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6.03.2009

The Principle Of Pay

I’m probably going to get some heat for this next article, but I don’t care. Every article I have ever posted has been very diplomatic and politically correct, but now it’s time to write about something that has been irking me for a while.

A lot of people have asked me why I am not wrestling within Ontario as frequently as I once did. I used to wrestle every single weekend for an Ontario promotion, but over the past year, I have taken a step back. This is not because I hate wrestling, nor is it because I am losing my passion for being in the ring, nor is it because I am no longer being offered bookings. In fact, I have declined several bookings. Why, you ask? It comes down to the principle of pay.

Now first let me state, that this is not a problem specific to Ontario. Every single Province or State has its’ own issues with this matter. I only use Ontario as an example because it is my home, and it is where I face this problem most often.

I have been wrestling for almost five years now. When I first started, I did everything I could to gain experience in the ring, and learn from as many people as possible. I still hold this mindset every time I step into the ring. There is always something to learn, and so many to learn from.

One of the main rules that my trainers drilled home, was the need to be paid for your work. When a wrestler steps into the ring, it is as much a job as it is a passion and joy. We provide a service. We are athletic entertainers. We put our bodies and our lives on the line every time we step in front of a crowd and deliver a match. It is a job.

Unfortunately, many “workers” don’t see this as such. They are so desperate to get in the ring, and will do anything to get in front of a crowd, which includes working for free, or working for next-to-nothing. This ideology perplexes and angers me on so many levels.

I give you an analogy to demonstrate part of my point. If I was looking for a shoot job within an organization, I would go in for an interview, sell myself, do my best to show my skills and qualifications, and then start at a set wage within the company if I was chosen as the successful candidate for the position. If I failed at my interview, and another candidate was selected, I would move on and attempt to land another job.

What I WOULDN'T do is go back to the company and tell them that I desperately wanted the position, and would do anything to get it. This would include undercutting the successful candidate, and possibly working for free.

In turn, the company would not look at me and suggest that this would be a feasible, money-saving solution, even though my skills were under par, and my qualifications nowhere near those of the successful candidate.

The same principle should apply to wrestling. Now don’t get me wrong. If a wrestler is first starting out, they don’t have the right to demand a ridiculously high wage for their work. However, when first starting out, a wrestler should always get some sort of financial compensation for their efforts. As one’s experience, skill, and marketability grow, then a worker may choose whether or not to increase his or her wage.

I also want to state, that I am not a money-hungry diva. It is not the dollar signs that attract me to wrestling. If I was money-driven, I wouldn’t be anywhere near independent wrestling. It is the PRINCIPLE of the matter.

Now how does this apply to me?

When a promoter calls, and offers a booking, he or she always asks how much I charge. I reply with my price, and then often get a response back stating that “so-and-so is coming in to work for free,” or “so-and-so is coming in for $20, so can you come in for the same?”

When I reply: “No, this is my price,” I often get a response saying “Well, we’re going to go with lady x and her friend because we can get both of them for what it would cost for just you.”

When you “hire,” people who will work for free, there has to be some reason as to why they’re willing to do that. Could it possibly be because they can’t seem to get booked anywhere else? Could it be because they’re untrained and dangerous? Could it be because they know in order to get booked, they have to undercut the workers who have struggled to pay their dues, who have learned to be safe, and to be professionals?

Promoters are equally to blame. Many will do anything to save a buck, because it is very hard to make money off independent shows. In fact, promoters are very lucky to break even these days. They will gladly trade a solid worker at a higher price, for a crappy, skinny, dangerous douche who will work for a trade-off in t-shirts and DVDs.

What about the vets in the business? They are a dying breed that are very much needed at this point in time. Many of them can’t get booked because of people constantly undercutting them. The locker room leaders, teachers, guides, and protectors of the business are affected in all this as well.

Is it any wonder that the independent scene is on such a downward spiral, and the quality of the product is being drawn into a vortex of subpar shows?

As angry as I am by all this, I still love wrestling. I will still continue to wrestle, but I will stick to my guns regarding my morals and values within the business. If the independent wrestling circuit is the shits right now, I am going to do my part to uphold the values and principles that were instilled in me by my trainers. It is something that every worker should take to heart.

Remember folks, you get what you pay for.


11 comments: on "The Principle Of Pay"

D. Ross said...

It sounds like the problem is a shared thing between the wrestlers and the people running the promotions. You can only hope that these places that bring in these freebies will run themselves out of business. Its also up to fans of actual wrestling to not support places that are running the business to the ground.

The thing that sucks is that this is gonna take a while. There is no shortage of people that will work for free not realizing that they are costing a better worker money in the long run and exposure. Very good article.

Jake said...

It is a problem I've been preaching about for years. Thank you, Danyah, for having the balls to use Tha O Show as your forum to get this message out there.

Hopefully, someone will listen... unfortunately, I doubt it...

BDH

Dave Linton said...

A fuckin men !

