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8 RANDOM WRESTLING THOUGHTS & OPINION
â€“ Bill Behrens
November 11, 2007
What follows, in no particular order, are several wrestling related things, my opinion, or thoughts; maybe even insight. My Super 8 (shout
out to ECCWâ€™s Jim Ketner, who is a class act and to this yearâ€™s Super 8 winner Jerry Lynn, too); although calling this â€œMy
Super 8â€� might be a stretch, as after all I am going to release this on the Internet, and on the Internet opinion runs wild like a rabid and
wounded wolverine, and very little of it is super.
Oh well, Iâ€™ll just add to the damage â€¦ I guess.
Itâ€™ll be good.
#1: â€œThe Shooterâ€�
I will never book a professional wrestler that refers to himself as â€œThe Shooterâ€�, and let him use that name. If he is a â€œshooterâ
€� then what is his opponent? To any wrestler who wants to put himself over as a shooter, my advice is quit pro wrestling and go
compete in MMA, and use the name there. Iâ€™m sure the other guys wonâ€™t mind at all. Why would they? Youâ€™re a badass â
€œshooterâ€�. But if you decide to remain a pro wrestler, try to become known as a great worker or performer. OK?
#2: â€œBad bookingâ€�
There are lots of amateur bookers on the Internet; fans who have never run nor booked a show much less a match, who believe they can
â€œbookâ€� better than the teams at WWE or TNA or their favorite Indy booker. Guess what: â€œgoodâ€� or â€œbadâ€� booking is
mostly subjective. You may not agree with the WWE writers or the team booking at TNA, but these guys are not amateurs. Theyâ€™ve
booked a few shows in their day, and in the case of folks like Jeff Jarrett, Dusty Rhodes, Dutch Mantell, Vince Russo, Vince McMahon,
etc., lots of shows. Heck, my initial education on wrestling booking was in the mid to late 90s in USWA working with Jerry Jarrett, Jerry
Lawler, and Dutch Mantell. I learned from good teachers. Do I agree with these experienced â€œbookersâ€� all the time? No. I refer to
all of them regardless as â€œbooking geniusesâ€�, but often I donâ€™t really mean that. Then again, I have the luxury of 20/20
hindsight when I question a booking decision. No booker tries to book badly. I know when I booked NWA Wildside, or help with NWA
Anarchy now, my hope was or is that everything worked or works. Genius booking? Sometimes yes, and sometimes not so much. And
no booking in WWE or TNA is truly as bad as some folks try to make it. Nor is the booking of your favorite Indy, even ROH, that much â
€œbetterâ€�. Itâ€™s just different.
TV ratings are a great statistical tool, but like any tool you must know how to use it properly. You donâ€™t screw something in with a
Iâ€™ll read something like, â€œECW ratings were up because of the Smackdown talentâ€�. Really? Then the next week ratings are
down from the previous week, and thereâ€™s still Smackdown talent. What the heck? How dare the ratings screw up the facile
interpretation I read on the internet the previous week.
Hereâ€™s what is important to the TV networks, and therefore to WWE & TNA, or at least should be important: how do the wrestling
showâ€™s ratings compare to other shows on the same network? Did the wrestling show lose, gain, or maintain audience from the
lead-in? Did the wrestling show retain, gain, or lose audience in the quarter hour breakdowns? Is the wrestling show showing week to
week stability in the ratings? Does the core audience stay with the show? If the target audience is Males 18-34, how well does the show
reach that target, and how does that compare to other shows with a similar target? Are the advertisers getting the â€œefficienciesâ€�
and â€œdeliveriesâ€� in the target demo they are buying?
â€œInternet Expertsâ€� sometimes point to something on a particular show as not â€œdrawingâ€� ratings. Well that means the
expectation was folks not watching that night would watch, but unless thereâ€™s pretty aggressive mainstream promotion, how would
folks not watching know what they missed seeing, or that they should change the channel? The promotion on Spike, for example, targets
the audience watching Spike.
Whether itâ€™s TNA or WWE the challenges are the same: retain the audience you have, and try to find ways to encourage new
audiences to sample the show, and hope to retain them when they do. This is not a process that happens one week to the next, but over
much greater periods of time.
Now sometimes you can learn something in a few weeks. MTVâ€™s WSX launched to a 1 rating in week one, then lost 25% or so in
week 2, and by week 3 was down 50% from week one. Over half the audience that sampled in week 1 rejected the product and were
gone by week 3. Then it didnâ€™t go back up. In this example MTV learned that it was likely the show was not going to grow and likely
needed to be canceled and it was.
