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The Wrestling Channel is 20 years so the internet tells me.

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Interesting reading so many people saying it changed their lives and became a fan of more than WWE because of it. And if I'm honest, is TNA getting a TV deal with Bravo or Challenge without the numbers they did on TWC? Would ROH have toured over here without it? @herbie747 its crazy its been two decades now. Absolutely fucking loved it.

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I actually spent a chunk of a train journey last week reading through the Wrestling Channel thread that's now enshrined in Gold:

Good times indeed. 

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I've always been WWF/WWE at heart but the channel definitely broadened my horizons and I'm really glad of that. Without it I wouldn't have had the attachments to half of the people that have worked their way up. I love those journeys.

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Posted (edited)

TWC definitely opened my eyes to so much wrestling - it’s probably what made me a wrestling fan rather than a WWE fan. I didn’t feel the urge to pay for Sky Sports anymore - not when Rollerball Rocco and Jushin Liger and AJ Styles and Bryan Danielson and Kenta Kobashi and CM Punk and Doug Williams were all there, free to watch.

When it first started, from the Friendly TV tests onwards, I watched everything. I soon figured out what was for me and what wasn’t but it was probably the channel I had on most for a good couple of years. We got some really great stuff thanks to The Wrestling Channel.  

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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Jesus christ that is scary it does not feel 20 years ago shit. 
I absolutely loved the wrestling channel and it opened up so much for me personally within the wrestling world from TNA, CMLL, CZW even a tiny bit of world of sport although that really wasn't for me personally but i watched bits. The supercard special they had every week was absolutely phenomenal while they lasted. We eventually had them repeated for weeks on end before getting a new one but it was so cool when we got them. 

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I was in one of my wrestling downtimes when I discovered TWC. First person I saw on it was Christopher Daniels for an ROH match. Became a full-on indie mudshow fan for a few years there until I came to my senses.

Fond memories of it though. When we had our first kid, I used to be the one who'd give him his middle-of-the-night feed and I used to stick TWC on until he nodded off. Babies love Cage of Death, it turns out.

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I maintain that the largest impact of TWC was introducing travelling US wrestlers like Bryan Danielson, over here for indy shows, to the delights of World Of Sport and British wrestling in general.

There was definitely some cross fertilization back into the US indy scene, with people suddenly doing a lot of upper cuts, wristlocks and balancing on their head to escape a head scissors.

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Remember discovering TWC flicking around on Sky Digital when I was laid up after dislocating my knee when I was 15 or 16. The shoot interviews were a revelation and mana to my smarky, Power Slam reading self. The (rough-looking) Shawn Michaels and Raven shoots were my favourites.

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Posted (edited)

Tbh most of the bush league promotions or Japanese undubbed stuff did nothing for me and I thought ROH was the shits (I had the opposite of a workrate smarky period and thought it was wrestling with all the fun stripped out of it).

But I used to enjoy WOS, early TNA and those RF Video shoots they used to play. Its just a shame that the budget so clearly dwindled year on year.

Didn’t Wade Keller have a weekly show for a while there too?

Off topic but have fond memories too of Bravo showing late 80’s/ early 90’s World Class when skiving off sixth form. Eric Embry and Skandor Akbar was the best daytime TV Sky had to offer.

Edited by garynysmon
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I would've been about 14 and it was a great time to be a fan at that age. I had grown up watching WWF and I was getting to that age where I had grown out of it for a bit. 

I remember reading in Powerslam the channel was coming and it just rejuvenated my interest in wrestling. I watched all the promotions I'd only read about, joined the TWC forums, started attending local shows. I started to feel not like a kid who liked wrestling but a "smart" fan (even thought I was anything but lol). But it was a great part of my teenage years and a great time to be a fan.

I think I'm in the minority in I liked the short lived Bagpipe Report. Also the RF shoot interviews. To be a young fan who'd only really watched WWF and read Powerslam and the odd wrestling book, to now have all the choice and product out there was great.

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Posted (edited)

Good times, great memories.

I’d be lying if I said TWC was solely responsible for my shifting tastes because inspired by reading PS I’d already bought tapes from SiMania when I started getting bored of WWE and was becoming more and more inclined towards New Japan, classic All Japan and ROH. But it was a God send considering there’s only so much you want to spend on your wrestling and in those days committing to downloading a single match on 56kps dial up was a difficult decision when you didn’t know if the match was any good yet. I still remember the excitement watching the Friendly TV previews, James Tighe vs Paul London from Frontiers Of Honor is a match I haven’t thought about for many years but at the time it was the best I match I’d seen for ages. A particularly strong memory was of the airing of Xplosion that came straight after AJ losing the NWA title back to Double J, and the double turn - a furious Styles absolutely crushed JR Ryder with a handful of dynamic moves and went home with a springboard 450. AJ was well on the way to becoming my favourite wrestler.

