The Future of Pro Wrestling

Paul AustinCorrespondent IJune 4, 2010

LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 24:  World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. Chairman Vince McMahon appears in the ring during the WWE Monday Night Raw show at the Thomas & Mack Center August 24, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Before I start this article I want to give full credit to Slam Houston, and particularly his article "The Rebirth of Regional Champs Could Bring Credibility to Live Events", alongside the discussion that ensued, for being the inspiration for this piece.

Whatever any grapple fan things of the majors, whether we love them, or loathe them, whether we switch on, in eager anticipation, or tune in, with a sense of fear, or dread, it's undeniably that the major, nationwide wrestling promotions, and particularly the WWE, have found the winning formula, a formula that appeals to the widest possible audience, and specifically the widest paying audience.

Wrestling is a business, these promotions exist to make a profit, if possible, and they live, and die, on that principal.

We can sit here and complain, when our favorite wrestler isn't given the push we'd like him to be given, and we can criticize some other wrestler, for his sloppy work, or his unpalatable gimmick, but these are generally subjective criticisms, and the reason our man hasn't had the push is because he just doesn't draw in the money enough, and the reason that other guy has such an annoying gimmick is because it does.

Wrestling, in general isn't a hugely profitable business, in fact that's one of the reasons I push local promotions so hard, because I know so many of them barely scrape by as it is, and they deserve all the support they can get.

The only real exception to the rule is the WWE, who make extra profits from PPV buys, TV advertising, and merchandise, which is really where the money is at.

As I said before, Wrestling is first and foremost a business, and just like any other business it operates on the basis of paying it's staff a percentage of the value, and profit, that they bring to the company.

If the company survives, then it's obviously paying it's employees the right amount, if it doesn't, then it's either paid them to little, and they've gone elsewhere, to get a fairer wage, or it's paid them to much, and they've gone bankrupt.

So, from a pure business perspective, all wrestlers, along with all other sportsman, are usually paid just about he right amount, give or take, with the exception of those who turn out for ventures that fail.

The same rule applies for the pushes they are given, by and large they are pushed in relation to the value, and profit, that they bring to the company, or that it's perceived that they can bring.

Occasionally they get it wrong, and someone is given a push, that doesn't generate the expected profits, but on those occasions the push won't last for long, and the guy will return to the mid-cards, comedy skits, or a full time roll as a jobber.

This is how business works, and the success of the majors shows they have found the right formula, however, that doesn't mean that it can't be improved.

In my opinion, and this is just a personal opinion, the one area that the majors have failed in, is with the disconnect to their roots, which I think cuts off the supply of innovation, and change, that comes from the grassroots, independent promotions.

If you take the cage match, for example, this was an independent innovation, and was not developed by a major promotion.

If you take the ladder match, as another example, this was invented by a British Wrestler, in 1972, adopted by Stampede Wrestling, in Calgary, and then introduced to the WWF/E, by Bret Hart, when he signed for the company, from Stampede Wrestling.

Hardcore wrestling also came from the independents, as did loser leaves town matches, and of course Lucha libre brought us more agile performers, and more aerial maneuvers, whilst Japan brought us more hard hitting martial arts style strikes, and moves.

By disconnecting from their roots, and becoming a national promotion, the majors lose touch with this conveyor belt of innovation, and in my mind lose some of edge that they used to have.

I also feel it loses them some of their appeal, as they lose touch with the local fans, who no longer have a local hero to cheer on.

Whilst I know, in the modern TV world of the national promotions, that we shouldn't, and can't, go back to the past, I do miss the regionalism element of wrestling, and I would like to see a national promotion brave enough to embrace it again.

I'd like to see one of the big boys with enough courage to link up with local promotions, and perhaps, when they are in the region, even allow a local hero, from a local promotion, to have a bout with one of their roster, whose home territory the promotion was in, and perhaps as Slam Houston suggested even for a regional title.

Because it would be national, versus local, nine times out of ten I'd expect the established star to walk away with the belt, but if the crowd knew that once in a while their small town boy might win, it would go over crazy with the locals, and add a real sense of excitement, and uncertainty to the bouts.

I think it would be a win-win set up, as it would allow the nationals to talent scout, and give local stars a try out, in front of a proper crowd, and it would be good publicity for the local promotions, to be able to have one of their top stars being able to say he had a fight against a top television name, even if the bout itself wasn't on TV.

That would help bring money, to the local promotions, which would help them survive, and it would keep that conveyor belt of innovation going, which would stop the nationals from going stale.

And I don't think, as I said, that it would do any harm to drop the occasional regional title, to the local rookie, as the nationals hit all of the regions often enough that they could pick it up again, on the next visit to the area.

Sadly though I don't see it happening.

So, what does everyone else think?

How do you see the future of pro-wrestling, and what would you like to see happen, to prevent the product going stale?