How do pro-wrestling touring circuits and filming work?

My dad watches WWE every monday and friday; I see the big names on TV twice a week. But they are said to be wrestling 300 days a year (about 6 days a week). So I assume a lot of their matches are un-televised?

If so, do they keep the televised story lines going in all these non-broadcast shows; do they perform the most recent televised show several times over in different cities like a stage play, or do they put on different shows in each town? Are the televised shows always from the same places or do they change filming locations/events?

Also, the WWE shows on TV these days seem to be about 1/2 behind the scenes scits that the live audience can’t see… so what are they watching live in the stadium? Are there 10 matches between nobodies we don’t see at home, or is everything we see broadcast on big screens for them too?

The WWE runs televised shows twice a week. On Monday Raw is taped live. On Tuesday ECW and Smackdown are taped for later broadcast. If there are backstage vignettes they are showed on the large screens so the audience in the arena can see them. WWE also runs one Pay-Per-View each month, usually on Sundays. At each televised show and PPV they wrestle a couple of dark matches before the taping. Alot of times there is stuff that goes on after the taping ends solely for the live crowd. Usually this involves the face getting their heat back or showdown where the face clears the ring and leaves the audience to go out on a high note.
The wrestlers no longer work 300 shows a year like they did twenty years ago. There are usually non televised house shows that are put on once a week or less. At these shows most of the angles that are on TV are featured. Generally title changes are not booked for these shows like they used to be. The cards on these shows change based on what is happening on television. It used to be that wrestlers would work a program together where they would wrestle the same match in each city for a period of several months to a year. Today, some wrestlers use house shows to practice working together in preparation for a PPV match.

WWE runs house shows (nontelevised events) once or twice a week, depending on what area they’re in. They used to run as many as three in non-PPV weeks. Shows are always different, and while the matches generally stick to the current storylines, there are hardly ever any storyline-related promos (interviews) or anything like that. WWE travels to a more or less pre-set list of venues each year, including just about every major city basketball/hockey arena (Staples Center, MSG, etc.) They do slightly more shows in the northeast than elsewhere, since that’s where the company is located; they’ve had relationships with tiny arenas like the Catholic Youth Center in Scranton for upwards of 50 years.

WCW (the one that used to be on TBS, now owned by WWE and defunct) had at least two house shows every week.

NWA:TNA runs only televised events, as they don’t have enough talent on the roster for more than one show a week. Their televised shows are mostly taped at Universal Studios Florida, but they’ve been doing a few road TV tapings lately, such as a couple in Vegas.

WWE live attendees can see the backstage stuff on the Titantron (big screen) generally. Usually the backstage segments are pre-taped anyway.

ETA: Puddle, ECW is taped before Raw now, ISTR.

I think that pro wrestling is more of the nature of theater than sport, so I’m sending this to Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

Also, they’ll have “tryouts” at untelevised shows, so new talent can get in some experience with a real crowd.

They weren’t when I went to WWF at the Charlotte Colosseum circa 1999 or 2000. Also, you don’t get to hear the announcers and you can’t understand anything the wrestlers say on the mic because it blares and sounds like Charlie Brown’s mom. You have no idea how much the announcers fabricate the excitement until you see it without them. It was terribly boring and the final nail in the coffin of my interest in pro wrestling.

I attended a WWE show on a Monday in Seattle about a month ago. Because it was a west coast show and would be shown on the east coast live at 8 pm, Raw began at 5 pm Seattle time. During a couple of the breaks in action, in ring skits for the ECW and Smackdown were filmed. At 7 pm, 10 pm eastern, the WWE crew took down all the Raw branded stuff and put up the ECW stuff. 3 matches were done one right after the other and a couple skits were filmed. This was the ECW show for the next day. Then the crew took down all the ECW stuff and Smackdown stuff was put up, this was for the show on Friday. It was during this time that the fans got to see Vicky Guerrero and Undertaker rehearse their skit for later. Despite the supposed tension between the two, there was a lot of off color humor between the two. Before Smackdown filming started they had a couple dark matches (won’t be shown on TV), they were mid level WWE guys against some local jobbers. 3 Smackdown matches followed, Guerrero and Undertaker did there skit with a Big Show run in then the Smackdown main event was taped. We got out of the arena at about 10 pm, there was surprising little down time during the 5 hour show.

Some observations. Chris Jericho was in sad shape after his PPV match a day earlier again Shawn Michaels. The left side of his face was bruised and he had a broken tooth. JBL has to be the most unathletic looking wrestler on the WWE roster. Where does Batista buy his clothes? His body dimensions don’t look anything normal. Mark Henry whines alot during his matches, he was constantly complaining about Jeff Hardy not following the script. Big Show’s language was extremely blue while the cameras were off despite all the younger kids in the audience. Rey Misterio is a lot smaller than the 185 pounds they said he weighs. HHH, Matt Hardy, Misterio, Finlay, Khali and Tommy Dreamer were more than willing to sign autographs, most everyone else blew off those wanting a signature. Santino Marello’s skit about the Sonics moving to Oklahoma City was heavily edited when it was shown on TV here on the west coast. And last but not least, why does Brian Kendrick have a job with WWE? He was by far the least talented of all the talent that performed that night.

TNA (they withdrew from the NWA four years ago and stopped using the championships last year) do run untelevised house shows regularly. One week they’ll do Impact! tapings on a Monday and Tuesday with maybe an untelevised show towards the weekend, the next week they’ll do nothing but house shows, with PPVs every month, same as WWE. They must have coming on for 50 active wrestlers in the roster.

ECW is taped approximately one hour before it appears on The SciFi Network, so there is very, very little post production. Raw is live, no post production (thought the backstage vignettes are often taped earlier that day). Smackdown is taped Tuesday and shown Friday, and WWE uses the time to ensure the commentary is up to date (so, although it was taped in the arena on Tuesday, on Friday they will be discussing the Obama win).

The number now is closer to 200 shows / year, but WWE has cut back in because ticket sales are down. A general Raw-brand week begins on Friday and ends on Monday, while Smackdown tends to work Saturday to Tuesday.

The Raw and Smackdown tapings are usually near each other; the monthly PPV will also be near both tapings. They do this because it is cheaper to have the TV crews out once, work 2-3 nights, and mothball them until the next week. Same goes for booking arenas. They’ll try not to spread them too far apart (which is why Hawaii and Alaska rarely, if ever, get shows). So a weekend tour might include Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and a Raw taping in DC.

While ticket sales in the US are down, overseas tours are a way for WWE to print money, and they have been doing more of them lately. They just have to be careful not to saturate the market with too many shows.

Most likely, this was before an overseas tour, as ECW is usually taped before Smackdown.