Sunday, February 17, 2013

Too many promoters, not enough fans

Promoting is a thankless job. And sadly, there are too many people who jump into it, thinking they know better, and making life hard on the good promotions.

I feel that there are too many people out there, who really do believe that running a wrestling company is just like how you see on TV.

Walk or run to the ring. Bark orders at some people. Make a few guys hate you. Get the crowd to either love you or wish you'd fall face first into a pit during a porcupine orgy, pat yourself on the back, leave. Oh, and let's not forget the obligatory strut around the ringside area, occasional commentary, and a few times a year, a main event match against your best loved wrestler.

Some of the people calling themselves promoters actually do think promotion is like this, and they have no clue how badly they're embarrassing themselves in front of the legit promoters.

All the stuff I just described? That's for TV. Hulk Hogan, Vince McMahon, Triple H, Eric Bischoff, Dixie Carter, Jim Cornette, when it's their turn to play the authoritative figure, they play it to the fullest. But largely this is for television. There's much more to promoting than just barking.

The License ~ In most states, you need to be approved by the State Athletic Commission in order to run a show. This varies state by state.

In Wisconsin for example, any moron with an inflatable "Jumpy-Gym" and a Slip N' Slide can call himself both a promoter and a Heavyweight Champion, while in Kentucky, you had better run your show as smoothly as Ring of Honor, or they send ninjas after you. (They don't kid around out there.) Your state's rules may vary, but in most cases, you will need a promoter's license. You need to make sure that your promotion is legal and above board several months ahead of your first show. Otherwise, buy a ticket and sit down with the rest of the fans, before you start getting sued.

Web and Flyer Promotion ~ No princess, I don't mean spamming Facebook with an event your low-card wrestler posted, and then expecting the fans to "magically" be able to find the seedy bar you're holding a show at in the middle of nowhere, (You know who you are) I mean REAL promotion.

Any promoter who is not willing to promote his own show, and relies on the promoting done by others, is probably ashamed of his company, and should be avoided.

The first order of business is having a real website made. A tangible page that looks flashy, but should load properly, even on the oldest of machines. Something that has the roster posted clearly, upcoming events, videos of what your roster can do, merchandise and even a few goodies for the fans. You should have links to social media pages (like Facebook) and you should use those pages daily, but they are not meant to replace an actual website. You use BOTH.

Second, you need to have flyers printed for each event ~ at least one month in advance. They can cost quite a bit to print, but with them, you can flyer businesses, (with permission) pass them around, post them on poles, anything to get wrestling fans to notice you exist. Get a street team to help if you can.

Building Rental ~ I don't even want to imagine how much this costs, cheapest I've heard of in my neck of the woods is $700 to rent a small building for about 400-600 people, and that is NOT counting heat, electricity, water, ect. Some buildings actually to charge more in the rental fee for this. And this is for a one night show! Imagine renting this for a full week. Yikes!

But you need a REAL building in order to look like a true professional. If you hold an event at a park, backyard, playground, parking lot or (I can't believe I'm saying this) under a tent (you know who you are), you do not look legit at all. You look like yet another backyarder, and nobody respects those guys.

The Ring and set up ~ Yes, you need one. And if you try to substitute a mattress or a trampoline for one, trust that I will find you, and do unspeakable evils to you:

There's no discussion in congress over the use of a branding iron, and I don't need a license to own one.

Rings do not come free, neither does ring rental. But along with the ring, you also need lights, a barricade, ring steps, commentary booth, more than one camera, a stage, and none of this comes for free. You will need to purchase or rent these things one at a time. Do have a show without them makes you look like an amateur.

Ring Crew ~ You can't just hand a lollipop to your 8 year old niece, and ask her to build a ring. You need people for that. Sometimes this comes in the form of the wrestlers and refs already on hand. But generally you need people over the age of 18 to work for you, so in case there's an accident, people don't start calling you a child abuser. (You know who you are. Put down the Cheetoes self proclaimed Cornholio.)

Wrestlers, Managers/Valets, Referees and Ring Announcers/Commentary ~ I can't believe I just typed that out. It's the most important thing a promotion needs in order to be called a wrestling promotion at all! I'm actually sad that I just had to spell this all important part out.

You need fully trained wrestlers for the show. And by fully trained, I mean as in he was trained by a real-life pro wrestler. I certainly do not mean he was trained by "some guy" who used to work at Wal*Mart or "some guy" who used to play sports in High School but suffered a knee injury, NO!!! I mean the boy/girl was trained by a dude who actually has been in the ring as a wrestler for at least a few years. They're not that hard to find, and certainly there are legit wrestling schools out there your wrestler could have been the student of.

Trained referees could mean the difference between life and death to the career of a wrestler. Not only does the ref call the match down the middle, he has to know when a wrestler is too injured to continue, and he has to make the call to the back to send for medical help. It's important to have a guy on hand who knows what to do when the action gets to be too intense. Have a few of them.

A manager or valet should be over the age of 18, dress like their character, dress as though you were already on television, be able to speak and get the crowd to care about what is going on and actually be there based on talent.

I had a hard time not crying tears of blood, when I was informed that Punishing Pete recently had a valet who was underage, half-naked, and (legit) prancing face-first into the ring post, insisting she was going to be like her hero A.J. Lee and become a WWE Diva when she grows up. Her father (the co-promoter) found nothing wrong with her dating Pete for a while (until she dumped him for someone older) and also found no problem with letting her 11 year old little brother act as time keeper. There's at least 45 things WRONG with this story, and I hope and pray this company is no longer running shows, for if they are, I have no hope left for the state of Wisconsin. That saddens me, as I have family and friends out there, and can name a few LEGIT wrestlers/refs that hail from there.

Ring announcers/commentary that are both knowledgeable and have good speaking voices are key.

Take for example your favorite Wrestlemania PPV. Most people associate Howard Finkel's deep resonance with the PPV of the year for WWE. It's a sound that says to the crowd "This is a special event".

You can't just send anybody out there. For a while, WWE had Lena Yada announcing, and currently in NXT, they randomly throw a young girl into the ring. They may actually think this will work for the sake of eye candy, but these girls sound like deflating balloons. You wouldn't accept this from a TV show, so why accept it in your company?

Squeaky voices, sleepy voices, and announcers who can't stay focused on the match are people you do not need on your show. There's nothing more annoying to the viewer at home, than hearing some guy babble on about how he personally feels about the champion, when he's supposed to be relaying the blow-by-blow of the mid-card match.

These elements are important, but sadly, much of wrestling's best promotions are being overshadowed on Facebook, by the image of the sham promoter.

A sham promoter either doesn't run shows, or if he does, he's paid people (usually his relatives) to show up and act like fans. He stiffs the wrestler on a payday, and won't even promote his own shows. Then he gets angry, Facebook trolls people he thinks are not good enough to be called wrestlers, and then gets butthurt when nobody wants to spend $20 a ticket on his event. These are the same morons who permeate YouTube with trampoline videos and give REAL promotions trouble.

And some of them have had it.

Recently, a few promoters jumped onto Facebook to call out the fan-pages, the sham promoters, and a few of the untrained, wannabe "rasslers" that Facebook and Twitter troll their real wrestlers, and to be honest, I don't blame any of them.

We need a clean-up in wrestling across the board. And for those of you who have forgotten what indy wrestling is supposed to look like, here are a few sites to check out:

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