NEW YORK STATE ATHLETIC COMMISSION CHANGES GUIDELINES FOR PRO WRESTLING FOR 2017, MAY HAVE RIPPLE EFFECT ON SMALLER PROMOTIONS, EXCLUSIVE NEWS ON NEW RULES IMPOSED BY COMMISSION ALREADY
By Mike Johnson on 2016-09-29 13:55:00
The New York State Athletic Commission, which oversees professional wrestling in that State (which as a matter of full disclosure for those who don't know, is where I reside) is planning a number of changes to the landscape of professional wrestling in NY as part of new rules that will take effect in January 2017. Many of the rules are a result of the Commission updatingtheir amended guidelines now that Mixed Martial Arts is legal in the State with the NYSAC having to oversee that sport starting this November.
While these changes likely won't see any ripple effect for WWE, Northeast Wrestling or Ring of Honor, they may effectively make it too expensive for some independent promotions to continue to exist in the greater New York area.
The primary change is that promotions may no longer lend or "rent" their promoting license out to others, which will be a major change to the NY independent wrestling landscape. According to language in the revised NYSAC Guidebook, "Engaging in fraud or fraudulent practices, or for dishonest or misleading advertising, including representing a professional wrestling event as anything but an exhibition, availing the entity’s license to another, or for demonstrated untrustworthiness or incompetency in relation to the promotion or conduct of professional wrestling exhibitions" could result in the promoter's license being revoked.
In many cases across New York, one licensed promoter would promote an event under their banner while in actuality, someone else is actually running, booking and promoting the event. What that means on paper is that (for example) House of Glory cannot be the promoter of record for WrestlePro when WrestlePro runs in New York State. That is the loophole the NYSAC is closing, prohibiting all "third-party sanctioning entities." In some cases, that change is going to make it financially impossible for certain promotions to continue to exist unless they move forward with getting bonded themselves (a $20,000 bond is required to become a professional wrestling promoter in the State of New York) and securing their own promoter's license for the State. It will also take away revenue for promoters who regularly run by being the umbrella overseeing other independent promotions.
The State will also begin to require "one ambulance with medical personnel consisting of at least one paramedic with appropriate resuscitation equipment must be continuously present on the scene at all events." If there is no ambulance, the event will not be allowed to take place. Traditionally, the NYSAC has a doctor in attendance who does a cursory check on talents before they wrestle, usually checking their blood pressure within three hours of an event starting before signing off that the talent is fit to perform. There are also, regularly, EMTs on hand.
Obviously, renting an ambulance and EMTs for the evening is certainly a safe precaution (and honestly, one I personally am happy to see required as of January 2017) but the reality is, most promotions that run smaller venues will see such a requirement as something that will price them out of being able to afford to run. In some cases, the cost of the ambulance and EMTs might be greater than the rent of smaller facilities. If you are a promoter running in front of 100 fans, the addition of the cost of the ambulance rental just made getting into the black near-impossible.
The language of the rules also remain very interesting as they would effectively prevent professional wrestlers, while working as heels, from getting heat by playing off the audience. It was noted, "In no event shall a participant be permitted to threaten, molest, hit or abuse, physically or verbally, any spectator, or engage in any conduct endangering the health, safety, or well being of any spectator during the course of a professional wrestling exhibition."
The revised rules follow moves that the Commission has made, over the last year, imposing additional rules on professional wrestling. For example, the Commission has quietly reinstituted an 11 PM Eastern curfew on wrestling events, which is why at times promotions have changed to earlier start times and why at other times, indy events running long suddenly have presented short main events; they do it because there is an implication the show would be stopped by the Commission if it ran past 11 PM. Obviously, when WWE ran Raw in Brooklyn this past August, that did not happen, but for other promoters, the edict of being done by 11 PM has been made clear.
While there is also no language in the new rules about this, PWInsider.com has been told that The NYSAC has also "unofficially" banned the use of tables in the State, stemming from what I am told was an incident in late 2015 where the Commission rep on duty for an independent show told the promoter he didn't want weapons or tables used -and then Sabu wrestled, doing several table spots despite being instructed not to use them. It should be noted that a quick review of results this morning for NY area independents have shown that Sabu hasn't wrestled in the State, at all, in 2016. A quick check of our own coverage shows that there have been no tables used at NYC-area events PWInsider has covered in person over the last year.
It should be noted that there have also been at least one recent instance of members of the Commission not even knowing what the correct rules they are trying to enforce are. At an independent event in Brooklyn, NY last August, a representative for the Commission, identified by Gothamist.com as Athletic Commission deputy commissioner Robert Orlando, actually came to the ring and stopped a planned match between female wrestler Jessie "Bonesaw" Brooks and male wrestler Marc Hauss, claiming that intergender wrestling was against the NYSAC rules. It turns out that Orlando had mistaken a rule banning intergender boxing as a rule overseeing pro wrestling -where there is actually no such rule -and the match was restarted:
Of course, and this may come as a surprise to everyone reading this, but children still remain banned from attending professional wrestling in New York State. While the language of the ban is not enforced, the New York State Athletic Commission's "Law Book" providing the official rules and language for the overseeing of boxing and pro wrestling notes (as seen on Page 10 of the most recent edition in 2011, which has not been updated since) that, "No person under the age of eighteen years shall participate in any professional boxing, sparring or professional wrestling match or exhibition, and no person under sixteen years of age shall be permitted to attend thereat as a spectator; provided, however, that a person between the ages of eight and sixteen shall be permitted to attend thereat as a spectator if accompanied by a parent or guardian." Certainly, that would come as a surprise to just about every parent who has taken a young child under the age of 8 to a WWE event over the last decade that they are actually breaking the rules.