The promoter is the person who, on the night, is God. They are the people who decide who wrestles and how they want the matches stipulated. As seen by Taboo Tuesday, the wrestlers are puppets to the whims of the person in charge.
Despite Taboo Tuesday being a psychology student’s perfect study example, it did give the audience foresight into the power that Vince McMahon has over his wrestlers in the WWE. However, as we Brits were fortunate enough to see the prime example of psychological vote rigging directly before the show, an example of user choice, but they’ll force the fan to make the decisions they want, by tailoring a RAW show to get people into their way of thinking.
So what is life as a promoter like in the less glamorous world of the UK Scene? I would have to say, from talking to promoters as well as watching them that it is the most stressful thing a person can do within the space of 4 hours. The problem is, unlike Vince; the promoter doesn’t have a legion of none wrestling workers to rely on when things go tits up. British promoters will have people there who want to wrestle, usually every one of them, if not then they are too young to wrestle and probably too immature to trust with a responsible job.
The major problem is money, more so the lack of it.
Let’s take the ring for example, for a first time hirer you are usually someone the ring hirer doesn’t know. So expect to be paying around £300 for the ring hire, with transport and setup all thrown in. It is a lot cheaper if you know the ring hirer, but at £5 a ticket, that means you have to draw 60 people to pay for the ring alone. That is without hall hire and advertising costs!
Having your own ring is another option, but you have to transport it and put it up yourself, which isn’t hard, but with some wrestler attitudes, getting someone to help you take it down is another matter, but some would think that usually they are not getting paid for wrestling, so why should they take a ring down? Which I suppose is a fair point, however this attitude tends to exist when they are being paid to wrestle as well.
I have noticed that there are two types of promotion, one is the story line based promotion and the other is the match-based promotion. Story line being a local promotion who tend to have a lot of regular visitors who know the characters and want to follow in their adventures. Where as match-based are much more faithful to the carnival tradition of moving from town to town, therefore emphasis can be put more on the storytelling in the match as opposed to what that wrestler did to another 3 months ago.
Immediately you see that the promoter has a lot of decision to make, not only monetary but choice of venue, ring, wrestlers and even what type of promotion they are going to run. However it is the fact that promoters put in a lot of their own money towards running a show wrestlers are expected to show them the ultimate in respect and gratitude. You may think that is a little odd, but seeing as the promoter could be losing money while you as a wrestler are entertaining people, only because said promoter has allowed you to, is something that the wrestling fraternity frown upon if the wrestler shows no gratitude.
The major problem for promoters I think, and this is from a lot of the stories I have heard from other wrestlers, is that they are always faced with someone who thinks they can do it better, that the promoter’s decisions are wrong. Perhaps they feel that one wrestler is a waste of space and should be replaced by another wrestler (who in most cases is a good friend of the thinker). Usually it is the fact that they are not given enough limelight.
I’ve heard stories of wrestler’s parents going backstage to discuss why their son has not been headlining, stories of some wrestlers trying to start a whisper campaign against another wrestler, who isn’t there to defend his or herself and, probably the biggest crime of all, people using their friendship with the promoter to try get themselves a place on a show.
You will find promoters and wrestlers will be friends, but that doesn’t engender the right for the wrestler to use that friendship to their advantage. A promoter’s first duty is to create a balanced show that they feel will have the audience happy that they paid their money to go and see, not to book their mates out of some sense of duty.
Wrestling has never been about how good a friend you are, or how senior you are compared to other wrestlers, it is your style, your ability and your willingness to be flexible for the promoter. If you don’t be the Arabian prince wrestler, then you can be certain that someone else will, there is always someone waiting with their gym bag in the boot of the car.
I think anyone who takes on the mantle of being a promoter deserves our thanks, especially when they build what they are running successfully. They take a risk whenever they put a show on, and sometimes I think our lazy British “I watch it on the telly” attitude is to blame.
So next time you are umming and ahhing about going to see a match, just think about the promoter and what they will be going through to entertain you. They are the people who bring names to you at their own expense, so say hello to them once in a while ‘k?