When the channel started proper, it was awesome. Between terms at uni and with irregular sleep patterns it was great to know there was often something watching on in the small hours, even if it was a repeat. After a few tapes got filled of any matches I wanted to keep, soon I had dedicated tapes on the go for Noah, New Japan, New Japan Classics, GAEA and “misc.” While my horizons were already broadened beyond just “the Big 3” as was, my eyes were open further still to promotions I wouldn’t have watched before - TNA and ROH were the obvious sources of the exciting new names and/or former WCW/ECW talent you’d lost track of, CZW had some of that mix of exciting cruiserweight style and ECW style violence  which while not my favourite, I still enjoyed from time to time. MLW and 3PW featured plenty of the same names and also occasionally threw up a fascinating match you’d never have thought of or that otherwise you were glad you’d had chance to see, the FWA kept you fairly up to date with Doug, Jonny and Jody and a gave a glimpse into who was coming through over here… I could go on. GAEA may have been the biggest eye opener for me as someone who’d only seen a few of mpegs of classic Joshi (old AJW mostly), it quickly became one of my favourite broadcasts and I credit TWC with why Meiko Satomura got and remained so over with British fans, after seeing her matches. And possibly in part because of the music video.

While many individual matches stand out from getting to see them on TWC - several  of Kobashi’s defences including the big Departure one against Akiyama, Trent Acid vs Teddy Hart in front of a rabid Viking Hall crowd, Meiko vs Akira Hokuto with the KO finish where they battered each other to exhaustion, the unforgettable first Styles & Red vs Briscoes ROH tag title match - a bigger impact (Impact?) on my fandom was to come. When the channel started showing the monthly TNA PPV on (IIRC) a one week delay, it actually changed my viewing habits. Between studying and getting a full time job as I was, I’d swap shifts at the pub to avoid working the Sunday that Destination X etc was going to be on, sometimes get a pizza delivered, and enjoy. Wrestling was scheduled viewing again for me, for the first time really since mid 2000. Finally, we can’t overlook International Showdown. Getting to see Musawa in person, getting to see Styles vs Daniels AND Joe vs Punk at or near the peak of their rivalries then meeting several talents including Mick Foley (stories I’ve told dozens of times), was all in all an unforgettable experience and I wore my TWC beanie for years afterwards until sadly misplacing it. Plus I got to buy ROH DVDs at intermission, choosing Generation Next (so I could see that groups genesis), Testing The Limit (for Aries vs Danielson) and Final Battle 2004 (for Joe vs Aries) - having only seen clips of Austin Aries in music videos, he was fast on his way to pushing AJ for my favourite wrestler. Seeing my gormless face actually on the telly chanting Mitsy’s name during his intro when they aired it was the peak of TWC for me personally, or at least up there with Blake Norton reading out my email on The Bagpipe Report - even if he did miss the point of my question somewhat.


Edited by air_raid
Typos. Bacon.
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TWC definitely rekindled my interest and what made it special was the ability to switch it on and see something that I had never seen before. 

I can vividly remember turning it on for the first time and not believing it was a channel JUST for wrestling   

It made access to different types /companies / wrestlers so easy.

Combined with the rise of the world wide web wrestling suddenly became expansive, that is, there was more than what you immediately knew about.

Japan - had no idea about the companies

ROH - never heard of it 

shoot interviews - blew my tiny mind - ‘want do you mean ‘worked shoot?’, ‘Who’s Kaye Faybe?’  

And, I could switch it on with my dad and he’d watch WOS and go ‘saw him’, or ‘he’s real’ or ‘that’s Les Kellet…doesn’t like his ears touched!’

In short, TWC was like a sampler of wrestling, letting  you take a snippet of something and then go away and find more. 

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Posted (edited)

I'm sure I've posted this here before, but this is an interview I did with Sean Herbert just after he'd sold the channel and it was rebranded:





With Britain’s TWC Fight! channel now rebranded as a UK version of the Fight Network, I spoke this week to Sean Herbert, the man behind the channel since its 2004 launch. Though he was unable to talk about the specifics behind the rebranding, he was able to talk through some of the issues behind the channel’s running which many viewers are unaware of.


What were the best and worst decisions you made at TWC?


There was never any one bad decision. I suppose when we launched, our costs were very high, as it was all new to us: we had too many editors, we were paying too much for programming, and or workflow wasn’t as tight as it is now. All these improvements come with time though, so there was nothing we really could have done differently at the time, without being able to see the future. I suppose for my own sake, I would probably stay completely away from posting on the internet.


I guess the best decisions we made were knowing when to pull back and stop losing money in the hope it would turn around. We reduced costs by approx 50% going into 2005, and actually turned a profit by just showing the programmes that did well for us in 2004, and doing ratings-based deals for most new content, instead of a flat fee. We are in business to make money – not to lose money while building a brand, as that’s never guaranteed. We always kept a tight control on costs, which, despite internet speculation of doom & gloom whenever we pulled back and reduced content/costs, has enabled us to last almost 4 years now!


