Now you have a venue, a ring, and a date for the event. It’s time for the most important part, booking the talent.
As far as referee’s you can get by with one, but if you use just one you should definitely pay him something.
What I used to do was try to put the best card together I could, while at the same time spending the least that I could. Never ask a wrestler what he charges to work a show, some will try to get over on you just because you are new to the business and don’t know any better. Case in point I asked the first wrestler I was going to book what he charged, he told me $50, I asked if he would take $30, he said yeah. Now, the 100 or so mile drive would have been worth $30, especially in this day and age, but he sucked in the ring, he should have paid me to work the show.
Offer the wrestlers what you can pay. If they don’t want what you are offering then just go to the next name on your list. If the person is someone you really want on the card and can do some good on the show then offer them a little more.
As far as name wrestlers go, they can bring in a crowd, well some of them. For the ones that can really bring you a crowd you are looking at least in the $1000 range, and if you are going to pay that much then you really need to advertise. I found out names are not really needed. Wrestling fans like wrestling, if there is a wrestling show they will come. There is no need to book five name wrestlers knowing you will never sell enough tickets to cover their cost. Always negotiate when booking a name, just because he says he gets $700 a show doesn’t mean he won’t take $400. And $400 is a little much.
The only time I used names was merely as a treat for the fans and I never paid over $300.
How many matches should you have? A good way to cut cost is to have 5 matches, 4 regular matches, and then a battle royal at the end. That way at the most you would pay 10 wrestlers. I feel however that hurts the quality of the show, I suggest booking 6 matches. If you can get a couple of guys to work for free you can put them in the first match as a tryout of sorts. 7 matches is great because each match should average 8-10 minutes. That way the fans don’t have to watch an epic suck fest, and at the same time get to see a variety of styles and wrestler’s. With 5 matches, each match will tend to be longer, and potentially bore your audience.
If you are not a trained wrestler, referee, manager, etc, and you are the promoter do not put yourself on the show. You don’t need to be the Vince McMahon of your show, and personally I find it disrespectful. At the very most you could ring announce, but besides that you should know your role and stick behind the scenes.
If you are a wrestler starting your own promotion. Don’t book yourself in the main event and make yourself the champion. Do not make yourself the main star of your promotion. Chances are you suck, if you are the most talented member on you roster an exception can be made. But out of all the shows I have seen the promoter/wrestler isn’t the most talented. You can find out who the promoter/booker of an Indy show is by watching the main event. He will be the fat guy with Wal-Mart ring gear that wins the “world” title in the main event.
You need your card to be a little different each match.
Start out the show with a segment that will set your main event up for the night. A simple good guy cuts a promo, bad guy interrupts, a match is made, will do just fine. That already let’s the crowd know who to cheer and boo, and that sets up a little heat for your main event.
Throw in a tag match, a match with some cruiserweight guys, just vary it up. Don’t do two tag matches in a row, or three matches in a row with little guys. Don’t overdo the promos, everyone doesn’t need to do them, and everybody really can’t do them.
Your basic premise is good guy vs. bad guy, it works, it’s proven. Booking is complex, yet simple, watching videos of who you are planning to book will give you a good idea of who to work them with. But a lot of booking is just trial and error. On paper what you have may look awesome, and then suck. What you think would have been just average could steal the show. Try different things, see what the crowd reacts to. Also the area you are in probably has a particular like. In the south people like old-school. Northeast it’s more about work-rate.
The perfect length for a show is 2-2 ½ hours. Any thing less than 2 hours rips off the fans some, and anything 3 hours or longer is just overkill.
Your goal for any show is simple, make sure the fans get their moneys worth. If they did chances are they will come back for the next show, and the next. Put on a quality show and you will build a fan base.