(originally written Jan 11, 2010)

Hello again. I got a ton of great feedback from my “Insider Terms” post, and no negatives, which came as a surprise to me. So I thought I’d follow it up with another “insider” article about improving the public view of your promotion. This is really geared more towards promoters and bookers, but wrestlers will understand it as well, and hopefully agree with some of it. I just want to list a few things, a few little tips and practices I’ve noticed some promotions do, that I’ve mentally written down during my travels as a pro wrestler, that make a lot of sense but are used rarely. Some of these sound stupid, but when you look at the big picture, make perfect sense. Please note, this list is in no specific order.

  • Too many names: Does every single show need to be named ? I see far too many promotions naming every single show they do. I also see several promotions running shows every month. So, each year, these promotions need to come up with 12 names for wrestling shows. And if you plan to be in business for a while, you better come up with an entire list of names to use, and don’t repeat any. I saw a fed I used to work for, a few years ago, use the name “Redemption” for a show in January. Their July show was called “Redemption 2″. Where’s the originality? Where’s the creativity? Do you really need a different name to describe the exact same thing you’re doing every month? Why can’t it simply be called WRESTLING? Is that so terrible? Hypothetically, let’s say I own the Joey Image Wrestling Federation, ok? The JIWF. Do I have to have “Redemption” in January, and then “Revenge” in February, and then “Revolution” in March, and then “blah-blah-blah” in April, and so on…? Zero of those seem important. Why can’t I simply have ads that say “JIWF presents pro wrestling action on Jan 1, 2010!” ? In my opinion, you cheapen your own product when you name every show. WWE has a weekly show called “Raw”. They don’t change the name every week, or every month. It’s just “Raw”. One name, 52 weeks. Every month, they have a show that has an actual name. Unforgiven, Wrestlemania, Bragging Rights, No Mercy… you get the idea. Those shows are important. They’re not the same shows we see every Monday night. They are special, they have added value, they have meaning. If you have 11 shows a year which are unnamed, and are simply advertised as a pro wrestling show, then you have one named show a year, which seems more important? Even putting the named show as an addition, not a replacement, to one month so there are 13 shows a year, 2 in that one month, will make it seem even more special. In that situation, it gives the impression that this show is so important that it gets its’ own date and doesn’t take the place of an already-existing monthly event.
  • Too many names: (Just a quick note because people have asked, but the word “name” basically means a famous guy. In a match where you have Joey Image vs. Justin Credible, it’s obvious who the “name” guy would be.) People, unless you’re Vince McMahon, stop trying to book Wrestlemania every month.  I understand people booking name guys to draw money, but relax. If you have 7 matches on a show, having names in 3 or 4 of them is way too much. I used to co-own an indy promotion here in New Jersey, and I told my partner all the time, and still continue to tell him in 2010 “STOP trying to book Wrestlemania every month, because you will NOT do it”. Most feds have a full-time roster of independent workers they’ll use regularly at every show. Ok, so use THOSE people. Book names, but book them sparingly.  Suppose you have 7 matches: 5 singles, and 2 tags. That’s 18 wrestlers alone, not including managers. There is no reason more than 2 of those 18 should be names. If you have a regular roster you use, book THOSE guys first, and put THEM over. What good did it do Justin Credible to beat me back in 2005? None, because he’s already over with the crowd. He’s already famous, and when he’s on indy shows, he’s already important. The only person who can be elevated in the business by a victory in a Joey Image vs. Justin Credible match is Joey Image. It didn’t happen that way, and that’s the bookers’ fault, but..another story, another day. And that reminds me of another issue I have with booking names on shows. Going back to the hypothetical “Joey Image Wrestling Federation” idea here, suppose I book Kurt Angle and Justin Credible for a show. I’m not going to put “Former TNA & WWE World Champion Kurt Angle” and “Former ECW Champion Justin Credible” in the ads for this show, there’s no reason to. I’d say 75 – 80 percent of people going to indy shows are diehard wrestling fans. Those people will already know who Angle and Credible are, why do you need repeat it to them? And why do you need to repeat it by advertising someone else’s promotions name? What you should be putting in those ads is something to the effect of “making his JIWF debut, Kurt Angle!”, with a picture of him. The word “debut” lets people know instantly, just by reading this ad, that he’ll be back and working on future shows.  