What effect did the loss of TNA have on the channel?


It was a big loss, but it was never our highest rated show to begin with. It also coincided with our re-branding to TWC Fight!, so we had just started showing a lot of new MMA programming anyway, and we had a whole new audience replacing the loss of TNA viewers. It was definitely unfortunate, as it was our best produced show, but it was bound to happen at some stage as TNA grew.


What prompted the switch in focus from purely wrestling to including MMA as well?


The rise in popularity of MMA, and the decline in popularity of wrestling worldwide. We also found that there was less & less quality wrestling content even available to fill our schedule, and a lot of the promotions we started showing in 2004 were out of business: FWA, 3PW, GAEA, Wildside, MLW, etc. It was a necessary, and fruitful, decision.


Did being a wrestling channel have any effect (positive or negative) on ad sales, or was it purely down to viewing figures?


Mainly down to figures. Our audience is primarily males aged 16-34, which is THE key demographic that advertisers seek. As long as we delivered that audience for them, then there was no real difficulty at all.


BARB’s rating system (the UK equivalent of Nielsen, which produces figures based on a sample of just 5,000 homes) made it difficult to measure audiences on a niche channel like TWC. Did you know this going on, or was it an unforeseen problem?


We were fully aware of this going in, as the Dolphin TV managing directors have been in the broadcast industry for years. (Dolphin is a broadcasting firm involved in the channel’s management.) It’s a known issue that all niche channels complain about but have to deal with: the industry has changed in the last ten years, but BARB hasn’t changed or updated with it. Sure, BARB worked when there were 5 or 6 channels – but now with hundreds of satellite channels, 5000 homes are far from representative of what the UK are watching!


Several programmes were dropped because they had low ratings and therefore you couldn’t sell advertising for them. Would it have been possible to sell packages of advertising across the schedule based on the channel’s overall figures instead?


That’s how we already sell all our advertising. For example, if we sell a campaign to ‘Lucozade’, and promise to deliver 180,000 (18-34 male) viewers to them, that means we schedule their adverts during our shows until we deliver that number of viewers. And we HAVE to deliver those numbers, so ‘Lucozade’ will never be left short; poorer ratings might just mean it takes us longer to deliver. If it takes 2 months, so be it. With some shows rating Zero (that is, no viewers in homes measured by BARB), it means we can’t reach that figure, and we’re wasting potential advertising time. And it’s still costing us money to air that show because of broadcasting costs, satellite time, listing feed, editing, admin and so on. So not only do we not make money from a ‘Zero’ rated show, we actually lose money, as the channel’s running costs still need to be paid. So if a show delivers very poor ratings, it gets dropped. It’s basic business.


Was TWC profitable over its lifetime?


It wasn’t in 2004, and it was in 2005 & 2006. It was around break-even in 2007, but for the last few months of 2007 we avoided buying any new programming, as we were negotiating with The Fight Network. We didn’t want to be buying any new content from September 2007 onwards as we didn’t know what the plan would be going forward, so couldn’t commit to any deals. That obviously affected our ratings as we ran a lot of repeats towards the end of 2007, but it was a necessity that we couldn’t then explain publicly.


Which were/are the highest rated shows on the channel?


World of Sport – it always has been since day one, consistently and by a considerable amount.


Was it a surprise that World of Sport did so well? Did it bring in a different audience to other shows?


Yes, generally it attracted an older demographic, but a lot of younger people and current fans also tuned in to see what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t really a surprise at all, since it attracted such a huge rating back in the day, there was bound to be a significant amount of people tuning in for nostalgia alone, and luckily they stayed tuned! I was more surprised that most other shows didn’t rate so well!


Will there ever be in-house productions like The Bagpipe Report again?


Likely not from TWC, but The Fight Network produce some fantastic in-house programming already, like One on One, Rough and Wrestling Reality, as well as daily Knockout News items. We are currently working with Redchurch productions in bringing viewers the latest UK news too, as was seen just this weekend with our pre-fight coverage of UFC 80 in Newcastle, with Ian Freeman interviewing various fighters! But it’s likely that TFN may produce something similar to the Bagpipe Report at some stage as they have lots of fresh & exciting plans & ideas for moving forward!


What variations did you find in the way British promotions dealt with the channel?


Some were more obviously far more professional than others in their approach to looking for a TV deal in the first place. RQW actually used an agency to approach us for a deal, which was a very professional approach, albeit not necessary, but a nice touch. On the flipside, despite having press and general contact info on our website, you’d be surprised how many people sent me private messages on various internet forums asking for a TV deal. They spouted all sorts of made-up statistics about the attendance for their shows (or their intended shows), complete with atrocious spelling and most (not just some) even forgetting to name their promotion or sign their own name at the end of their message! Sometimes I’d be lucky to get a website link.


