(Blog I wrote for gerweck.net)
In part one of my blog; we established that putting on a wrestling show is an expensive and time consuming hobby. Sure, it’s fun to play arm chair booker and believe that you have that one breakthrough idea that is going to draw a lot of money. However, there are a lot of working components that need to come together in order for your show to go off without a hitch. So far we touched on seeking advice, obtaining insurance and securing a building for your event. Here are the next steps:
Some promotions own their own ring while others rent one. If you decide to rent a wrestling ring, rental fees can range anywhere from $500 – $1,000 a night and should come with a ring crew to set up and tear down the ring. Some renters will provide extras such as ring side barricades and steel steps at no additional cost while others will charge extra. Make sure you properly communicate to the person in charge what time you need the ring at the building by. If $500 – $1,000 seems a little high, then ask the owner of the ring if they have any trainees looking for work. If so, offering to give them a match on the show usually drives the price down and is a good way of building a strong professional relationship.
Owning a wrestling ring is a large and immediate expense. Also, storing and transporting the ring is another issue. If you don’t have access to a big enough basement or garage, renting a locker from a storage facility is practical and efficient. Most times this requires renting a moving truck. Most rental companies require some advance notice. Make the reservation as soon as you can, because most shows are on the weekend and that is a popular time for people to move. This all may seem like some unnecessary headaches just to own a ring, but trust me, it is worth it in the long run and should eventually end up paying for itself.
This should be a given, but if you don’t advertise then you are wasting your time and you should never run a show. At this stage of the game you probably have an idea of what talent you want to use on your show. Once they are booked, you want to spread the word in as many ways as fiscally possible. A surefire way to draw an audience of just five people is to promote exclusively on the internet. Advertising through wrestling websites such as Gerweck.net cost nothing and you are providing content they are actively looking for. Using social media to promote your show is a great tool that also costs nothing. The bottom line is that the internet, despite how powerful it is, doesn’t hold a candle to posters and flyers.
In order to advertise locally, you need to hit the pavement running with a plethora of promotional strategies. Hanging up posters, handing out flyers, and acquiring sponsors are all positive steps in the right direction. When looking to hang up a poster of flyer in a particular area, any place with a bulletin board is a good place to start. Color posters are a must because you want something that is eye catching and interesting enough for people to read. Your poster should tell fans who is going to be on the show, while at the same time telling fans why they should care, and pay, to see your event. Make sure your posters list key information such as the date, time doors open, bell time, ticket cost, remote ticket locations and the address of the building with quick and easy directions. For example, 123 Johnson Street, Boston, MA right off exit 1A
Sending out a press release to every newspaper in your area and donating some tickets the local Boys & Girls Club is not only effective advertising but establishes good community relations. When talking to businesses about buying ad space, make sure you present them with multiple options for advertising. Some might only want to advertise on your website, while others want an ad in the event program or a banner hanging up during the event. Don’t get discouraged when you make inquiries. Some will always advertise with you while others will curse your name just for mentioning the word wrestling.
If you are looking for a remote ticket location, comic book shops and non-franchise video game stores are a good place to look. Usually, offering the store a few dollars per ticket along with the advertising you will have to do in order to tell people where to get tickets serves as free advertising for the store. There are so many different avenues you can go down while advertising. Promoting will take up the majority of your time and it should, considering you want as many people to attend your event as possible.
The Day of the Show:
The day you have been working towards has finally arrived. You want to be at the building early so you can start getting everything situated. If there is a custodian who is going to open, close and clean up the building afterwards; TREAT THEM LIKE GOLD! If they get hungry, let them have some food from the concession stand, on the house. If they have kids who watch wrestling, let them in for free. The future of your occupation of that building can live or die on what this individual conveys to the administration. Treat them right and make sure you thank them for everything at the end of the night. This can pay dividends such as letting you in the building earlier and assistance with chairs and tables.
Now that you are inside the building, the ring crew can begin setting up the ring while you tend to other matters. You will need to set up tables so you can sell food, merchandise and wrestler’s autographs. You will also need to set up stations for whomever is playing the entrance music, (oh yeah, you will need to buy or rent some type of sound system) color commentary (if you are doing live commentary) and a station for the film crew so they can work without interruption. One more area you need to set up is someone to work the door to sell and take tickets. This means you will need to bring money to the event to make change and find the right people towork the tables. Significant others are usually dependable, I know from experience!
Once you have this settled, you’ll want to converse with wrestlers, managers and referees as they arrive, make sure the DJ knows the order of entrances and any angles taking place so they play the right music. Consult with the film crew on these matters too so they know what shots to get and where the hard camera will be positioned. Go over the matches with the talent and make sure everyone knows what they are doing. The length of these conversations will vary since some will have suggestions about things they want to incorporate while others may ask if they can wrestle in an earlier match so they can leave in time to work another show. A good ring announcer is a must. Anybody can read names off an index card but it takes someone with a certain type of charisma to do it the right way. They are the host of your show, which is an important role. Oh, make sure they know the show details too.
Remember our talk about treating the custodian like gold? Same goes for the talent. You want to be as accommodating and professional as possible without compromising your vision. It’s your money on the line and without the wrestlers, the ring will be pretty empty. Get use to last minute changes. Some wrestlers might not be able to afford to make the trip while others desperately need to pick up some extra shifts at work. Then, you will have those who were offered a higher paying and more high profile opportunity on the same night and time. While is stings, remember, these guys are trying to make a career out of wrestling. Unless they simply no show, you can’t begrudge Grappler III if he decides to take a booking for $300.00 to work with a former WWE Champion after he agreed to work your show for $50.00 against Union Jack.
The show is over and everyone in attendance had a fun time. Now it’s time to see how much money you earned. I’ll use examples form my first show to break it all down.
The Gate + Concessions = $1,507.00
Seems like a lot of money but when you add up the:
Ring rental fee
Buying concessions to be sold
The amount left over was $92.00
All that work for so little profit doesn’t seem worth it at all. To me, it was. Those who I got advice from expressed how lucky I was to make a dime my first time out. Sometimes I made money while other times I broke even and then there were times when I lost my ass. It all comes with the territory and no matter how many times you run a show, you never stop learning.