As I sit down to write the next installment of this column, I have a lot of subjects floating around in my mind.
However, something that springs to mind over and over is knowing your worth.
It comes as no surprise that there are hundreds of ‘wrestlers’ across the country of varying quality and ability. Wrestling has probably never been more accessible and as easy to get into than it is as the moment, which sometimes isn’t always such a good thing. However, that’s the way it is, and until it becomes a ‘closed shop’ again, that’s not going to change.
Of course now, with such a wide selection of people to choose from, competition for bookings and what a wrestler earns per booking has subsequently reduced. Such is the competition, undercutting another wrestlers cost for booking is commonplace, even to the point of people working for free. In my first few months in the world of wrestling I did this a couple of times, this was referred to me as ‘experience’.
It’s not experience, it’s someone taking advantage of a rookies’ naivety.
Needless to say, once I had been wised up by a fellow trainee, I no longer took on any more bookings that were ‘for experience’.
I know for a fact that a lot of people continue to ‘work’ for nothing. Of course, by knowingly ‘working’ for free, they obviously don’t value their skill or believe that they have a good ability, otherwise they’d be charging for their services.
There are exceptions – An academy show, is in my opinion, is a proving ground of sorts. Somewhere to cut your teeth, and eventually becomes a ‘shop window’ to showcase yourself to promoters who may be watching. Academy shows are essential ‘work experience’ where a new wrestler may not otherwise get a chance to show what they can do. Of course, any money made on these shows should be pumped straight back into the school, and not promoted as a ‘pro show’.
Now, I could just as easily talk about the number of ‘promotions’ who don’t pay performers, as well as those who don’t charge to wrestle, but it’s essentially a never ending battle until there’s some sort of regulation/governing body in force. That’s something that I believe to be so far away from materialising, because there are so many differing interests in British wrestling. That’s a whole other column however…
What I’d like to mostly talk about on this subject is looking after those who work the shows. When I discuss wages with someone outside of wrestling, their reply is usually something along the lines of ‘Not bad for 10 minutes work!’.
In reality take into account the hours and cost of training, dietary requirements, gym memberships, the travel times to and from shows, early starts, late finishes etc etc and that money suddenly seems a pittance.
I don’t expect any sympathy for this – it’s my choice to pursue being a professional wrestler. However, I do have pride in what I do and when I agree to a booking, if the promoter won’t meet my asking fee, then I won’t take the booking.
This has seen that I am no longer approached by a number of the ‘smaller’ promotions. The ones who wanted me to appear for nothing, or for a fraction of my fee. Now, I’m no megastar clearly, and I certainly know that I’m not considered to be one of the best in the country at this time, but I know my worth, and will settle for nothing less.
If a show is promoted poorly, then the chances are, that the quality of the performers and the show in general, is going to be quite poor. And if someone can’t be bothered to promote a show correctly, you can bet that there’s a bunch of people ‘working’ for free on that show.
It always surprises me the lack of pride in a lot of people.
British wrestling could be a fantastic to ply your craft again, if only it were done correctly, a place where overseas wrestlers would fly themselves over to in order to learn the ‘British way’, just as they were back in the World Of Sport days.
Again, that’s a whole other column for another time…
What can be done about free ‘workers’? Well, not much it seems, but if people are a little wiser as to what they’re paying to watch when they head to watch a wrestling show, I guess it’s a step in the right direction…
As always, I welcome feedback on any points raised in this, or any column I write.
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