Friday, June 06, 2008

NWA 60th/Ric Flair Controversy & The Lesson It Teaches

As you may have read on any of the major wrestling news sites, the National Wrestling Alliance is putting on a big 60th Anniversary event at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, GA on this Saturday June 7th.

Part of the event is scheduled to include an NWA Hall of Fame induction ceremony that was announced as including WWE Hall of Famer, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair. The controversy arose when WWE decided to pull Ric Flair from appearing at the event and from doing any personal appearances for any other NWA promoters, which NWA promoter, David Marquez had contracted with Flair to arrange.

Paul Heyman, in his weekly Sun newspaper column, which you can find by clicking here, discusses the matter in detail and lambasts the NWA and specifically it's Executive Director, Bob Trobich, for announcing Flair without written confirmation from WWE.

As most people know, I am friends with both David Marquez and NWA Executive Director, Bob Trobich. NECW is not a member of the NWA, though we have worked with them on occasion. I was very involved in the NWA when the "Boston Bad Boy" Tony Rumble was alive and promoting under the NWA New England banner. One of my closest friends is former NWA president, Howard Brody, who is no longer involved in the NWA and hasn't been for several years.

While I am not privvy to all the inside details, to defend my friends, Marquez and Trobich, I would have to believe they had a deal, based as I understand it, on dealings with Flair's agent. Obviously, WWE, to whom Flair is undisputedly contracted, decided to veto the arrangement.

As Paul Heyman, so smartly put it, "This industry is driven by an investment of time and money, and the allotment of minutes given to someone on whose performance and marketability that first investment is made."

The NWA situation is a more blatant example of a danger many independent promoters expose themseleves to.

There is a trend in the wrestling marketplace currently that is seeing a lot of promoters basing their cards around talent that are contracted to TNA. TNA freely allows these so-called "third party bookings" where their contracted talent are allowed to be booked on any independent show. TNA books these talents through their office.

On the other hand, TNA is booking more and more house shows under their own umbrella. It doesn't take a genius to see where this is leading. The day is going to come, and my guess is that it will be sooner rather than later, that TNA will decide that it's not in their best interest to have their talent performing for anyone other than them. After all, had this policy been in effect, TNA's top star, Kurt Angle, who was injured on an independent date in Korea to the point where there is a dark cloud hanging over the man's career, would be a more certain option for the company he is contracted to. How many serious injuries on a third party dates will it take before TNA says, "Gee, maybe this isn't such a good idea?"

You can't build a business around talent that are contracted elsewhere. The NWA just found this out the hard way.


Anonymous said...

I agree with you to a degree. I've promoted shows in the past, present, and future. Don't you think that bringing in "Name" talent sometimes works as long as you do the right thing with that talent?

If you pay $1000 for someone to come in and they sell approximately $2000 extra in tickets, isn't it a wise investment? No one in TNA is going to bury your talent unless you let them.

Now, in my opinion, no one in TNA except for Angle, Booker, or Christian Cage is really going to draw big numbers but as a "once in while" thing couldn't you promote your champion facing Samoa Joe in a "World Title Match" similar to the old days of Brisco, Funk, or Race? I mean, the local guy could really get the rub if he has a knock-down drag out 15 or 20 minute match with The World Champion and loses. You could even do a DQ. I think you can make it work, but I see your point as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sheldon, let me first say great show on May 31 at the Iron 8 tourney, I've been trying to make every show in Quincy, but I'm caught up with The Celtics in the NBA Finals going for banner number 17! I agree with your comments with the NWA, about trying to book Flair on an NWA show. If you're a promoter you better know what the hell your doing, because even though Vince Mcmahon may make questionable decisions at times, he knows what's right from wrong.
Without a contract, don't advertise. THat's why Vince's company beat WCW. i think indy promoters need to use a little beter judgement these days. By the way, the TV title is a goog idea for your promotion, but does that mean the champ must defend every time on NECW TV, or is there something I'm MISSING? tAKE CARE, Sheldon!

Anonymous said...

Heyman was right,yeah it sound mean and cold blooded,it is what it is business.The NWA need to grow up and they need to hustle some real TV time because alot of people think NWA is the rap gorup.Compete for real NWA and show the world that your World title still mean something,because when people think of a world champion,they thing CM Punk or Randy Orton,not the NWA World Champion.Hell you guys needto get a new belt because that old dome belt is played out like afros.