Greg DeMarco dives in to his newest column titled “Best For Business” with an introduction to the format, and more importantly–how we got here!
I know what you’re thinking: What do you mean…”best for business?” You see, I have a very different way of watching wrestling. It’s not something that happened overnight, but over time. At least, that’s how I see it. But I may be partially wrong…
As a kid, I was really into architecture. I would use graph paper and drafting tools to draw arenas, and the set-up was almost always for wrestling. In middle school we had a budgeting project, where we had to create a budget for something. It was 6th grade, the budget could literally be for anything. Mine? An independent wrestling event. I am sure the Richmond Center (convention center in Richmond, Virginia) knew I was a kid on the other end of the phone in 1991 when they told me the rental rate was $500. And hey, it included chairs!
In high school, I would envision different places to hold a wrestling event. How would it look? Could I make it different? It was always about making the best show possible, and utilizing the space as good as I could. Logistics were obviously always an interest of mine, before I knew what the word “logistics” meant (or that it existed!).
Fast forward to 2005, when I was working at the University Of Connecticut and had gotten into the equally crazy world of stand-up comedy. Working different comedy shows around New England did two things to me: 1) I saw comedy venues for their potential to host wrestling, and 2) I saw the opportunity to host my first ever event. In April 2005, I hosted the first ever Main Pub Comedy Night. It was more like wrestling than you’d think. You had a venue to keep happy, and since it was all free they were basically a sponsor. You had a line-up of comics, and figuring out the order is just like preparing a show. You had transitions to worry about, as well as crowd control. I put on 12 Main Pub Comedy Nights over the course of 13 months, ending in April 2006 when my son was born. A few months later, we were on the road moving back to Arizona, where it all changed.
In Arizona, I linked up with a group of individuals to run Rising Phoenix Wrestling. I didn’t have a single clue how to run a wrestling show, and I was in luck: neither did they! It was a comedy of errors, but we did some really cool stuff as well. Once that died off (the first of I believe three times), I merged into Impact Zone Wrestling, a company that’s become even more important to my story recently. I learned a ton there, realizing how little I knew while helping run RPW. IZW forever changed me, as I really saw the good and bad of the business, and I learned how to make decisions. Business related decisions.
In 2010 IZW died off, but I had the chance to work with Ring Of Honor and plan their Phoenix events around WrestleMania weekend. The events turned a profit, something WrestleMania weekend events hadn’t done for ROH. That was also my first time learning just how wrong wrestling news often was. It had been reported in the fall prior that WWE was blocking ROH from using buildings in Phoenix. That was completely untrue–the only building ROH couldn’t use was the Phoenix Convention Center, because it was in use by WWE! We secured a great location that had everything ROH needed, and it was dirt cheap. The shows turned a good profit, something I was rewarded for by the company.
From 2010 to 2016, my experience was largely on the media side, taking an analytical approach to the product. I went from a fan who was largely obsessed with his own playlist to learning how this thing really worked. The rise of Daniel Bryan to the WrestleMania 30 main event was key in this–I was told in November 2013 that the plan was for Daniel Bryan to finish WrestleNania 30 as the world champion, and that the plan was in place going back to August. That information came from within the business, and turned out to be 100% true despite what Wrestling Newz would tell you to this day.
(And don’t even get on the fact that Daniel Bryan talks about it in his book–it benefits him to do that!)
The next big development came in 2016 when I planned and executed two events under the banner of PHX Wrestling. For the first time, I was ultimately responsible for these shows. I had help (some tremendous help in the form of a gentleman by the name of “JV,” who I am still friend with to this day even though he’s no longer in the state), but it all came down to me. I had to deal with changes, cancellations, and most importantly booking decisions that weren’t centered around who (or what) I wanted to see, but who (or what) would draw. Both events turned a profit (the second one thanks to two key cancellations and a sponsor), but I also learned an important life lesson: take care of yourself. My body wasn’t ready for the stress of running wrestling shows, and it took a toll on me.
But it was there I learned the true definition of the term “best for business.” It influences me to this day. I mentioned IZW earlier, and I was lucky enough to produce the IZW Reunion in May of 2019, which led to the decision to bring IZW back on a quarterly basis starting in October 2019. I am back to making business decisions, and it further shapes how I look at wrestling. This business is just that–a business. It’s not about who the internet loves, or what we think should happen. I often use the phrase “Vince McMahon doesn’t give you what you, he gives you what you need,” and it’s 100% true. Seth Rollins doesn’t have his moment at SummerSlam 2019 if Vince didn’t have Brock Lesnar win Money In The Bank and cash in at Extreme Rules. It takes steps to create something special.
This story comes to Friday, August 23. I went to a community center to help with a celebratory wrestling show. Big names were involved, but there really wasn’t anything for me to do. I spent about an hour talking to people I knew, reviewed some plans for IZW…and left.
I had no desire to stay. I look at the wrestling business as just that–a business. And there was no business gain to me staying to watch the show. It was worth more to me to go and have dinner with my family, go to a meeting on Saturday for an event I am helping with in September (that will allow us to promote our IZW event in October), and work on the website.
I can’t say that I am no longer a fan. I am. I am a fan of the wrestling business. I’ll attend WWE. I’ll attend major event. But I’ll see them from a very different lens. Things still pop me, but those things are usually the execution of something, not the something itself. That’s why I love The Revival. They execute everything with perfection. I don’t care if they win or lose, I care about how they perform.
And that’s led to the birth of Best For Business. An opportunity for me to look at the business as a business. Applying my analyst hat to things that are happening on TV and in the arenas. It’s going to be a fun journey, and I am glad you’re on it with me!