Struggles on the indy circuit
DURRANGO -- For SLAM! Wrestling
Where can the young guys go?
For those of you who donít know me -- most of you wonít -- my
name is Duke Durrango, and I'm an independent wrestler in Canada, based
out of Calgary. I was trained by Bruce Hart, and conditioned by his
in the famed Dungeon.
At the risk of sounding passé, I never, ever anticipated being involved
in the wrestling business. That is until five years ago, someone told
me that Iíd be in Japan in a year making $3,000 a week. Sounded good to
me. Having had a long career as an amateur wrestler, what better than to
keep wrestling and get paid for it. Or so I was told? So with an
exchange of amateur training for some of the Hart kids, they trained me
as a pro, and here I am five years later, certainly not making a living
wrestling, never mind $3,000/week.
In recent months the wrestling industry has taken some incredible turns.
For better or worse? With the most recent real big news being WWFís
over of WCW, a move that for now seems to be working very well for WWFE.
But at the same time one has to look at the effect of this move on the
At one time itís been said that there were 30 very good-to-excellent
promotions in North America. At that time it is also said that vast
of workers (I was told in the range of 3,000) made a 'living' working
between all of these various territories. Iíll be honest and be up
with you -- I havenít exactly researched this fact, but speaking with
many veterans, I get the impression such was the case, sometime around
I think I can also make this assumption very safely -- I donít think
this is anywhere near the case today. Personally, I havenít been around
long enough to know when the last time really more than a handful of
guys working for the big two, or three, depending on the era, made a
Some people ask, 'Why, what happened?' The only answer you can offer
'The big promotions.' As with any business, there is always a large
conglomerate willing to buy what it needs in order to control a certain
market. Good or bad, thatís capitalism. Of course we all know thatís
happened with wrestling. The money to be made is in the big promotions,
with their television deals. The traditional sources of revenue for the
independents are totally hampered by the strength of the big promotion.
Number one, the talent. Before you can run a viable promotion you have
be able to provide the best talent available. If one huge company has
of the best guys from all of these small territories, and the local
television markets as well, what do people want to watch? The stars
from their old territory, as well as the other territories' best guys
are on this show, hence the people watch. Once they have experienced
the large production values, wrestling in stockyards, like the much
heralded Pavilion where Stampede Wrestling made its name here in
Calgary, doesnít cut it. No smoke, no lights, therefore NO SALE! Thus
the Indy promotion canít produce the revenue to provide the best talent
available. If you have a roster of mediocre talent, expect to draw
mediocre crowds without a miracle booker. There is something to be said
for good booking bringing in good crowds, and there are also a lot of
great bookers running some great programs in front of some very small
houses. But they are few and far between.
Number two, television advertising. Itís been proven time and time
again that wrestling is a television driven industry. Once the networks
smell the advertising dollars of the big production and the ratings pop,
their minds are made up rather quickly which is the better show to run
with. The indy promotion stands no chance. The bottom line in television
is ratings, as ratings dictate the price of advertising. The rest is
Having said all of this, what are you left with? We all know guys
have had tours cancelled because of bad draws. Or, someoneís willing to
work for half of what you can viably make the trip for. So, do you lose
money and wrestle? Or do you stay home and make a living?
I believe it comes down to passion and circumstance. If a young guy has
bills to pay, or wants to save money for a future, it's nearly
impossible. On the other hand, if you can afford to work for peanuts,
and continue to pay your dues I believe your shot will come. Thereís
some good money to be made overseas, but usually having a name from a
big promotion is the only way to be noticed. How many of WCWís guys
landed in Japan? Thereís a full market as
Therefore, bide your time kids, all of the Indy guys are in the same
position working for very little. To quote a good friend of mine, 'The
moneyís sh*t, but the laughs are good.' What better sums up independent
wrestling? Eventually people get injured or they retire.
If youíre worth the look and paid your dues, youíll get your shot.
line to quote another respected peer, 'The ones that make it are the
that hang in there.' Good luck boys.
Duke Durrango, who is know as Jordan to his family, lives in Calgary and
can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org