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A Tournament Promotion: Could It Work?

by on May 3, 2011

A recent post on the CZWFans message board begged the question as to whether a tournament-based promotion could work. Most of the major independent wrestling promotions in America currently have one major tournament, but this idea would be to run every single show as a single-elimination tournament.

It tweaked the idea in my head and got the thought process flowing. I’ve pondered many different thoughts about the whole concept and I decided that, rather than keep them to myself, I’d put them up on the site and create some content. Below the cut are every bulletpoint I’ve thought about regarding this concept and making it work. If you agree/disagree with what I say/think on the subject or just want to add onto any of the points, please feel free to either hit me up on Twitter @tomisnotgreat with the hashtag #SupportProWres or comment on the blog. Enjoy!

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Run sparingly. This thing would die a quick, sad death if you ran this monthly. It’s a VERY niche concept and could be burned out incredibly easily if it was run monthly. It’s a special product, so treat it as such. In order for this thing to work, I think you’d need to follow a similar schedule to Shimmer, where you only run 2-3 times a year (four max).

-Book your dates WELL in advance. In order to make something like this work, you’ll need THE best/most well-known guys. Of course, everyone else wants them too (and most of them are now under contract to ROH or Dragon Gate USA). Personally, in a perfect world, I’d try to cement my dates a year in advance after asking around and crossing my fingers that everyone else has their ducks in a row, having most of their show dates booked. Even then, you won’t be able to avoid all pratfalls, but you’d think you’d avoid most. Plus, if you have your stuff squared away, you can give your fans PLENTY of advance notice to save up money, get time off of work, or whatever else they need to do to be there (especially since something like this is sure to draw mostly internet fans who would be coming from long distances.

Make a weekend of it. Like I said above, people will be driving LONG distances for these things. If you book independent wrestling’s darlings, chances are most of your interest will be from people outside of the area in which you’re running. If it’s just one wrestling show, way less people will be willing to drive/fly long distances. You’ve got to make a whole shindig out of it. Run two nights’ worth of shows (the guys’ll be in town, might as well get two bookings out of it), work out some sort of deal with the guys and the hotel you’re putting everyone up at to do some sort of Q&A/luncheon/meet & greet the afternoon between shows (or even do something out of the box like wXw’s 16 Carat fans versus wrestlers soccer game)…make it worth everyone’s while. In terms of making two shows out of it, you could book two eight-man tournaments for the weekend with fourteen men overall.

Formatting/booking. Here’s one scenario: on Night One, you do the first tournament and run a six-man with the other guys between the semi-finals and finals. On Night Two, you use the other six in that night’s tournament, plus the previous night’s winner and a loser from the night before, “randomly drawn” for a second chance. Then, you can do whatever non-tournament match you want with the other guys. If you run four weekends a year, you could get seven tournament winners, then one randomly-drawn alternate for the eighth spot out of everyone who’s competed throughout the year to fight in the tournament of champions, with the winner of that thing getting some sort of big prize. You could format the shows hundreds of ways, but that’s one practical suggestion.

Switch things up. The thing that catches fans’ attention the most in these tournaments are the odd variable. The Heartland Wrestling Association got some attention when they brought in former WWE star Paul Burchill for their Heartland Cup. King of Trios gets massive amounts of attention for their tendency to bring in oddballs. If it’s just eight of the usual indie darlings, people will dig it at first, but eventually get tired of the same ol’-same ol’.

Take advantage of new media. I honestly think this format would be one of the easiest to use to take advantage of the pay-per-download/pay-per-stream system. Hypothetically, let’s say that I could post each match online and for $1/view and/or download, it’d be cost-efficient. I’d go ahead and release each match in the tournament for $1 apiece since hypothetically, I’d try to book this thing as seven big super-matches. If someone wanted to order the whole show, I’d either give them two matches for free to knock it down to $5 or I’d keep it at $7, but offer a free hard copy of the DVD or give them the non-tournament match for free. Again, the $1/match number is a number I pulled out of my butt for simple math’s sake, but I think offering single matches or the full show under a group discount (as opposed to making everyone buy the whole show since some people think they would just want a couple of matches, but you could probably hook them and get them to buy the rest of the show if it’s good enough).

There are tens of other variables, but these are the really major ones. Obviously, things will happen with talent (injuries, signings, retirements, new breakout stars, etc.), with your building, with the market in general, and so on that you can’t control or that you’d need to be prepared to tweak for. Again, if you think I’m completely ridiculous, agree with me, or anything in-between, hit me up on Twitter or comment on the blog.

-TOM. 

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5 Comments
  1. Ian permalink

    Personally I’m sick to death of single-elimination tournaments. There have been like half a dozen this past month, with more on the way. Variety is the spice of life. Maybe if each tournament was different in some way, but it sounds rather repetitive, especially when you take into account every promotion under the sun running their annual deal.

  2. Do you think it’d work better as some sort of weekend-long round robin with a bunch of guys? Obviously, it’s not like next week I’m going to announce a brand new national promotion with Low Ki and the Warlord as my stars under this format (it’ll be the Barbarian), so I only put so much thought into the idea.

    -TOM.

  3. Ian permalink

    I like the idea of a company that promotes wrestling events with more of a ‘real sports’ structure. Round Robins. Full-blown leagues. Anything to make winning and losing truly matter and go beyond typical indy dream match cards. It’s literally just single elimination tournaments I’m sick of. Something more innovative and fresh, that still provides the same end-of-the-show gratification of one man/team standing tall, that speaks to me.

    I also dig the idea of a Red vs Blue weekender. Get two Captains. Each Captain brings along a team. The two teams collide in a series of matches over a number of days. Whichever team wins the most matches gets a big trophy. You could even mix it up. 3 teams. 4 teams. etc.

  4. I adore that team idea idea. Rikishi’s fed in California’s doing a team-based group where the teams are based in different cities. I think the way they’re doing it, where they stick the team members in a cage off to the site during the matches and Gangrel’s a coach, is kind of lame. But, there’s absolutely a way to do it.

    For instance, everyone knows that, if you see 4-5 Chikara guys on the same show outside of the Chikara territory, they rode in together or that, in real life, the Cutlers & the Young Bucks are tight. It’s less of a stretch for some fans if you had Team Chikara, Team SoCal, etc. instead of a Chikara vs Chikara tag or the Bucks vs the Cutlers. Plus, even if you did a three-team show, that’s fifteen wrestlers (if you did five wrestlers instead of four on a team) and fifteen paydays. If you do five singles matches, three tags and a show-closing three-way match with all three full teams involved to determine the ultimate winner, that’s nine matches. Compare that to ROH’s last Boston show, which wasn’t a huge show. Nine matches, twenty-four guys. It’s nine guys you wouldn’t have to bring in and get the same result.

    I enjoy this exchange of thoughts. It’s like wrestling, but intellectual.

    -TOM.

  5. Ian permalink

    Now that I think more, it’s also very similar to the TNA World X Cup. Which was a concept I really liked.

    I think teams also open up a lot of storyline possibilities, that are difficult to achieve in every-man-for-himself promotions. Real-life sports controversies like the Lebron James situation, for example, could be mirrored as a wrestler abandons his teammates for a more successful squad or more money. You could have teams ‘relegated’ from one show to the next, where the standouts are snapped up by surviving teams to aid their next campaign. Granted, at the independent level the need for ongoing stories isn’t so great, but the potential is there, I feel.

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