Well Said: Johnny Devine

March 20, 2007

I read an interesting article written by my fellow Canadian Johnny Devine. In the article Devine talks about guys in this business who have no business being in it yet managed to stay apart of it by working for free, and in some cases dumping each other on their heads to make up for the fact that they have very little if no talent. If you havenít read the article click here to read it before going any further. Iíll wait here until you get back.

I think Devine brings up a lot of good points in his article, and I agree completely that lower end, poorly trained wrestlers undercutting more talented workers by working for free is a huge problem. It is a problem that really compounds itself and helps spiral business right down the toilet. The more bad workers that get used the worse the end product is and as the show gets worse, the fans enjoy the show less and in turn attendance drops, which forces promoters to cut costs even more which leads to the need to use cheaper or more free workers and you end up with a show isnít worth seeing, thus doesnít draw a dime, and therefore canít afford to pay anyone. Eventually the fan base is killed off and the Promotion either dies or hangs at a pointless level.

In his article Devine places blame on the undercutting workers for killing the Indy scene, which I think is accurate to an extent but not completely so. I agree that it has become too easy to get into the wrestling business now. Too many people who have no business getting into wrestling are getting in and in the process ruining the quality of our sport. There are also far too many unqualified people training todayís ďworkersĒ and those people who go to the cheapest ďJoe (never made it) Indy workerís Wrestling SchoolĒ are disrespecting themselves and the business in the process. An unskilled person training others only magnifies the problem and produces more unskilled workers, and as a result poorer matches, worse shows, and again dropping attendance. There arenít enough veterans working the Indy scene anymore so if workers arenít taught properly out of the gate there are very few opportunities for them to learn along the way. If poorly trained workers only work with other poorly trained workers it is literally the blind leading the blind and itís the business as a whole that suffers.

Where Devine falls short in his blame placement, in my opinion, is that he lets the promoters hiring the cheapest workers off the hook. If promoters would show the business a little respect and not hire guys that do the business a disservice by performing in it, this problem would quickly go away. Iíve been to Indy shows where half the card has no business being in the ring while more talented people sit on the sidelines, because the guys on the show are willing to work for free or happen to pay the booker or promoter to have them on the card. While this may seem like a good short term gain to some, it completely destroys the local wrestling scene, and makes it harder for those who can work to stay active and hone their craft while waiting for their break.

Now I realize that Indy promotions run on a thin budget and they canít always afford to pay for top talent, but putting people out in front of a crowd that donít belong there completely undermines the entire Industry. The only way the Indy scene can grow or even just stay alive is if the show itself is good enough and worthwhile enough that people are willing to pay for it. Promoters have to make the effort to have the best show they can within their budget and canít just use the cheapest workers out there. Hiring people, who have either been trained properly or have experience and can work, will benefit not only the show but also those on it who get to work with them. I received an email from an Indy worker from Australia after he got to work with one of my students and I think it illustrates the point perfectly. Below is the email:

Hey Lance,

My name is Joel Bateman, and I wrestle for PCW over in Australia, along with one of your former students, Carlo Cannon. I had the honor of working a match with him on the 23rd of December, in Frankston Victoria, and the feedback from the match was fantastic. I'd never worked with Carlo before, and in that one match I have learnt so much more about the business & putting together a match than I have in the last 6 years I've been wrestling. So thank you for teaching Carlo everything you did, and him being able to pass it onto me.

Thanks again,
Joel Bateman.

Unless knowledge gets passed down from one generation to the other the business is going to fail. If younger people starting out wonít make the effort to seek out this knowledge, then Promoters need to make the effort to employ those who have it and can pass it on, and the Industry as a whole (Bookers, Promoters, existing workers) need to show the younger kids who just want to play at wrestling where their proper place in the business is, the other side of the guard rail.

Devine closed his article encouraging everyone to support the local Indy scene, which I think is a great idea, because it is after all the grass roots of this industry. If you are a fan of this business you need to support it and just watching it on TV isnít always enough. Find a local Indy show and go buy a ticket, who knows you might enjoy yourself.

Lance Storm