I could work every weekend too, but if it Doesnt make dollars, then it doesnt make sence !

Pierre said...

GREAT article, and I agree 100% on your points.

As a non-wrestler, this reminds me a lot of people getting tattooed. I've been around tattoo/piercing studios for awhile, and it's always bothered me to see someone walk in, ask for a price, then walk out to go see if the shop down the street will do it for cheaper.

Not once do these people ever look at the artist's portfolios, to see who can do what they want and make it look good. They want a tattoo that should have cost them $100-120for $60-70.

So they find a douche to do it for cheap, and surprise surprise, they walk out with a piece of crap they they either need to pay the good artist good money to fix, get lasered off, or covered up altogether.

People get what they pay for, bottom line. If people go for a roster of green douchetards that costs them next to nothing, they will produce a show worth next to nothing, filled with green douchetards

Thank you for sticking to your guns with this. From a fan's perspective, it's good to see workers still treat the business like a business as opposed to a hobby.

BigDaddy said...

I'll say this .. speaking as someone who has gone around soliciting paydays, and being the one who hands them out ...

There are a lot of people who undercut, but there are also people who price themselves out of the market.

If ex TNA guy wants a spot on a show, and he wants X bucks - and you can't justify that he'll sell enough tickets to re-coop, then it's not a good business decision.

On the indies, the distance between one worker and another (even from good ones to bad ones) is much less in terms of dollars.

When I head a promoter say that wrestler X is too expensive and wrestler Y works for 10 bucks less - it makes me a little sick.

I also get blown away when I hear about first and second year wrestlers asking for as much as guys with 5-10 yrs under their belts. That's just a foreign concept to me... regardless of how good you may be. The youngster hears what an older guy is making and says to themselves, "hey, I'm as good as that guy ... I want his pay" .... but that guy has also paid dues for 5-10 years.

The sense of entitlement out there is huge.

I also never subscribed to the theory of just getting a bunch of ppl under budget and then finding spots for them.

Any show I've booked, helped book, or been affiliated with, has always put specific people into specific spots.

So, I agree with EVERYTHING Danyah is saying, and i think it can be takena step further to opposite end of the spectrum - those who make doing business difficult and cost themselves bookings based on their own inflated rates.

Misty Haven said...

Freakin right doggy!!!! I cannot agree with you more...When I step into that ring, I am trusting my life in my opponent's hands and so those every other worker. Unfortunetely, there is so much shit now that are "trained" and willing to work for free that even if you wanted to put on a good match, you couldn't. Why would you take that risk...

You do indeed get what you pay for and I think it is becoming more and more obvious...

Anyways, props to you girl...well done!!!!

Downtown said...

I think you gave the answer to your own issue. "In fact, promoters are very lucky to break even these days."

If you're in a band, without a label's backing, and not drawing would you be surprised if the club owner expects you to work for less? Why would they care how long you've been playing? Why shouldn't they pay the "new" act more if they actually bring money in the door?

On the other side, would these old school ideals work in any major league sport? If you can get the same results from a new player for less why even bring the veteran back?

Part of me is playing "devil's advocate" here, but the other part is looking at the fact that this is entertainment and it's all money driven.

Indy shows (at least in my area) are going to draw the same (typically low) numbers, whether they have recognizable names on the card or 3 month trainees in t-shirts and jeans.

If the best a veteran or experienced worker can do are these fly-by-night promotions, either pack it up or find a more reputable venue that sees your claimed value.

%99 of these promotions should be used to gain experience and make some tapes to pass along to companies that can hopefully pay what one expects.

Being a worker is like being in any other form of entertainment; if it doesn't pay the bills, it's just an expensive hobby.

Anonymous said...

Agree 100%

Anonymous said...

That was one of the best articles I've ever read. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Right on! Mark promotors are ruining the biz to not only by getting the hungry young indy wrestlers to work for free but by giving away the entire product for free on youtube.

It's all money going out the door for pro wrestlers and promotors. They are running these little piss ant indy promotions like amature clubs and welcoming marks and backyarders into the inside working of the business without anyone ever paying their dues.

I suppose in away the new unprofessional attitudes in the business have helped to save indy wrestling. You got to ask, is it worth saving at this point. An interesting thing happened out here on the westcoast. TNA came here and the local boys went out and bought tickets to the show. That never before has happened. lways before the enterance to a show was a courtesy extended between promotions to those in the business, not anymore TNA, WWE see the indy promotions and indy wrestlers as marks that will buy a ticket now. Well they have made themselves that, that's what these young wrestlers of these days deserve. To be treated like marks. For the most part that's what the new crop is. Talent aside, being in the business is as much attitude as it is talent. When a professional wrestler lowers themself to the lowest common denominator.....(A MARK) that is exactly how they should be treated!

Anonymous said...

Tremendous article. TREMENDOUS. Why? Because it sounds exactly like one Devine wrote about 2 years ago. Come to think of it, I do not believe pay is the reason
either of you are getting bookings.