|Why should people, whether buyers or sellers, be scrutinized for ticket sale practices before cards are announced?|
Photo Credit: TH
If you answered any company other than "WWE," you'd be wrong. Yet, a ruckus among the wrestling blogsophere, specifically at Voices of Wrestling, would have you believe that every other company out there with the exception of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (which was mentioned specifically) and WWE (which hasn't been mentioned at all) is engaging in some highway robbery by putting tickets on sale for shows before announcing a single match, or in some cases, a competitor. The practice, which companies like Chikara, Dragon Gate USA/EVOLVE, and even Ultimate Fighting Championship, which I stress isn't a wrestling company at all, have engaged in has been called sleazy. I'm not one to say that wrestling isn't an inherently scummy business. Many practices, rumored or confirmed, are sleazy, even in a company like Chikara. But putting tickets on sale in advance is the least of those practices.
Of course, one should ask why a promoter would be emboldened to put tickets on sale, sight unseen, and the answer, simply put, is that he/she has built rapport with that company's fans. They can put tickets on sale without announcing anything but a date, time, and venue because the reputation is so good. That practice begins with the market leader.
WWE is notorious for booking from month-to-month, but that practice doesn't stop the company from beginning the planning process for some events - namely WrestleMania - more than a year in advance in some cases. The process begins with strategic leaking of future Mania sites, is confirmed by the announcement of the next year's venue even before the current year's show's Access event starts. While WWE usually can boast a stable roster and predictable guest stars, the matches that are rumored oftentimes don't end up happening. Even with the relatively small turnover in the roster, who could have predicted CM Punk walking out the night after the Royal Rumble, or Alberto del Rio slapping the shit out of a social media dude earlier this year? Shit happens, but even without certain cogs, most people still end up not regretting their decisions.
Chikara, Gabe-World, and other promotions like SHIMMER can boast the same kind of rapport with their fans, and so they put tickets on sale without any confirmed talent or matches. These companies wouldn't need that goodwill anyway in a vacuum. Fans will buy tickets for shows whenever they feel like buying them, and putting tickets on sale for shows doesn't dictate when someone has to buy those tickets, unless the show sells out before anything's announced. In which case, why should the promotion be considered "sleazy" for tapping into a frothy demand for the name on the marquee?
Point blank, if a promotion can put tickets on sale whenever it wants to, and if people want to wait until matches start getting announced to buy tickets, then they're going to do that regardless of when the on-sale date actually is. If tackling sleazy pro wrestling tactics is the aim, then why go after companies tapping into demand? What about accusations that Chikara keeps its talent under its thumb with depressed paydays? Or how about the fact that the only wrestling promotions that book a plenitude of women on a regular basis are actual women's promotions? Or even going further, how about ripping Ring of Honor for its outwardly hostile attitude towards women? Treating early on-sale dates like they're the biggest issue in wrestling is deflecting from the real monetary and social issues that plague every promotion. It's not even making a mountain out of a molehill; it's trying to terraform a plain into the Rocky Mountains.
Basically, the latest outcry is much ado about nothing, tilting at a windmill while the black knights of social inequality, lack of safety, and misogyny continue to roam free. Wrestling is a sleazy business, but acting like promoters selling a show on the name of the company rather than wrestlers is worth this kind of vitriol is posturing, and nothing more.