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.