Defeating the stigma of pro wrestling as an independent

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By OWW contributor Adam Knight:

Without meaning to, it seems like I keep coming back to the overarching theme of “professionalism in professional wrestling.” While it might seem redundant, I assure you it’s a topic that I’ll continue beating like a drum until more people in the world listen.

Over my career, I have had the dubious distinction of working with some of the most disingenuous, uninspired, toxic and downright criminal folks it has ever been my displeasure to meet. And as a result. I have gotten to see firsthand just how poorly the rest of the world tends to perceive the very concept of “professional wrestling.”

Imagine if you will that you’re trying to run a small business, like a coffee shop. Every time you attempt to launch a new product or service, you write up publicity and press material, send it out to the media, begin a grassroots campaign to draw attention to your shop from the surrounding area and likely even contact your bank representative with a business plan modification in order to secure some advance funding to better launch your initiative.

Now imagine every one of those avenues being shut down on you immediately. Not because of anything you’ve done, but because of the prior reputation of people who’ve worked in the coffee industry have been so unprofessional and disappointed that no one is willing to take a chance on supporting your well thought-out venture.

Sounds frustrating doesn’t it?

I’ve been living it for 19 years. And that’s only on the wrestling talent and publicity side of things.

Bottom line is, too many of the wrong type of people get into the wrestling “business” and they flat out ruin it for the rest of us.

Sometimes it’s some poor soul with a bit of money socked away who wants to live out an ill-conceived dream of being a wrestler but ends up  running a disastrous event that turns away paying customers. Often times it’s a few disgruntled wrestlers – unhappy with their lot in any given promotion – who decide to “show people how it’s done” and run their own events where they’re the stars, often at the expense of a quality product.

More than a few times, I’ve been involved with organizations where money was being funnelled into the wrestling company as a way to hide said funds from other – ahem – let’s call them “less than legal entrepreneurial endeavours.” As a result you could never know from one week to the next whether or not you were going to be able to keep the promises you’ve made to clients, fans and sponsors before the rug got pulled out from under you once the law caught wind of things.

I have seen people who’ve invested money as sponsors get completely soured on pro wrestling, wanting nothing to do with these types of shysters and hooligans. I have seen die-hard fans refuse to attend events not run by WWE because of broken promises and low quality events. I have had media refuse to answer my calls because of prior shenanigans caused by people I worked with, leaving me guilty by association.

Wrestling is a rough way to make a living at the best of times. It’s damned near impossible when you’re dealing with issues like this.

So here are a few of “Outlaw” Adam Knight’s tips on how to break this stigma, should you be so inclined.

1) If you’re getting into promoting professional wrestling because you want to be the main event and all your friends and family will love you, stop immediately – take your money and go see Lance Storm in Calgary. He will take your money and invest it back into you with three months of the best wrestling training in the world. After that, we can talk again.

2) Have a plan that lasts longer than “I want to run this one show this one time?” Sure. That might work. But without a plan of where to go next, you will more than likely not be able to capitalize on any momentum you’ve earned by having an event. If nothing else, be able to say during your show when your next show will be; these people already paid once – if they like it, they’ll pay again.

3) As often as possible, have the best quality talent working your event. We’re independent and people are struggling to fill rosters sometimes. Everyone’s got to start somewhere, so do your very best to pair up lesser skilled/experienced performers with the more seasoned ones. This will not only help in their development, it will also help to hide the deficiencies in their game from the audience.

4) Finally, have realistic expectations. There’s a ton of competition out there for people’s entertainment dollar. If you blow your reserve on one show, hoping the sheer fact that you’re doing everything right will lead to a big return, chances are very good that you’re setting yourself up for a disappointment. Start small. Make conservative gains and be consistent. The more consistent you are, the better a chance you will have at succeeding in the future.

— Adam Knight

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