So you want to be an indy wrestler? Here are 9 things to expect (advice from a former pro wrestler):
1. Travel/lodging expenses are on you
If you are a small-name indy wrestler and you are booked in-state, expect to be responsible for all travel and lodging expenses.
Travel expenses got reduced once I became part of the roster, the promotion paid for my flights, and booked me a hotel room with other guys.
I became used to sleeping on the floor since beds were reserved for the seasoned vets.
Useful tip: We used to pair up and ride 4 to a car to offset the costs for an opportunity to perform in front of a newer audience.
Amazing skills at an indy show
2. How much will you get paid by indy promoters?
This might be a shock to some, I have seen rookie pro wrestlers getting paid $25! The lowest payment I have seen was $10!
Most of young pro wrestlers perform for free in the first couple of years.
In my own experience, the most I could get during my first couple of years of wrestling was $60.
3. Expect to lose money
Like any other investment in life, in the beginning, you put money in and you don’t get any returns, expect that!
Expect to pay the wrestling school you want to learn at, expect to pay managers if they book you a show, expect to pay for medical expenses, it is a long-term investment, so do it with an investor’s mindset.
If you are doing it just for the pleasure of doing it, then good for you, enjoy!
4. Sell your own merch
In my second year of pro wrestling, I started selling merch in shows, all I asked from promoters was to pay for my meal and coffee, the rest was on me. I was getting back home with an extra $100 just from selling merch.
The crowds love to help a young pro wrestler, they will buy from you even if they don’t know you. Just make sure to deliver and entertain them.
5. The internet is your ally: Grow your brand online!
Start with an Instagram account, put your life on that account, give the people an inside look at what you do, they will appreciate your hard work even more.
Announce your upcoming dates on your social media accounts, you will be surprised how many people will come.
Also, start a Youtube channel, forget about posting only instructional videos to fellow pro wrestling enthusiasts, instead, be entertaining to the casual fan.
Talk about other WWE stars, WWE events, WWE beefs, etc. Let them like you first, then they will follow you wherever you go.
Do a long format podcast, invite other pro wrestlers as guests.
Grow your brand!
6. Don’t expect to be anything other than a jobber
In the beginning, most pro wrestlers start as jobbers.
What is a jobber?
A jobber is a wrestler who is always expected to lose to the other guy.
But the role of a jobber doesn’t stop at losing, they have to be skillful to put the other guy over and make them shine.
A good jobber will always find work if they are good at putting the other guy over. They are alse called a “good hand”.
Here is a detailed article where I talked extensively about “What is a jobber and how to be a good one”
7. The road is your friend
Your face is your product and you have to put it out there and in front of as many people as possible.
You can’t just stay at the same town and perform in front of the same people every week and expect to get booked by bigger promotions.
8. Indy females may make a bit more money, don’t be jealous!
In my own experience as an indy pro wrestler, females were making a bit more money than us guys. When I asked my female friend and fellow wrestler Lea about the reason, she said: “Promoters think we are more of an attraction” (her words).
Lea told me that she even used to receive requests from fans after shows to sell them her used gear (boots, outfits, etc.)! She said that she would seal it up in a bag and sell it to them.
Well, whatever floats her boat!
9. Look like an athlete
If you want to make money in this business, you have to train and look like a real athlete.
The majority of indy wrestlers look chubby. You have to look after your body fat percentage and appear reasonably athletic.