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Some Ideas for Real Pro-Wrestling

Alan Lee
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Real Pro Wrestling, a shoot hybrid Greco-Roman/Freestyle wrestling promotion debuted in late March of 2005, on Pax TV and Fox Sports Network. The Nielsen ratings for the debut show was 0.2, or 2/100ths of a percentage of a sample of television viewing audience of that time slot. The second week dropped to 0.1 percent. Buying airtime from PAX (and Fox Sports Network), RPW needs not worry of immediate cancellation.

However, with dwindling TV ratings, they may never be able to receive a prime timeslot that is sponsored by a network if this continues. After viewing 4 weeks of this program on PAX in NYC I have 9 suggestions for the promoters of this organization to consider:

1) Guerilla marketing:

When I asked my friend what he thought of Real Pro Wrestling, he said he didn't even know it started. With the one-month delay of its debut due to a warehouse fire, RPW's campaign to let people know when it would start up was nulled. For RPW to gain an audience, RPW should employ guerilla-marketing tactics to promote their brand.

For example, all of the Wrestlers of PRW should go to schools with Wrestling programs in their hometowns (especially before the debut of season) to discuss their product with the students, to show that like baseball, football or basketball, Wrestling also offers a future to those who truly pursue it with love.

Also, those of RPW whom crosses it boundaries for other public ventures, such as Tom Erickson with his MMA career should plug RPW (whether it be in a pre-fight interview in Erickson's case, or wearing RPW shorts, even a loss to Fabricio Werdum while wearing RPW shorts could help them).

Aside from print ads in MMA magazines such as Grappling and Bodyguard, they should offer to do interviews for these publications and also frequent related Internet and radio talk shows such as The Wrestling Observer Live and MMA Weekly, as well as post in related popular message boards, before an episode begins. Interacting with the world at large will make them known and seem more amiable than elitist.

2) Change the venue:

I don't even know why this had to be said, but raised and uneven platforms with no ropes or fencing to enclose the area, almost always is a disaster waiting to happen. Dennis Hall, although he didn't fall out had his head crash on the platform's edge and suffered a stinger.

There were also many occasions where guys just simply fell out of the ring and almost had to forfeit. While trying to make their program more interesting, RPW has jeopardized themselves by putting their athletes at risk from injury and possible boring matches resulting in defensive wrestling to prevent further injury.

3) Clarify and ammend the rules:

After four weeks, the TV Challenge, the Power Bar, and "THE BONUS" still baffle me. When the UWFi, UWF, PANCRASE, and the other organizations that had rules that varied from the old conventions started up, they usually would demonstrate the rules ahead of time before each show, and/or release videos of their rules (RPW can post a video on their website slowly demonstrating the rules).

With that said, lose those three odd rules. "THE BONUS" (many amateur wrestlers who watch RPW scratch their heads at this), which supposedly encourages "the big throws", although minutely theoretically sound, would not work if a wrestler does not have much experience with upper-body throws (thus as I propose below, sign more Greco guys) and is forced to do Greco. They should also reconsider the Force Out if they truly encourage the Greco throws because many guys would rather have their opponents gain a point than have him gain 6 and risk getting the wind knocked out of them.

I do not think the coaches need to throw in a neon colored slab to add dramatics as I think coaches coming up to ask for a video replay to question points is enough. Also, the Power Bar, which is something out of King of Fighters or some other arcade fighting game, which is related to the should-be deleted BONUS, seems like another conditional rule that does not add any value to action in the matches. If a Wrestler is passive or fleeing constantly, subtract 3 points from his score. Also, stand them up more from the ground, especially if it seems that nothing is being done to improve position or get a throw.

4) Put-over the upper-body throws and commit to it:

The three commentators of RPW (one of which is Olympic Gold Medallist, Rulon Gardner) as well as the promoters of this event really lets the viewers know of the awesomeness which are "the big throws" on the upper body. That's because they are damn beautiful techniques to watch. However, even with "THE BONUS" (which I wrote to do away with in 3) you rarely see one pulled off to its fullest.

Thus as stated above, rules should be amended to accommodate this. For example, all lower-body throws even lifts like the High Double Leg should be all 2 point moves (as well as everything else except the Ring Out, and the escape that should be only 1 point in my opinion), and all upper-body throws should be 5 points (6 may be a bit too much).

