We are reaching the conclusion of 2016, a year when departures in the entertainment industry rocked the world and people questioned the type of world we are living in as religion, colour, and origins of birth were called into question, dividing nations. But for fans of Wrestling, 2016 was a fantastic year, a year when WWE expanded their horizons with the Cruiserweights, FloSlam presented itself as an indie wrestling fans haven for action and Brit Wrestling showed the wrestling world exactly what it is capable of when given the chance.
Seriously look at 2016 objectively, can you say in recent memory that wrestling has had a better year? Across the world interest in wrestling has grown significantly, not just in WWE but in promotions everywhere. Thanks to an increase in social media, streaming channels and on:demand services, promotions and casual fans are no longer at the mercy of word of mouth from travel hardened fans as well as eagle eyed DVD collectors, now promotions can show exactly what they offer and those fans can finally see shows without making exhausting journeys but still contribute to the success of said promotion.
Numerous times throughout the years I’d hear fantastic reviews of wXw based in Germany, especially regarding their 16 Carat Gold event (this year held on March 10th to 12th) that regularly features the industry’s best wrestlers and thanks to the increase in authorised streams, I now have the choice of the journey or watch it at home. It doesn’t end there, Melbourne City Wrestling in Australia has been making waves across the world and rightly so, the action displayed in that promotion is fantastic and deserves to be seen on a bigger stage and thanks to it’s on:demand service it can.
That’s just two examples, I’m based in the UK, now how the hell would I have heard about those promotions without the increase of social media, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and others, I can imagine the chance would be very slim.
This year social media has helped wrestling reach that new level in popularity, acceptance. Don’t get me wrong as fans we hear the same questions, “it’s fake right?” and “Wrestling? I used to watch that when…”, however the stigma isn’t there as much as it previously was, and if you feel that someone is judging you on what you like…Fuck them, it’s their loss, wrestling is great.
I’m getting off topic, let me continue so…social media in 2016 has improved wrestling promotions of old and new, helping them gain more chances of getting noticed, but it shouldn’t stop there. One thing I have noticed on many wrestling websites is a lack of up to date information or even an effort to generate interest from new fans. Here’s a thought, a lot of fans will look up a website to buy tickets rather than go to Facebook or Twitter and if your website looks shit, you just lost a sale. My point being, if you're going to go to the trouble of setting up your promotion to look incredible across social media to gain interest why put the closing of a sale at risk with an outdated website.
It doesn’t stop with the promotions, wrestlers this goes to you as well, now I’d never tell you what you should be doing in the ring because let’s face it I’m not qualified, as I’m not trained to be a wrestler. However selling a product and promoting I can say I know something about. Turning my attention to the UK scene here, there are incredible wrestlers in the industry here, the world is about to see what I’m talking about thanks to the WWE United Kingdom Championship held in Blackpool during January on WWE Network, but some of those wrestlers are only just starting to promote themselves, to get themselves noticed to the fans. I've seen numerous instances where a fan has asked if a certain wrestler is actually going to be at a certain event as the promotion may have said they are going to be there but the wrestler hasn’t promoted the event or even themselves, leaving the question is that wrestler going to be there or if they are going to be there to they even care that they are?
I've also seen in the past, older wrestlers mock younger wrestlers for their promotion of merchandise and what events they will be wrestling at, well guess what, if they are as good as they say they are I know at a glance where and when I can buy their stuff and where to see them next. Sometimes I’m not in the mood (this goes for many fans) for a treasure hunt of where to buy merch, thanks! But going into 2017 I look forward to seeing more self-promotion from wrestlers, with the risk of repeating myself not just in this column, but previous outings and my Twitter page, there are fantastic wrestlers in the UK as well as Ireland and the rest of Europe and they deserve to be seen. Case in point, ITV's World of Sport and as mentioned WWE UK Championship will be on primetime TV and worldwide on WWE Network respectively, that features an incredible wealth of talent on both shows but there are British wrestlers not featured on either show that should be seen more but with only with promotion from themselves and fans will we see that happen.
It doesn’t end there with the benefits for the increase of Social Media, mainstream publications as well as sports channels have realised just how popular Wrestling Entertainment has become and know they can draw ratings and viewership by featuring stories about wrestling promotions on their shows not to mention interviews. All this will help raise the image of wrestling within communities and many who previously looked down their nose at pro wrestling now how can that be a bad thing. In my opinion it won’t. Look at the promotions in the UK who have sold out shows, produced shows at major venues, held events over full weekends and witnessed a growth in their fan base this year, it’s down to their advertisement on Social Media and fans sharing their experiences more often over it. It’s safe to say 2017 will be incredible.
Words - Craig Hermit
Images - Craig Hermit
Editor - James Marston
Twitter - @ATPWrestling
Facebook - /acrossthepondwrestling
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