By JASON CLEVETT — For SLAM! Wrestling

So Stampede Wrestling is “Re-launching” kicking off with last week’s Good Friday show. Despite having one of the best TV deals in the country, Stampede Wrestling flopped last time. Can they actually rebuild the promotion to something even remotely resembling it’s glory days? It could be done. Here are, in no particular order, six things that could be done to bring back the once great Indy fed.

6. Move location – Their main rival in Calgary, Western Canadian Extreme Wrestling has shows at the Firepark Sports Center, which is easily accessible both by car and transit. Stampede runs at the Ogden Legion hall in the Southeast. It is out of the way and badly accessible. Especially since a lot of fans are younger, it greatly reduces the size of a crowd they can draw. While WCEW routinely draws decent crowds, Stampede was lucky to draw over a hundred people. A big part of this is their location. I think this may have also partially led to the Can-Am Wrestling Federation no longer promoting in Calgary — bad location, and being a bar cut their potential fan base of youth. Stampede needs a more centrally located, easier to access place to run shows.

5. Get shorter – The average Stampede show lasted nearly four hours any time I attended. Way, way to long. We don’t need eight thirty minute matches, especially from some guys who can’t work for that long. Shorten the matches, run things smoother. Even the most intent wrestling fan can can’t watch a show for four hours. Often times people would be filing out early. Even the first Stampede card two years ago went four hours, and partway through the main event there was a constant stream of people walking out the door. You can put together a great, well done two-and-a-half hour show and keep people interested.

4. Talent – The rumor mill runs rampant and there are many sides to why many of Stampede’s top stars left to go work for WCEW. It’s not my place to say what side I, or you, should believe. But if even a tenth of the reasons that have been stated by the former stars are true, then things need to change. Stampede had some great talent, who now wrestle other places. The top names in Stampede, Greg Pawluk, Tiger Khan, Wavell Star, Dick Reigns, Johnny Devine, and others are in WCEW or not in the territory anymore. But one thing that the Harts can be credited for, they can make talented stars and if they work at it, the gap left from the departure of guys like Pawluk, Devine and Bill Yates can be filled by new guys. Utilize the popular, young guys (something they seemed to struggle with at times) and use older stars for building them up.

3. Return to TV – This is self explanatory. Their time slot is now filled with old Hardy Boy (The detective series, not the wrestlers) shows. A TV show is vital to sparking interest, but it needs to be used properly. I don’t think Sabu’s April 13th appearance was mentioned once on TV beforehand. Use it to hype and build up your upcoming cards.

2. Advertise – I do not know the financial situation for the company right now, but if they are going to do this right, they need to get serious and do so. A lot of people don’t have a clue that Stampede is still out there, unless they are online and subscribe to the Stampede Newsletter. After it left the Pavilion a lot of people didn’t know where to go to see the show. Last year’s Good Friday show featured Sabu… and hardly anyone knew about it because it was never mentioned on their TV show and little offline advertising was done. Thus they drew a maybe slightly larger then average crowd. His June appearance was larger still, but even then not the sold out capacity crowd I was expecting.

1. Bring in talent – Again this may be restricted due to finances, but there are lots of established Indy stars that people would go see. I would go see, say, Jake Roberts, despite his problems, due to nostalgia. King Kong Bundy, Jimmy Snuka, etc. all routinely work independents, including Canada. Winnipeg has had Curt Hennig, Rhino and Jerry Lynn recently. With ECW folding and likely some WCW stars looking for work, the opportunity is there to bring in talent, like they did Sabu, to boost their attendance. Top Indy names like Christopher Daniels, Michael Modest, coupled with names like Juventud Guerrera, Psychosis, Rob Van Dam, etc. could build a fan base and draw in crowds. Again though, for this to truly work, a new location and better advertising would be ideal.

So there are my thoughts, scratching the surface. I am sure there is a lot of work to be done beyond my thoughts, and I hope that someday Stampede Wrestling can, someday, be what it once was again.