
In My opinion announcers along with wrestlers make or break a promotion. If you have good announcers that can call the match like a true sporting event you are a head of the curve. When I am talking about great announcers I am talking about people like: Gordon Solie, Rod Trongard (AWA), Don Coss, Jim Ross (prior to him going to the WWF/E) Lord James Blears (AWA), Lance Russell (Memphis), Marc Lorance (WCCW), Bill Mercer, (WCCW/Wild West), Boyd Pierce (Mid-South), Joey Styles (ECW) to name a few. These people knew how to call a match in the ring and make you believe in it.
As for bad announcers the list is pretty short, as I have tried to forget a lot of them but here is the short list: David Crocket (WCW) sounded hysterical most of the time and down right boring the rest of the time, Larry Rivera (XPW) having an announcer that can not speak English very well may seem like a good idea on paper, but it reality it’s just plain stupid. Lord Alfred Hayes (WWF) he could not read queue cards/teleprompters to save his life. There are many more that have been forgotten through time and deservedly so.
Things that drive me crazy those announcers do:
1. Talk during the ring announcements. Shut up so we can hear where the wrestlers are from and who they are. This is really frustrating especially if it’s an organization that I don’t know much about. I want to hear who the wrestlers are and where they are from, not someone babble on about something else.
2. Describe what is going on in the ring, that is the most important thing you can do in your job. You are there to put the wrestlers over not yourselves.
a. Along those lines, I was watching a pretty big indy promotion that on a DVD set decided that it would be a great idea to have wrestlers call the match, wrong. During most of the matches all they did was try and put over themselves and trash talk everyone else, secondly when they weren’t doing that they couldn’t stop talking about the other’s gas problem. I mean what are you in the 4th grade? Grow up and call the match and act like an adult, no one cares about your farts.
b. Wrestlers/Managers should NEVER be allowed to be an announcer as a regular job. One or two matches are okay but never on regular basics, see above.
c. Another thing that is equally frustrating, but a necessary evil is talking about upcoming shows/matches. Yes, you need to get people excited about what will be happening in the future, but you also need to talk about what’s going on in the ring. If a whole match has been wrestled and you have not mentioned what’s going on in the ring you are not doing your job and should be fired.
d. Shit talking about the referees. This is a big no-no as far as I am concerned. If an announcer is always talking about how stupid the referees are pretty soon the people watching the tape/show are going to start thinking, ”is this promotion really worth watching if the officials are this stupid.” It’s okay to occasionally ask, “What was he thinking?” but if you are always saying they are idiots, you are hurting the credibility of the product. Aaron McGuire (OPW) and Dave Prazak (PIP) are examples of doing this the wrong way.
e. Face/Heel announcers: unless you are a big and I mean big promotion don’t do it. Most announce teams that do this end up playing the one-upmanship game and spend more time trying to be funny than actually covering the match like they should do. The only team that was able to do the face/heel gig was Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenen, because they knew when to go after each other and when to call the match.
As you can see I expect a lot out of announcers as they can really make or break an organization.
Then next thing is to talk about is, choosing a building to host a wrestling show and pricing the tickets. Pick a site that best suits the promotion:
- If you are expecting a large crowd get a large hall, however if you don’t think you are going to draw many fans then go with a smaller venue. That being said if you can’t draw a couple hundred people to a show, you shouldn’t even be running a show in the first place.
- If you have high-flyers on the show, make sure that you don’t have low ceilings that could result in wrestlers being hurt.
- Use mats around the ring, the last thing you want are your talent getting hurt or killed during a show; it kind of puts a damper on things.
- As for pricing the event keep it reasonable.
- No one will want to pay ten dollars for unproven talent or talent they have never seen before
- If your show is just a bunch of students try for donations, asking people to pay to see students isn’t fair to your fans. Once the students start learning a little bit more and you have a good mix of veterans and students, and then think about charging something.
Last but not least don’t rely on using a bunch of people just because they used to be someone in WWF/E, WCW, and ECW. Yeah, it will draw some people in the door, but will you be able to draw enough people to cover your expenses? If you can’t make expenses then you are going to not be around for very long.
Also, the key to promoting is promoting your product. Don’t rely on the internet or word of mouth to get people to come to your shows. You must advertise. Taking out ads in the local weekly papers or even asking businesses if you can put up a poster or two will help. Even offer the business an ad in your program, say the size of a business card if they will put up a poster. If you can afford TV or radio that’s great, but the likely hood of that actually happening is going to be rare as it is expensive.
It might help to do benefit shows, try and hook up with a charity that you have ties to or want to contribute to; this can lead to positive publicity for the promotion.
Another thing to keep in mind is your demographics in your community. If say you have a large Hispanic population it would be a good idea to have some luchadore matches that would appeal to the Hispanic population.
Wrestling need to get back to the way it used to be by keeping fans for the long term. Having people who watch wrestling for a month or a year and then move on, doesn’t build loyalty. Get people interested when they are young and make sure that you can keep them interested as they get older. When I first started watching wrestling in the early 80’s you had young kids and older people not many middle aged people, now all you have is a bunch of people in their 20s and that’s about it. If you want to succeed you need to find away to bridge that gap and bring in more people.
The key to good television besides good talent and announcers is production value. A show with poor production value will not sell and no one will want to buy it or watch it.
