Wrestling is Dead!

By | January 15, 2015


I just received this from a friend who is a member of the international press. It defines some of our issues and supports what I’ve been saying about wrestling’s leadership. Their actions continue to speak so loudly that none of us can hear what they’re saying.



“It really is over. There was no TV for the Iowa-Oklahoma State dual meet. A match between the two teams in America that have the most NCAA titles. Okay, there were some obscure pay-per-view web streams but no TV.

The Iowa Public Relations guy used to send me press releases. He stopped a while back but to his credit he did help set up a recent interview with Tom Brands. I asked him to send me the press releases again. He still hasn’t. As you know, list management is a basic skill needed to run mailing lists.

None of the new real pro wrestling groups send me anything. I’ve asked them but I still receive nothing. And it’s not that they can’t use the exposure, especially when it’s free. In the past I’ve covered them more than just about anyone, but they continue to be clueless and are beyond help.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the old phrase “let the dead bury the dead”. Wrestling, as we have known it, is dead. It is hopelessly run by incompetents, dullards, and clueless bureaucrats –and that’s just here in our country. Internationally, we have the Russian, East European, and Central Asian Mafia overseeing things.

So while these hopeless cases can’t figure out that maybe I want to do a lot more interviews and coverage about wrestling, I went to two boxing press conferences yesterday. One was at NBC, at 30 Rock. I posted the audio today from it, and have these interviews going up, probably tomorrow: Roberto Duran, Keith Thurman, Adrien Broner, Lamont Peterson, Lou DiBella, and NBC’s top marketing guy John Miller.

I then went to the HBO-Main Events press conference, and interviewed Sergey Kovalev, Jean Pascal, Steve Cunningham, and Roy Jones Jr. If I hadn’t been completely exhausted, I would have also gotten Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather Sr. I was too tired at the other one to do Sugar Ray Leonard (Duran was more fun anyway).

I’m more of a wrestling guy than a boxing guy, but one sport can’t tie its shoes, while the other one shouts from the virtual rooftops.

However, catch wrestling is growing; maybe that’s a good thing? It will be officially announced in about two weeks that this year there will be a joint tournament in July in Montreal of most of the catch groups (apparently Catch Wrestling Alliance is not involved, at least yet). Many of these same people are involved with combat wrestling, which is essentially Catch wrestling with points, or Sombo without the kurtka.

These styles are generally run by people who love to get the word out about what they do, and are also very social media savvy. That’s the place to be, actually the only place to be if you want to grow and unfortunately wrestling has yet to discover it.

So wrestling is dead — long live wrestling!”

9 thoughts on “Wrestling is Dead!

  1. rmongler

    If people from catch backgrounds win big it will. Bjj would be nowhere near what it is today without its association with mma.

    Of course that’s contingent on growing catch as an art to begin with.

    I follow a lot of grappling formats; judo, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, sumo, sambo, you name it. From all that i would say that grappling arts in general will always tend to be more of a niche interest, because there’s a a lot more understanding needed as a minimum for a fan to really follow and appreciate the action compared to other sports like football or boxing. Personally that’s a big reason why I love it, both in how it can build virtue, and in how it can test character and select the most virtuous as winners better than most any other kind of test I can think of. But its a question of expectations and its realistic I think to not go in with the expectation that it will be greatly popular if only such and such happens (except when patronage is involved, like the sheik who runs the adcc, or the russian oligarch with the burkut fc).

    Now that being said, eddie bravos recent series of invitational sub only tournaments has struck me as a big success in the grappling community here in the states. There’s a blueprint for success there and i think catch style tournaments using the same format tweaked for pinning+submission instead of just submission only would make for good events. That’s what you could really call professional wrestling.

  2. Dom Mancini

    When I was wrestling in college at Youngstown State University – Wade you were at Old Dominion – I remember you coaching against me (btw I won) anyhoo – my college College Coach Bruce Hinkle back in 1984 had the absolute best description of the sport of wrestling – he said “wrestling is like a fungus, some years it’s better than others but it never really goes away and it never really gets any better”.

  3. Joe mcpeek

    Youth wrestling has decimated the sport. Maybe a little introspection is needed. You can point fingers at coaches that have made money promoting youth wrestling.

  4. Mike

    I manage a closed group on facebook called The Wrestling Insider and have 10,100 members. I also manage a public fb page called True Wrestling Insider (total fans over 3,200)and a web site http://www.truewrestlinginsider.com that received over 7,000 hits last week alone. I am 48 and forced to retire due to 8 back surgeries. I have a ton of time, money, and several profiles on multiple social networks. Why in the world more people wouldn’t reach out to me to get info out, I don’t charge for this. I do ask for a contribution to my sponsorship program but that’s strictly voluntary. I have a few people that have been sending me their events. NUWAY’s Rob Stehley has been sending me girls events for a couple years now to promote to my fans of my pages. I also manage Illinois Girls Wrestling Team fb page and have many of the key wrestling enthusiasts for girls wrestling from all over the country connected to this page (total fans over 1,100)
    Having a bunch of professional wrestling ventures collapse because they ignored promoting and marketing their events is ridiculous. Anybody starting a new business or venture of any kind would budget in their business plan for advertising, marketing, promoting and media exposure. When will wrestlers start using their college degrees in business to actually help wrestling businesses? Thanks Wade, this one really hits home for me. So affordable and easy to fix, so why hasn’t it been fixed yet?

  5. Warren Applegate

    It isn’t dead, but is on life support. I was in Arizona for a month. A friend of mine who was a partner in one of the biggest development companies is now in charge of the Inner Circle (ASU’s takedown club). Wrestling is now outdrawing all of the Olympic sports at ASU, and the wrestling program isn’t where it will be in two years. Bob said it has been like leading a horse to water working with the athletic department’s marketing people. This guy was in charge of leasing for all of the regional malls in the Phoenix area for many years. College wrestling programs need to get wrestling fans who have been successful in marketing in their business careers to handle the promotion of the local college program.

    Wrestling as a sport won’t die, but as a spectator sport it is in dire straits.

    1. Mike

      I’m with you on that Warren. Wrestling has to have a couple college graduates with marketing/advertising degrees. Find them. If you need to pinch pennies then get some college student interns. Anything would be an improvement over the existing. I often comment in my wrestling group that wrestling teams and clubs need to start running their teams like a successful business. Build a booster club with a good social networking person to post on your pages/profiles, get a great fund raising person, someone that can write a press release and send to paper/online journalists, bloggers, Internet wrestling promoters, someone to take great photos and load onto your pages, someone to reach out to community business leaders and city officials. A coach can’t do it all and to be honest probably wouldn’t do a good job. This is where a strong fan or booster club can really benefit the program.

  6. Takedown App

    TV? Our sport’s most fundamental information is recorded for posterity primarily by scribbling in a paper book. What growing, popular sport lacks a fan-accessible database of competitor stats? Answer: none. Also, keeping fans and other interested publics (journalists, etc.) informed and engaged via (free, user-friendly, universal) social media is viewed by many coaches as a big technical leap and, tellingly, unimportant as well.

    To be sure, television coverage of marquee college duals is important. But, it’s a roof issue. Our sport has significant foundational issues requiring attention and leadership. Some of these issues can be addressed and fixed today without much effort or cost. It simply needs done.

  7. Chris Lemos

    I would say it is in the ICU. As long as wrestlers still have a good degree of success in growing events like the UFC, kids will still be interested in learning to wrestle. The better question might be, “Will the growing popularity of catch make more kids want to get interested in wrestling?”


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