The Doctor's Note: Promoters, Champions, and a Three Car Garage
By Dr. Tom Prichard
May 4, 2006 - 11:18 AM
P.T. Barnum is often hailed as one of the greatest promoters in the world. He knew how to talk people into the "Greatest Show On Earth." Wrestling promoters of old had to do the same thing. Today, without question, Vince McMahon has to be one of the greatest promoters of all time. With so many outlets competing for your entertainment dollar, WWE must come up with the "Greatest Show on Earth" every time they go out.
Looking back at a much simpler time when it was a local promoter selling wrestling matches and feuds over championships and pride kinda seems ancient. In reality pro wrestling has always been about business and entertainment. The bottom line was making money. Promoters make the most money usually, because in theory they have the most on the line.
I got my start working for Paul Boesch in Houston. Paul, Sam Munchnick and Vince McMahon Sr. were know for their integrity and more than fair payoffs. In a world of cons and con men their word was golden, a rarity to say the least.
These days there are some good, hardworking independent promoters. I have worked for some good people on the indy scene. And then, I have worked for some bad people on the indy scene.
When I hear about a promoter who took the money and ran out of the show before intermission, my blood boils. I realize some of these guys are just looking to be big shots and hang out in the dressing room with one of their idols. When they figure out the house might not be what they expected, taking the gate and getting out of Dodge is their only solution. But I really can't understand how they think they're going to get away with it. Do they not think someone, someday will catch up to them and it might not be so pleasant? Unless they plan on disappearing off the face of the earth, one day, somehow, someplace, their past indiscretions will catch up with them.
I made a living in this business for over 30 years. This is all I did. Now I'm coming across the mickey mouse promoters who talk a big game but live in a fantasy world. I asked one guy (who I'll call "Clem") last year what his goals were for his "company." Clem told me "I just want to be able to shake Vince McMahon's hand." Gosh. That's great. But what about your promotion being held in a 3 car garage? He spent a lot of money on some real nice Reggie Parks belts but his "company" was drawing 25 family members of his crew!! It seems his "booker" (who I'll call "Unkie June") or as some around here know it as the "shot caller" told him he needed some money for more belts to be made and lo and behold, over a year later, NO BELTS! When I graciously gave this big wig Reggie's phone number, he called and sure enough Reggie knew nothing of this so called belt and his booker had taken him for a ride.
Well, Clem fired Unkie June and got him a new shot caller. But Unkie June just went out and found another money mark and started running shows. Unkie June took Clem's "world" champion of two whole towns and started running with a "rival" promoter who UJ said he would NEVER, EVER work for! After all, this rival promoter would call Unkie June and talk bad about his momma and by gawd, he was gonna "whup his ass!" Yawn....
For a while, I worked Clem's town and got my guarantee every week. Unkie June's momma worked at a motel and made June use one of the fellas (who did odds and ends at this motel) as a referee. This fella (who I'll call "Cletus") was a little slow and couldn't grasp what was going on. But since Unkie June's momma wanted it to be, it was!
I had to prepare myself mentally to walk in that dressing room every week and listen to Clem, Unkie June and Cletus talk about what they were doing that night. Their two town world champion (who I'll call "John") thought he was much better than he really was. I mean after all, he was the WORLD champion. It said so right on the belt that Unkie June paid for with Clem's money and Unkie June trained John. So there! But instead of going to the gym or trying to get better at his craft, young John sat around his mommas house all day and played video games. Unkie June would take John and Cletus to the casino with him and they'd stay out all night and have a great old time. Then they'd show up on Saturday nights acting like big shots in that 3 car garage in front of 25 people.
Now, please don't get me wrong. You've got to start somewhere. I wrestled in that 3 car garage and I have no problems with anybody who wrestles in small places like that. My point is this:
If you have a "company" or want to call it an "organization" that runs 2-3 towns in front of anywhere from 10-50 people at a time, YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO CALL YOUR CHAMPION, NO MATTER WHO HE IS, OR THINKS HE IS, A WORLD F***ING CHAMPION!!!!
JUST BECAUSE YOUR MOMMA TELLS YOU TO "MAKE CLETUS A 'RASSLER OR REFEREE IT DOESN'T MEAN CLETUS CAN RASSLE OR F***ING REFEREE!!!!!
People wonder why the business is so screwed right now, well in a huge part it's because of guys like Clem, Unkie June, Cletus and John. They are CLUELESS! Promoters who advertise people they know will never be there also destroys credibility. Changes and substitutes are bound to happen from time to time. The real problem is Clem and Unkie June think their shows are great!
Eventually I stopped working for Clem. I yelled at the concession lady and she was going to press charges for attempted assault. Attempted assault for yelling at the concession lady? Yeah, whatever. When Clem told me that I was actually relieved. I'd grown tired of the whole scene and my peace of mind meant more than I was making. Unkie June made his way back along with John and Cletus and Clem let him back in the fold. After stealing money and out and out lies, they were back in business. Things there haven't changed at all. Hell, John is now the WORLD and UNITED STATES CHAMPION!!!! HERE WE F***ING GO AGAIN!!!!!!!
I know I'm making an issue out of a non issue here, but come on. How stupid and ridiculous is it to call yourself the world champion when you don't leave the state? Hell, you don't leave the county! Then you "win" the US title too? Five time world champion.......unbelievable. Literally.
Promoters always had their regional champions. Texas, San Francisco and the Carolinas even had their versions of world tag team champions. But there were territories and no cable TV back then. News traveled slow and for the most part fans only had their local promotion and wrestlers to watch. In 2006, don't you think people look at a guy who claims the world championship in Maynardville or Jacksboro Tennessee as an embarrassing joke? What's wrong with making your champion the champion of your company. Then if you really venture to other places in the world, you can think about claiming the world title.
The World champion as I write this is Rey Mysterio. The WWE champion is John Cena. In all fairness, because both travel and defend their titles all over the world, THEY ARE BOTH QUALIFIED TO BE CALLED "WORLD CHAMPIONS!!"
I know promoters are just trying to make their promotion seem big time. In reality, when you call somebody a world champion, it looks so bogus and small time. Especially when the guy in the third row could knock him out!
In the early 1900s-1940s it seemed as though anybody who had a ring, tights and boots could claim the world championship. That's one of the reasons promoters eventually got together and formed the National Wrestling Association. The Association turned into the National Wrestling Alliance and began working with a contingent of promoters world wide. The genie is out of the bottle and people know that John lives in their town and only "rassles" on Saturday night.
Again, we all have to start somewhere. There are some decent promoters out there. Budgets are tight and to get people to come out and support their shows they must do something out of the ordinary. At one time or another, every promoter has thought of ways to bring people in. It's a tough job to get people to leave their homes and pay to be entertained. In the end that's what everybody is trying to do. The wrestlers enjoy performing and the real promoters enjoy promoting the greatest show on earth.
But PLEASE........lose the WORLD titles!
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