It has been well over a decade since WCW gave WWE a run for its Monday night money. Since then the pro wrestling community has been subjected to only one large promotion giving fans its sports entertainment fixes weekly. While many smaller promotions have tried to rise up, building a niche audience and getting TV deals, not a single one of them is anywhere near the level of the now defunct WCW or the still striving WWE.
Can it happen again, though? Probably not. At least not with the potential federations which are struggling to stay afloat as is. Say what you will about how WCW got to be a big promotion, it had a combination of two things that every company – save for the WWE – lacks today. You know, money and smart people. They also hit on a one-of-a-kind gimmick/angle with the NWO. Luck, also, obviously played a huge factor in their success.
Promotions today only have have one or the other. For every TNA which is backed by a lady’s dad’s giant company, but is run by a self-advertisement machine who knows not what it is doing, there’s an ROH who books tremendous shows, yet has the business savvy of a 5 year-old running a lemonade stand without cups. It is the cruel reality, as the two never seem to happen at the same time at the same promotion.
A right mixture of events and people would really need to line up for such a thing to ever take place again. Dixie Carter somewhat attempted the WCW model of buying older, closer to washed-up wrestlers when she bought TNA off Jeff Jarrett. Her largest issues was two-fold, really. She was too much a fan, which resulted on her relying too much on name-brand talents instead of building homegrown stars. And she hired the same creative minds which ruined other wrestling products simply because they came from larger promotions. To put it politely, she hasn’t been too smart with her promotion.
To make matters worse, and try as hard as she might to get everyone pumped about going to another TV network no one has heard of, TNA is trending in the wrong direction. It is easy to hold out hope for a company when it is in its infancy, but we’re in TNA’s teenage years — and it seems to be experimenting with hard drugs.
You can apply nearly the same thoughts to Jeff Jarrett’s new promotion, Global Force Wrestling. Since its “launch,” GFW has done everything wrong. Its heavily hyped roster reveal wasn’t streamed or posted online or anything. Simply a series of untimely tweets and a link to a website page with a bunch of former WWE wrestlers’ names on it.
They’ve already lost talent to Lucha Underground, too. One of its first champions, I might add. While Jarrett is a better creative mind than Carter, he lacks her funds to compete. He also isn’t great at keeping rosters together, long-term planning is a thing he is deficient in, and he’s always been guy who seems more obsessed with letting people know he is Jeff Jarrett than he is at getting younger guys over.
Either way, both of those promotions have failed to build homegrown stars. TNA has had them, as well, except it preferred to push 50 year-old has-beens instead. GFW, while still young in its development, is basically TNA 2.0. To think Jarrett can make the federation of high value, despite already failing with TNA his first time around, would be like going back to a doctor after he amputated your leg when you went in for a blood-pressure check.
There’s also always ROH. The longstanding internet-fans’ favorite destination for a wrestling-heavy product. The issue with ROH is that it has no money and are on a network which few know exist. It doesn’t help its cause that the WWE has developed an ROH-ish brand in NXT — except NXT is actually better at this point because of its production value, episodic nature and fluidity. ROH still feels like an independent all-star show and less like a promotion. While it does neat things like team up with New Japan to do supershows, there’s little reason for casual fans to tune in. And even if there were reason, they’d have a hard time finding the channel.
I say all of that, but still highly recommend ROH to those who like in-ring performances. Much of what it does will make your heart flutter as if you fell in love for the first time.
Lucha Underground is a sleeper possibility. As it is the issue with all the other federations, Lucha is on a network which isn’t easily found. It is essentially in lesser homes than asbestos. Videos are available on YouTube, however, if people are so inclined to go that route.
Thing is, Lucha’s objective doesn’t seem to be to be WWE’s competitor. It is more a TV show than a wrestling product. Now, while its wrestling product is really good, it may alienate some casual fans. At the same time, its new approach at attacking how we view wrestling is certainly something that can pick up steam. It would definitely help if it had more more loot, as even after a wildly success first season of Lucha Underground, reports surfaced that season two’s budget had been cut. That’s not a promising sign.
Honestly, it seems like a weird, dream (or nightmare) scenario would have to play out to give the WWE real competition. I can only foresee two things ever happening which would make the McMahon family even a tad bid nervous:
- A billionaire wrestling fan buys or starts a promotion and hires smart wrestling people. We are talking Ted Turner 2.0, but with less baggage. This is always a slight possibility, although it isn’t something that can be done with a mere “I want to matter” move. WCW aired on Turner’s network. He had a built-in network for him to feature his program. Imagine pitching to any network of relevance today that you want to compete with the WWE’s money-making beast.
- Less likely, but Triple H ends his relationship with the WWE for whatever reason (divorce, etc. None of us should wish this route, by the way) and a billionaire backs him. Hunter has shown what he could do with NXT. The developmental program is basically every single thing every internet-fan claimed they wanted. The only exception to that being that it is a WWE-owned product.
If Hunter was ever to leave the WWE, then convince someone with deep pockets to back him, not only is he smart enough to make it work, but enough fans know he is the mind behind NXT. Meaning, a very large portion of the WWE audience will want to give it a shot. A built-in first time audience, which is something not afforded to other promotions.
As of this point, however, there’s no threat to the WWE. With no threat comes no real sense of urgency. It allowed the WWE to become such a stale product that it took a 24-hour booking miracle of Roman Reigns to save the company from a potential WrestleMania disaster. Since there are other wrestling promotions floating about though, which disqualifies it from being a monopoly, there’s good reason to think that post-Mania WWE will become a stagnant product yet again.
That is why wrestling, specifically its fans, needs a second promotion to rise from the ashes and truly rival the WWE as WCW did so many years ago. The product is better for it. Viewers are more entertained because of it. Wrestlers have more options, more creative freedom, and less worries — which makes them better entertainers by nature. Having a second major promotion is more of a need for a sport than a want. It is the sad, cold truth. Even sadder, unless something crazy happens, it is unlikely to ever happen.
Wait… Did I basically just ask for Hunter and Stephanie McMahon to get a divorce?