Had the ad said “Special appearance by Kurt Angle”, well with the word “appearance” you’re telling fans that this is a one-time thing. What you also should be doing in those ads is naming your own independent talent. List 2 or 3 matches of your own independent guys, and don’t list the names’ matches. People do not need to know that Kurt Angle is going to wrestle against Joey Image, they’re not paying to see that. They’re paying to see Kurt Angle, regardless of what he does, so stop wasting valuable advertising dollars filling ads with useless, unnecessary info.  If 100 people are going to pay to see Kurt Angle, all 100 will still pay to see him whether the flyer says “Kurt Angle” or “Kurt Angle vs. Joey Image”, and you need to use the least amount of words possible in some printed ads to save space, which in-turn saves money on ad sizes, less words, less photos, less graphics, etc.  Also, when creating these ads, mention your titles. “Also appearing: US Champion (whoever), (Former heavyweight champion, Wrestler A), (wrestler B)”, etc..you get the idea. Always put YOUR OWN ideas, characters, talent, shows, and promotion name over, before putting over someone else who is already over, especially guys who are current on TV around the time frame you want to run the show. Those guys are on TV every week, and you’re announcing their names like it’s the second coming. I got news for ya bud, it’s not. And do NOT advertise someone who will not be there. If someone tells you they cannot make the show, or, does not confirm 100% that they WILL be there, by the time you’re ready to have the ads created/printed/completed, then they do not get advertised. It’s as simple as that. If you have a verbal “maybe” from a Kurt Angle (I just keep using him as an example), and you put him on the flyer, well now what fans see on these flyers, in their mind, is set in stone. So Angle says “maybe”, you put him on the ad/flyer/commercial/whatever, now TNA decides to call you and say “Ya know what, we need Kurt for a house show that night, sorry”. Well, there goes tons of WASTED advertising dollars, because you didn’t want to confirm before advertising someone. This sounds like a joke, but it happens ALL THE TIME, and promoters simply do not learn. Pro Wrestling is a business, and the goal is to make money. But please, don’t be a moron about it.  Not to mention, all the money it takes to pay these names takes money away from paying your own indy talent.
  • Buy ref shirts: I’ve worked for far too many promotions who ask referees to bring their own shirts. I understand this, but why can’t the promotion have 1 or 2 of their own ref shirts, with their logo on them, in case a ref forgets his, or it gets dirty or lost or something? I’ve seen referees work matches in t-shirts because they forgot to bring their ref shirt with them, and it looks AWFUL. And refs, please, learn how to dress. No jeans, no hats, no shorts, no sneakers. Have some respect for the ring you’re standing in, and for the people working in it. Look at a WWE ref. You think they’re on TV and dressed like that out of coincidence? No, it’s because they’re professionals. So, YOU, too, need to be a professional. Damn, I can’t think of anything I’ve seen in a ring while watching a live show, that irks me more than a ref who looks like an idiot. Black dress pants, plain black dress shoes, and a referee’s shirt. THAT is the uniform. Either YOU wear it, or go back home and I’ll pay someone who WILL wear it.  And please use refs who look like refs. Why does TNA book Slick Johnson to ref a Jay Lethal match? Slick Johnson is RIPPED. Look at his arms, he’s BIGGER than Lethal. Where is the logic there?  If the ref looks like he can kick your wrestlers’ asses, then he shouldn’t be reffing. Throw tights on him, he should be wrestling.
