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By Bill Behrens

What follows in no particular order are several wrestling related things, my opinion, or thoughts, maybe even insight, My Super 8″ (shout out to ECCW’s Jim Ketner, who is a class act and to this year’s Super 8 winner Jerry Lynn too)………although calling this “My Super 8” might be a stretch, as after all I am going to release this on the internet and on the internet opinion runs wild like a rabid & wounded wolverine, and very little of it is super.

Oh well, I’ll just add to the damage……….I guess.

It’ll be good.

#1 “The Shooter” I will never book a professional wrestler that refers to himself as “The Shooter”, and let him use that name. If he is a “shooter” then what is his opponent? To any wrestler who wants to put himself over as a shooter, my advice s quit pro wrestling and go compete in MMA, and use the name there. I’m sure the other guys won’t mind at all. Why would they? You’re a badass “shooter”. But if you decide to remain a pro wrestler, try to become known as a great worker or performer. OK?

#2 “Bad booking” There are lots of amateur bookers on the internet, fans who have never run nor booked a show much less a match, who believe they can “book” better than the teams at WWE or TNA or their favorite Indy booker. Guess what, “good” or “bad” booking is mostly subjective. You may not agree with the WWE writers or the team booking at TNA but these guys are not amateurs, they’ve booked a few shows in their day, and in the case of folk like Jeff Jarrett, Dusty Rhodes, Dutch Mantel, Vince Russo, Vince McMahon etc., lots of shows. Heck, my initial education on wrestling booking was in the mid to late-90s in USWA working with Jerry Jarrett, Jerry Lawler, and Dutch Mantel. I learned from good teachers. Do I agree with these experienced “bookers” all the time? No. I refer to all of them regardless as “booking geniuses”, but often I don’t really mean that. Then again, I have the luxury of 20/20 hindsight when I question a booking decision. No booker tries to book badly. I know when I booked NWA Wildside or help with NWA Anarchy now my hope was or is that everything worked or works. Genius booking? Sometimes yes….and sometimes not so much. And no booking in WWE or TNA is truly as bad as some folk try to make it. Nor is the booking of your favorite Indy, even ROH, that much “better”. It’s just different.

#3 “Ratings” TV ratings are a great statistical tool, but like any tool you must know how to use it properly. You don’t screw something in with a hammer.

I’ll read something like, “ECW ratings were up because of the Smackdown talent”. Really? Then the next week ratings are down from the previous week, and there’s still Smackdown talent. What the heck? How dare the ratings screw up the facile interpretation I read on the internet the previous week.

Here’s what is important to the TV networks, and therefore to WWE & TNA, or at least should be important. How do the wrestling show’s ratings compare to other shows on the same network? Did the wrestling show lose, gain or maintain audience from the lead-in? Did the wrestling show retain, gain, or lose audience in the quarter hour breakdowns? Is the wrestling show showing week to week stability in the ratings? Does the core audience stay with the show? If the target audience is Males 18-34, how well does the show reach that target and how does that compare to other shows with a similar target? Are the advertisers getting the “efficiencies” and “deliveries” in the target demo they are buying?

” Internet Experts” sometimes point to something on a particular show as not “drawing” ratings. Well that means the expectation was folk not watching that night would watch, but unless there’s pretty aggressive mainstream promotion how would folk not watching know what they missed seeing, or that they should change the channel? The promotion on Spike, for example, targets the audience watching Spike.

Whether it’s TNA or WWE the challenges are the same….retain the audience you have, and try to find ways to encourage new audiences to sample the show, and hope to retain them when they do. This is not a process that happens one week to the next, but over much greater periods of time.

Now sometimes you can learn something in a few weeks. MTV’s WSX launched to a 1 rating in week one, then lost 25% or so in week 2, and by week 3 was down 50% from week one. Over half the audience that sampled in week 1 rejected the product and were gone by week 3. Then it didn’t go back up. In this example MTV learned that it was likely the show was not going to grow and likely needed to be canceled and it was.

