AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Every few months or so, I re-run this particular blog, since
its flagship site PWBTS.com, focuses on coverage and
promotion of independent wrestling. I shill independent
wrestling promotion sand shows whenever possible. But one of
the things that pisses me off is the way indies seem to have
no sense about the basic sorts of things that they need to
do to promote their product. Not doing things to alienate or
be outright hostile to their fans.
First, some promoters seem to think that the way to draw is
to hold grudges against any indie operating in their area.
They’ll spend their time taking shots at these competitors
online or in print. They’ll tell their talent: if you work
for [insert competitor name], I won’t book you on my shows.
From the viewpoint of a fan, if you as a promoter are doing
something that doesn't help you put an ass in the
seats...you're wasting time. Save your time and advertise
your OWN product.
What follows, from a fan's perspective, are some of those
things I think that promotions need to do to publicize their
product online. I realize that some people may find some of
what's below to be painfully obvious, but trust me…they
aren't. All too many indie promoters don’t use some or all
of these ideas. I’ve seen all too many cases where promoters
don’t…well…promote… and crowds (and the talent) suffer
accordingly. But that’s not all.
Like I said a few weeks ago regarding holiday charity
events....even in 2023, there are still promoters so into
carny nonsense who have actually told websites/social
media/blogs to remove the items they've placed online or on
social media (even worse, during the holiday charity season,
at least two promoters simply ignored my requests for
information and actually blocked me on social media).
Meanwhile, said promoters should consider going to their
locker rooms at the end of the night, and ask their workers
if they enjoy working in front of 50 people or less, and not
getting paid… all because their promoter decided he could
“do it all by himself”.
Promoters don’t exactly need to attend the Wharton School of
Business to know that the most important thing, no matter
whether you promote wrestling shows or selling cars… is to
plug, plug, plug. If a mark like yours truly who runs a
small wrestling website, and posts on social media is ready
to help you do so…you’ve lost nothing, spent nothing…and
quite possibly gained a lot. So use us to help promote your
own company's events digitally. Yes, USE US.
Do this along with the usual (and necessary) grunt work
(yes, you do have to do these things...and no, you can't do
the other extreme of bad promoting, aka "just putting it
online". You have to get up posters, hand out flyers, as
well as get sponsors to defer the cost of your show, and
help sell tickets for you (if you can)… all of which are
necessary no matter what kind of fan base you have. To
repeat: yes, that means you have to do posters or flyers.
Yes...in the age of digital and social media, you have to do
old school work. Make sure you flyer wrestling and other
entertainment shows in your area in the weeks before your
show (ask ahead of time please) and if you're running a show
to benefit a charity, make sure they're publicizing
it....repeat: ASK THEM if they are publicizing it. Ask them
more than once. Ask how many tickets have been sold. Ask
them how they're publicizing it. You'd be surprised how many
non-profits and charities can't be bothered to act on their
For all shows, ask local businesses if you can post a flyer
in their window. See if they can become a sponsor of your
show. Every dollar helps.
As for pushing your show digitally, here’s some of the
things that can be done…that don’t cost much (or cost
nothing but time), and can potentially help a lot.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA. Here's the obvious one and the one most
use (reminder: don't do it exclusively). But do use social
media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. Hell, you can
use even a plain old website (yes, we still exist). But keep
it updated. Nothing turns a fan off more than your website
showing a three year or even three-month-old show, rather
than the one you're running this weekend. Google results
should show an updated social media/web site.
Social media isn't hard. Posting isn't hard. Tweets aren't
hard. Social media (unless you're talking promoted
posts...see Facebook) isn't either. Even websites don’t
require technical genius to put up and keep current. If you
want to spend a buck or two, you can also buy a domain name
like mine at PWBTS.com, and pay a basic fee to have it
hosted, registered etc.
Social media also features TONS of fan-based groups where
you can share your events, such as We Love Wrestling on
Facebook. Start your own social media groups and invite fans
to join in. Do maintain it though. Trolls and bots (or
competitors) have a nasty habit of showing up and ruining
your hard work. Block them from your digital media as much
as you can.
Whatever digital and social media you're using...PLEASE use
intelligible English. Use spell check. PLEASE, PLEASE,
PLEASE use spell check, and ask someone to check it for at
least basic grammar and spelling mistakes before you send it
out. While you need to push your show…stop sending or
posting or tweeting info sent in all caps and with a dozen
asterisks and exclamation points.
To repeat....UPDATE THE DAMNED PAGE OR WEBSITE. As said
before, websites or social media posts with matches from
three months ago make your promotion look like amateur hour.
