Fact: “British wrestling” doesn’t owe you anything

Have you seen the latest plans for the FA Women’s Super League? After a couple of successful seasons with one closed elite league, the FA have now introduced a second division, and allocated places according to specific criteria and each club’s long-term strategies.

Great for the best in women’s football, apparently; but not so great for the grassroots feeder clubs, who fear they’re getting ignored and left behind by the governing body who are meant to be looking out for their interests.

I mention this because there’s been a lot of talk lately about what’s “best” for British wrestling.  There’s been fans complaining about the number of imports on cards, the publicity gained by promotions, the repeated bookings of top talent resulting in duplicate matches.

But no promotion – and no wrestler – will ever do exactly what one fan wants. It’s not their job. It’s the promotion’s job to make as much money as they can and they’ll probably do this by selling as many tickets as they can and selling as much merchandise as they can – and, of course, by appealing to as many fans as possible.

If you as a fan don’t like what one promotion is doing, then chances are they’re not aiming themselves at you. There are plenty of others you can watch instead. It’s not their responsibility to cater for you. There’s no governing body of British wrestling who are charged with protecting the interests of fans or grassroots or bringing through new talent, like the FA. There are simply a list of independent companies – and their obligations are to operate within the law, and to make money.

That’s it.

If they are doing that – and I include using able, competent, insured performers under the criteria of ‘operating within the law’ – they are doing well.

Promotions in the UK generally operate in a spirit of supportive collaboration – sensible when there’s limited top talent, and when the costs of bringing over big-name imports need to be shared. But it’s not compulsory; and certainly there’s no need for fans to follow multiple promotions and “support the British scene”. If you like one company’s shows and you’re happy with just seeing them or just buying their merch, great. It’s up to other companies to appeal to you and attract you to their product.

That’s not to say that constructive criticism should be silenced. Goodness knows I’ve emailed enough promoters previously with thoughts on their events, and any company worth their salt will listen to comments made in a positive spirit and respond to them in a similar manner.

Yet there’s a time and a place.

Internecine warfare between promotions is tiresome enough. I’ve criticised this at length previously, arguing that companies should concentrate on ensuring their product is as good as it can be for their target audience rather than wasting their efforts on trying to hamstring others. I’ve pointed out that some behaviour is simply childish and unprofessional.

Similarly, internecine warfare between wrestling fans is both tiresome and pointless. Another wrestling writer has talked previously about the public perception that this form of entertainment is for “stupid babies”. Arguing about who is the “best” promotion in a scripted sport is no way to dismiss this criticism, and no way to make the scene attractive to new fans.

The British scene is riven with historical gripes regarding insurance and training and health and safety and payment for performers. I find it eye-bleedingly ironic then that fans have taken to publishing their thoughts on the internet, whether via social media or blogs, and have found themselves repeating the biggest mistakes of British wrestling in microcosm – demonstrating a cavalier disregard for the law, whether wilfully or through ignorance, and creating additional chasms between promotions, wrestlers and fans.

In sports entertainment, all fans will want to see different things. That’s fine, and more than that, it’s catered for. Find a promotion that suits you. Support it. Encourage others to as well.

Surely this is the “best” way to support and ensure the growth of British wrestling.

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