Over the Top Rope

Rock Riddle's
Wrestling Revue

by Rock Riddle, the Original "Mr. Wonderful" of Professional Wrestling

Initial Publication Date:   May 24, 2007

Click on any of the smaller photos to enlarge

Friday, April 20, 2007 -- The Riviera Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nevada:  It was the second day of the Forty-Second Annual CAC Professional Wrestlers Reunion.  Hundreds of the best of the best the sport has ever seen came together for this most prestigious event – an event which would culminate in Saturday night’s world-famous CAC Awards Banquet.  Although I had been a presenter at two previous events, this was the first event where I was to be honored.

It was early afternoon when I entered a meeting room where a full-day seminar was in progress.  I was recognized and asked whether I would be willing to speak to an audience of newer professional wrestlers.  I was delighted to be able to do so, and spoke for over an hour.  It was a wonderful opportunity to share the importance of marketing, promotion, and networking with these up-and-coming wrestlers.  “I understand that most of you have been wrestling for only a few years,” I said.  “Some of you have seen some success, but none of you are where you want to be.  I know that because I don’t recognize any of you.  My guess is that you’re wrestling in your local areas for local promoters.  You’re making next to nothing financially and you’re dreaming of hitting the big-time; being recognized all over the world and making millions of dollars.  Am I right?”  Some were reluctant, but all eventually said my observations were correct.  “Professional wrestlers,” I continued, “can easily be compared to actors who want to become movie stars.  Dozens of the most brilliantly talented actors in the world give up every day.  A majority of the world’s most talented actors will never make it to the silver screen.  That’s because the film business is not based on talent.”  I noticed some questioning looks in the crowd.  “Let’s face it,” I continued, “at least a few of you are more technically skilled than some of the top internationally-known wrestling stars.  So, why are they household names making multiple-six-figure monthly income while you are unknown and starving?  What do they know that you don’t?”  I paused for a moment.

“At least a few of you are more technically skilled than I ever was,” I said to the crowd, being sure that I made eye contact with each of them.  “Let’s talk basics for a moment.  How many of you can do a drop-kick?”  Virtually every hand in the room went up.  “Great,” I said.  “In ten years of wrestling professionally, I never did a drop-kick.”  I noticed several mouths open in disbelief.  “And, yet, at the height of my career, I had top billing OVER the Heavyweight Championship of the World.  I wrestled all of the superstars, all of the legends, and I was a substantial factor in filling major arenas all over the country.”  I surveyed the crowd, smiled slightly, and asked, “Would you like to know how I did it?”  I had the undivided attention of every person in the audience.  I shared my story with them.  I told them how important marketing and motivation were.  I told them how I sold myself by letting promoters know how I could make money for them.  The idea was always, “How can I help you make more money, Mr. Wrestling Promoter?  How can I assist you in obtaining more power, prestige, and notoriety?  How can I help you realize and go beyond your dreams?”  It was never about me.  It was always about the promoter and the promotion.  I knew that.  I knew that I would be hired if the promoter saw me as a necessary tool that would produce the desired results for him.  “Go to give,” I said to the audience, “not to take.  Be a team player.  Network with those who hire.  Promote and market yourself.  Follow up.  Send thank you cards.  Let’s face it:  No matter how good you are, nobody is going to hire you if they don’t know you exist.  And, you must be brought to their attention in a positive way.  You must be perceived as someone who understands that the promotion is the ‘star’ and you are simply a part of the promotion’s big picture.  Be helpful, positive and friendly.  Know that you are a part of the big picture, but you are not the big picture.  The bottom line:  Approach the business as a business, promote and market yourself, network with the top people, always be there for the promotion, continually demonstrate your worth without verbalizing it -- and your success is assured.”  I thought for a moment and added, “That is, of course, considering that you have above average wrestling ability, at least a fairly impressive athletic body, you have an above average ability to speak on the microphone, you understand the psychology of wrestling and wrestling crowds, and you respect those of us who paved the way for you.”  My first clue that I got through to the audience was the standing ovation I received.  Most of the people there came up to me during the next day and a half to thank me.  I am still getting “Thank you” cards and e-mails.

Occasionally I am asked to attend in-ring training events.  I’m sure I will run into several of these newer wrestlers at upcoming sessions.  As much as I enjoy speaking at seminars, I place even more value on being able to give “in-ring” pointers.

By Saturday afternoon the excitement was building toward a crescendo; the Awards Banquet was quickly approaching.  It had been previously announced that eleven awards would be presented that night.  All who would be attending, especially the international press, were buzzing.  Little did they know that there would be a twelfth unannounced award.  It had been kept a secret from all but a few top CAC officials.  Even the living legend who would accept the special award would be caught by surprise.

At 6:00 p.m. the ballroom doors were opened.  Hundreds of professional wrestlers entered, followed by dozens of photographers and members of the local, national, and international press.  Dozens of dedicated fans added to a standing-room-only event.  The first hour was an open hour of networking.  Major wrestling legends were hugging other legends whom they had not seen for years.  It was great to see the hundreds of living legends enjoying themselves.  It was also interesting to see one or two of the wrestlers basically keeping to themselves.  (Those of us “in the know” knew why, and I may share this inside information with you in a future column.)

At 7:00 p.m. the announcement was made for everyone to take their seats.  The banquet was about to begin.  We would all have a delicious meal prior to the awards dinner.  I’ve been fortunate enough to have eaten in a number of world-class restaurants, and the food prepared by the Riviera Hotel chefs for this special event was amongst the best I’ve eaten.  I was in the presence of greatness – even at my own table.  I was delighted to discover that I would be seated at a special table with several wrestling legends.  I smiled and introduced myself to one of my childhood heroes, Nick Kozak.  I shared stories with him during dinner.  I reminded him of things I saw him do in the ring – things that he had forgotten.  It was a wonderful beginning to an extraordinary night.  The lights dimmed, spotlights illuminated the stage, and we prepared to enjoy a night we would never forget.  The actual awards ceremony begins … in next week’s column.   Until then, keep those e-mails coming.

This column welcomes your wrestling-related questions.  You may contact the author via email: RockRiddle@hotmail.com or Rock@HollywoodSuccess.com.  Be sure to put "Wrestling Question" in the subject line.

About the author:  Rock Riddle wrestled professionally for over 8½ years and helped sell out major arenas all over the country.  He held numerous titles including the Americas Tag Team Championship (with John Tolos) and the East Coast Tag Team Championship (with Rocky Montana.)  At the height of his career, he was given top billing over the heavyweight championship of the world.  He is extremely well-connected in the world of professional wrestling and knows the business exceptionally well.  His fascinating biography, complete with over 100 photos and lots of additional information, is available at www.HollywoodSuccess.com – just click on "Rock Riddle Bio."    If you have missed any of Rock’s columns, they are all available on the website by clicking "Wrestling Revue."

© 2007 Rock Riddle & Hollywood Success.

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