From the British promotions we did do deals with, some were more organised & professional than others in the delivery of their shows for playout (some were frequently late, and the episodes had to be cancelled), and some were late with delivery of synopsis & duration information to us: anytime our weekly listings newsletter said “Listings Not Available” for a British promotion, it simply meant that they weren’t arsed e-mailing through a synopsis for their TV show. Yet sometimes I’d see the synopsis posted on the UKFF forum (which was obviously their priority over the SKY TV Guide), so we’d copy and paste it from there: unbelievable! And some didn’t adhere to censorship guidelines, and episodes had to be pulled. That said, anyone falling into this latter category didn’t last very long on the channel anyway.


What advice would you have for British promotions hoping to get on TV?


Let TV be your final goal. Concentrate on getting the crowds in the door (in addition to keeping your costs down), so you don’t lose money on your shows. And there’s no better promotion method than local postering and flyering (see All-Star & LDN as prime examples of how to draw crowds), and some local radio & newspaper ads only if you can afford it. If you’re consistently drawing good crowds, then slowly start buying some branded equipment like a ring apron, and maybe a small set/entranceway. Then try to find a COST EFFECTIVE way of getting your shows taped – usually film/media students will do it for cheap, as they want experience, but most of them haven’t a clue either, so don’t be afraid to tell them to bugger off if they do a poor job.


Good lighting is paramount, and a good wide shot angled down on the ring. If you don’t have a good wide shot, and use close-up shots too much, then the editing will give off a cramped feeling and be hard to watch. Get a few shows taped and get them produced onto DVD, and don’t approach a TV company until you are happy with your DVD product. Get some good graphic templates together that you can use for all of your name-bars, replays, transitions, opening credits, etc. This is worth investing in and only has to be done once, because if it looks good, it can be used on all DVDs and any other video output. Try to find a few unsigned bands to provide music, as you can’t be using commercial tracks, as it comes across as unprofessional and will leave the TV channel liable for PRS (performing rights society) fees, so they’ll likely dismiss it there and then.


And something people always underestimate is sound: take a hard line from your mixing desk into one of your cameras, because in most indie promotions , you can’t hear a word they’re saying once someone takes the mic. And finally, if you’re happy with your picture, editing, sound quality, music, graphics, crowds and set, then contact a TV company by formal letter providing info such as: where you’re based, how long you’ve been running, what crowds you usually draw, can you produce weekly & episodic TV, etc. Don’t send a badly written PM on a forum!


You were a fairly regular and often outspoken poster on internet forums during TWC’s time on air? Did this help or hurt the channel?


Maybe it hurt the internet’s public perception of TWC a little bit, but our ratings were never reflected by what was going on on the net, as is usually the case with attendance at shows too. The internet is not the bigger picture. I was put under an immediate spotlight when news of TWC broke, scrutiny for everything that was going on on-air, and took lot of unnecessary (in my opinion) abuse; but I didn’t handle it very well either. Myy instinct was to be defensive, and that didn’t do me any favours.


Most viewers and fans have no idea what goes on behind the scenes, and what’s involved with running a channel (and it was my first time too!), and we were doing licensing deals with some of the craziest people I have ever dealt with in any walk of life. I would get wound up easily, because people thought it was as simple as “get old AJPW matches!” There are about half a dozen variables in doing a deal, that need to be considered and in place, so it was frustrating at the time. I was a fan for years before launching TWC, and I was also on the net for years having slagging matches with people on various forums, as most people do (especially wrestling fans). Then  I suddenly had to stop and/or take abuse and respond politely & professionally. Iit was all new to me at the time, but it’s 4 years later now, and I like to think I’ve improved.


How representative was/is the TWC internet of the channel’s audience?


I have gotten some good constructive advice from some of the more intelligent posters on the TWC forums and the UKFF, which we always took onboard. But of we listened to the internet alone and started airing some of the smaller, more niche promotions, we’d be marketing the channel towards a very VERY niche audience (and we’re niche enough as it is!), and we’d have been well out of business by now!


One or two more obscure programmes are fine, like CZW, and the odd IWA: Mid South ‘Supercard’, as it brings variety into the schedule, but if we showed any more than that, it would affect our overall ratings, which are already tight. So it’s all about finding the right balance between mass appeal (World of Sport, Cage Fighter, TNA), UK/home-based programming (LDN, UK MMA, RQW, IWW) and niche shows (CZW, Gladiator Challenge, IWA, GAEA). It’s easier said on the internet than done in reality. Despite all the criticisms, we have lasted 4 years and are growing, and I have made a very healthy living out of the business I have been a fan of since 1986.



Edited by JNLister
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