Wrestling: Love It Or Leave It
Tuesday, April 29th, 2008
Ready, set, shoot. . .
"Love it or leave it". . .this has nothing to do with the Sgt. Slaughter-Iron Sheik feud from the mid-1980's. It's in reference to the chronic problems that have destroyed independent wrestling for the better part of a decade. An email discussion with an MWF wrestler really got me fired up over this topic, and since this is DanMirade.com after all, I felt the need to express my thoughts on why independent wrestling absolutely blows in 2008. . .
When I was lucky enough to enter the world of professional wrestling almost fifteen years ago, what a different world it was. . .there were only four or five promotions in New England, filled with - gasp - professional wrestlers, trained athletes that paid their dues to be in the locker room. The crowds were strong to great and the guys involved actually made decent coin. Around the late 1990's, it started to fall apart at the seams. What the hell happened?? Tony Rumble died. Sparta raped charities and venues out of money and turned off fans with constant no-shows and misleading advertising. Killer Kowalski's wrestling school spawned cheap, piss poor immitations, leading to hundreds of misled, untrained, clueless "professional wrestlers" that have no business being in a ring parading around like mindless zombies from a bad horror movie, giving the kayfabe shake, not even knowing what the hell it means. . .people that should be sitting in the seats instead of trying to compete in front of a live audience. Once these mis-trained wrestlers learn how to do some wrestling moves, they need wrestling "shows" to apply their craft on, which has led to eastern Massachusetts turning into Ellis Island for independent wrestling promotions opening up. To a longtime fan, it's a joke. To those that were around before the late 1990's, it's very sad, very depressing. . .some have walked away. . .others are angry that something they cared for and really paid their dues for has been spit on by those looking to make a quick buck training and promoting, leaving dozens upon dozens of bastard-like "wrestlers" claiming they're "in the business," not having a clue what the wrestling business is all about. . .
I love professional wrestling. I don't love the majority of what's out there now, because it's not "professional wrestling." It's little league baseball in a ring, where everyone who signs up for the team gets at least three at bats per game. The wrestlers, new and old, work themselves, truly believing that they are over. . .that they mean something. . .that fans have a true interest in them. How can anyone on the indy's have an ego when they can't sell a ticket if their life depends on it?? When having a crowd of a hundred fucking people is considered pretty good?? Believing hype on an internet message board?? Please. . .
I believe that those that want to break into wrestling have good, pure intentions. There are a couple of decent schools in the area, but for the most part, they suck. Before the wrestling school boom over the past ten years, if you lived around here and wanted to break into wrestling, you paid and got trained by Killer Kowalski, unless you got conned by some wannabe that never was. Kowalski is a legend. . .he lived the life. . .it was his full time profession. He carved out a legacy of his own in this business. . .he is someone that could truly TEACH YOU how to work, and just as important, the attitude you should carry yourself with. You can ALWAYS tell someone that was trained by Kowalski (or another true pro). Anyone that's been around long enough can teach you how to do wrestling moves. . .it's another thing to teach THE BUSINESS. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but it's the truth. What are kids getting out of their investment of a couple of grand or so being trained by people that were in their exact same shoes only a few years before?? There are a few vets in New England that have been around long enough to give wrestling hopefuls a good introduction to Wrestling 101, but at the same time, unless you've been to the dance - and actually danced - it's difficult to be anything more than the proverbial teachers aid in the grand scheme of things. There are some scum that are out to try to rob the naive of their money, but most mean well. At the same time, most aren't suited for the jobs where they haven't perfected the sport or the craft themselves. . .
The 2008 wrestlers attitude is an interesting one. When a promotion gets their hands on a Todd Hanson, Eddie Edwards, Slyck Wagner Brown, etc., they don't know how lucky they are. The know it alls that are under the impression that they've paid their dues because they went to some bootleg school for a couple of months and are entitled to something are the ones that royally piss me off. They have long drives. They can do fancy moves. They can do EVERYTHING except the most important thing - have fans buy tickets to see them. . .nevermind the art of working. The majority of todays "professional wrestlers" are better described as puzzle pieces. They have a few nice looking pieces (moves) but have no clue how to put the puzzle together (a solid match that makes sense with good psychology). Outside of a rare event where a guy is competiting in or near his hometown, there isn't anyone on the indy scene today that moves tickets and puts asses in seats. Again, this attitude is not always their fault, it's what has been taught to them by the just-as-blind. They don't have a clue, and they don't realize that they're bigger marks than the ones sitting in the crowd.