But at this point that’s not the “ratings” challenge that faces WWE nor TNA.

#4 “We make our money on the DVDs” This is one of my favorite Indy wrestling statements, more often then not made by a promoter who lost his shorts on a live event by overbooking and not drawing. Nearly every Indy puts out DVDs now, some for ever single show, and that’s at least hundreds of DVDs a year. It reminds me of an old SNL skit for the “Change Store”. “You have a dollar…we can give you 20 nickels….we can give you 10 dimes….we can give you 100 pennies…how do we make our money? Volume!!!!” DVDs in wrestling is like that. Promoters keep losing money show to show hoping to make it back on the DVD. The more money lost, the more DVDs. Volume!!!!! Maybe there are 1 or 2 promotions where the DVD “business” is working but I doubt it’s working as well as they’d like it to, and I’d bet there is little to no business growth…….so what next?

TV!!!!!! Or maybe PPV!!!!!!!

#5 “TV” Indy promoters will always be suckers for TV. They will spend thousands to produce, more to put it on a station or some small network that may be available to thousands, even millions but that maybe 100 wrestling fans actually watch, and with rare exception the promoter will make nothing back. Advertisers won’t buy it as there’s no tangible delivery. The show won’t draw more people to the promotions live event. Rather it will give fans a reason not to go. Heck, why go to the show, I can watch at home…for free. And it will cut into DVD sales (see above).

For years my shows ran on WGTW-TV48 in Philadelphia until the station was sold a few years ago. I never paid them a dime to run my show, but only the station & I knew that. I told them to run my show as I would keep producing it and most others would produce only for weeks or months then run out of money. I told the station to use my show like chum for a shark to draw promoters to the station who would then pay the station to air their show…..and it worked. WGTW aired wrestling Monday-Friday and on weekends for years and got paid by lots of folk including ECW, CZW and many more, even ROH briefly, but only my shows were on WGTW from the day it started carrying wrestling to the day they stopped, and why? Simple, I never paid the station and I produced the show efficiently (cheaply), and always delivered a show…the chum that drew the sharks.

TV is not a “holy grail” to financial success for Indy promoters. It’s the thing that will put you out of business sooner rather than later. Most of the time it’s a vanity thing for the promoter or the “money mark” that produces it. Look Mom, I’m on the TV!!!!! It’s not a matter of if, rather when it goes away. And the only question really is how much money was lost in the process?

I’ve been producing or co-producing TV since 1997 when USWA folded and I needed TV to replace it, as WWE was my distributor at the time and I had a contract, but since the TV made little to no money I needed it produced cheaply. Now 10 years later I’ve produced or co-produced over 500 consecutive hours of weekly TV. I’ve not been made rich by this, but so too, I’ve not lost money. Why? How? Well, I don’t spend thousands. That’s stupid. I don’t pay networks or stations to air my show. Stupid again. I use the TV to develop wrestlers. For me the TV I produce breaks even at least. For me, TV is an essential and important part of my wrestling business.


Good news!!!!!!

PPV will be better!!!!! That’s where the real money is. Right?

6: “Personal Responsibility” This is something that is in short supply in wrestling and in the world in general. Too often, too many, need to blame someone or something else rather than taking personal responsibility. Guys released from WWE or TNA will always blame the company first. Something like “Creative never liked me.” becomes the reason, rather than the potential that the wrestler was so bad that every match hurt the audience’s feelings. Heck in the real world a woman sued McDonalds because she was burned by the HOT coffee she bought and spilled on herself, even though clearly she wanted the coffee hot, and clearly nobody at McDonalds suggest she spill it on her clumsy self……and she won! So why have personal responsibility at all. Obviously, you can do any stupid thing or fail to accomplish something and find someone or something to blame. The other side of the coin comes when you do accomplish something. What then? Well obviously you congratulate yourself. Clearly you overcame “them”, all those who kept you from accomplishments before. Clearly it was never you that screwed up before. It was them. The bastards!

