Pro wrestling as a whole has been seeing a trend of less and less viewers that are diehard to watch their product. This trend, in my opinion, started back in 2001 when the WWE bought out WCW and ECW. There were many loyal ECW and WCW fans that stopped watching wrestling altogether because the WWE's style was simply not for them.
Fast forward to current day, and we see the industry barely able to fill the arenas no matter what show you go to. From Raw to Smackdown to Impact to Ring of Honor, you see empty seats, and that's a sign that pro wrestling isn't what it used to be.
I am writing this article because I believe there is a way to turn around the wrestling industry. In fact, I am going to give you five changes that the industry must make in order to get fans back into the seats and in front of the television sets again.
I believe that pro wrestling is something people either love or hate, but you know it's bad when even fans seem ashamed to admit they like pro wrestling. I think it's about time for the wrestling world to make some radical changes and get the industry back on track so that fans can have pride in the sport they love.
If you have a comment on this article or on the state of the industry, please leave it below in the comment box.
Now, I present to you the changes that are needed to get the wrestling industry booming again.
I am not just going to pick on the WWE in this article, but this change is a must for the company in order to better the entire industry. The WWE needs to end the PG era sooner rather than later.
Pro wrestling is a violent sport, like MMA and boxing. The difference between pro wrestling and the UFC, for example, is the UFC is promoting itself with a more aggressive rating suited for teenagers and adults, while the WWE is trying to be a child-friendly product. Since the WWE went to the PG rating in 2008, everything has changed, and not for the better.
A short list of the changes include:
- No use of blood in matches. (The only exception was Lesnar vs. Cena at Extreme Rules 2012.)
- No use of curse words. (Stone Cold and The Rock still use some, but their promos are now watered down.)
- Little to no use of weapons in matches.
The changes I have listed above are what made pro wrestling the successful product it was back in the late '90s and early '00s. The last time I can remember pro wrestling without those guidelines was in 1995.
I think pro wrestling as a whole would see a huge benefit from dropping the PG rating. The product would be more appealing to the prime age range that pro wrestling and all grappling sports want: the 18-34 male demographic. Guys in that range want to see a little blood sometimes, hard-hitting action with a touch of attitude and not a show that seems so generic with very little aggressiveness.
If the WWE decides to drop the PG garbage, you will see many old-school, 1990s wrestling fans flock to the arenas and a drastic change in the ratings, which, in turn, brings more money into the industry.
In the end, everyone is a winner in that deal.
This second change is one that both TNA and WWE need to seriously consider implementing in the next year or two. I believe there are entirely too many pay-per-view events on the calendar.
I am going to throw out a few numbers for you: There are 12 pay-per-views at each company this year, and if you are a diehard wrestling fan, then you want to watch them all. However, at an average price of $40 an event, you are looking at a bill of $480 per year. Should fans have to spend nearly $500 per year to watch just the pay-per-view events?
That number is way too big for most fans to afford and is a big reason why fans are turning away from the product. Like it or not, the economy hit a lot of businesses really hard, and pro wrestling was no exception.
If you miss a pay-per-view event, then you will probably miss the climax of most feuds. This is a bad trend for loyal fans. The industry needs to adjust to their average fans and try to cut down the pay-per-view expenses.
The best way to adjust to the economy is to cut down the pay-per-views from 12 to about six each year. I understand that the biggest events need to be pay-per-view because it adds a certain prestige to the show and allows the talent to shoot for a target goal.
With the other six open dates, I feel that TNA and WWE could use an idea that worked back in the late '80s and early '90s. In the months they do not have a pay-per-view event, they have a Saturday or Sunday night special on a big cable network instead.
The WWE used that idea when they had Saturday Night's Main Event on NBC. The show brought the sport of wrestling to fans that didn't get a chance to normally catch the action, and it allowed the industry to be in the spotlight of a major market.
Having less pay-per-views will hurt a little bit with the cash income, but a chance to bring in new fans and get new television networks into the wrestling industry could more than make up the loss of cutting pay-per-view events.
This third step will either be one of the most debated or the idea that really unites. I believe that the tag team division in both TNA and WWE is dead and seriously needs to be to worked on in order to bring wrestling some more popularity.
When wrestling fans think of the good old days, usually, three to four tag teams are brought up in the conversation. Teams like The British Bulldogs, The Hart Foundation, The Legion of Doom and The Steiner Brothers made the tag team division a must-see deal because every tag team match was competitive and really meant something towards obtaining the tag team titles of their respective company.
Now, when you think of today's tag team division, usually the first thing you will think of is either a team of two jobbers or a team made up of two singles stars who probably won't stay a tag team for more than six months.