5) Edit the tournament format:

UFC and K-1 used to have all of their events in a tournament format. However, in time people began to recognize their individual stars and the tournament format was downplayed (well atleast K-1 does not have a tournament in the same place with the same concept every month). RPW's first season is a tournament format. Unfortunately, having a tourney each week, where only one match of each finalist is shown in its entirety, chances are casual fans will forget who that person is by the season finale. Thus the tournament format is detrimental for:

6) Building the wrestlers and pushing their personalities:

I am on a Sambo team. And Mauricio "Shogun" Rua and Vanderlei Silva are both members of the Academia Chute Boxe Team. However, they would be willing to fight each other at the PRIDE 2005 Middleweight Grand Prix Finals. Athletes in fightsports such as Greco-Roman Wrestling, Muay Thai, Judo, Mixed Martial Arts, BJJ, and Sbootboxing may train with teams, but unless in the rare tag-team situation (MMA promotions ZST and DEEP, and Wajyutsu's Pro-Grappling promotion, Contenders, seem to be the only ones who sanction them), they face their opponents in one-on-one situations. And thus, it is important to push and market an individual wrestler's personality.

For example, Teague Moore is a young successful financial analyst for the Meltzer Group in Massachusetts, who is so confident in his skills that he said he would wrestle someone in his suit. With a personality like that, "Yuppies" (young successful white-collared Caucasian males), especially those who were once wrestlers themselves but have moved on to a mundane corporate life, can relate to Teague. Similarly, charismatic Mo Lawal, who was given promo time with Tom Erickson on episode 5, can be someone young African-American males relate to.

Although, the movie, Ladies' Man, based on the Saturday Night Live segment, is in itself a parody, Amateur-Wrestling has always been seen as a "Good-Old Boys" sport. Although the likes of Kevin Randleman, Shelton Benjamin, Daniel Comier, and Kerry McRoy have done a lot to promote it, RPW now has a chance to break the stigma with someone magnetic like Lawal competing in it actively.

Thus let the individual Wrestler decides who they want to train with and determine the certain ones with skills and charisma to marquee for the company. Also, I think people might want to know who Tom "The Big Cat" Erickson and what credentials he has as a "reporter."

7) Revise the roster:

With 56 competitors on the roster, it is impossible to market each Wrestler (I sure have a hard time remembering the name of every guy who in his video package is chopping wood in the forest or working out in a gym). Also, while RPW seem intent on putting over the Greco-Roman throws, the average number of Greco-Roman Wrestlers in each division is approximately 3. 3 out of 8.

We are not going to see a lot of "big throws" with those numbers. In addition, since they are losing money leasing TV time twice a week, a solution I have is cut the roster (maybe to something like 32), and if they need to hire more, let these new signees be Greco-Roman guys.

8) Market for a more broader audience, and DO NOT alienate any possible market segment:

Most of the fans at the RPW tapings from a television viewer's standpoint seem to be buddies of Lee Fullhart and others from Iowa and may feel left out when a Mo Lowall wins and everybody is booing (to Lowall's credit, he hams it up, and like a heel, sticks his arms out and beckons them for more boos. Even if Mo loses sign him again and market him more or else someone will steal him). I could do a drinking game with the number of times the word, "Real" is said on the show J.

Seriously, as a Pro-Wrestling fan, it seems that sometimes they are trying to send a message to folks like me in a manner to "other" us. That is not good as RPW needs to market itself as an alternative to "Sports Entertainment" to the estimated hundreds of disgruntled Pro-Wrestling fans whom are turning towards PRIDE and other fightsports for something else. Also, in a somewhat belittling manner, it was stated on RPW's website awhile back that submissions were not RPW's creme de crope because of the more injures it would cause.

Unless I dreamt of the 100s of BJJ matches where a guy pulls guard for half an hour and taps his opponent out but his opponent is OK, that would be absolutely correct. A controlled submission artist is less likely to cause damage when they are working for submissions than bulling for a takedown. Thus comments like those very much can alienate fans new to Amateur Wrestling and prevent its growth. No new fans mean a possible death for a promotion (ask Vince Russo about WCW).

9) Reconsider the company name:

On The Wrestling Observer Online website, Dave Meltzer posted some fan feedback on what fans thought of the series premiere of RPW. I almost laughed when I read that a number of the site's viewers who thought RPW was to be a new worked fed that would be like the old hardcore wrestling promotion, Extreme Championship Wrestling.

I don't see how the word "real" can be substituted for "hardcore" or even "extreme" or "smack someone nice with a barbed-wire Singapore cane." With that in mind, the Real Pro Wrestling name would contradict #8 if left, possibly; it alienates Pro-Wrestling fans who may view it hoping it is a traditionally worked wrestling alternative to the WWE and see the product instead and wonder if the name is to spite their view of Wrestling, and also Amateur Wrestling and Grappling fans whom may look at the name and shudder of the conations of this product being related to worked Wrestling (they may even start thinking that the matches are worked on certain Internet message boards).

In the future, RPW should consider working with local Wrestling teams and USA Wrestling's network of high schools, and colleges to promote house shows. They should also think about a submission grappling division, and a women's division as well as try-outs but only after they have considered suggestions such as mine, and set themselves a stable foundation to build upon.