The 5 easiest roles to get hired for to work in Pro Wrestling – Part 2

The 5 easiest roles to get hired for to work in Pro Wrestling – Part 2

By Dave Bradshaw

I left you on a bit of a cliffhanger last time around, having revealed three possible ways to get hired in pro wrestling (see here if you missed the first half of this post), but promising you another two and a cheeky bonus option too. Well, the wait is over! In this post we’ll look at some more ways to break into the business. As a warning for those who haven’t read the first half, when we talk about the “easiest ways” to get hired, perhaps a better phrase would be the “least difficult” - because nothing worth achieving comes easily, especially not in an industry like this where there are plenty of people aspiring to be on the inside


Also, before we continue, I just wanted to give a shout out to everyone who has so far been reading these blog posts, and especially to those of you who have already enrolled in the Wrestling Masterclass. I know I speak for everyone involved in putting this project together when I say it is genuinely thrilling to see so many people finding value in the material we’ve created for you, and feeling inspired to get their own career in the industry moving. We’re really grateful for all the wonderful feedback so far, and we’re hoping we can help out more and more people to live their dreams as the word spreads.


Anyway, enough small talk. Let’s get right back into why you’re here. We’ve already discussed opportunities in ring crew, camera crew, and in advertising and marketing. So without further ado, here are the rest of our suggestions for jobs in wrestling where you might find it easiest to get your foot in the door…

Backstage runner


Here’s something I learned long before my first day working in the wrestling business: every kind of show needs a runner. In fact, when I first graduated from uni and entered the world of TV production, I found out that lots of TV shows have two, or three, or more. A runner is essentially the spare person backstage who can be sent for whatever errands need to be run - getting sandwiches for the crew, getting anyone appearing on-screen to sign release forms, chaperoning talent, and so forth.


Well, guess what? Wrestling promoters need runners too! Any Wrestling Masterclass student who has watched Module 5 - Becoming A Promoter - will be able to vouch for the fact that promoters have an ENORMOUS number of things to think about on a show day, and there will inevitably be things that slip through the cracks. That’s where a runner comes in: they are the search party that gets sent when a wrestler can’t find the venue and is wandering lost around the city centre; they are the person who dashes to the shops 15 minutes before the show to buy batteries when it turns out one of the microphones is dead; they might even be the person who sits ringside and rings the bell if the regular timekeeper is stuck in traffic. Put simply, a good runner can be an absolute lifesaver when the you-know-what hits the fan.


But here’s the thing: very few promoters have the foresight to include a runner in their show day plans, and even fewer have a long line of people wanting the job. If you can be the person who persuades a promoter that they should recruit a runner, and that you should be the person they recruit, you might just have found your way to get the proverbial foot in the door. Better still, if you are indeed able to help the promoter resolve a crisis on show day, they will be eternally grateful that you convinced them to have you at their side.


From there, who knows what might happen? As you become a more valuable and trusted member of their team, it’s entirely possible that opportunities will arise for you to take on roles with greater responsibility within the promotion. Admittedly, you probably won’t be paid at first (we talk at various points in the Wrestling Masterclass about the thorny issue of pay, including when to ask for money and how much) - but by proving your value, you may have just earned something that will be far more valuable to you in the long term than $40 cash in your hand. Keep on being indispensable, seize the opportunities that come your way, and before long you might find that you are in that small circle of people who are trusted to help run wrestling shows. At that point the money will follow, as long as you ask for it in the right way.


In fact, a surprisingly high number of people who broke into the wrestling business have a story similar to this explaining how they initially found their way in. Some might also be training to be a wrestler and will end up at the front of the promoter’s mind when a last-minute vacancy arises on a future show; others might pursue backstage roles in production (which, by the way, will look great on your CV even if you don’t end up staying in the wrestling world), and a few might even end up in the next role on our list…



Trying out to be a referee


Let me start this one with a major caveat: being a referee is one of the most important jobs in wrestling, and one of the hardest to do well. It absolutely isn’t the sort of role that should just be handed out to whoever’s available, because a bad referee can really ruin the flow of a match, or worse. This is also true of other non-wrestling talent: I’ve seen too many cases of indy promoters through the years for whom positions like ring announcer and commentator have been afterthoughts, whereas actually they’re among the most important features of any presentation. Admittedly I’m biased on this subject as a commentator myself, but there’s a reason why we devoted the entirety of Module 8 in the Wrestling Masterclass to other on-screen talent - these are all skilled roles with lots of scope to either perform brilliantly or crash and burn.


