By Haydn Gleed, Prowrestling.net Staffer (@haydngleed)
Many people look back on the Monday Night Wars with great fondness. It was a time when two companies, for the most part, were at the top of their game trying new things and pushing the envelope in order to call themselves the number one wrestling company in the world. When you throw in ECW at it’s peak, it was a great time to be a pro wrestling fan. Granted some of the material doesn’t date very well when looking through a 2018 lens, but I digress. Many close associates of Vince McMahon say he always produces his best work and presents the best product when his back is against the wall and based on history that is certainly true.
For nearly the past two decades, WWE has been the lone survivor of the wrestling war and stand way on top of the mountain as the number one company. For those twenty years, many companies have come and gone. The companies that have stuck around like the ROH and Impact Wrestlings of the world do not have the resources either financially or personell wise to be considered equal competition. WWE is a publicly traded company and their owner bounces around the billionaire mark. They have a reach of pretty much the entire world with via the WWE Network and their history and name recognition alone is something that money cannot buy. It would take someone with a wallet bigger than the grand canyon, balls bigger than the Eiffel Tower, and more luck than water in the seas to even come close to piercing the stronghold that WWE holds on the industry.
But have The Young Bucks and Cody come across a formula that could potentially bring some true competition to WWE and inspire them out of their self inflicted comfort zone?
I’m really excited to see what happens at All In on September 1. The card, although not super hot, has people talking and the wrestling community buzzing. What has impressed me is the diverse group of wrestlers they have brought together. You have talent from Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, MLW, NWA, New Japan Pro Wrestling, and the list goes on. When I’m talking about competition for WWE, I don’t for a second believe that the Al In cast will form a regular promotion, but instead these type of “Independent Super Shows” have proven that the bigger indie companies who are vying for the number two slot in the industry can work together. And based on the quick sellout and the size of the building it’s clear there’s an appetite for an alternative. These companies working together is a positive sign that they realize that they have their own market and fans, but together they are stronger and the end resulting whole is bigger than the sum of its parts.
I’m not saying that they should join forces on a permanent basis, but if All In does well on pay-per-view, it’s conceivable that a few alarm bells in Titan Towers could be ringing. ROH and New Japan have already infiltrated Madison Square Garden for WrestleMania weekend, which would have been unthinkable several years ago. In my perfect wrestling world utopia, you would have ROH, Impact, New Japan, etc. doing their own thing and then every quarter coming together for a super show, bringing with them their own unique fanbase. If a fan watches Impact Wrestling on a regular basis but hasn’t seen NJPW and they watch these shows for their guys but are also exposed to Kazuhika Okada, Kenny Omega, etc. and are impressed, they could get drawn into the NJPW product. Pick any combination of the companies I mentioned above and the statement is true. Over time, each company grows together and collectively they could be seen as competition for WWE.
All In will be successful because some wrestling fans have become disillusioned with WWE’s short term booking and force feeding fans what they feel they want, not what the majority of fans are telling them. They are sick of watching WrestleMania and feeling like it’s an infomercial to show the corporate world how great the company is. They are looking for an alternative and with a show like All In it gives them the opportunity to experience a multitude of different styles of wrestling and a different way to watch a product that some fans might be falling out of love with. The fact that the show sold out so quickly shows how much of an appetite there is out there for an alternative to Vince McMahon’s 2018 vision of “sports entertainment”.
It’s been a growing trend over the last couple of years where previous barriers have been taken down. It was inconceivable to believe five years ago that Impact Wrestling talent would be working with ROH talent. It would be inconceivable that the Impact World Champion would show up on ROH TV holding the Impact title belt. It’s not just in the United States, as ROH is about to embark on a UK tour and Impact Wrestling/ICW/WOS star Joe Hendry, and Some of the other bigger names of the UK Independent scene that are not signed to WWE NXT UK contracts are being brought in. It definitely feels that we are currently in the era where WWE is on top of the mountain, yet are looking down at all of the small groups that were previously on different sides of the mountains coming together to form a bigger entity while climbing the mountain together.
Of course, with all that being said, WWE will presumably retaliate by making big money offers to the likes of The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Cody, etc. After all, with the recent television rights agreements, WWE has even more money to play with. This would certainly set back any sort of revolution as I’m painting it. But at the same time, if All In is as a successful with pay-per-view buys as it was with the ticket sales, it will show wrestlers inside and outside of WWE that there is an alternative if they don’t want to work for WWE, an alternative that can be successful for them creatively and financially.
We will never see another Monday Night War and despite everything I’ve said WWE will remain number one unless something disastrous happens. They will remain be the biggest dog in any fight within the wrestling business. But what the September 1 event represents is an opportunity to cut into the juggernaut that is WWE and maybe, just maybe, shake them from the complacency that has been evident for years. For that, I am certainly All In.
Agree or disagree, please let me know via twitter @haydngleed or via email firstname.lastname@example.org