Professional wrestling has been considered a legitimate sport since the 1920s, but the industry garnered a huge spike in popularity in the 1980s with the WWF/WWE. This type of wrestling was a little less sport and a little more fanfare, like watching a live soap opera with epic fighting. It’s not shocking that so many people are passionate about the sport.
If you have a passion for wrestling, you can create your own wrestling promotion company and book wrestling shows. To get started, you’ll need some creative flair, a solid wrestling business plan and knowledge of the industry. Study the culture of wrestling, watch as many matches as you can and start planning.
Create a Wrestling Promotion Company With a Niche
Anyone who’s watched Netflix’s "GLOW_"_ series knows that a niche is what makes a wrestling promotion company special. You need to find something that will make your promotion business stand out in this highly competitive field. After all, you’re delivering entertainment, so it has to be entertaining. Maybe you’re not competing with the WWE, which has made its mark with gripping soap-opera-like story lines, but you will be competing with other promotion companies that are booking pro wrestling shows in your area.
Your niche can be anything. Maybe you’re focusing on beginners. Maybe you’re running an amateur wrestling school. Maybe it’s all-woman pros or all-male pros. Whatever it is, outline your niche and your brand goals in your wrestling business plan.
You’ll Definitely Need a License
In order to create a wrestling promotion business, you’ll absolutely need to get a license from your state’s athletic commission. The name of this license varies by state. For example, in New York, it’s a Professional Combative Sport Promoter License.
This is issued based on the capacity of the largest venue you’re planning on booking for a pro wrestling show. It can cost as little as $450 for a venue with fewer than 2,500 seats and as much as $2,500 for a venue with more than 25,000 seats.
In addition to a license, you’ll most likely need a surety bond, but it depends on the state. In New York, this bond should be no less than $20,000 and guarantees that your pro wrestlers, club employees and other expenses will be paid. In Pennsylvania, there’s a minimum of $10,000 for a surety bond.
You’ll Also Probably Need a Physician
You can’t create a pro wrestling promotion without booking a pro wrestling show. That would be pretty pointless. Unfortunately, there are a lot of legalities regarding show booking that are regulated by the state. For example, in New York, you will need to hire a licensed physician who will be present at each exhibition and will examine your wrestlers before the performance.
Prepare a Procedure for Drug Tests
Every wrestling business plan is different, but you’ll probably need to have at least some sort of documented anti-drug plan if you plan on hosting numerous events. This industry is rampant with drug abuse, particularly anabolic steroids. Your plan should include educational materials, a list of prohibited drugs, a list of available rehab services and a referral procedure for rehab services. These requirements are typically outlined in your state’s public health law.
Load Up on Insurance
Wrestling is a sport, which means people get hurt. In other words, you need insurance when you're booking a pro wrestling show. This includes things like general liability insurance, workers' compensation insurance, special event insurance and rain protection insurance if you’re hosting outdoor events.
Wrestling promotion companies also have the same legal obligations as any other business. You’ll need a business license. You’ll need to become a legal, tax-paying entity and nail down your official business structure, such as an LLC.
Find Your Wrestlers
In any state, wrestlers generally have to be over the age of 18. In some cases, their story lines are also restricted. Mainly, states tend to disallow wrestlers from physically mutilating themselves in the ring, which is a good thing. No one wants a re-enactment of Mike Tyson’s ear bite (and this isn’t boxing).
Finding wrestlers can be tricky. If you create a wrestling promotion business that’s also a wrestling school, you’ll have a built-in base of performers, but turn toward the internet if you’re searching for pros. Local online forums and Facebook groups are a great place to find talent.
Find Your Venues
The space you need for a wrestling company varies, but you’re going to need somewhere to rehearse and practice and somewhere to hold exhibitions. For rehearsal and practice, you can rent any sort of gym that has a ring. For exhibitions, you should be mindful of what other wrestling events are going on in the area. You don’t want to jump into a market that’s oversaturated.
Be Mindful of Ambulances and Crowd Control
You’ll need to hire a certain amount of security and have an ambulance at the arena during every single one of your professional matches. The exact specifications vary based on state law and the size of your audience, but it would be wise to get in contact with a security company and paramedics in the area.
- The New York State Senate: Section 107
- Pennsylvania General Assembly: Title 5
- New York State Athletic Commission: Application for Professional Combative Sport Manager or Promoter License
- The Seattle Globalist: Lawmakers Ready to Rumble Over Pro Wrestling Regulations
- YouTube - Simon Miller: How Hard Is It To Start A Wrestling Promotion?
- Start small. If start too big, you most likely will run out of resources to make the company successful and it will put an extreme burden on you. It is easier to move up.
- Many small business do not see profits for a few years. Be sure you understand this as opening a wrestling company does not mean you can print your own money.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.