The first part of this investigation covered Steve ‘Heavy D’ Evans’s response to the issues surrounding FPW’s licensing issues this weekend – and since then, others involved in the wrestling industry have been telling TOWIS about the problems of paperwork a lot of promotions face.
As part 1 showed, sources have told TOWIS that it was an insider within the UK scene who informed the council of the licensing technicality that resulted in FPW’s show being cancelled at two venues.
“The old trick of contacting local councils to get shows pulled on licensing ‘technicalities’ is hardly a new thing,” one source tells TOWIS today.
“Licensing has some complicated fine points, and if you’re not deeply in the know, you can be easily tripped up by someone who is – even if you have the best intentions that you are doing everything ‘by the book’.
“I can see some sense in an argument that ‘new’ promoters need to assess these things in greater depth. It is the sort of thing that a dialogue with a local council far enough in advance should be able to resolve. But it’s just not a hugely obvious point to get tripped up on, unless you already know of it.
“Unfortunately, there are those that will act to protect their best interests – and will do so without regard for the moral implications.
“If you’re a promoter, and some terrible non-pros set up a terrible show and potentially turn part of your audience off local wrestling, that’s a problem. You could suggest that removing the potential damage in these cases might be justified, and if you have to pull them up on legal technicalities, so be it.
“But there’s a line in there somewhere – and I guess it can be hard to
define where it is. In my opinion, in the case of FPW – a show containing a number of recognised professionals – it’s a case of straight-up competition. And what the rightful way is to deal with that competition would depend on your ethics.
“Some in business would probably argue nothing is off-limits, whilst
others would likely be of the standpoint that you compete on a more moral footing, and do so by putting out the better product.
“I think in the eyes of most, though, getting a show pulled when it’s in aid of charity [as FPW’s show was, fundraising for Cancer Research UK] is very low indeed.”
Welsh Wrestling’s Alan Ravenhill is unequivocal on best practice, regardless of whether or not a show is for a good cause.
“If a show hasn’t the relevant licence, then it absolutely cannot go ahead,” he says.
“I had a fundraising show booked two weeks ago which I cancelled the week before because the venue’s licence had expired. If I’d gone ahead with that show, that would’ve been illegal, and more importantly, my insurance would’ve been void. So, in my opinion, anyone who backs an unlicensed show is endorsing an event not insured to protect fans and wrestlers.”
Ravenhill does think, however, that there is a problem here with some promotions having good intentions but simply not understanding the necessary bureaucracy.
“There’s promoters who maybe don’t realise these licenses need to be in place to legally run events. But there are also promoters who know this but deliberately ignore it to save a few quid.”
He doesn’t agree, though, that he as a promoter has any responsibility to any others; if he knew another promotion was under a licensing misapprehension, he would not notify them directly.
“If an unlicensed show was taking place in Wales, I would report it. Wrestling is a business and should be treated as one.
“If they’re in Wales then I treat them as competition. Any real promoter who says differently is an idiot or a liar. This is a business – just like if I owned a chip shop and someone opened one across the street, they would be business competition.”
Sanjay Bagga of LDN Wrestling ran a show at Fairfield Halls in Croydon on Sunday, a few miles from FPW’s original venue of Wallington Hall. When it comes to promotions who don’t have the correct paperwork in place, “I hope the council do everything in their power to shut them down.”
Like his friend Ravenhill, he doesn’t think he has any responsibility to support any other promotions. “I don’t speak to other people. I’m not here to make friends.”
But obviously Bagga and Ravenhill operate their companies in different areas. Would they get on so well if they worked close by? Bagga considers. “Maybe. Maybe not. Probably not. He runs Wales, I run England. We have the same mentality of wrestling.”
Unsurprisingly, Steve Evans of FPW doesn’t agree with the territorial mindset. “Rather than trying to sabotage other promotions, why not assist them in ensuring what has to be done is done? Why act in a way where it could cause harm to the business? We have had so much support from other companies and wrestlers alike – and the intentions of what we have done have all been to ensure we help British wrestling back to the lofty levels it used to be at.”