EXCLUSIVE: How To Make A Small Fortune In Wrestling

Mark Madden


News that New Jersey-based investor Milton Wilpon may start a new promotion makes me skeptical.

Oh, wrestling badly needs somebody to come along, do it right, and provide legitimate competition for WWE. Monopolies do not necessarily serve sports entertainment well (more on which later). But how much money does Wilpon really have? Will he get the right TV? TNA has good TV, and it hasn’t mattered. Will his employees help him, or try to suck him dry? Look at the people allegedly linked to Wilpon: Has-beens, half-cripples, independent nobodies, even a Hepatitis C patient. Quite a selection.

I’m reminded of Paul Alperstein, who ran a promotion called the American Wrestling Federation from 1994-96. The guy was LOADED. When I met him, he had a whole floor of rooms at the Treasure Island hotel/casino in Las Vegas. He said he made his money developing the concept of the ATM. Thanks to Alperstein, Eric Bischoff eventually got a nickname. Thanks to wrestling, Alperstein went broke.

The AWF was so desperate for spectators, it offered free food to homeless people to get them to a TV taping at Chicago. Quite the upscale crowd, I’ll bet.

A bunch of the usual suspects worked for Alperstein. When he was broke, they moved on like locusts to the next mark. Some work for Dixie Carter now. (Big surprise).

You know how to make a small fortune in wrestling?

Start out with a large fortune.

(Parenthetical story regarding ATM Eric: Bischoff used to go on hunting trips with Rick Steiner. When Bischoff was hammered, he agreed to give Steiner a contract for far, far more than he was worth. When Bischoff sobered up, he tried to back out. But Steiner said, quite forcefully, “A deal’s a deal.” Steiner got his money, or so the story goes.)

Paul Heyman, besides being the current object of TNA’s affection, would be the logical choice for Wilpon. If Wilpon had TV equivalent to TNA’s, a new promotion would be a better bet for Heyman. TNA is a permanently damaged brand name. It simply might not be possible to fix it.

When/if Heyman does get back into wrestling, his product won’t be extreme. If there’s another cutting edge to be found, Heyman will find it. That’s Paul’s strength. He doesn’t recycle his own ideas. He moves forward. That’s why he’d do better with a company that’s starting from square one.

Make no mistake, what’s old can be new again.


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