by Evan Ginzburg
Wrestling- Then & Now Issue 147, November-December 2002
Anybody who reads this sheet or listens to my radio spot knows that there is no stronger supporter of independent wrestling. Over the years, I've interviewed literally hundreds of wrestlers in print and on air, many times being the first to give a worker some publicity. And trust me when I tell you that "unknown" indy wrestlers don't make for radio ratings or sheet sales. But my mantra is, "Support the indys," and I sincerely believe that at $8-$20 a ticket, it is one of our best entertainment bargains.
At the same time, independent shows often leave me scratching my head in disbelief. It's almost as if making money is the last thing on their mind.
These are but a few "magic memories" of recent years. I'll keep the promoters' names out of it, as I certainly don't mean to embarrass anyone--and if anyone recognizes themselves, take this as constructive criticism from someone who has been around this game for quite a while.
SABU APPEARS BUT NEVER ADVERTISED
When you have a superstar name with a large following, why bother to advertise him? That might actually sell tickets. Instead, try to pop the crowd with "a big surprise."
The promoter actually told me that.
Makes a helluva lot of sense to me, particularly when the guy was paid well, and his appearance didn't generate a single ticket sale.
Oh, and the show lost money, too.
BOOK A GREAT MAIN EVENT WITHOUT TELLING ANYONE
Wrestlers and journalists told me a recent indy main event was just fabulous. They also told me, they
A) Knew both wrestlers were on the card, but didn't know about the match-up, as it was a last-second deal
B) Some didn't even know the show was on, due to lack of publicity.
Makes sense to me.
Now this promotion puts on some damn good cards but relies way too much on their Web site. They seem to forsake more traditional means of publicizing their shows. (Said promotion isn't big on comps to media, either. Why waste a good empty seat on people who will actually help get the word out on your promotion?) All in all, they probably could have sold a lot more tickets if a match of this caliber was actually advertised, as plenty of people I spoke to kicked themselves when they found out about it after he fact. I know I did.
WRESTLERS DOUBLE BOOK THEMSELVES ON SAME NIGHT
This one probably isn't the promoter's fault, unless of course they "mark out" and book a guy they know is notoriously unreliable. But it's not unusual for a name wrestler to line up two shows, see which one is going to be more profitable, and blow off the lesser one.
CANCEL THE SHOW--DON'T TELL THE WRESTLERS OR THE FANS
This actually happened recently. The show was canceled, wrestlers drove from all over the area without hearing the bad news, and reportedly waited outside for hours for a card that never actually happened.
The indy pay scale is bad enough, but nobody deserves to be treated like this. Sheesh.
Folks, I could go on and on.
Bryan Alvarez of Figure Four Weekly (a wrestler himself) recently cited the fact that indys almost never draw, regardless of the fact that name wrestlers appear on them. He believes that people buy a product name, i.e. WWF rather than just "wrestling." I tend to believe this because the WWF rarely even announces their matches--people come for the "WWF experience."
Thus, a theory I've come up with:
As stated in several articles, we understand the weaknesses of the indys, so why not advertise their strengths? I honestly believe that every poster should clearly state something along the lines of, "Meet the wrestlers (particularly if there are name guys on the show.) Free autographs. Take pictures with the wrestlers. Bring the whole family. A fun, inexpensive night out!" And make sure each and every fan walks out of there excited and happy. Hell, there's certainly enough talent on the shows to entertain the fans.
But first you need them in the building.