Accessibility: The Future of Professional Wrestling

Christina FreemanContributor IJanuary 11, 2010

HOUSTON, TX - APRIL 5: (L-R) Actor Mickey Rourke celebrates with Ric Flair after beating WWE Superstar Chris Jericho during WrestleMania 25 at Reliant Stadium on April 5, 2009 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bill Olive/Getty Images)
Bill Olive/Getty Images

Often I wonder what has made sites like Facebook, MySpace and even blog sites like this one so popular. 

It's accessibility. 

More than that, people of this generation enjoy the idea that their opinion and intelligence is valued.

Then you take it to another level where people want talent recognition and you get YouTube, shows like So You Think You Can Dance?, and the mind-numbing staple of the new generation of Americana, American Idol. 

It's not enough for the average person to remain average anymore.  The times have changed and fans need more from entertainment venues than pre-processed, non-unique functionality. 

Fans expect to be interacted with. You see the trends everywhere, the most popular video games are the ones that involve massive online communities and the ability to create unique self-driven characters as a part of the story. 

I think it's only natural that professional wrestling tries to figure out how it can incorporate its fans into the process of creating a show.

I've been to two Wrestlemanias in a row.  Did a pretty high-level package and was among the 'special' fan contingent.  The actual events were wonderful, Wrestlemania, the Hall of Fame, I had no true complaints about those. 

It was the actual interaction features that left much to be desired. 

Things like the fan access and the specialty meet and greets.  For example, last year in Houston, the wait for the meet and greet for high-level package buying fans was so long that many of us had to abandon it altogether if we expected to arrive at the Hall of Fame on time. 

An additional event that was attached to the previous package in Orlando was dropped at the last minute and not fulfilled without there being any consolations. 

In general these non-televised events felt unorganized, rushed and disrespectful.  There were times as I stood in line that I actually moo'd because I had no other word to express how I felt the crowd was being treated.

It was as if the very people that supplied this product looked down on the average fan for taking it.  That's just bad business. 

The WWE does great overall business, but that's not the point. The point is that with a few adjustments in areas like this, they could do better business than what they're currently offering.

This is where accessibility comes in.  Right now these events are just autograph sessions with some interviews and minimal interaction with production or performers.

It becomes this assembly line as people are treating wrestlers like Pokemon, getting every autograph they can because there is nothing else to do there all day besides eat and buy merchandise.

I believe the average wrestling fan admires and respects different parts of what makes a wrestling show tick.  These non-televised access events should include some more nuts and bolts-type fodder along with the fanboy/fangirl treats like autographs and merchandise.

Include consent and release forms with packages and let's all have a good time. 

In ring trials, let fans cut promos on each other, adopt a persona.  For those not interested, show them video events on pyro technology, costume design, directing, sound editing. 

Have the history of titles, events, or legends sessions, let them listen in on open round-table discussions amongst other fans and veterans of the business.

Treat the events like a professional wrestling seminar and show the fans how to respect the show and the level of show they receive.

I remember when I was younger I hated football until someone explained the rules to me and then all of a sudden it because the greatest sport in the world.

Promotions should use these fan events to explain the rules to the average wrestling fan, and let the fans explain things to each other.

Educate them about the business and the sport so that they don’t stay with it because it’s available, they stay with it because they love it.

This is how you get a fan and keep a fan, invest in them and they will invest in you.