Monday 12 November 2012

Professionalism and Politics in UK Wrestling By Robert Shade

Recently I wrote an article about Wrestletalk TV which elicited a fair bit of controversy including from the producer and host of the show but the hub of that article was me fiercely defending UK Indy Wrestling against what I felt was a show depicting it in not a very good light.

I am open minded enough though to realise that whilst the UK scene can be extremely good there are some issues with it which in reality are helping those who do like to try and shine a dark torch onto our scene and that is some people who work within the industry and I include certain promoters and certain wrestlers in that.

Now I am increasingly coming across and communicating with a number of the ‘players’ on the UK scene and the vast majority of them are really nice and terrifically passionate people who put so much into the business that we love that I hold nothing but the absolutely highest respect for them but they are being let down by others in the business whose constant public behaviour is bringing scorn onto the scene and when the UK scene does receive a blast from those who do not follow it but who seem to like taking a stab at it these individuals do us no favours at all.

First of all the use of Social media such as twitter and face book is from personal experience a wonderful tool to use to communicate with people in the industry, it is how I am getting to know many people and it is also how I obtained this writing column, I have to date not as yet met my ‘boss’ Stuart Rogers in person although I hope to change that in a couple of weeks time but I have held many private face book chats with him about my articles, ideas for them, feedback on them etc but the key to my point there is the word ‘private’.

Over this weekend just finished I have read a number of posts from current UK wrestlers and current UK promoters which I have to say are very entertaining to read and provide in many ways an insight into how the business works ‘behind the scenes’ that the rest of us otherwise would have no idea about but the point is should we know?

What would happen if a Premiership footballer started to write on public walls on face book about an argument he had had with his manager or a dispute he had had with a teammate and he went further still and detailed what the argument was about then the next thing you know his manager is on face book continuing the argument online and for all to see - it just would not happen would it as for whatever it’s faults football along with other sports is professional, you simply do not wash your dirty laundry in public.

A couple of months or so ago I listened to an interview on The Indy Corner pod cast with a current prominent UK wrestler who in what was a highly entertaining interview with plenty of insight spoke very openly about issues he had with other people in the industry right now including his issue with promoters or certain promoters, one of his gripes was the ‘unprofessionalism’ of a certain promoter because that promoter had hired out a venue whereby it was possible for the general members of the public to see the wrestlers going in and out of their changing room and also even bump into them in the toilets!

As an aside I was at that particular show and saw nothing wrong with it, let’s face reality they are talents that we enjoy watching but they are not Premiership Footballers or even WWE superstars they are UK indy wrestlers where if they walked past a 1000 people on the street they would be lucky if one person recognised them but back to the point I am making, that particular wrestler droned on and on during this interview about standards in the industry and how promoters can be very unprofessional etc etc yet this very same wrestler is one of the worst offenders on face book on public walls often airing in a very public way his personal grievances with promoters or other wrestlers including sometimes spilling the beans upon what the atmosphere within certain changing rooms are like on some shows - it cannot work both ways, the guys working on our scene are either professional or they are not, they cannot bemoan the fact that they feel they are being treated in an amateurish fashion yet then behave exactly in such a manner and constantly so.

It does open a question up about should wrestlers openly add as ‘friends’ to their face book or ‘followers’ to their twitter people that they know are fans who go to watch their shows but they do not know them in any other regard?

I see the argument from both sides they do not with to be aloof to those who effectively at the end of the day they perform for and who they get their wages from but is a line crossed once that social media communication is made? I realise that this happens in other sports particulary on twitter but I suspect that the interaction is not an open as it can be in our case.

Generally such open communication again as I’ve found personally can be a great thing in terms of a community and there can be benefits on both sides to such a relationship but at the end of the day we are the wrestlers ‘clients’ and in most other walks of life you do not add your ‘clients’ to your personal social media as you wish to retain a professional relationship.

The issues I see with this are along the lines of how healthy is it for the business, for the general public those who pay the money to attend shows to witness an online argument between two or more wrestlers over issues such as changing room atmosphere or the reasons why such and such a wrestler is appearing on one promotion regularly and others are not and you then get ‘treated’ to the rather unsavoury writings of one almost taunting the other about how he is much better off than the other because he is on a show and the other isn’t.