That being said, the reality is that inevitably the non-wrestling roles ARE often the ones where a vacancy arises. This is particularly true on smaller shows, such as when a promotion’s academy is putting on a card to showcase its trainees. These are often held in very small venues with crowds of less than 100 people, and barely anyone on the show will be paid. Consequently, they are the kinds of shows where there isn’t often much competition to fill those additional roles. In fact, you might find that no-one has even considered them until the last minute. That could be where you come in.


The reason I suggest asking about vacancies for referees rather than any of those other on-screen roles is simple: there will often be more than one referee on a show, so your chances of being needed might be higher. Of course, there is only likely to be one ring announcer, and there quite possibly won’t be any commentators at all unless the show is being filmed for broadcast. On the other hand, if a show currently only has one referee, he or she is likely to be quite grateful for the reinforcements - otherwise they would potentially have to officiate six or seven matches in a row, which is a tough assignment for even the most physically fit of refs. At the very least, there is no harm in asking whoever is organising a trainee show if they would be interested. What do you have to lose?


By the way, this isn’t only a way in for people who want to be referees in the long term. Even if you want to be a wrestler, having some experience as a referee can be extremely beneficial, as you’ll understand the official’s role in your future matches from their perspective. That could really help your development as a wrestler, and it will certainly help build your reputation as someone who is ready and willing to fill a gap wherever needed to help keep the show on the road.


Again, though, one word of caution: you absolutely shouldn’t accept a referee gig without having at least some basic training in what is expected, even if that happens on the day of the show itself. While a trainee show is a relatively safe environment to make mistakes, in the sense that very few people are watching, the very real physical dangers are the same as anywhere. Your job in that ring is first and foremost to make sure everyone, including yourself, stays safe from the first bell to the last. So, as a minimum, you want to make sure you’re aware of what protocols to follow in terms of checking after major spots whether the wrestlers are OK, and knowing what to do if there is an injury. You also need to know where to position yourself in the ring so that you don’t get caught in the crossfire. If it’s part of the plan for you to get caught up in the action and take a fall during the match, you should only ever agree to something that you know how to safely do, and make sure that everything is rehearsed ahead of time. Ideally you will also follow the other refereeing advice in Module 8 of Wrestling Masterclass too, so that you can make sure you enhance the match rather than hinder it, but the parts about safety are obviously non-negotiable.


Now, I appreciate that might all sound a bit daunting. So what do you do if you don’t fancy donning the zebra shirt, and none of the other roles set out in the two parts of this blog don’t float your boat either? Well, luckily we’re not done yet…

Create your own job!


I’m counting this as a bonus option rather than one of the five ideas promised in the title of this post, for the simple reason that I’m about to suggest you take a job that doesn’t yet exist. Put simply, there is nothing to say you have to limit yourself to looking for roles that already exist in the industry. If you don’t see the job you want, make it yourself! For some, that might mean starting your own promotion - and, as I’ve mentioned already here, our excellent Module 5 in Wrestling Masterclass can help you learn everything you need to know about becoming a promoter, as can our podcast with Felix Kohlenberg, the man behind Westside Xtreme Wrestling, Germany’s biggest promotion.


For others among you, creating your own role in wrestling might mean starting to build your own wrestling media empire, as we discuss in Module 9 - Breaking Into Wrestling Media. We also have in-depth podcast interviews with leading wrestling journalist Sean Ross Sapp of, and with WrestleTalk’s Oli Davis about how to become a success as a wrestling YouTuber. There is nothing stopping you from making your own content and putting it out there for the world to see - and the quicker you get started, the sooner people will take notice.


One more option is to start your own service business within the industry. Could you be the next great designer of wrestling gear? Could you help wrestlers and promotions to run their websites or social media? Could you organise tours for fans who want to go and see WrestleMania, All In, or the biggest indie shows in the world? The wrestling economy is multi-faceted, and you might be surprised at how many different streams of revenue there are within it. Again, even if you don’t want to spend your entire career in the business as the person designing gear for other people rather than wearing it yourself and entering the ring, having a side hustle within the industry could be a great way to build your network and could even help to fund your training. Be creative, think about your strategy for taking those vital first few steps into the industry, and then find a way to make that plan come to fruition. If you do that, opportunities will find you and - before you know it - you’ll be one of the people telling the next wave of talent how they can break into this exciting world. Good luck!



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