Last week, William Regal surveyed the crowd at the small Manchester comedy club The Frog and Bucket, and declared it to be the most people he personally had ever drawn.
He added that he’d never been a draw for wrestling fans – just a decent turn – and only the likes of John Cena and Hulk Hogan made any company any money.
On my re-read of Bret Hart’s excellent autobiography, he says something similar – about the midcarders thanking Hogan for being the one to put food on their tables and a roof over their heads. Only these big names – these special attractions – get people forking out their cash and ensure that the rest of the card get a decent wage.
And yet for some reason British wrestlers continue to gripe about the imports who are pulling in the big audiences.
Few casual fans are going to show up just to see the usual British boys. They want to see people they recognise from telly, people they’ve not seen before.
And it’s not just about ticket sales. In ‘Spandex, Screw Jobs and Cheap Pops‘, PCW promoter Steven Fludder talks about booking Akira Tozawa – not because he thought he’d necessarily bring people in through the door, but because he knew that he would sell DVDs to the Japanese market if Tozawa was on the show.
Of course it can be frustrating that imports take the high-profile slots – but the viability of the individual promotion needs to be considered as well. If a wrestler is going to make a company money, they should be and will be booked. (This is a much better model than the ridiculous ones we’ve seen previously, where wrestlers are booked because their promoter ‘likes’ them or personally wants to see them wrestling.)
We’ve had too many years of part-time amateurish promotions on the UK scene with no money being made by anyone. The way things look now seem to be much brighter. And if you don’t like it, well, you don’t have to like it. But for pity’s sake, try to keep it off social media and be professional.