Alex Shane Statement: The Wrestling Channel- Posted 11.03.04

With so much talk on the internet both negative and positive regarding the FWA signing a five year exclusive deal with The Wrestling Channel I have been asked by my business partners to make the following statement. A statement which I would have preferred to wait at least a week to make. Yet many feel the time is now to clear up some of the confusion so I hope that this statement from me, Alex Shane, and not the FWA, helps in doing that.

Before I even begin with my piece regarding the TWC deal I would like to first address the issue of our previous statement. Many have questioned us and asked if, with the new statement, we are back peddling on ourselves. The answer is no and I will explain why. The press release was for the purpose of the Internet only. It was not a mail shot or sent to any of the UK wrestling publications. The purpose of the statement was to get people talking. Everybody on any of the many UK based fan forums would already of been fully aware that the FWA had signed with The Wrestling Channel and would be a part of the launch for some time now. It was hardly a secret and how could it be with FWA footage being used in the test screenings already shown on Friendly TV.

But as everyone will also know the UK forums and particularly the UKFF are negativity based forums. In fact the biggest threads in the forum’s history to my knowledge were the Jon Farrer ring no show fiasco and the recent ROH/RF scandal. If we had posted just the good news first I want you to ask yourself whether it would have even reached 3 pages of posts? Yet as I sit here less than 24 hours after the press release we have already reached 17 pages and counting. Internet press releases are designed to get people debating on the forums. If it’s only good news there is no room for the debate and the post moves down in order of importance very rapidly.

The fact that it was pinned on the first night says something to me. But like every bad news/ good news story it makes more sense to leave the good news until last and that is what we are doing. It reminds me of the pages of negative feedback we got from the fans when we announced our deal with XPW. People actually claimed they would turn their back on the ring for XPW matches and even boycott FWA shows. We let it run for a week until we announced not only would Jonny Storm Vs Juvi be our first cross-promotional match but that we had also signed a deal with ROH too. Strangely all was forgiven and it was business as usual and there was not a single turned seat at our next show back involving an XPW match.

At last year’s British Uprising we were met with a barrage of abuse from people claiming that we were charging the same as Frontiers of Honour but only giving them two Americans. Even though we had got five booked for over two months we held out and rid the negative wave until people were burnt out and then when we gave them the good news all was forgiven again. The Internet is a funny crowd but one that I have learnt to work with over the last 2 years since taking over the FWA. The fact is if you announce the good news and the bad news at the same time then they will focus on the bad and all the good that you wanted to be talked about will go unmentioned. If you announce just the good, hardly anyone cares and it disappears from the forum in days.

So the only way to do it and do it right is to release the news that some might want to rip to pieces first. Let them get it off their chests and then give out the good news at the point when people are more willing to focus on it and listen. So is this statement back peddling? No it’s just a week earlier than I would have liked to release it but that’s the great thing about having partners. You must keep all sides happy and that is what this is for. If you are true to yourselves even the anti Alex Shane posters and FWA haters out there will agree that this is the best way to work the forums.

For over 18 months now the FWA have been negotiating with The Wrestling Channel and helping them get off the ground in several ways. Not only have we invested a lot of time, energy and money improving our product for this project but also we have given much help to get the channel itself of the ground. In fact FWA footage was used in order to get much of the sponsorship that made the channel a reality as well as giving our footage, as did several other US and Japanese companies, to the channel in the early test screening stages.

This, unlike any other promoter in the UK, provided what was needed to make this channel work and is a big reason why on March 15 th The Wrestling Channel will indeed happen for real. With this in mind it’s clear to see why the Channel and the FWA are working so closely together. It’s now time for us to lay down some cold hard facts that need to be made clear to eliminate much of the speculation and nonsense that is surrounding this contract signing.

Will this stop other UK companies from appearing on the channel?
No it will not. It will simply mean that to appear on the channel the quality of the footage and the wrestling itself has to be of a good enough standard. As this standard for UK wrestling has been set by the FWA, The Wrestling Channel have entrusted us, with their approval of course, to select what is and what is not TV ready.

Does this mean that other UK companies must have FWA style production?
If you think we mean pyros, a flash ramp, £5000 worth of lighting and a kick arse sound system then no. It simply means that the quality of the cameras and editing must be to a good enough standard as to not make UK wrestling look cheaper than any footage from other companies around the world.

How can other companies afford this?
The FWA has spent months working on a deal to make Sumners (yes, that company that makes Songs of Praise and other BBC shows) the top wrestling Production Company in the UK. The skills Sumner’s have learnt from working with us will be used to not only help them work with other UK federations but their deal with the FWA will make this more cost effective and viable for UK companies.

