Confessions of a wrestling fan


Confessions of a wrestling fan

Cottage Industry or Big Business? by Greg Tingle - 9th June 2004


Why do I like professional wrestling?

It's a question I have been asked many times over the years, but something I still have an internal struggle with.

There are many aspects to the mat game that I find very appealing, and then again, on the other hand, there are some angles to the "sport" that I don't fully understand, and the odd thing about this soap opera for men (and some women), that I don't like, and I've been a fan for over 2 decades.

Professional Wrestling (and specifically AWF Pro Wrestling "Aussie style") is just what wrestling king-pin, Vince McMahon enthuses - "It's sports entertainment".

It had been a few years since I had attended a real "Aussie" pro wrestling card at the club. Sorry, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) doesn't count, despite the fact they drew close to a full house in Sydney and Melbourne, and AWF in comparison drew a few hundred.

It's the raw, grass roots, built like a proverbial brick *hit house (and occasional fly-swat), hamming it up, without the glitz and fireworks we are all familiar with.

I'd been looking forward to the AWF Pro Wrestling card at Wollongong for some time. Many things were rushing through my mind coming up to the card, and especially on the 100km trip down south, with my life partner. Fortunately, Yvette was "pre qualified", as I had warmed her to the pro wrestling concept thanks to our friend "FOX Sports", and my salesmanship. Sports nut, writer and all round "fitness freak", Dane Crandon, also joined us for the occasion.

You see, I'm a promoter, not just on the periphery of pro wrestling, but in the entertainment, sports and media sector as a whole. I make a living from this promoting and media "stuff", with the assistance of a government grant. (I made a believer out of them too)!

On this particular wrestling card on a cold Sunday night in the Gong', the boys (and girl), under the tutelage of Greg "TNT" Bownds, really turned up the heat. The ring action (and risks) were quite spectacular, as was the commentary provided by Curtis A. Hughes (A for a-hole), whose comments about the Gong's thriving "kiddy" industry and "the captain's" SMS-ing tendency will not soon be forgotten.

So, who actually attends these "Aussie" pseudo-sport wrestling matches?

A whole variety of people. There were the hard-cores and die-hards, identified in AWF, (WWE and ECW apparel), wearing slogans like, "Want A Fight" (ah, no thanks), mum and the kids (mum into it more - perhaps it was the leotard trunks), the odd drongo, piss head, sports lover and the family and friends of the wrestlers. Even "The Captain's" cricket crew were in attendance to support him, decked out in white and chanting the name of their modern day super-hero of the grassy knoll and squared circle. Bottom line, pro wrestling attracts an eclectic mix, catering for all demos of the populace.

It was hard to miss the blondes and groupies in attendance, that looked to be there to score a 3-count or a strangle-hold submission of their own, or maybe even play tag-team with an AWF ring warrior.

So, where is this "Aussie" modern day athletic Shakespeare-like show heading?

Based on last Sunday's performance - right to the top of Australia's entertainment industry. The McMahon's WWE need not worry yet.

Ok, what's missing? Big "cashed-up" sponsors, TV time, and video games. To Bownds credit, with a little support from yours truly, AWF enjoys the occasional write-up in the "local rag" (thanks Illawarra Mercury), the odd radio spot (Wave FM and friends), and superb Internet presence (check-out www.awfwrestling.com.au and www.mediaman.com.au/articles/awf_june2004.html We hear that more mainstream media coverage is on the way. Stay tuned for a whispered upcoming "doco" via ABC, SBS or FOX; on the glorious history of Australian professional wrestling.

Why do these hard working folks deserve not only the fans' ongoing support, but that of the media moguls and advertising campaign "gurus" everywhere? AWF Pro Wrestling is the future of professional wrestling in Australia. Heck, some of these guys are even good enough to deserve spots on the roster of the biggest showcase in the world - the World Wrestling Entertainment, as syndicated on television networks around the globe.

Tragically, pro wrestling is somewhat of a cottage industry in Australia at present. However, I will stick my neck out (don't clothesline me), and predict that AWF Pro Wrestling will continue to grow, and prosper. It is indeed a matter of time until AWF gets TV time, and Bownds and friends are working on a series of documentaries for TV and DVD consumption. (The video cameras at ringside were not just for looks or hype). This footage is "gold"; just waiting for the right merchant! (Scoop - Team Tingle, an off-shoot of AWF Pro Wrestling, has a few serious "name" wrestling legends and big time acting talents based in the US, working on some wrestling promos, that back up the huge business potential of Australian professional wrestling. More specifically, an AWF - Media Man - US connection tie-in. AWF has brought in U.S, Canadian and Mexican "imports" previously, and next time they expect to have the sponsorship backing of an airline and beer company).

Perhaps you may not be convinced of the AWF's business viability. This stuff is perfect for Reality TV. I can see it now, AWF Pro Wrestling and Media Man Australia present, 'Pro Wrestling Is Real', screened every Monday night, straight after 'The Apprentice'! Return of the Monday night wars.

The ring announcer spruiks, "Tonight, one man will be eliminated as part of this 12 week series".

Returning to live action, you want names of the headline-grabbing players! TNT, Mark Hilton, The Captain, "Mad" Tony Kebab, Sinister Technologies, PC Virus, Cletus Blood, Future Shock, Spike Steel, Billy Flyswat, Kid Dynamite, Krackerjack, Webmistress and more. Surely these names and characters are more than enough for an enduring TV series and interactive video game!

Now to immediate reality, I should point out that TNT's family owns and operates a sign writing company - what's to stop you becoming a financial sponsor of this attention grabbing sport. Perfect for sports stores, drink companies, sports nutrient makers, video game developers, introduction agencies, "rugged" light truck manufactures, magazines like 'RALPH', fashion labels (hello Adidas, Nike, Everlast - anyone?) AWF also have access to the venue PA system, and rumour has it that it won't be long until those in attendance at the clubs will be hearing the name of "X" wrestling figures, wrestling DVDs and you get the point. Yes folks, this is a very receptive audience, and they're in the mood to buy, and support the boyz and the biz.

Will AWF Pro Wrestling ever attain the absolute pinnacle? Yes. AWF has been established for 8 years, and has consistency drawn decent crowds in New South Wales and Melbourne. Bownds understands "what works", namely merchandising, publicity and work ethic. There is a strong hard- core and casual fan base, and they understand the publicity and promotions business enough to get media. Most importantly, AWF understands and delivers what the public demands. Who won and lost on this most recent wrestling extravaganza? Folks, there were no losers. All wrestlers aka "workers" and fans were big winners.

So, wrestling fans "down under", the good news is that professional wrestling will once again catch "on fire", and rest assured that AWF Pro Wrestling will be leading the charge. What can you do to assist? Call your local club, call and write to FOXTEL. Heck, Mr Kerry Packer got behind World Wrestling Entertainment a few years ago (in the form of a ringside seat), so there should be no stopping "punters" and moguls alike. Book your ticket today, for an evening of real entertainment that you will never forget.

As the late, great Jack Little always said, "That's all there is folks. There isn't any more!"

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