Saturday 15 September 2012

When Does An Indy Promotion Cease To Become One And What Then Does It Become? By Robert Shade

(Above: British wrestler 'Dynamite' Pete Dunne - A Real Class Worker)

I do not know how many indy promotions in the UK exist, I am sure that somewhere there is an accurate record of the number but I recently counted 5 in Birmingham and Coventry alone and in addition to that I am aware of one in Tamworth which makes at least 6 in a round circle of about 20 miles!

In many respects this is wonderful for us fans, it provides us with a rich variety of shows to attend meaning that if you were so minded, wealthy enough (and not married!!) you could attend shows nearly every weekend of the year, sometimes more than one show a weekend, I was informed this week of a guy who attended nearly 200 indy shows in the UK alone last year!

It is also wonderful that there are so many people out there who are prepared to put themselves on the line for us but also for them to live the dream of being a promoter, you get to be Vince! If you prefer you can be Dixie! But yes the reality is that you can book matches, you can become personal friends with wrestlers, you can see the evidence of your own work come to fruition and witness potentially hundreds of people having the time of their lives at an event which would never have occurred if it was not for you the promoter.

Sometimes I have wondered in recent months what would it be like? I guess that you have to have some money in the kitty to start off with so that you can book a venue, hire a ring, hire commentators for the DVD which you need to help finance the ongoing project, pay the cameraman unless you are lucky enough to obtain a skilled volunteer! Also there is the printing of tickets,buying the raffle prizes and of course paying the actual wrestlers and referees and probably a whole load of other expenses which have not occurred to me.

If you do it well then I assume it becomes self financing although I would be surprised if any UK promoter is making any real money out of running a promotion, I think without exception they do it for the love and the passion of putting on the wrestling shows and living their own dreams.

How much thought I wonder do people who slate various indy shows on the internet actually put into the sacrifices in so many ways that the promoter makes when creating the show, I have seen face book posts from a couple of promoters where it is obvious that they cannot sleep, they are posting at 2.30am, 4.00am etc etc and sometimes they are open about the stress of it all going wrong on the day, what if a wrestler does not show, I listened to the Indy Corner interview with Noam Dar today and learnt that the Southside show I attended that the star attraction Davey Richards had thought it was an evening show and not the afternoon show that it actually was, he only just made it, there were a number of people in that crowd who had only traveled to see Davey in action, what would the promoter have had to deal with then, two days prior to that at PCW when I was also in attendance Jonathan Gresham for reasons unknown to myself arrived as I understand it nearly halfway through the show which totally wrecked the previously carefully laid plans for the show, matches were rearranged, it affected more than one match as the promoter had to ensure that he had the right type of wrestler in certain matches to make that match work no fault of the promoter but I read plenty of moans online afterwards about his booking of Gresham on the show, whilst the match was a letdown the promoter in my opinion had little choice given the timekeeping of the talent.

Referring back to the same PCW show, a couple of days before it happened the promoter posted on face book that he was pondering over whether or not to pay an extra insurance premium so that he could have up to 800 people in attendance, originally I think that the capacity for insurance reasons was about 400 and that had long since sold out, in the end he decided to pay the extra which was great as it meant I could then go! But he took a financial risk which I assume would have backfired on him personally if he had got the call badly wrong.

So we do have a lot to be grateful to our promoters for, sometimes things do go wrong through no fault of theirs sometimes I am sure that stuff does go wrong with a show that is their fault but we are all human!

BUT what if it all goes right? What if it keeps on going right and each and every show you grow and you grow significantly, again using the PCW example I watched an online documentary on You Tube about PCW before attending the show which incidentally was their first anniversary show, this documentary detailed how their crowds have grown from around 200 up to the point where the promoter sold 400 tickets weeks before the latest event and paid the extra insurance and then attracted hundreds more on the night.

The venue was very plush for an indy event, it was held in a nightclub and live music was on offer besides the wrestling HOWEVER by my estimation you would really struggle to get too many more people in there certainly people who would actually have a half decent view of the ring, yes they did have screens up which showed the action and that is really good in the UK but it is still not the same as being able to see the ring, after all you do want the live product if you attend in person.

So what does the promoter do? He strikes me as being very ambitious, he has recently set up a working website and talked during the show of something on TV, he is being very successful in attracting big names from overseas, amongst others Chris Masters and John Morrison will be appearing on forthcoming shows.

Does he make the call of once that venue is full it is full and he turns away any additional people who may want to come in or does he try to expand PCW as far as possible to get as many people through as possible into the PCW experience?

In my mind if he opts for the latter it is a policy fraught with risk, it would involve a more sizable venue, I do not know Preston at all so I have no idea what alternative venues are available but if such a venue exists I can only imagine that it would come at a greater cost, then he is under increased pressure to keep on rolling in the big names from overseas as if he commits to a larger more expensive venue and the crowds stop coming then PCW is potentially in trouble, the other concern I would have is I’ve experienced this myself in other sports, you can have a crowd in a venue that can hold say 300 and you have 280 in there and because it’s almost full and it’s a small venue the atmosphere is cracking and it feels like an occasion or you can have a larger crowd but in a much larger venue so you could have a venue that could hold say 2500 but you only have 750 in there, now that would feel almost empty and I’d imagine that a lot of the atmosphere would be lost due to the empty spaces.

Also part of the attraction of indy events I think for some people is the closeness to the action compared to WWE or TNA where you can feel quite isolated from it again once you expand too much and move into the larger arenas you are actually taking away from the product quite a number of factors which make people go in the first place which includes atmosphere, pricing, proximity to the talent,feeling of an occasion.

It is a difficult one to answer really, I can totally understand the quandary that any promoter in this situation may face,it is a similar issue as well if TV becomes involved, I have been to shows which live have been fantastic and the atmosphere has been awesome, I’ve purchased the DVD and I’ve wondered when watching it back why they cut the atmosphere out which of course they haven‘t but they simply do not have the funds to use the same quality sound translation etc as the likes of WWE do, unless there are high production values in any TV promotion you run a real risk of your product coming across as bland and nothing special even when in reality it may well be an incredible live experience, I also think that you run a risk of people opting to stay and watch it on TV instead of traveling to watch live for the simple economics of it being cheaper, then TV lose interest because of empty seats and no atmosphere and people have dropped out of the habit of attending live.

So I guess that the message I am trying to put over here to all promoters and I’ve only used PCW as an example from my personal experience, is all of you have my total respect and full admiration for what you do and it is completely understandable that you want your promotion to grow as much as possible but please if you feel in the position to take that next vital step just take a moment and think it through, we all love our indy wrestling and none of us want to lose any of our promotions!

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