Opinion and fact.
by Saz on 9 December 2009
It’s always very interesting seeing people mix up opinion with fact, especially in an opinion driven subject such as wrestling. The exacerbation of the internet, the ability to be able to say any rubbish without any form of fact checking makes the whole thing even more confusing.
Just so we are on the same page:
1. A belief or judgment that rests on grounds insufficient to produce complete certainty
2. A personal view, attitude, or appraisal.
1. Something that actually exists; reality; truth.
2. Something known to exist or to have happened.
3. A truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true.
In short a fact is something that can be measurable and recorded, where as an opinion is something that is concluded from the digestion of facts.
Most people swim in a pot of bullshit when it comes to wrestling, some add more ingredients to it and some stir the pot for their own amusement.
As a wrestling promoter, I have to sift through the bull to find the opinions and the hard facts that really matter to my business and it is a tough job, as a pro wrestler I listen to opinions given by almost everyone concerned with wrestling, wrestlers, smart fans and casual fans alike.
For example, there have been many occasions where wrestlers have said to me “You should employ blah blah, they are really good!”. I go and find them out on Youtube and find their match riddled with mistakes and absolutely no story whatsoever in the match, just a load of flips and nonsense that will probably end their career earlier than it should. Basically, someone I wouldn’t have on my shows.
So why would our opinions differ? A word called cognitive dissonance, the human being’s ability to see no fault in themselves. I can almost guarantee that they or a close friend of theirs has wrestled that person and felt, in their opinion, that they have had a good match and therefore because they felt good about it, the feeling has transferred to the opponent’s ability, whilst, from my less emotionally driven perspective, I’ve looked at the wrestler from a set point of view, which is “Will this wrestler add anything to my company?” and found the guy wanting from my set criteria.
Then there are the facts, they were trained by blah blah, they had a one day session with blah blah, they’ve wrestled for blah blah and they’ve wrestled against blah blah. Because of that, they have to be good!
My response? Just because you’ve been trained by blah blah doesn’t make you blah blah, just because you’ve wrestled for another promotion doesn’t give you justification to wrestle for mine and once again, wrestling blah blah just shows testament to the professionality of blah blah for being able to wrestle you, not your ability to wrestle them.
Oh, and I nearly forgot the classic “fact”, I’ve been wrestling for X amount of years, so that automatically makes me good. No, the fact is you’ve been wrestling for a long time, whether you are good at wrestling because of it is a matter of opinion.
The strange part is that this sort of “These facts make me good” attitude is completely opposed to what really makes a wrestler, the ability to entertain fans, which is what I, as a promoter, look for in a wrestler.
Here’s a couple of facts:
1. People pay good money to see a wrestling show.
2. If they don’t like what they see, they won’t come back again.
So the simple opinion to draw from this is making sure that people who come to see your shows feel entertained. Hence, all the stuff that wrestlers have measured themselves on previously is only part of the puzzle. 13 years wrestling makes no difference if the tumbleweed is rolling around the audience.
Here’s another couple of facts:
1. A UK based company is registered with Companies House and is given a distinct numerical number to define them.
2. Any company offering goods or services need to display their company number on their website by law.
Now, I challenge you to look through all the websites you know that have a wrestling promotion on them and see which ones are legitimate companies.
It’s another “fact” that by using the term promotion or federation, it legitimises something as a business. That’s bollocks by the way. It’s really some guy who wants to play at wrestling and is sticking all the money in his back pocket.
If you want an answer to why UK wrestling is so poor, one of the reasons has been given above, because anyone can do it and anyone does.
Before I was asked to become a promoter, I was doing some work for Wrestling 101 with a wrestling-savvy fan named Mitchell and we were invited to come see a brand new promotion, we got to interview and talk with a few famous wrestlers and it was a neat time. However, the one thing that struck me was the fact that the promoter’s assistant proudly claimed that they had paid for the flights (yup), accommodation (fine) and also paid the wrestlers in advance…. WHAT NOW????
I looked at Mitchell and he looked at me and we had already known what was going to happen on the night. Most of the wrestlers just called it in, hell, why not? They got paid, so it’s not like the promoter had any grounds with which to control them.