In the MWF, we had a ref that's not a bad kid, but is a complete and utter mark that does not get it by any stretch of the imagination. . .he is the perfect example of the wrong attitude for this business, rubs people the wrong way and someone that doesn't need to be around what we're doing. A wrestler on the roster has had a whiny, piss poor attitude about not enjoying the business, not liking three hour drives for little money. Seriously, shut the fuck up and grow a set of balls. Each and every individual that gets to be part of this great business is a lucky human being. You are blessed every weekend you get to hop in your car and get to work with a solid crew of guys in a sport you love and dreamed about being a part of since you were a kid. Like the title of this column goes, love it or leave it. If the promotions you're working for aren't making any money, how the hell do you sit there and complain about the payday?? How many tickets did you sell?? Did you promote your appearances on your Myspace page that you're oh-so over on?? In 2008, unless you are an established name, you're not worth money. . .common sense should tell you that you should try to get work with a quality group to get a continued education on what the business is all about. If you get money to help cover your trans, that's gravy. Anyone that feels like they're worth more than gas money here in New England really needs to get over themselves. . .they might be over in their own minds. . .they might be over on Myspace to their friends and on independent wrestling message boards. . .but they're sure as hell not over to fans that are willing to buy tickets, because not many fans are spending their money on the indys anymore. . .
I've given the Mirade Hammer to wrestling schools and even the wrestlers at this point. . .now it's onto the promoters and their "shows." I really wonder what the motives are for the majority of them. You have a Sparta, who is just out to soak fans. You have the guys who run events because no one else will book them, so they run their own so they can get a hard on by being champions, being in the main event, and wrestling stars. Some that run schools hold events to give their students experience, which I have a problem with only because it shouldn't be labeled "professional wrestling." These "shows" should take place in the training center and charge $3, $5 or so for tickets to give trainees a chance to work in front of a live crowd. You have a mentally retarded individual running these sad, pathetic shows that no fan wants to see or go to, except a long line of "professional wrestlers" frothing at the lips to take his money. Some have asked me if I'm mad about a local group that's running in both Somerville and Nashua around the same times the MWF is. It's hard to be mad when we don't own either venue. They have a right to do whatever they want, but more than anger, I'm confused as to why they even bother with the complete lack of success they've had. How many crowds of 20 people do you need before you say to yourself "maybe I'm not cut out for this"? None of these individuals should whore out the business for their own personal wants and ego stroking. . .that's the reason why the 2008 indy scene looks like it got hit by an atomic bomb compared to 1998. . .not enough people actually care about the fans experience nor have enough respect for those that have sacrificed to be a PROFESSIONAL wrestler. . .
Some might say "who the f*** are you to sit there and be a know it all?" Well, when I talk to the vets and those that have been around even longer than me, I feel I earned the right, as they agree with me 110%. I back up everything I say with fact and educated opinion (if you have an issue or response to anything written here or in any column, shoot me an email instead of posting it on a fan message board, you'll get a detailed response). As a bright eyed thirteen year old kid, I didn't walk into a successful independent promotion as a know it all who read about the behind the scenes happenings on the internet. . .I probably would have got my ass kicked by the crew and have never been welcomed back again. I kept my mouth shut, listened, observed and learned. . .as the old saying goes, I acted like I'd been there before. Tony Rumble had the best indy promotion New England has ever had. . .what other group had Kevin Sullivan coming in while he was wrestling and booking WCW and Jim Cornette coming in when he was booking WWF at the SAME TIME?? The six years I spent with Tony Rumble and company was an experience you can't put a price on, it was my college degree in the business. The short time I spent doing some work and learning with the WWF was my masters degree. When I helped create the Millennium Wrestling Federation, I put my money where my mouth was, experiencing every happiness, sadness, success, failure, sabotage, backstabbing, stress and satisfaction known to mankind. Other than wrestle, I've worked in just about every facet of the business. I've worked with the big boys, I've worked with the little boys. Like the better wrestlers on the scene today, I hope to be working with one of the two national promotions sooner rather than later while continuing the MWF's short and long term goals. Some feel my opinions are too strong. . .those are, for the most part, those I've described in his column. . .
I love professional wrestling. . .I love this business from the bottom of my heart. I live it, breath it, study it, learn from it, hell, even resent it, each and every day of my life. I hate those that have ruined it for their own selfish reasons or because they just don't know any better. I'll never shoot down someones dream, but not everyone that wants to be a professional wrestler should be one. Not every seven year old playing little league baseball should play for the Boston Red Sox. But unfortunately in 2008, wrestling is easy access when it was once a secret society you had to earn your way into! Some on the indy's don't like me (or understand me). . .some internet critics like me even less. . .but until the day comes when those that have been a success in this industry that I speak with regularly tell me I'm wrong or going about things the wrong way, I will continue to passionately speak from the heart about something I've dedicated my life to for a decade and a half. I want those who are true professionals to find great success, no matter what school they came from or what group they work for. . .I want those that have no business in the business to go away. Hard work and dedication is what has always paid off for those that have found great success. . .