It’s a Work: Markism, Names and Money

So who are the marks? 

If your independent promotion is losing money and you think putting a “name” on your poster will help, then you’re a mark.

 I touched on it last time out, but I think it warrants repeating. People will read the above and take many different meanings from it. 

I’ll expand on that a bit, and in doing so I’ll also exercise my editing skills. Yes, I’m still working on that novel. I’ve been unable to really put many words on paper for the last five weeks, so I dug into some theory on editing.   

Without even looking back at my statement, I know I’ve broken a rule. According to the mighty William Strunk Jr : do not draw attention [to a colloquialism] by enclosing it in quotation marks. He continues that to do so it to “put on airs”, and I tend to agree. Nevertheless I did so with regard to “names”. 

The idea of a “name” has come to take on different meanings. It refers to wrestling adverts or posters and the drawing power of a name on it. That’s it; nothing more. 

So if your goal is to profit, as it should be, you have to figure out if you’ll make money on this venture. Some promoters are worthless pieces of shit that will put a name on their poster without ever even contacting or attempting to book the name they’re exploiting. I mention them to point out: a) that some promoters truly do this for the sole purpose of cashing in on the names with zero cost to them, and b) that these promoters make money doing this. If one fan bought a ticket to see a name he put on that poster, he made money. Will he be able to get away with this forever? Logic would dictate he wouldn’t, but that’s not always the case. Don’t ask me for names and specifics; I work for these promoters sometimes and will continue to do so. 

Assuming you’re a mostly-honest promoter who has enough integrity to actually book the talent you’re advertising, you should do some math before sending off that confirmation email. 

So let’s edit that statement. The quotation marks are bothering me now. 

If your independent promotion is losing money and you think putting a name on your poster will help, then you’re a mark.

On composition, Mr. Strunk advises writers to place emphatic words at the end of their sentences. Given that, I could change that statement to: 

You’re a mark if you think putting a name on your poster will help your independent promotion, which is losing money.

 Nah, I don’t like that at all. It does however serve to point out that which should be emphasized- losing money. 

Here is where you want to stop being a mark for the name you’re considering and put your promoting pants on. Look at how many tickets you’re presently selling and think about how many more you think that name will bring you; not over a stretch, because in all likelihood he isn’t coming back, but on that one date. 

Is it a valuable name to your fans? Remember, your friends and/or the boys aren’t buying tickets and they’re not who you’re trying to entertain or please. Take a close look at who’s in the seats and don’t assume they all watch RAW or TNA or even know who ROH are. If you boast a “smart crowd” though and are losing money, Lolololol! 

Will you put in the work to sell it? Seriously, will you? You’re obviously not a very good promoter to this point (you’re losing money, remember?). If you think your “name” will magically bring fans in on its own merit, it won’t- Ric Flair has proven that.

 So is it more of the same from me? Am I really wrestling’s Michael Moore; all problems and no solutions? 

No, Michael Moore has way more money than me and you CAN do well booking “names” in your independent promotion- by promoting. If you’ve been sending your lineups to every wrestling forum and website in existence and your numbers still aren’t coming up, then try focusing on building a more local fanbase and reach out to your community rather than just wrestling’s web community. If you’re advertising within your community and still not drawing, maybe it’s because nobody who shops in your supermarket knows who Steve Corino is (sorry Steve, any other name would have gotten me heat), but let’s get back to that statement: 

If your independent promotion is losing money and you think putting a name on your poster will help, then you’re a mark.     

Perhaps the most powerful tenet in Strunk’s thoughts on composition: omit needless words. Fed on Poe, Lovecraft & classics like Thor and Doctor Strange, revising my novel’s first draft seems impossibly daunting. Words let writers show off and what wrestler doesn’t like to do that?

 If your independent promotion is losing money, then you’re a mark. 

Done. This really does say it all; but again, don’t hang up your boots just yet. Is it a promoting problem? Are you doing the work? Your website should be a promotional tool, not a place for your to engage in flame wars with the same forty people who visit daily (25 of which consist of you, your locker room, refs, ring announcer and a few spouses and significant others) 

Or is it a booking problem? Tacking names of ex-WWE/TNA stars to your poster doesn’t make anyone an effective booker, and popping the boys does just that and little else. In theory, adding a name to your card will create a buzz (at least that’s a justification I’ve heard from some promoters), but if that buzz is no more than some internet talk on a few message boards that doesn’t translate into much as far as profit, it doesn’t justify the investment.  

There are independent companies that have the savvy to make booking names work for them. Successfully booking names means you’ve gotten value for the money they cost you, but these successes come with timing, smart business and smart booking- not mark booking. 

As Strunk advises in writing, so should one do in promoting: omit needless words. If you’re small and local as an independent, there’s no shame in that at all. Instead of booking names and hoping it will draw, invest in your locals. With some effort, a local independent worker can assure you ticket sales. Most workers have friends and families and coworkers, etc that will come see himor her perform. 

Remember kids, it’s a business and its about money. Dave Meltzer and his observant buddies can call Guerrero/Malenko the Feud of the Year 1995 (in awards more self-indulgent than the Oscars), but how much money did it draw? Marks can have all the online awards and ratings systems they want, but at the end of the day you need to look at who have been the biggest draws. Guerrero/Malenko didn’t make much money and, as my friend Raven pointed out, crowds in fact fell silent for them at times. Videotape can stand to prove they were amazing exhibitions just as marks can argue it and made-up awards can justify it, but did it do its job if the fans hardly made a sound? Their bouts were like chess matches; real thinking-fans’ stuff and they inspired many of today’s great performers, but 15 years later, it’s still the Hulkster making people tune in. Smart marks can watch with their noses turned up, but they’re still watching Hogan and pals aren’t they; which makes them not so smart at all- just marks.  

-Chuck LeGrande

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