  • Make your talent look like wrestlers: If I’m a promoter, and a wrestler is wearing any or all of the following: jeans/jean shorts, sneakers, t-shirts (that do not promote himself or the company), wife-beater tee, tank top t-shirt, or anything else that is not tights and boots, unless it is part of their gimmick, get out of my ring, go home, and dress like a wrestler.  This is actually a very common one that a lot of promoters thankfully believe in: the look.  When the crowd is sitting there watching, and 2 guys in the front row are wearing  jeans, sneakers, and t-shirts, and they’re watching a guy in the ring who is wrestling in jeans, sneakers, and a t-shirt, who stands out?  Neither of those 3 people.  Who SHOULD stand out?  The professional wrestler.  Go back and watch WWE after the WCW/ECW invasion angle.  Two excellent examples: Billy Kidman and Justin Credible.  Watch their earlier WWE stuff (jean shorts, wife beater shirts), and then watch a few months later, when Vince McMahon made them get tights and boots, and “dress the part”.
  • STOP with this one entrance way stuff. If you only have one door you can use as your entrance, get some wood and build an entrance with two seperate doors. Heels one side, faces the other side. Dammit, it looks horrible every single time two sides are fighting against each other, but then go to the back using the same door/ramp, etc.  At least give us the illusion that there may just be two seperate locker rooms. I understand if you’re doing some kind of “brawl to the back” type thing, but otherwise, two sides should = two entrance doors.
  • Repeat venues: I see too many promotions trying to book in a bunch of venues that are scattered all over the place.  Let’s say cities A, B, C, and D are all right next to each in a row, within 15-20 miles of each other. You book a show in A, then the following month, B, then in C, then in D, then back to A.  Far too may promoters are using and booking in far too many venues. If you book in A, B, C, and D and then repeat that, you will build a following of regular fans (CUSTOMERS) in each of those cities, as well as pulling fans from one city to another based on the furthest distance apart being about 45 – 60 miles away.  So for about a 40 minute or an hour drive or so, the fans will come. BUT, if you book in A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and then J, then back to A, well, fans in any city after D, and MAYBE E if you’re lucky, are not going to come to the show. You need time to build the crowd. If you book monthly, and city A is booked in January, that makes city J booked in October. After 10 months, fans aren’t going to remember what happened, who’s who, or what’s what in the Joey Image Wrestling Federation. But if I book in A in January, then back to A in May, the events of January are much more fresh in people’s minds. You can branch out to E, F, G, H, I and J later, but build a following of loyal regular fans first before you inadvertently spread yourself too thin and then end up not being able to draw anything because you ran from one city to the next too soon and didn’t give the previous city enough time to build a fanbase.
  • Stop your booking year within the first two weeks of November. I know I talked earlier about booking 12 months a year, but I’ve seen a lot of promotions only book until November, and it makes sense. I’ve been wrestling for 10 years. And for 10 years I’ve noticed there are less shows in December than the rest of the year. The reason is simple: the holidays. People are buying tons of gifts, people are working late/overtime/weekends, people are out all the time at the malls, some people even vacation to warmer climates in December. A lot of these people cannot afford wrestling tickets, nor are they interested. They have a ton of other things going on during the holidays to worry about who currently holds the JIWF US Title. My advice: You do your last show for the year in early November. Using a 2009 calendar, I’d have booked my last show for the year on November 7th (Saturday) or the 8th (Sunday). This means even if people complain that the holidays are coming up and they don’t have money for tickets, they’ll realize there’s still about 6 to 7 weeks of work before the holidays, and that equals 6-7 weeks of money they’ll be making. And a good idea to use during this early November show is to end on some sort of “cliffhanger” match or angle, to draw interest for your promotions’ return. If you’re into showing backstage skits or segments on a big video screen, you show the new NWO attacking Mick Foley on-screen and Hogan running in the room, as November 7th’s cliffhanger. Then you use your website and ads to hype up your promotions return, in mid-January. People think running a wrestling show is getting some money, getting some wrestlers, getting a building, and setting a date. No, there is 100% more work needed than just that, especially in a company’s first year to two years in existence.

There are several more things I could add, but I can’t reveal everything.  People need to think for themselves.  As always, comments are definitely encouraged and appreciated.

See ya in the ring!