Or…..maybe if you take personal responsibility for life’s failures you can better appreciate your accomplishments, and maybe even accomplish more. Maybe maintaining a positive spirit leads to positive things. I know this is just crazy talk, but maybe each of us has potential to achieve and the ability to learn from mistakes. Maybe “they” are not the problem. Maybe it’s me.

So take personal responsibility. When something bad happens try to learn something from it. What could I have done different or better? That should be your first thought. And when you accomplish something be thankful….to those who helped…to those who love you…maybe even to God (couldn’t hurt).

7: “Steroids” Recent reports suggest that there are wrestlers taking steroids. I know this may come as a shock to many. Certainly it was to me. Who knew?

So logically we need to find someone to blame. I mean it’s not as if these wrestlers bought the steroids themselves and took the steroids themselves. Someone must have forced them or even if not someone should have stopped them, maybe wrestled them to the ground like a shoplifter. Certainly, no wrestler that takes or took steroids is personally responsible. That would be crazy talk. It’s the promoters that did it by demanding and pushing only “larger than life” characters. Clearly this is unique to wrestling as is steroid use in general. Obviously, only the “big people” get pushed in wrestling. Look at Brian Kendrick. He’s clearly jacked to the gills. Why Spanky, why???

I mean it’s not as if actors in Hollywood action films take steroids, and certainly the cast of the movie “300” was clean as a whistle, and I’m sure when AMERICAN GLADIATORS returns to TV next year hosted by Hulk Hogan they will be carefully screening all competitors using a “wellness program”. Only prayers and vitamins will be allowed!!!!!!!

No argument people are dying and likely for some steroids played a factor, but likely for a greater percentage illegal drugs (pills, speed, coke, heroin, etc) and alcohol played a greater role, but again we must blame someone or something other than the wrestler who took bought and took the drugs or drank himself into a nightly stupor. We must help them because they can not help themselves. They are powerless on their own.

And so there’s testing. Of course the testing is never considered sufficient, is never enough. Wrestlers are fired, sent to rehab, counseled, punished, fined, all to help them help themselves.

Let me be clear here that no wrestler should take steroids, period, except to rehab a legit injury and only under a doctor’s care and only until the injury is healed. Any other use is a cheat. Have enough confidence in your God given skills to trust that as being enough, and work hard to maximize your potential, and if you fall short maybe it’s because you should have.

Ah so the key is really good old personal responsibility!

Sure is.

8: “Bitter, Disgruntled Wrestler” There is a disease in wrestling worse than drug addition or alcoholism, although they can be linked. I call it “Bitter, Disgruntled Wrestler”. Reinforcing a common theme the symptoms generally involve a complete lack of personal responsibility and in many case those infected see their career only through “rose colored glasses” that somehow became permanently affixed. They were or are “stars”. They were screwed by this promoter or that promoter. Nobody told them it would not last forever and now they have no money, and someone is clearly to blame.

OK, so maybe the wrestler stopped trying long ago. He no showed or showed up drunk or drugged up repeatedly, got fatter and fatter, kept deposits and didn’t make bookings, double book himself and took the show that paid more, refused a finish or lots of finishes as after all he’s a star….he can’t lose. But we need to feel his pain!

This disease attacks wrestlers who made it to “the show” all the way down to the guy who never made it out of his own backyard. Most of these wrestlers self-medicate. Many die.

We may not be able to cure all of them so maybe we should learn from them.

But what?

Remember that nothing last forever. Cherish every accomplishment and memory. Save your money. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Remain positive. Give back. Remember that everyone suffers now and then, and that without “bad” things we can not truly appreciate “good” things. Without set backs, accomplishments mean less. Trust your God given abilities and do not betray them.

“Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it”.

So true!
Bill Behrens
TNA Bookings Director
Show Business, Inc
PO Box 941787
Atlanta, GA 31141