The Ringside Edition December 2016 – December 2016 – By Brian Thompson
Posted by flairwhoooooo on December 27, 2016
Sometimes no matter how long you have been doing something, you always find your way back to your initial beginnings. My personal pro wrestling journey started around 1998 or 1999, creating my own wrestling website (anyone remember Angelfire URLs?) and covering independent wrestling in the southeast Missouri part of the country. Think of it as a poor man’s version of Missouri Wrestling Revival, which has obviously taken things to a totally different level. Long story short, I reached out to Brian Kelley about returning to my pro wrestling columnist days and those humble beginnings nearly two decades later. Wow. Just typing two decades later makes me realize I am not getting any younger!
For the debut of this column, I want to broach a subject that is on the minds of most people involved in the wrestling community in the Midwest – the National Wrasslin League (NWL). Regardless of what anyone might think, they are creating a buzz and a buzz is what you want when trying to establish a new venture.
I think Michael Elgin penned a great viewpoint on Twitter recently about NWL. I encourage you to seek that out if you haven’t already seen it. Now onto my thoughts.
First, I think management of the organization needs to be commended. Promoting pro wrestling is a huge risk at any level you try it. Trust me. This is coming from experience from being involved in different ventures since I first began my career in 2000 as a ring announcer for Gateway Championship Wrestling in St. Louis. Almost 17 years later, I feel I have learned a lot – as much from failures as from successes. When a person takes his or her own money and puts in on the line, whether you believe in the concept or possibilities, the person at least deserves some respect.
Contracts are being offered to talent. They are getting the chance to develop new gimmicks or characters. I have no direct idea of what these contracts entail, but I know many of the athletes and competitors who will be a part of the NWL venture on both sides – St. Louis and Kansas City. I hope to see the organization succeed if for no other reason than to support the dreams and goals of these talents.
Will the regional concept work? I’ve often told people that if I had significant finances to make a “real run” that a regional concept is the way I would go. I’d hope to build up a company that could get a stronghold in whatever part of the country it existed in. Think regional concept with a national footprint. With all the streaming media and online options today, a company can truly put its product out beyond its touring borders in ways never possible before. And as far as actual TV, I’d try to work a deal with maybe a Fox Sports affiliate. I saw Pro Wrestling Ohio with a show on a regional sports network there called Sports Time Ohio several years back. With my Dish Network package, I even got their show. I always thought that was a very good marketing strategy.
I think in trying to make a big splash, the regional footprint is a smart way to go. Time will only tell if this idea, concept and venture works. I hope it does for several reasons. First and foremost is the previously mentioned talents that will be earning a more regular income from wrestling. That is a goal for most of us in the wrestling business in one way or another.
Second, the more successful this is there is the strong possibility of a trickledown effect. For the talents who will be able to work other shows, they would become more valuable for themselves in terms of talent fees as well as more marketable to the promoters who use them. A win-win for everyone.
Will this be easy? Not at all. But guess what? No business is “easy.” If they were we’d all own our own business. It takes time. It takes investment. It takes patience.
As far as management, I think the ones who I understand are involved with NWL bring a mixture of skillsets to the table. Chris Gough obviously has been a part of the biggest wrestling/sports entertainment company in the world and has seen how they operate. He’s also had success with his own independent promotion in the Kansas City Metro. I believe Pierre Abernathy is involved in the St. Louis arm of things. He’s had experience running shows in that metro which only helps the cause. And I’m actually excited to see what Scott Bowden brings to the table. I was a fan of his work during the Memphis days with the United States Wrestling Association (USWA). Being a part of the last surviving territory system can only have helped his knowledge of how to promote and support a wrestling venture. He was on live television for years and saw how that worked. And not live to tape, we can edit later, I mean LIVE as in WMC TV-5 in Memphis with no re-takes.
As we enter 2017, I saw good luck to NWL and good luck to all independent promotions around the area. I hope for a most prosperous year for everyone.
(Brian Thompson is a pro wrestling promoter, manager, announcer and talent agent. He has been involved in pro wrestling since 2000. He may be reached at email@example.com)