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Bob Evans: Do What They Can’t Do

Brutal Bob Evans continues to show why he is the Yoda of today’s independent wrestlers. Here are some thoughts he shared on Facebook today:

“There are those that think WWE is waging a war on the wrestling world.

That’s a mindset that will cripple you forever if you let it.

WWE is not evil. WWE is just WWE. You can survive and thrive outside of the worldwide company.

How? Do what they can’t do.

They can’t go to every small town in America. They can’t shake every hand, hug every fan, touch every life.

They try, but they can’t. Because they can’t be everywhere at once.

Collectively we can. We can compete doing what they can’t do and doing it better than ever.

We can reach out and be a part of our communities. We can bring in quality people. We can use good-hearted athletes with tons of potential.

Or we can just wrestle, suck the town dry, and move on. The carny lifestyle.

I prefer to learn from the mistakes of the past. We can be a viable, resilient, middle-class wrestling society that creates and evolves.

Or we can wait for WWE and the other national companies to tell us what to do. To dictate to us.

We can buy into reality any way we choose. I choose the reality of caring and fellowship.

Competition? Yes.
Hard work? Necessary.

But a spirit of fellowship is NEEDED.

Serve first.

Realize you CAN do this business well.

Don’t let anyone intimidate you.

You got this.

WE got this.

I love you.”

One thing I’ve learned about the wrestling promoters of the past is that they were community minded. They were active in their communities not simply as wrestling promoters but as part of the neighborhood. Louisville promoter Francis McDonogh and his wife Betty were very active in the city they loved. They ran multiple charity shows and hosted orphans, newspaper boys, and local sports teams. They reached out heavily to female fans and often drew more ladies than men. They participated in charity drives and civic events outside wrestling. They hosted parties and events in their home. They were at the Derby, concerts, and other sporting events. Wrestling wasn’t just business; it was family. It was community.

The WWE cannot be community the way you can. You can connect with the fans in ways they can’t. You can learn their names. You can be a part of their charities and their causes. You can make a difference.

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Wrestlers Are Promoters

In days long gone, the promoters ran the wrestling business. The centralized NWA divided North America into territories, and promoters would move and share talent across boundaries as they were needed. Wrestlers knew when they were sent into a territory that they were guaranteed work and pay. The wrestlers had to arrange their own travel, but the promoters did all the scheduling and marketing.

In today’s wrestling scene, there is no NWA. The territories are much smaller, and most promoters run one show in one location, once a week or once a month. There are no more traveling circuits designed to give wrestlers a place to make a living, and many promoters are too busy fighting with their neighbors to ever make such a circuit happen.

In spite of these changes, wrestlers today can still make a good living. But in order to make that happen, today’s wrestlers have to become their own promoters.

Wrestlers have always had to be their own promoters to an extent, but the need to self-promote has never been greater. Instead of relying on promoters to create territories for them, wrestlers today build their own territories. They network with the promoters to build a steady weekly and/or monthly schedule that will allow them to stay on the road making money.

Wrestlers also have to be their own marketers. They have to manage their social media accounts, build their own websites, promote the shows where they will be appearing, design (and in some cases make) their own ring apparel. They design their own merchandise, from T-shirts to photos to stickers to wristbands to whatever their imagination can conceive.

And yes, wrestlers are still their own travel agents, arranging their own transportation and lodging everywhere they go.

Aspiring wrestlers can no longer depend on the promoters to give them a place to make a steady living. They have to forge their own. Anyone who wants to live the dream would do well to read as much as they can on marketing, money management, and promotion as they can. Guys like Brutal Bob Evans have really helped a lot of younger talent see the importance of being business men and women as well as wrestlers. More and more wrestlers, up and down the card, are becoming full-time wrestlers because they are also becoming their own full-time promoters. They aren’t getting rich, but they are supporting their families and living their dream.

Fans can do their part to help their favorite wrestlers as well. Re-post and re-Tweet the show fliers your favorite wrestlers share. Attend all the shows you can, and always, ALWAYS bring cash for the merch tables.

The wrestling business has changed, and wrestlers are starting to find their way. It’s an exciting time to be a fan. And a wrestler.

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A Modest Proposal to Indy Promoters

Humbly submitted for all you aspiring wrestling promoters out there, here’s a simple plan from an observer and budding wrestling historian that will turn your fledgling promotion into a must see attraction.

Identify the biggest heel in your territory. This isn’t as simple as it sounds because the biggest heel in your territory isn’t one of your guys. Your heels are still your guys, and your fans know they’re only playing the heel because that’s what they’re booked to do.

The biggest heel in your territory is the guy running shows six blocks away from you. Yes, that guy, the one who is constantly trashing you on Facebook, the one whose fans flame you on Twitter, the one who has stolen some of your guys. He’s the one true heel in your territory because he’s the one who draws the ire of your fans every time he attacks you on social media.

And yes, that means that you, in turn, are the biggest heel in HIS territory as well. You following me? Good. Now, let’s move on to step two:

Arrange a meeting with your newly identified top heel. Do it in secret. Do not make this public, and do not meet in public. Don’t even tell your workers. Get together, shut the door, and don’t come out until you hammer out an agreement that will allow you to work together.

Yes, together. That means you’re going to have to compromise, and that means you will have to give things up – including possibly a percentage of what you’re earning. Give it up, because in the end, everyone involved will be taking home more cash.

Once you’ve worked out an agreement, leave the room and go back home as if nothing happened. You’re ready for phase three.

Escalate your public feud. Fan the flames on Twitter, Facebook, and every platform you have available. Send some of your guys to invade one of his shows – or better yet, open the door to let HIS guys invade yours.

I know it sounds crazy, but when his guys hit the ring and attack your top heel and babyface, they will leave that building with a hundred times more heat than your best heels could ever hope to ignite the way things are now. They have violated your ring. They crashed your party, interrupted your main event, and left your guys lying on their backs. Your fans will want blood, and when you repay tit for tat, his fans will be calling for blood as well.

This part of the plan can go for weeks or even months. Take your time, let it build, and when your fans reach the boiling point, you move on to phase four.

Go Big. Get a bigger hall. Double the ticket prices. Put on the biggest show your town has ever seen. Your guys versus his guys. You have now, in effect, created something wrestling fans have never seen. You have created something real. This isn’t sports entertainment. This is good versus evil, us versus them. You have led your fans to suspend disbelief without their consciously deciding to do so. You have recreated what once made wrestling truly great.

I don’t know if anyone out there has the guts to even try this. I know how it goes when promotions have “heat” with one another, and I know pride is a hard thing to get over. But with everyone else moving to a more comic book, scripted, staged type of presentation, wouldn’t it be great to see someone make things genuinely feel REAL again?