NWL President Major Baisden’s Open Letter to the Fans
Posted by flairwhoooooo on January 24, 2017
First of all, I am going to apologize for the length of this post. That said, I believe it is the most effective way to get out a bunch of information at one time.
An open letter to Indie Wrestling Fans
Since we started the National Wrasslin’ League in September of ’16, I have received a ton of questions about what/why we are doing what we are doing. These questions increased after the acquisitions of MetroPro and St. Louis Anarchy and again after running our first shows. Many of these questions are the same. Below I have attempted to list the most common questions and answer them as frankly as I can. My goal is to let the fans know where we are coming from and what we are trying to accomplish. I am sure some will agree and some will not. Some will hate what we are doing, some will love it, some won’t care. That’s fair, and that’s life. I am simply giving you more information to base your opinion on.
Why is the name Wrasslin’?
The name is wrasslin’ because wrestling was already taken. We looked at a ton of variations of names. Thousands of names (literally) are already taken. We attempted to purchase the rights so we could use “wrestling” but were unsuccessful (trust me, we tried). So, we were left to coin the term wrasslin’ to distinguish ourselves both legally and market-wise, which is also why you see us use it prominently.
Why did you move from MetroPro and Anarchy’s existing venues?
This is a two-part answer: 1) the existing venues were simply too small; 2) we wanted to be in a central location. The way we are doing this is expensive. Our wrestlers, both part time wrestlers/managers and full time wrestlers/managers, are actual employees not contractors. They are eligible for unemployment when/if they leave. Full timers get healthcare, dental, and retirement benefits. We have workers comp insurance for all of them (insurance companies believe pro wrestling is more dangerous than window washing and charge us accordingly). We pay to get them all licensed. We house those who have relocated. We even have an employee equity program where wrestlers can become part owners in the venture.
All of that is expensive. Therefore, we need to run in a venue that will hold enough people for us to break even. That is about 1,200 people.
STL and KC are also very sprawled out cities. We chose central locations so that fans from all over the metro area could make it to the show without having to drive an insane distance. It is much cheaper to run in Illinois and Kansas. But doing so cuts off the western part of the STL metro and the eastern part of the KC metro for the average fan. Gas, like ticket prices, are a factor.
Speaking of ticket prices, why are they so high?
We base our ticket prices on multiple factors. Most importantly is what it takes for us to keep running. As I mentioned above, we take care of our talent in a way that no other promotion does. There’s an expense to that. Simple business says one needs to cover ones costs…
We also base prices on minor league sports – minor league hockey and baseball specifically because they pay similar salaries and run 20+ times per year in their home stadiums. Finally, we base our prices on indie promotions. There are several promotions in line with our pricing.
Even though we are in line with many other indie promotions, I understand we run more often than other promotion does. I understand that’s why the prices are too much for many families to bear. That is why we created the Fight Clubs. In StL, $15-$50/mo gets you tix to all of our shows. In KC its $25 – $50/mo (KC is more expensive bc we have a larger venue). We did this for the Indie fan and their families. We can offer that discount level because if we know you are going to be there, then we can plan our costs better. I want you to be a part of this and are trying to make it work for all of us.
If wrestlers are so important then why are you making everyone change their names?
The name changes are necessary in order to protect our investment. The cool video board we have, the entrance gear we have custom made, the ring gear we have custom made, the wrestlers themselves, and the original music we have commissioned cost a ton. I made that investment because the characters and storylines is what drives our promotion. If we spend all of that to get these characters over, then we need to own those characters. It is not fair to our wrestlers to go to them and say “We are going to hype and market your character like crazy, so we need you to give us ownership of it.” They have spent years developing those personas. Instead, we asked THEM to come up with new ones.
We did not go to them and say “Dirden, you are now Jack Foster.” We all got on a conference call and Dirden pitched us HIS ideas and we discussed them and came up with Jack Foster. All our guys have been excited to come up with new personas. Much of the time on the indie scene, wrestlers must get themselves over with their moves because they may never return to a given city more than once or twice. At the National Wrasslin’ League, they perform in front of the same audience every other week. That means they must get themselves over with their character. What you see here is our talent exercising their creative capabilities. I think that is a pretty cool thing.
Why are you running on Thursdays in St. Louis?
I do not want to run on Thursdays in St. Louis. We want to run on Saturdays. We went to every venue that holds over 1000 people (that wasn’t a VFW hall type venue) from the river to 170, north to 270 and south to 55 and they all told us no. They told us no because they did not want professional wrestling in their venue. We even offered some places (like Ballpark Village, Union Station, America’s Center, and Scottish Rite) more than their typical venue fees and offered to pay for a full year up front in cash. We were turned down by all of them. I do not know why there is such intolerance of wrestling in St. Louis venues. We are grateful to the fine folks at Casa Loma for letting us run on Thursdays because if they didn’t, we would not have a home anywhere in St. Louis. We are still looking for a larger venue that will allow us to run on Fridays or preferably Saturdays. Your support will help us do that.
Why can’t we interact with the wrestlers like we used to?
That was my mistake and I apologize. We had many complaints after our first show re this. We changed it immediately. Going forward, we will have a wrestler at the merch table for a portion of our shows, take 15 minute intermissions where wrestlers will be out and available to interact with fans, and have wrestlers stay after the show to sign autographs, take pictures and interact with you.
Are you going to be on TV?
We are currently negotiating with several different options. We will let you know how those go over the coming months.
Are shows going to be available online?
We are now able to commit to a publication schedule. Every Wednesday at 5 pm, the previous week’s show will be posted to our youtube page (youtube.com/nationalwrasslinleague). We will post post fight interviews the first business day after each show. You will also see weekly recaps on our FB page and weekly FB live interviews with wrestlers.
You’re just another big promotion coming in to kill the indies.
I know, not really a question. But it is a sentiment I have heard numerous times. This is not the case. Our alliance with Mike Elgin and Glory Pro speaks to that. We are not the WWE coming in and taking a promotion out of the city. We are not trying to become WWE. We are trying to become a local wrestling company that all of StL and KC can enjoy. Our whole business model is predicated on our belief that local wrestling can work on a large scale. We are literally trying to boost local wrestling, not kill it.
As I mentioned at the start of this letter, my goal is to give you all understanding of why we do what we do. In some cases our decisions are what we believe is best, in other cases, we are trying to make the best out of a crappy hand. I am investing in pro wrestling because I believe in it and I love it. I am investing in our talent because I think they are awesome people who deserve an opportunity to make a good living doing what they love. I am writing this because I care about the fans – all of them. And I want your input. You can tweet me at @krazykimo with any feedback or suggestions you may have. I will do my best to get back to all of you.
We are going to have to attract more than just indie fans to make this work. That said, we cannot do it without you. Time will tell whether this will work or not. I am going to do everything I can to make it successful and create something wrestling fans in KC and StL love coming to. The worst-case scenario is we all get to watch a bunch of rock stars excel at their craft for a few years. The best-case scenario is we get to create something unique and awesome for our cities, our region and our sport. That’s worth a hell of an investment.
See you at the shows,