But at this point thatâ€™s not the â€œratingsâ€� challenge that faces WWE or TNA.
#4: â€œWe make our money on the DVDsâ€�
This is one of my favorite Indy wrestling statements, more often than not made by a promoter who lost his shorts on a live event by
overbooking and not drawing. Nearly every Indy puts out DVDs now, some for every single show, and thatâ€™s at least hundreds of
DVDs a year. It reminds me of an old SNL skit for the â€œChange Storeâ€�. â€œYou have a dollarâ€¦we can give you 20 nickelsâ€¦.we
can give you 10 dimesâ€¦.we can give you 100 penniesâ€¦how do we make our money? Volume!!!!â€� DVDs in wrestling is like that.
Promoters keep losing money hoping to make it back on the DVD. The more money lost, the more DVDs. Volume!!!!! Maybe there are 1
or 2 promotions where the DVD â€œbusinessâ€� is working, but I doubt itâ€™s working as well as theyâ€™d like it to, and Iâ€™d bet
there is little to no business growthâ€¦â€¦.so what next?
TV!!!!!! Or maybe PPV!!!!!!!
Indy promoters will always be suckers for TV. They will spend thousands to produce; more to put it on a station or some small network
that may be available to thousands, even millions, but that maybe 100 wrestling fans actually watch, and with rare exception the promoter
will make nothing back. Advertisers wonâ€™t buy it as thereâ€™s no tangible delivery. The show wonâ€™t draw more people to the
promotions live event. Rather it will give fans a reason not to go. Heck, why go to the show, I can watch at homeâ€¦for free. And it will cut
into DVD sales (see above).
For years my shows ran on WGTW-TV48 in Philadelphia until the station was sold a few years ago. I never paid them a dime to run my
show, but only the station and I knew that. I told them to run my show as I would keep producing it and most others would produce only
for weeks or months then run out of money. I told the station to use my show like chum for a shark to draw promoters to the station who
would then pay the station to air their showâ€¦..and it worked. WGTW aired wrestling Monday-Friday and on weekends for years, and got
paid by lots of folks including ECW, CZW, and many more; even ROH briefly, but only my shows were on WGTW from the day it started
carrying wrestling to the day they stopped, and why? Simple; I never paid the station and I produced the show efficiently (cheaply), and
always delivered a showâ€¦the chum that drew the sharks.
TV is not a â€œholy grailâ€� to financial success for Indy promoters. Itâ€™s the thing that will put you out of business sooner rather
than later. Most of the time itâ€™s a vanity thing for the promoter or the â€œmoney markâ€� that produces it. â€œLook Mom, Iâ€™m on
the TV!!!!!â€� Itâ€™s not a matter of if, rather when it goes away. And the only question really is how much money was lost in the
Iâ€™ve been producing or co-producing TV since 1997 when USWA folded and I needed TV to replace it, as WWE was my distributor at
the time and I had a contract, but since the TV made little to no money I needed it produced cheaply. Now 10 years later Iâ€™ve
produced or co-produced over 500 consecutive hours of weekly TV. Iâ€™ve not been made rich by this, but so, too, Iâ€™ve not lost
money. Why? How? Well, I donâ€™t spend thousands. Thatâ€™s stupid. I donâ€™t pay networks or stations to air my show. Stupid
again. I use the TV to develop wrestlers. For me the TV I produce breaks even at least. For me, TV is an essential and important part of
my wrestling business.
PPV will be better!!!!! Thatâ€™s where the real money is. Right?
#6: â€œPersonal Responsibilityâ€�
This is something that is in short supply in wrestling and in the world in general. Too often, too many need to blame someone or
something else rather than taking personal responsibility. Guys released from WWE or TNA will always blame the company first.
Something like â€œCreative never liked meâ€� becomes the reason, rather than the potential that the wrestler was so bad that every
match hurt the audienceâ€™s feelings. Heck in the real world a woman sued McDonalds because she was burned by the HOT coffee
she bought and spilled on herself, even though clearly she wanted the coffee hot, and clearly nobody at McDonalds suggest she spill it
on her clumsy selfâ€¦â€¦and she won! So why have personal responsibility at all. Obviously, you can do any stupid thing or fail to
accomplish something and find someone or something to blame. The other side of the coin comes when you do accomplish
something. What then? Well obviously you congratulate yourself. Clearly you overcame â€œthemâ€�, all those who kept you from
accomplishments before. Clearly it was never you that screwed up before. It was them. The bastards!
