How promotions die

From reading the Observer Flashbacks and your stuff in general it’s kind of fascinating just how many circumstances can cause a promotion to die, and in some cases die swiftly.

Sometimes talent leaves, sometimes they lose a TV slot or a syndication deal, sometimes bad booking causes attendance to dry up. Sometimes it’s more than one thing happening at the same time.

​"Being owned by a Von Erich" also seems to be a contributing factor.​

22 thoughts on “How promotions die”

    • It’s what happens when you have such conflicting viewpoints within the company. Maeda wouldn’t compromise his vision of Shoot Style, but Shinji Jin wanted to work interpromotional matches. Plus I’m pretty sure there was also another divide within the promotion, as once the Newborn UWF died, Maeda, Fujiwara and Takada all opened their promotions, all with different approaches to Shoot Style.

      But yes, the Newborn UWF was at the top of world when it closed, all sellouts in big arenas, as they probably had the largest average attendance per show of all promotions in the world at the time.

      • Takada seemed to have the most success after a point, didn’t he? I remember reading a lot about him in the PWIs of the time.

        • Out of the three promotions that were born from the ashes of the Newborn UWF (Takada’s UWFI, Maeda’s RINGS and Fujiwara’s PWFG), the UWFI was indeed the most successful of them. During their peak in 1994 they managed to run soldout MONTHLY shows at the 16.000 seats Budokan Hall (February, May, June, August, October and November), and at the 14.000 seats Osaka Castle Hall (April and October), and before that in December 1993 they drew over 46.000 at Tokyo Jingu Stadium.

          It was pretty clear from as early as the beginning of 1992 that the UWFI was doing the better business. 93 and 94 simply confirmed it, and made the UWFI the most successful promotion in the world in that time period.

          • What made it so much more popular than the others? Did Takada just have “it”? Madea seemed like a huge star by 1990, but he must have been getting on in years.

            PWFG is obscure even to me.

          • They successfully marketed Takada as being the greatest Japanese fighter alive, building up from his rising popularity from the Newborn UWF, and booked him as being above everyone else (which in the long run was a problem). The fact that the UWFI used common wrestling tropes like gaijin monsters that run amok through the roster until Takada finally managed to stop them helped a lot, as well as putting him against perceived great and/or legit fighters and winning. The fact he had movie-star good looks was also a nice extra when compared with Maeda or the guys from PWFG (where only Funaki rivalled him in that department).

            The UWFI also had the advantage of having inherited most of the native Newborn UWF roster, so there was that extra point of connection with the fans.

            RINGS in comparison only had Maeda and rookie Mitsuya Nagai, and the remaining fighters had to be recruited from other countries. PWFG had a better native roster (Fujiwara, Funaki, Suzuki and Fuke) but they were more low-key than the UWFI, which presented itself as more of a spectacle.

          • Reading up on UWFI acting like they were legit, and ragging on real fighters who “backed down” was funny. Didn’t one of their guys get crushed by a Gracie, ruining the illusion and making it clear that Takada was actually ducking guys?

            Why did so many guys not follow Maeda?

          • That was Yoji Anjoh, and that wasn’t one of the bigger blows the UWFI suffered. The Newborn UWF already marketed itself like that.

            I’m not sure really, might be because of Maeda’s personality (he wasn’t a easy guy to deal with), or perhaps they preferred Takada’s view of shoot-style. Fujiwara’s guys were easy, they had all been trained by him, but for Takada I can’t say for certain.

          • Though I gotta say, marketing yourself as “real” (did people actually think it was legit?) and challenging the champs who couldn’t best you in real life is pretty brilliant.

          • Yes, with the Newborn UWF people were already buying into the legit nonsense. That’s why Takada being squashed by Rickson Gracie at PRIDE 1 was such a shock at the time.

            And the matches with the “champions” were all fixed too, though Takada did legit KO Koji Kitao when the match had been booked to a draw, and he scared away Trevor Berbick too.

          • Yeah, reading Takada’s Wikipedia page is pretty fun for that. I guess it was only obvious things were a work when we finally saw real MMA/UFC stuff and went “ah, so THAT’S what a real fight looks like”.

          • MMA wasn’t new at the time. Shooto, Satoru Sayama’s Mixed-Style promotion had been founded in 1985, and was running shows since 86, and Pancrase (founded by Funaki and Suzuki) was promoting their Hybrid style since 1993, and you had stuff like Bart Vale’s (another Fujiwara disciple) Shootfighting. Plus, there are reports of people doing Judo vs Boxe matches in Japan since at least the 1950’s.

            PRIDE was simply the promotion that started the MMA boom, but the concept had been around for quite a while.

          • Presentation was a big thing of course, as the style strived towards looking realist, but I think a lot of people simply wanted to believe it was real, and the marketing helped.

  1. It’s all a question of capital: can they get enough to run the next show, and will they earn that back? If the answer to either is no the next question is, will someone buy the company (which in those days really didn’t count for much). Or else you gotta get fishy with the business deals.

      • I always wonder if Vince actually believes that or if he was being a little snarky. He’s crazy enough that I can think he believes his own bullshit but he’s also a big enough asshole where I can see him saying shit like that just to irk people.

        • I honestly think he truly believes that. Being the only person in the world to find “sparkle crotch” funny, even after 3 years still convinced that Roman Reings can be the next hogan, austin, Cena. Have Trish get down and bark, wanting an incest angle,making out with divas. Matt, that sounds exactly like the type of person that believes his own bullshit.

  2. TNA is still alive and we’ve seen how inept they are. These other companies that went under must be really pathetic right? I guess times are different, and a certain amount of luck is involved. Still though, as the geriatrics say “the proof is in the pudding”. Which is a really dumb saying.


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