Why would the FWA do this?
Because this way guidelines have to be met that keeps everything making sense and doesn’t screw the UK scene before it is even up and running on a TV level. For example if Jonny Strom is the FWA’s top heel but appears at the same time for promotion X as the top face 20 minutes down the road it messes with continuity. Some may ask why that is our responsibility but the fact is we care and believe it protects the UK scene from looking silly. So call it what you want. We believe that we have worked hard enough to make that judgement and therefore are going to do it.

So what does this mean for UK promotions in the mean time?
It would be easy for us to say “nothing at all” as there is no other company anywhere near ready (by their and the channel’s own admission) for TV yet. Still, as many will no doubt know the FWA have been working on a side project called FWA Unsigned. This will be a weekly hour long show designed to feature the top talent from other UK companies.

The audience decides who they want to see back via text voting and thus gives that company and those wrestlers the chance to be seen again if they work hard enough to win the vote. This is a great way to not only show the best talent from other UK companies and do it with the FWA’s production team and set up but also give some much needed publicity for other UK companies too.

I doubt that many, if any, other UK promotions would have cared enough about the scene as a whole to have done this but it already looks as though the first show will be recorded on April 10 th . We feel that this gives all other companies a fair shake without showing up any of their flaws in terms of production and does what the UK scene desperately needs and that is to make homegrown stars for British companies to draw with.

What happens if another UK company “falls out” with the FWA?
There are two ways of looking at this. Firstly, what happens if you fall out with any business partner? If things are not working then obviously things have to change. But I can tell you that I am a big believer in business before personal interest and anyone that knows me will agree. If someone has something to offer then I believe that that is more important than anything else. If I cared about making friends I would not be in wrestling. I feel I have done more for UK Internet fans than any other British promoter yet I seem to be the most slagged off Brit on the fan forum. Yet at the end of the day has it stopped me or the FWA from delivering? The answer is no.

What if the FWA or TWC fold before 5 years.
If the FWA folds then the contract becomes null and void. This is very simple business logic. If the TWC fold’s then the same rules apply.

So what about FWA on terrestrial TV?
The Wrestling Channel is actively working to get the FWA on terrestrial TV. As the FWA is one of the corner stones of The Wrestling Channel, the more people who know about it through terrestrial television, the more people there are to watch TWC. Of course, the FWA would provide a different show to the one being aired on TWC. We are hoping for a terrestrial deal this year. With the Channel backing us many in the company see this as a real possibility.

Why sign an exclusive deal in the first place?
Because over the last 2 years no other company has worked harder to increase the public profile of the UK scene than the FWA. Anyone who thinks otherwise is just lying to themselves. From national TV, radio and newspaper exposure to increased wrestling website and magazine coverage the FWA has rekindled the interest in British wrestling in those between the ages of16 and 30. This is the key audience to get British wrestling back on TV. We feel that we have done a lot more than most in order to help other companies. Sending our talent to new promotions to help them like WZW, BCW, GPW etc. Sending our new trainees to All Star, TWA, WAW, Premier promotions etc to give them more talent and give our guys more experience.

We have trained the last 3 UK rookies of the year. We even gave GPW a 20 foot wrestling ring free of charge for their school to help get them off the ground as there was nowhere for people in the North to train. We gave our fans a taste of Premier promotions in a guest match at Hotwired 2003 last year and will continue with guest matches from many other companies this coming year. We promoted everyone from All Star, TWA, Premier, WAW to Jon Farrer’s GWF.

We have brought the British fans the best shows, best UK and US talent, as well as working to bring some of the best Japanese talent this year, we have the best web site, videos, merchandise and training schools etc. This has been done through hard work and more ups and downs than most fans could understand or believe. February marked our five year anniversary. The last five years have got us this far. I feel that in another five years we will be even further and with our help, not our hindrance, so too will be the whole UK scene.

Would any other UK company have said no to the deal we just signed? The answer is no. Would that same company do as much as us to try and do the right thing by the industry it is fighting for and police it like it is needed to be policed for years? The answer is I don’t know.

It has been the belief of many of us within the wrestling industry for some time that the UK scene needs a board of control or governing body. Many have been spoken to about this concept. People such as Myself, Doug Williams, Jonny Storm, Mark Sloan and other members of our roster are already on board. Several non FWA affiliated insiders such as Robbie Brookside, John Freemantle, Ricky Knight, heads of the wrestlers reunion Wayne Bridges and Tony Scarlo plus many more have already been spoken to about it and want to be involved in getting it off the ground. This would not be an FWA board of control but a British wrestling board of control, with a recognised syllabus and licensing. But the ball has to start rolling somewhere and the agreement between The Wrestling Channel and the FWA is the start.

Just like The Wrestling Channel itself, this is not fantasy or pie in the sky. This is something that is beginning now and many within the industry believe that it’s about time too. How anyone can view this as a negative thing for the UK scene is beyond me.

Alex Shane