That promotion was registered as a company, so I’m certainly not letting myself off the hook by saying just because you’re registered and pay your tax, you’re actually good.
Funnily enough, it wasn’t until I was promoting that I heard a real life example, where a fairly famous British performer was asked to follow a storyline, he refused to do it and did his own thing. The promoter still paid him, basically because he was scared of the consequences of not paying. When a wrestler has more stroke than the promoter, then you know there is a problem.
I will be the first to say I haven’t seen it all, because wrestling is like the universe, ever expanding and ever changing, so you cannot pin it down to any real fixed laws.
However, one thing that will always exist in British wrestling is ego, it makes me laugh, you see, I know from experience as a pro musician that ego is the reason you get up in front of an audience and the reason you try to be the best you can be. Sooner or later ego gives way to confidence, in the end you know you are good at what you do, so you approach it in a very matter of factly way.
Wrestling egos in Britain amuse me, because people always try to circumnavigate the “try to be the best you can be” part and skip to the top of the bill.
Let’s compare to the US, professional wrestlers are exactly that, they work entirely as a wrestler, hence, their whole lifestyle is defined by their success, they will be the best they can be, lie, cheat and steal their way to the top because simply they make more money at the top of the bill and therefore will have more money to feed them and their families.
UK wrestlers are mostly semi-pro, they support their lifestyle with a paid job, they don’t need to be at the top because usually wrestlers are paid the same amount of money by the promoter, unless they are someone who will draw and they will be paid more. There’s no desperation or risk of starvation with the lack of work and there is no need to try to politic your way to get to the top or the belt. Wrestling in the UK should be about the love of doing the job, so why are so many wrestlers scrambling to get to the top of something that, in effect is meaningless apart from to satisfy one’s ego?
I take great offence to someone saying that they should not job to so and so, that, I think, lacks any form of professionality and gives way to the ego of the individual wrestler, some use the excuse of character, I think it’s a lack of character in the individual.
Wrestling is about telling a story, it’s not about who can politic the events to make themselves look better.
Another classic is “Well, who else is there [apart from myself] to be able to do the job? I am the most experienced/celebrated/loved wrestler on the roster. It’s just common sense to make me win.”
My answer to that is that if you’re constantly on top, there will never be anyone else will there? If a promoter is not willing to take a few risks here and there, then he will not progress, people complain about Vince constantly shifting his focus, but he doesn’t want to make things static, British fans are a hell of a lot more fickle than US fans, if you keep things the same way constantly, then they will tire of it very quickly.
Of course, in the end, if you stand in the way of the ego, they’ll say they’ve had enough and do their own thing, because, as said before anyone can be a wrestler and anyone can put on a show, hence why we have a surplus of wrestling companies in Britain, all claiming they are the Number 1 promotion, when really it’s the promoter promoting himself and a load of other people who just happen to be on on the night as well.
Then there are the wrestlers who have been told in training that they need to work harder before getting on shows and thinking “Sod this” and go off to wrestle for people for free because promoters get a free act for their show that really stars them and they don’t really care about the rest of it anyway.
So are there any positives? Yes, there are the wrestlers who are willing to learn, who realise that they need guidance, are willing to listen and not just hang around with the elite crowd and talk their way onto shows.
There is also something very liberating running a legitimate business, it allows you to explain in proper terms to people why you have made the decisions you have, it allows you to straight talk to people. Simply put, I have let every one of my wrestlers know that their spot isn’t safe and competition for places on a show makes for better performances. It’s not a personal decision, it’s a financial one. I’ve learned never to be personal in business and promoting, someone wants to politic in my locker room, they will find themselves out of the door very quickly. I tolerate none of the shit that goes on behind the scenes.
Of course, someone with a little bit of guile would respond with “Yes, but aren’t you just like all the other promoters, vying for a little bit of power?” I’d agree, except I was asked to run the promotion, I was given the task being the only one with the finances to support growing a company. I’ve had to deal with a lot of unfair crap during that time and strangely, it’s just made me a stronger person and a hell of a lot more confident that my opinion matters, only in my little world of course!
Whatever I write here, someone is going to have thought of a counter argument for it and it is up to you how you take on the information brought here. Wrestling is a sea of opinions and in the end the only one that matters is yours, that’s cognitive dissonance for you!