Today's world of tag team wrestling is a sad one, as there really is no gold standard for a tag team like there use to be. The best tag team wrestling in America today is in the Ring of Honor company, with teams like the Briscoes or Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. Otherwise, tag team wrestling is a forgotten art by today's generation.
Back in 2006, tag team wrestling was at its highest mark in TNA. They had several key tag teams that made the division one of the greatest of any era. Teams that come to mind include dedicated tag teams like Team 3D, LAX and America's Most Wanted. There were also singles wrestlers teaming up for the gold, like AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels.
Overall, TNA's 2006 run was not marked by Jeff Jarrett's dominance as world champion or the X-Division. No, instead, it was the year of the tag team.
I believe tag team wrestling once helped make pro wrestling grow in popularity. There was such diversity in teams and styles that any wrestling fan could be intrigued by it and find a team to root for. WWE and TNA needs to stop using the idea of placing two singles stars together and making them champions for a short amount of time before having them go their separate ways.
Now is the time for both divisions to bring back quality tag team wrestling and really place the focus on the division. Tag team wrestling can mold certain guys into potential superstars and also bring some quality wrestling to the shows.
Tag team wrestling was once the backbone of the industry, so let's see WWE and TNA refocus on tag team wrestling and recreate that magic that the division once had.
Wrestling fans here in America have been blessed with the opportunity to see either the WWE, TNA or ROH companies compete in their local cities. While there are plenty of American fans that love the industry, there are so many fans in other countries who do not get that same opportunity to see a live televised event.
Well, I say it's about time the industry begins to think of doing more television and possibly pay-per-view events in somewhere other than the United States.
Look, the USA is a great place to host any sporting event, but the wrestling industry is popular around the world and there are some markets that the industry hasn't gotten to yet. So maybe it is time to see a major wrestling promotion host a pay-per-view event in a foreign country.
Canada has hosted so many WWE events in its time, and look at the success the company has had in the Great White North. Almost every televised and house show event sells out, and the local media has gotten involved, thus promoting the WWE even greater than before. It has allowed guys from Canada to train for the wrestling industry and become big stars (Chris Jericho, Edge, Bret Hart, etc.). I think the success the wrestling industry has had in Canada may be an opportunity to perform in other countries and be well worth it.
I think TNA could benefit even greater than WWE by performing overseas. TNA is still trying to grow, and I think a strong market overseas would help the company a ton with fan support and potential places to scout talent.
Back in February, TNA did a television taping in Great Britain, and the reaction the fans gave to TNA was amazing to see. I believe that there is an opportunity for TNA to do more with the UK market.
The Impact Zone is too small to host every single pay-per-view event, so why not try a new city to host an event? Against All Odds would have been a stronger event had they went ahead and held it in the UK.
Sure, taping an event for the audience is risky. Fans might not want to shell out $35 for an event they can read the spoilers to, but it could have worked and the live reaction would have been worth it.
There are so many cities that should host a major wrestling event:
- SummerSlam 2013 in Mexico City, Mexico
- WWE RAW in Tokyo, Japan (Happened before in 2005, so why not try it again)
- TNA Impact or Pay-Per-View in London, England
- TNA Impact in Australia
Look at all those markets the industry has not reached yet. I believe now is the time to go after them and try to make the wrestling industry boom worldwide. The more fans the industry has, the brighter the future will be.
It is 2012, and still, many wrestling fans, including myself, believe that the WWE has not legit competition in the wrestling industry. TNA was once thought to be the next big company to challenge the WWE and make the wrestling product better, but that hasn't worked out since the Hulk Hogan-regime began in 2010.
Usually, what makes a person or a company better is some legit competition. I believe that is why the WWE product hasn't been as great as it was before. The WWE needs another company to push them, and TNA could be the answer if they had another investor help them out.
TNA still does their TV tapings in Orlando. They have not been able to venture out into the open market because they lack the WWE's cash almost the same way the ECW company was in 1996-2000. I feel that if TNA had a strong investor come in and give the company the financial support, you would see three major changes that would put TNA on the map.
- The TNA tapings would be live and in a new city every week.
- A television network like CBS or Turner Sports would buy into the product.
- More opportunities to promote in new cities and countries
I do not have the answer of who a strong investor would be. However, if TNA could find one, then I believe the WWE would have a strong opponent in the ratings and this would bring out the best work in both companies. I think fans would have a choice of product again like they did in the 1990s, which would make room for new wrestling fans.
Overall, TNA needs cash to compete with the WWE. If the WWE remains unchallenged, then none of these changes will happen, which, in turn, will make the future of pro wrestling a dim one at best.