I move onto promoters, I have read a lot and I mean a lot in the past 2 - 3 days on Facebook of promoters openly criticising other promoters, reading talk of defending their ‘territory’, I have read accusations from one promoter instantly going public accusing another promoter of stealing footage from his shows and asking people publicly who this other promoter is - this is just so unprofessional and just paints our industry in a bad light, to my mind if the promoter who was aggrieved really wanted to find out about his footage that this other promoter is purportedly using then he can simply type into the search box of face book the name of this other promotion, he had the name as he splashed it all over face book making allegations about them, therefore can only conclude that he wished to make bad publicity for the other promotion.

In the same weekend I have read about a separate promotion to the above two potentially losing a star perfomer which they were building their show around an import from America but hey presto this wrestler may not appear now because a mystery person has reported to the authorities that the wrestler may not have the necessary paperwork to enter the UK and the aggrieved promoter has publicly put it out there that he feels a rival promotion was responsible for this, my opinion on this one is I can understand certainly the anger but do not put it out publicly you are making the industry you work in look tardy and bitchy and again unprofessional.

The next one is about a promoter who I have only heard good stuff about but not actually been to any of the shows, this promoter was commenting upon another post (which I shall refer to shortly) and all of a sudden on comes a current wrestler and starts fighting on a public wall with this promoter about how well attended or otherwise this promoters shows are even going to the extent of posting a picture on the wall of a near empty venue to prove his point, the promoters retort was this was taken before the show started - again what on earth is going on, if they have a dispute settle it like men privately, do not air this stuff in public it makes you as individuals look sad and yep unprofessional and it paints the same image for the industry which you say you love!

Finally there is a promoter up in Yorkshire who I have read some quite incredible stuff on over the weekend, I have read similar stuff in the past where this guy puts on shows which basically nobody goes to watch, he then starts fights with whoever he can find (real ones not kayfabe), ends up leaving the building whilst his own show is in progress leaving it to one of the wrestlers to run and seemingly book the show and then when it is over amazingly he returns and starts a real! Streetfight with one of the wrestlers which I read was about a girl, this of course then gets plastered all over face book including comments from the wrestler, I went onto the promoters face book and all that is on his wall is aggressive comments and threats to people, unbelievable describing this as unprofessional does not even start to say what I truly think!

On a different theme as this was not something that happened all over the Social Media to quite the same extent although face book again in a way was involved was recently a promoter was advertising a show then suddenly stopped promoting it but said no reason why, various fans left messages including myself in terms of what is going on, what are the matches, how do we buy tickets etc etc, there was even a message on there from the guy who ran the venue which was supposed to be used for the event saying to the promoter if you do not respond by the end of the day I shall assume the show is cancelled as you have ignored all of my messages to date, the promoter also ignored the messages left by the fans of this promotion which previously had put on some very good shows - again so unprofessional and just lets the industry down so badly not so much the cancelling of the show stuff happens but the complete lack of communication with everybody and then when eventually the promoter did make a posting there was no apology or explanation and it has certainly ensured that I shall never attend a future show which they may put on and I’m sure others feel the same but it does not only harm his promotion but it taints the indy scene with the same brush.

To summarise I do find all of the above really sad in so many ways as most of what is happening on the UK scene is incredibly positive, there are some promoters out there who are absolutely professional in everything that they do, how they prepare a show, how they run it, how they communicate with the fans etc and equally there are so many outrageously good wrestling talents out there who put on incredible matches in front of crowds which in the decent promotions are growing with every show.

The support is there guys, as I say the crowds are getting bigger when you do put on a good show, wrestling is the most watched program most weeks both on Sky Sports and Challenge TV, the passion shown by the UK fans on Raw and Smackdown last week was a credit to this country and therefore if the industry as a whole can tighten up on its standards and pull together the potential to create something really special no matter what part of the UK you live in is clearly there but remember each and everyone of us whether wrestlers, referees, announcers,promoters,writers, fans etc are all doing what we do because we in common possess this passion for the same thing, just think how much better it would be and the perception of it would be if instead of politiciking, bitching, publicly berating others in the industry we acted together (or at least bickered in private!!!).

You can follow me on @Shadetheshoot.

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