I hope to delve a bit more on this, but today I wanted to touch on a few key examples.
Professional wrestlers are their own brands. They have a personality and image to promote to the fans who want to see them, and the bookers they want to pay them for doing their show.
Last year, we saw this start with a friend of the Wrestling Mayhem Show, Johnny Gargano, starting his Johnny Gargano Power Hour on YouTube. Gargano has been a favorite in the area for a while with his work in Pittsburgh’s IWC and Ohio’s Pro Wrestling Ohio and Absolute Intense Wrestling, but it wasn’t until we started seeing these videos pop up that we started to see more of Johnny in Japan and other promotions across the country, it felt. Johnny also managed to be my show’s very first Skype video interview (even if we may not have been technically ready for it yet).
Another is Claudio Cnastagnoli, most known in the states for his work in Chikara and Ring of honor, Claudio always prided himself on being “Very European”, and has since extended himself with a blog and video show, Claudio’s Cafe, chronicling his journeys in the US and over seas as he wrestles the world. And his love for Starbucks coffee. And it’s real. The couple of shows I’ve seen him hanging out backstage, he has the Starbucks cup in hand.
Lastly is Zack Ryder. Instead of being an independent wrestler attempting to up his brand amongst all of the untelevised groups out there, Ryder is using his own video as a platform to showcase his personality and mic talents to the fans where the WWE hasn’t been giving him the chance on television every week. This is the most interesting, as his show has garnered him a hit amongst fans. Even at the 3 hour RAW this week, which featured no Ryder on the show, there were “We Want Ryder” chants throughout the slower matches. Signs for Ryder get so bad they have had to confiscate them in some cases. Just what WWE does with this in the long run is going to be most interesting. Do they listen to the fans screaming for this guy, or ignore it?
So in an industry where personality matters so much, how do you break through?