The Doctor's Note: What's Wrong With The Business?
By Dr. Tom Prichard Feb 16, 2006 - 10:43 AM
One of the biggest questions or topics of conversation about pro wrestling these days is, "What's wrong with the business?"
I don't think there's one clear cut answer. I have my own ideas about what is wrong but my opinions aren't always filled with solutions, therefore they come off more as complaining rather than explaining at times.
Number one, we can't put the genie back in the bottle. Why would the new generation of fans want to watch sports entertainment or pro wrestling on the independent scene these days? I ask myself that question every time I attend an indy show. What are these people doing here? Well, most are family and friends. Others are just looking for a night out and some decent entertainment.
Too many independent guys flat out don't get it. I hear stories all the time about "I deserve a belt, I'm gonna have to talk to the promoter about paying me more than $10!" $10?! Some of these guys should be paying the PROMOTER for letting them be on the card that night! Everybody's a Superstar! They can't be beat in front of 20-30 people because it will kill their "heat." GIVE ME A BREAK! PAALEEZE!!!
It really was a lot harder to break in 20 years ago. These days a wrestling school pops up and some guy who knew a guy who knew a lady who used to "date" a guy who ushered at the matches at the high school and bought one of the wrestlers a coke one time is now a certified trainer!!! Then his "students" truly believe they are superstars who can demand top dollar and should be treated with respect because they wrestled in a National Guard Armory in front of 17 people twice a year! Anybody who has been in an independent dressing room in the last year in Tennessee will attest to this. That is if they have been anywhere and made a living in the wrestling business...EVER. Not just wrestled on the weekends and still live with their mom or grandmas. But actually got off their skinny (or fat), lazy asses and traveled the country and took any and every booking there was to take REGARDLESS of what the payoff was, JUST to get their name and reputation known.
I come across both kinds. The ones who ask me what they should do to get to the next level and then follow through. Then there are more of the ones who talk a great game but wake up at 11 am, eat biscuits and gravy, watch Jerry Springer and Cheaters and then meander into the gym 2-3 days a week. They talk about how bad they want it and how they are "gonna talk to the promoter because I'm gettin' screwed" bullshit. It's the same old story of you keep doing what you're doing and you're going to keep getting what you're getting.
Attitude. Respect. Determination. Ambition. You can't just wish and hope you're going to get somewhere. Ring of Honor. Jim Kettner's Super 8. TNA. Japan. East Coast. West Coast. Google. Network. Make contacts. Do you want to make it to the "show?" WWE? Is that what you REALLY want? Once you get there, then what? More importantly, what exactly is your plan to get there? Who knows about you outside those 20 people that watch you at the flea market or armory? Again, who really cares past those same people who watch you and then post on that company's message boards? Really, think about it. Wish in one hand and shit in another.
The competition is extreme. Why would those who make decisions in other, higher profile companies want to employ some punk with a disrespectful, know-it-all attitude? They wouldn't. I've stuck my neck out a few times only to kicked in the head. These real respectful, humble guys turn out to be prima donna pricks that have totally shit on their opportunity. That caused me to be a little more particular in who I recommend or endorse. Especially for overseas tours.
Others I have recommended or helped have really made the most of their opportunity. And they have remained humble, ambitious and real. Oh yeah. Real.
Too many guys on the indy level are pretending to be something they're not. Hell, even on the larger stage there's people trying to be something they're not and that translates into nobody believing in the product on all levels.
What's wrong with things today in my opinion is what was right (and wrong) with things years ago. After reading the Superstar Billy Graham book, it was obvious there was a lot of wrong going on years ago. But that's what made guys like Graham so special. They were outlaws. They were dangerous. They were real. What you saw was what you got. Crazy, insane and as real as it got.
I don't recommend the lifestyle that Superstar and many of his peers lived by back then. But I do remember watching and following the careers of him and his counterparts and when they walked into the arena they were special. They carried themselves as such and looked every bit the part of wrestlers. They didn't look like the paper boy.
Pro wrestling has never been everyone's cup of tea. I liked it better that way. It appealed to real fans, but not the masses. There's more money on the main stage no doubt. Once cable TV came along it was inevitable that the business couldn't be contained. It was good and bad on many levels. The good was it made a few guys rich. The bad is it made a lot of guys think they could buy a pair of boots and trunks and just be "rasslers."
I don't like everything the business has become but I understand it and why it has to be this way. It's a big corporation and corporate people are running things. If you want to be in the game, you've got to play the game. Then again if you just want to play pretend, then there's a stage for that too.