Learning the ropes wasn’t just about learning wrestling moves and techniques. During my early years I kept myself very quiet, and watched, looked, and listened. It was understanding the workings of the wrestling business. Promoters like Max Crabtree and Brian Dixon were all businessmen. They weren’t playing at it. It was their liveleyhood, their living. They had to make money, or else it’s curtains!
Promoters weren’t aftraid to spend money on advertising like posters, and newpaper advertisments. It was considered an investment. Quite often I would travel in a car of four or five wrestlers, because it made economic sense to do things that way. Why would a promoter book a wrestler from here, and a wrestler from there, and shell out a small fortune in travel expenses when they can get four or five guys crammed into a car?
Keeping your head down, and taking a good look and listen around can serve you well in the future.
One example was watching the Dale Martin’s wrestling ring being put up, and taken back down. Geoff Kaye, who was a former professional wrestler turned referee used to hire a wrestling ring to Dale Martin (Max Crabtree) and Geoff had this fantastic little innovation. In just one of the corners the traditional turnbuckles had been replaced with ratchet straps. This made it possible for the ring to go up, and come back down very quickly, and with very little effort.
Years later I duplicated the idea, and it saved me some money over the years. …Why? …How? Because a lot of venues in the UK charge by the hour, and I don’t just mean the length of a wrestling show. From the time you start to set up the wrestling ring – till they finally lock the door. Time is Money!
Whenever it was possible, I’d go and watch some of the matches. Not to “mark out” or anything like that. It wasn’t for my own entertainment. It was an opportunity to watch, listen, study, and learn. There was an abundance of talented “workers” on the scene to watch, and learn something from, and I took every opportunity that I could to learn that little bit more. Many young “wrestlers” who work on the UK scene these days appear to be more interested in coming back to the dressing room and updating their facebook status – rather than go and watch an experienced craftsman at work. Take a piece of advice boys and gals, go to the back of the arena and watch some experienced professionals at work, or hang around in the dressing room and watch some seasoned professionals work out their match. The facebook status can wait until you hit the road.
If Mike Weaver was booked for a show, and if I wasn’t, I would still tag along for the ride. I always took my wrestling gear with me, because if a wrestler no-showed there was an opportunity to wrestle. To do another match. Learn another lesson and get a bit more experience. Most would be wrestlers on the scene nowadays do their wrestling training, then do a couple of matches, and think of themselves as fully paid up professionals. In fact they are only just getting started. My advice to any would be pro wrestler is to take as much knowledge in as possible. Try to absorb everything, like a sponge.
This is just the tip of the iceberg…..