Things not to do with your production:
1. Don’t use a lot of pyrotechnics, your not the WWE or TNA, leave that to them and use your money for other things.
2. Make sure that your ring announcer can be heard.
3. Make sure that your announcer or announce team have good levels and don’t sound muddy. If you can’t hear the announcers there’s no point in having them.
4. One thing that I have witnessed several times is the use of over dubbing announcers over other announcers. This is a big no-no and will make your product look cheap, especially if you don’t go back and re-edit it. Two examples of what not to do regarding this:
a. In the twilight of the Khfoury’s version of
wrestling they decided to re-edit some of the shows and over dub an announcer
over Don Coss, however they didn’t edit out the shots of Coss, you are seeing a
video of Don Coss but hearing someone else talking. This made the show just
seem tacky and amateurish. Portland
b. On PWO’s first show two shows on Prime Time
they lost their audio due to a wrestler hitting the table that the equipment
was on and destroying the sound board. Not what you want to have happen on your
first show on a regional sports network, that is also, picked up on satellite
TV. They did have an announcement as to what had happened, but like Ohio wrestling did
they just over dubbed over it. Needless to say it didn’t leave a real positive
view of the promotion. Portland
Things to do with your production:
1. Have graphics for your announce team and for wrestler introductions. It does not need to be anything really special just the wrestlers’ names and maybe your logo.
2. Lighting, you have to have good lighting so people can see what’s going on.
3. Camera angels, you need at least one set camera and two portable cameras. However for your portable cameras stay away from small hand held portable cameras. They look herky-jerky and very amateurish.
4. Have a ring that looks professional. Nothing is more disgusting than a ring that has a bunch of holes in it and patches.
5. Make sure that you mike the ring well; it will help your production values.
The internet is a valuable tool in wrestling, if used wisely. Promotions need to have a website, pure and simple no ifs ands or buts, having a website gives people a view into the promotion and tell you if it is worth your time or not. That being said I really don’t like it when I see a promotion that just uses Facebook or Myspace. It looks cheap and lacks imagination and should be used as a last resort. The best idea would to be have a Facebook or Myspace site but also a site that the promotion controls all the content. This will keep any unhappy wrestler running down the promotion on the promotions own page.
Things that a website must have:
1. Wrestler Bios.
a. Bios should tell where the wrestler is from.
b. The wrestlers height and weight,
c. any titles held,
d. Most importantly a picture.
2. Upcoming events.
a. Where the show is at
b. How much is it
c. Who’s on the card
d. Directions to get there.
3. Match history, not important but not a bad thing either
a. Full matches are good, full shows are better, but it’s better to have something than nothing.
b. Have Matches on You Tube and hot link them from your web site.
a. Sell your product DVD’s, T-Shirts, whatever.
Things web sites should not have:
1. Dead links, nothing is worse than clicking on dead links.
2. Along with number one, the web site needs to be kept updated information. Your front page should not be advertising a show that happened months ago, it makes it seem like you are out of business or just don’t run shows that often.
3. Music playing, nothing is more annoying than having some crappy music playing while you are looking at a web site, it drives me crazy. I don’t care about your music taste.
4. If you only have pictures of ex-WWF/E, WCW or TNA stars on your web site what does that say about your own talent? Not much.
5. Bad video quality. If you are going to have video up make sure that it is viewable. JAPW for the longest time had some of the best video on line of their product, then they started using another provider and the picture quality was worse than horrible to the point that it was unwatchable. Pretty soon I just gave up trying to watch their shows, which was really sad because they where one of my favourite Indy promotions. Image means a lot, no pun intended.
So there it is some, my thoughts on wrestling take it for what it is. Now you may be asking yourself, “Since you think you know so much why don’t you become a promoter?” Well, quite honestly I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars to throw into a promotion and I don’t have the time to do it if I did.
I love wrestling it’s helped me battle depression and has kept me entertained for well over twenty years. Do I see a future for wrestling? Honestly I don’t know, I do think that if it keeps on going the route that it is going it will continue to stumble and falter and end up relegated to the carnival that it started in, time will tell.
I wrote the above in early 2010, as 2010 is about to close I thought I’d add some to this As of the end of the year NECW will cease operations after a decade long run. When I first read this earlier this month on their web site I was stunned. Sheldon Goldberg did are pretty good job of promoting NECW, and I am saddened that he is closing down the business, but I am not surprised.
ECW was put to sleep and hopefully for good this time. PWO is still on the air, but I haven’t honestly followed them in a while because of the lack of consistency. WEW is gone from the airways, probably not a bad thing, but at least it was kind of wrestling even if it was bad women’s wrestling.
I see more and more promotions going under for a lot of the reasons that I stated above. There is not a lot of good quality product out there and the quality product is just not getting out there. All I see on sports channels and channels that 20 years ago would have had wrestling is cage fighting and infomercials, and honestly can you blame these people? If you where a cable station would you want to take a risk picking up a wrestling show that the promotion might be around for six months to a year if they are lucky? Probably not, or if they handed you a demo and it looked like the person who produced it had flunked out of film school, then again probably not.
When I think of Professional Wrestling, I still don’t see a future in it, The WWE could close down and still last forever and make money on their tape library alone, so is there really any reason to put out a good product when you really are the only kid on the block? Not really, as long as you are making enough money why not keep it going until the cow is milked dry. TNA can’t seem to really take that next step to make them anything but second rate and these two federations get most of the media attention, unless something really changes, wrestling is over, but hope springs eternal maybe we will see another ECW like product come along and change everything, but then again…..