Blogger: “America’s wrestling audience is shrinking!”
by Josh Wheeler
My Letter to Pro Wrestlers
You may not personally know me, but over the course of the last 12 months, many of you have contacted me or have asked about the promotion that I promote and own, Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment. I want to take this time right now to offer my advice to you.
America’s wrestling audience is shrinking!
You can not agree with me on this, but let’s be frank, the in-ring wrestling, the athleticism, and the story telling is really good right now, but the crowds aren’t growing. The mainstream product is losing viewers weekly. The 2nd and 3rd largest promotions struggle to draw more than 500 to 1000 fans. I was born in 1981. 30 years ago, I remember watching 30 promotions on TV on Saturdays with my dad. Promotions that drew thousands at every house show, every big show, and hundreds into tiny TV studios. People wanted wrestling in every major US city and even in the small rural areas. Wrestling needs you to realize how important you are to this entire ecosystem.
Myself and my contemporaries, hell any wrestling promoter will not be able to reverse this trend. A wrestling booker will not reverse this trend, and a giant corporation and it’s CEO or COO will not save wrestling. WRESTLING WILL ONLY BE WRESTLING AGAIN WHEN YOU TAKE CONTROL OF THE INDUSTRY!
I don’t want to hear you blame social media or the fans or the promoters. I want you to realize that YOU are the stars of this entertainment medium.
We are living in an era when just about anyone can become famous if they work hard and produce great content, yet here we are in our wrestling world and the majority of wrestlers are ok with bread crumbs. Wrestlers have accepted the idea that 30 to 100 dollars is a solid pay day for your work. Too many wrestlers are paying PROMOTIONS AND PROMOTERS for opportunity, and thinking that at any minute Vince McMahon will have Mark Carrano or some other suit, call you and invite you to Orlando. YOU ARE BEING WORKED by guys like me, and guess what the business is suffering.
Vince McMahon didn’t draw Wrestlemania. He just organized it behind the scenes, while Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan sold it out. Can you even name a famous concert promoter? Do you know a comedy promoter? Besides Dana White or Don King, do you know a single MMA or boxing promoter? Probably not, but you all know Nicki Minaj. You all know Louie Ck. You all know Rhonda Rousey, you all know Floyd Mayweather. The acts are the stars. The promoter is just the guy that does the leg work so you can monetize your talents. We give you a platform. We give you a job. We need you to increase our revenue, but when you aren’t a star, then we have to find a star to increase our revenue.
What are you doing to become a star?
I am sitting here and watching Youtube celebs get hired by MTV for having more buzz than MTV. Fitness mags are paying Instagram models for having a better physique than actual fitness models. Multi-billion dollar corporations are hiring Vine stars to create simple videos that enhance their brand.
How are you building your brand? How are you enhancing your own worth in the eyes of the people that pay to watch wrestling. Are you the wrestler that just RTs anything with your name on Twitter? Or are you the wrestler pulling out the smart phone and creating some killer content? Are you the wrestler trying to politic for a better match, or are you the wrestler pitching a money making angle that a booker can’t turn down? Have you taught yourself basic photoshop or basic video editing so you can create a sizzle reel to show your friends and even potential customers?
Are you like the majority waiting on a promoter to tell you what he needs from you? Sitting back waiting on direction? Mumbling under your breathe how you just need a push? Or are you going to take ownership of your BUSINESS, and make yourself wanted by fans every where.
Fans want heroes. Fans want villians. Fans want to cheer for you. They want to feel like they matter. You know why fans bitch on the internet, because it’s the only time they have a voice. Nicki Minaj, Beyonce, Lil Wayne, and others have fans that will go to verbal war for them? Do you? At the same time those fans will also support everything they do. Fans are the customer and without fans nobody has anything, and that goes back to the meaning of this letter to you.
The audience is shrinking. What can you do to bring the fans back to wrestling? What are you doing to get fans to tell other fans to come and see you? Your number one job is to sell tickets. Not in the physical sense, but to reach out and sell someone on why they should spend their money to see you get beaten or pay to see you overcome. They want you to create new memories for them like Shawn Michaels or Dusty Rhodes, or insert your favorite here created memories for you.
Wrestling is your business. It always has been, but the last 15 years, everyone let one man be a dictator. He’s just one man. The fans are the people you should be trying to impress and sell. Not him, not me, and not any other promoter. Use the tools at your disposal and make yourself a F**king Star!
Dusty Rhodes didn’t need a promoter, but every promoter needed a Dusty Rhodes!