Honestly, we hadn’t, but TNA had made a reach-out to us back a few years ago in advance of another Charlottesville show, in 2009, and we ran a few ticket contests online to do our part to drum up interest, and thought it was worth getting in touch.
A lot has changed for us since 2009. mick foley was there that night, for example, doing photos in the ring with fans; Mick has worked for us in the time since, appearing on a Top Rope Pro Wrestling event in 2013 to perform his comedy show.
Top Rope wasn’t even a glint in our eyes watching the show that February night. We were still two years away from working with Awesome Wrestling Entertainment, which hired our company, Augusta Free Press, to lead its marketing efforts that eventually resulted in the production of a live internationally televised pay-per-view, Night of Legends, in 2011.
From that experience was born Top Rope, a sister company to AFP that we started in 2012 to stage live pro wrestling and music events, and boasts a Facebook presence with just short of 130,000 fans and an email list with more than 1,600 active pro wrestling event ticket buyers based primarily in the Central Virginia and Shenandoah Valley markets.
This time we could really help TNA promote its show in Charlottesville, right? Lots of Facebook fans, lots of email addresses of local wrestling fans who buy tickets.
And it’s not like TNA couldn’t use the help. That 2009 show didn’t play to the full JPJ, with curtains blocking off three-quarters of the arena, and the sliver that was opened for fans not even close to half-full. Even WWE didn’t sell out the three-quarters of JPJ that it used for a 2013 live show, but it was about 80 percent full that night.
Then factoring in that TNA is going through all kinds of current issues, with its TV contract with Spike coming to a close in September, and word that the company has had to cancel house shows later in September, yeah, help.
Not trying to say that we’re offended at all that the efforts that we’ve made to reach out to TNA were not met with even a response, but they weren’t.
I’m sure folks in the TNA office are busy as always, and have strategies for selling tickets to house shows that they think work well for them. The reports on the dirt sheets offering attendance for TNA house shows would seem to indicate otherwise, but TNA has been in business since 2002, coincidentally the same year that Augusta Free Press was birthed into existence, and I can speak from my own experience that you don’t make it this long into a business run without knowing at least a little bit about what you’re doing.
I guess I can also add, though, that you don’t get too far in business without a lot of help. I know that when we put on live events, for example, not only do we wake up and go to sleep thinking about what we need to do to sell more tickets, with most of the waking hours in between focused on the same line of thinking, but we’re constantly in search of ways to forge partnerships to make things come off with as few blips as possible, the ideal being zero.
I know what it feels like to look out at a crowd of 2,000 paying fans packing a high school gym to watch a show that I helped breathe into existence. It would have been nice to be a small part of what TNA has planned for its Charlottesville show, but we’ll just have to wish them luck.
– Column by Chris Graham