Orâ€¦..maybe if you take personal responsibility for lifeâ€™s failures you can better appreciate your accomplishments, and maybe even
accomplish more. Maybe maintaining a positive spirit leads to positive things. I know this is just crazy talk, but maybe each of us has
potential to achieve and the ability to learn from mistakes. Maybe â€œtheyâ€� are not the problem. Maybe itâ€™s me.
So take personal responsibility. When something bad happens try to learn something from it. What could I have done different or
better? That should be your first thought. And when you accomplish something be thankful; to those who helpedâ€¦to those who love
youâ€¦maybe even to God (couldnâ€™t hurt).
Recent reports suggest that there are wrestlers taking steroids. I know this may come as a shock to many. Certainly it was to me. Who
So logically we need to find someone to blame. I mean itâ€™s not as if these wrestlers bought the steroids themselves and took the
steroids themselves. Someone must have forced them or even if not someone should have stopped them, maybe wrestled them to the
ground like a shoplifter. Certainly, no wrestler that takes or took steroids is personally responsible. That would be crazy talk. Itâ€™s the
promoters that did it by demanding and pushing only â€œlarger than lifeâ€� characters. Clearly this is unique to wrestling as is steroid
use in general. Obviously, only the â€œbig peopleâ€� get pushed in wrestling. Look at Brian Kendrick. Heâ€™s clearly jacked to the
gills. Why Spanky, why???
I mean itâ€™s not as if actors in Hollywood action films take steroids, and certainly the cast of the movie â€œ300â€� was clean as a
whistle, and Iâ€™m sure when AMERICAN GLADIATORS returns to TV next year hosted by Hulk Hogan they will be carefully screening all
competitors using a â€œwellness programâ€�. Only prayers and vitamins will be allowed!!!!!!!
No argument people are dying and likely for some steroids played a factor, but likely for a greater percentage illegal drugs (pills, speed,
coke, heroin, etc.) and alcohol played a greater role; but again we must blame someone or something other than the wrestler who took
bought and took the drugs or drank himself into a nightly stupor. We must help them because they can not help themselves. They are
powerless on their own.
And so thereâ€™s testing. Of course the testing is never considered sufficient, is never enough. Wrestlers are fired, sent to rehab,
counseled, punished, fined; all to help them help themselves.
Let me be clear here that no wrestler should take steroids, period, except to rehab a legit injury and only under a doctorâ€™s care and
only until the injury is healed. Any other use is a cheat. Have enough confidence in your God given skills to trust that as being enough,
and work hard to maximize your potential, and if you fall short maybe itâ€™s because you should have.
Ah, so the key is really good old personal responsibility!
#8: â€œBitter, Disgruntled Wrestlerâ€�
There is a disease in wrestling worse than drug addition or alcoholism, although they can be linked. I call it â€œBitter, Disgruntled
Wrestlerâ€�. Reinforcing a common theme, the symptoms generally involve a complete lack of personal responsibility and in many
case those infected see their career only through â€œrose colored glassesâ€� that somehow became permanently affixed. They were
or are â€œstarsâ€�. They were screwed by this promoter or that promoter. Nobody told them it would not last forever and now they have
no money, and someone is clearly to blame.
OK, so maybe the wrestler stopped trying long ago. He no showed or showed up drunk or drugged up repeatedly, got fatter and fatter,
kept deposits and didnâ€™t make bookings, double booked himself and took the show that paid more, refused a finish or lots of
finishes as after all heâ€™s a starâ€¦.he canâ€™t lose. But we need to feel his pain!
This disease attacks wrestlers who made it to â€œthe showâ€� all the way down to the guy who never made it out of his own backyard.
Most of these wrestlers self-medicate. Many die.
We may not be able to cure all of them so maybe we should learn from them.
Remember that nothing last forever. Cherish every accomplishment and memory. Save your money. Avoid drugs and alcohol. Remain
positive. Give back. Remember that everyone suffers now and then, and that without â€œbadâ€� things we cannot truly appreciate â
€œgoodâ€� things. Without set backs, accomplishments mean less. Trust your God given abilities and do not betray them.
â€œLife is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into itâ€�.
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