Professional Wrestling is a sport which has evolved over the many years it has been existent in the world of mainstream media. This dates back as early as the 1930's and 1940's when our sport was ruled by the likes of "Gorgeous" George Wagner, Man Mountain Dean and Vincent Lopez. Before television and severe breaches of Kayfabe and character were used like in today's modern wrestling, Wrestling was worked in Territories. A Territory in Wrestling would be s specific state or area in which a specific promoter would have rule over. Territories worked similarly to how Independent Professional Wrestling organizations work today, one could say the Independent Scene evolved when Territories were driven out by the likes of the National Wrestling Alliance and the World Wrestling Federation.
To start an Independent Wrestling Promotion in its own right is a tedious task, but one that can be accomplished with ease when planned out correctly. I am a huge fan and supporter of Independent Wrestling and I am a regular at several British Independent shows around the United Kingdom, including Anti-Watershed Wrestling, a rapidly growing organization, and Legends Wrestling League, another local organization that has been running successfully for a fair few years.
THE MAIN FACTORS:
The main factors to consider are simple Money, Talent and Product. The first one is somewhat obvious; you need money in order to rent out venues, wrestling rings and of course to pay your wrestlers. Talent is another obvious factor, this is the Wrestler's who work for you, the money you pay out to them is their wages, after all, they work in this business to make a living! The third factor, product, is a less obvious one. This is basically what kind of federation you would like to run and what kind of wrestling show you would like to produce. Would you like to become known as a High Flying organization such as AAA Mexico and CMLL? Would you like to become a strong style, technical wrestling organization such as ROH? Or would you like to become a character, charisma and superstar based organization such as the main stream WWE and TNA?
The best order to work these out is as follows:
So you have decided what kind of Independent promotion you would like to run, now is the time to take action. You need to start recruiting your talent. Now, if you are to run a specific kind of promotion, such as technical wrestling, or a mixture, but you are currently on a low budget, the best way to start out is as a professional wrestling training school. This means you will only need to pay one or two people who you hire as trainers, usually, people who are already professional wrestlers, trainers or ex wrestlers themselves. This is the best way to go, be sure to recruit someone who is able to teach your preferred style of Wrestling.
Once you have your Trainers, it is now time to advertise your Training School. This is a simple task. You need to also rent out a building which can be used as a training ground for you, luckily, the majority of professional wrestling skill can be taught with basic mats, without the need for a wrestling ring, so do not worry about the wrestling ring right now, as long as you have a basic hall, basement or open space for training and training mats, you are well on your way.
Open the doors for your training sessions and if you have been advertising, you should get a few signees with open arms and open wallets. You should charge around 5 UK Pounds or 10 US Dollars per training session, especially if you have an ex-professional wrestler as a trainer, or a trainer with years of experience under his belt.
The talent that you train here will be several of the talent that you will be using in your independent wrestling federation, so be sure to keep an eye on them and build up their characters as well as their wrestling skills as in the future they will not only be helping themselves, they will be helping you. A common sight in independent wrestling scenes is the trading of talent and partnerships between organizations for both advertising and profit. Raising good talent is a phenomenal way, and THE best way to get noticed by potential partners, which means you, will have even more advertising and even more talent for your shows.
PARTNERSHIPS WITH OTHER INDY'S AND HOW TO START YOUR FED:
As mentioned above, partnerships on the Indy scene are a common sight and for reasons that will become obvious once you get involved with the business, because partnerships equal profit. You start out as a mere training school, but once your talent graduate and start working for other organizations, you will soon have more talent coming in and more people wanting to train, which means you will be starting up your own independent organization in no time.
Once the time has come, and you have enough graduated talent and enough trainees still in place bringing in the training profits, it is time to get started. By now you have established friendships and partnerships in the business which means you can start advertising campaigns within other companies in exchange for advertising campaigns on your future shows. For example, you could appear on someone's show plugging your own, or you could ask them to lug it for you, which I have found to be a common sight in my years of Independent shows. Some organizations even sell the merchandise of other Indy feds on their shows.
You now need to sort out the basics; a ring, a venue and your opening show. Rings can be expensive to purchase, so for your first few years before you start making major profit, it is better to rent a ring. Your venue is a simple choice. Local leisure centers, clubs with big rooms and bingo halls are common locations for Indy feds. The trick is to stick to your preferred venue for a select few months to get your name out, and then take a show to another local venue once you start to have a regular, recurring audience. You should ALWAYS host your main shows at your main venue however; just take a one off out of the schedule to go elsewhere to build up your fan base. Advertising is the key to success in this also.
Once your venue is sorted out, it is time to plan your opening show. This of course means bringing in talent to work for you. Talent can be used for prices ranging from low to high depending on what you want them to do and what storylines you may want them involved in. The key to talent planning is of course to talk to the owners of your partner promotions who will work as the middle man in any negotiations before the talent actually come to you for the agreed price to discuss what will happen on the show and what spots, angles and storylines you would like them to do. You can expect talent to turn up very early to discuss spots with their opponents beforehand to ensure no mishaps may occur.
Another common choice is to include talent from your training school. Alumni will also be interested in opening the show, but talent who your trainers consider 'nearly ready' for the main roster can be bought up to be evaluated in a match against other trainees during the show. This not only works as a card filler, it also proves as an advertising campaign for your training school, as well as allowing your trainers to work out the necessary components needed to perfect the specific trainees so they will be able to train for the main roster faster and more efficiently.
You now need to work out your 'match card' which will be the matches you put on during your show, your 'segments' which will include microphone time, interviews and advertisement campaigns from you or your announcers for your partners and your future shows or myspace / website plugs, or storyline advancements, which can be anything from beat-downs, run-ins or more creative storylines, however, I would not go too into depth with storylines during your opener, just enough to draw attention to the babyfaces and heat to the heels. You need to get the crowd into the story and into the action in AND out of the ring.
HOSTING YOUR FIRST SHOW:
So you now have your talent, segments and match card sorted out, you are now ready to open the doors for your first show, and with the right advertising and the right venue, you should be expecting a good gate. Charging between 3 Pounds to 5 Pounds per ticket, you should expect a gate between 40 to 100 people, which in general is a brilliant draw for any Indy fed and is much profit enough to pay your wrestler's their agreed prices, while bringing in money for yourself also. The attendance and the profit will determine the success of your future shows. Be sure to advertise your future shows as well as your partner promotions, and get the crowd involved as much as possible. Build up your storylines slow but intensely enough to captivate the crowd, and make sure your babyface and heel wrestlers all interact to suit their characters. THE BIGGEST THING TO REMEMBER - The Crowd is the most important thing in the building.
Expect a success and plan for the future! You, as the owner and promoter, need to form ties between you and your partners to exchange talent to use on each others shows, getting your advertisement revenue in, and getting your name out there as the same time along with the Wrestler's themselves.
It is a long, hard road, but one that leads to fun and success in terms of profit and benefit to a vast yet slooping industry - Anyone hoping to start an independent promotion can take tips from here, I write for the benefit of the business, for the benefit of the sport that I LOVE with a passion. I hope you will take that into consideration when you start your own feds, and make it a credit to have as a part in our fair sport!