Tell fans when your upcoming shows are…far enough in advance
to let them make plans, so they don’t go to someone else’s
show instead or just stay home...not the week before. Your
competitor might beat you to the punch and to the dollar if
you don't. Tell them WHERE your shows are, and how to get to
the shows on all social media and websites. Mass transit
directions and connections help if you run in a city or
region where mass transit exists. If not, give decent
driving directions to your shows. It isn't a fan's job to
find your show, it's your job to make it as easy as possible
for someone to give you money. Something as simple as a fan
not being able to find a location for a show costs promoters
When you do these things...tell fans WHO is on the show and
WHY they should care about a match (yes, explain storylines
briefly), so fans feel there’s a reason to come to see the
show. The one and only booking related thing I'll say here:
as a rule if you list a "major surprise" for your show (and
aren't eventually naming him or her), to bring in fans...
DON'T. It's been overdone so much it borders on the
ridiculous. It puts no asses in seats.
List your next show(s) ahead of time on social media and
websites…within 24 to 48 hours after your previous show.
Tell the fans WHAT your tickets cost, and where they can get
them. If you have standard ticket charges, list them. Tell
fans where they can buy tickets. Remind them of regular
outlets or online services you use.
As far as websites go, does your promotion send out releases
before a show, or results afterwards to a website (again
yes, we still exist) like PWBTS…or the Wrestling Observer…or
a hundred others? If not, why not? If not, here's how...
First, the releases. They don’t have to look like something
out of Northwestern University’s School of Journalism. But
let me suggest a few dos and don’ts. Again, it’s not
necessary to capitalize everything…or use exclamation points
and asterisks throughout the release you send to a website.
This makes them look like the person writing it is six years
old. If you want people to come to the show, write an
intelligent sounding presser that makes both your company
and the show you’re promoting look good….in something
approaching English, please.
One more time: PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE use spellcheck.
Include the things we’ve discussed above… namely tell fans
WHEN the show is, WHERE the show is, how to get to the show,
WHO is on the show, how much tickets cost, and where they
can get them. Again, any basic business course would tell
you that a business must make it as easy as possible for a
customer to give you their money.
If you have a developed fan base, put together a digital
street team….fans that know how to write fairly well, or
provide them with the information to send yourself. Have
them talk you up on social media. Make being a fan of your
company not just a fun evening, but a responsibility. ECW
was the first known example of a company that understood
this, even though they were pre-social media. Fans emailed
each other. They posted news on the message boards, RSPWs
and such of the day. They called their friends. Fans all but
MADE mainstream wrestling publications pay attention to ECW.
Those fans were ECW’s best asset, because they felt
obligated to let people know about the product.
But you’d be surprised at the e-mails I receive that don’t
provide those items and look like a preschooler wrote them.
They don’t need to look like something out of Northwestern
University’s School of Journalism…but it would be nice if
they had correct spelling and at least reasonably good
grammar. That’s why there's spell check and grammar check.
I’ve gotten promotional shills for shows that I had to
literally spend 15 minutes re-writing. I’ve refused to run
shills for certain independents, because I’d asked the
promotions time after time to check them before sending them
to me, since they were written so poorly that the companies
should have been embarrassed to send them out in public.
Remember that your press release/shill/social media post is
how a new fan sees you. If your press release or social
media plug is professionally written (or at least semi-
literate), that new fan is more likely to read it and their
ass to sit in your seat (along with their money in your bank
or in someone's pay).
Send it to widely mailing lists/social media sites supplying
lists of upcoming shows (Phil Stamper is a good example,
with his Wrestling Calendar). Post them yourself on social
media fan groups... everywhere you can.
Even in the age of digital media, send releases to the
mainstream press, such as your local daily or weekly
newspaper (yes, they still exist, too). See if that
newspaper has a weekly wrestling column. A number of
newspapers and their online /social media have places to
list your event. They’ll often run shills for your show.
Major sports news sites and their social media are now
featuring wrestling blogs. Use them too...you never know
what will work.
Mainstream coverage is a Godsend for your promotion. Again,
remember all the rules I listed above. If your local
newspaper is a smaller weekly or daily, send it to whoever
runs a section for community events, particularly if the
event is to benefit a local charity, church, or community
group (including those of you who do holiday charity
events). That’s always a good hook (and PLEASE be sure it
actually benefits that charity, don't use it as a come-on).
Send them to your local cable provider, especially if the
event is to benefit a local charity or community group. Put
together an e-mail/social media list of regular contacts and
send it out to them to plug each and every show you run.
In short: Please, please, please promote.
I’m not a graduate of the Wharton School of Business. I’m
just one more mark sitting in the seats, who just wants to
see independent wrestling succeed…badly.