Congratulations to Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks for selling out “All In” Sept. 1 at the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago.
Cody has again proven himself worthy of his father’s mantle. He and The Young Bucks are showing that there’s more than one way to build a career in wrestling at a time when that really needed to be shown.
The success of “All In” makes me ponder the state of wrestling. My conclusions aren’t necessarily good.
Before WWE wiped out regional wrestling in the ‘80s, there were a dozen (or more) shows every month across the country that drew 10,000 or more. WWE doesn’t draw that now unless it’s a PPV (or whatever they call their “big events” these days) or a telecast of Raw or Smackdown.
WWE is making more money than ever before, but that’s because they have isolated a core group of hardcore WWE fans and are milking them for every dollar possible. How long can that last?
Fewer eyes are on pro wrestling in America than ever before. As of 2016, the average age of a WWE TV viewer was 54 (up from 28 in 2000).
That leap in age is confirmed by the glut of business being done in wrestling nostalgia. It seems anybody who was ever even remotely connected with wrestling has a podcast. (I mean, David Penzer? FFS.)
The “Starrcast” podcast/nostalgia event connected to “All In” is getting hype equal to the actual wrestling card. What’s supposed to be something different has been closely tied to the same old, same old (emphasis on “old”), and I wonder if the alliance is a good look for “All In,” especially since “Starrcast” wasn’t needed to sell out “All In.” (Same goes for involving the NWA title.)
But who wouldn’t want to see Papa Buck’s jam session?
I also wonder what the profit margin is for “All In.” It features several performers who are usually quite expensive, most notably Rey Mysterio and Kazuchika Okada. The goal of any wrestling show is, first and foremost, to make money.
I also wonder what the crowd will be like. “All In” is designed to exploit wrestling tourism. When those fans descend on WWE’s biggest events, they often cynically ruin the show on behalf of their own masturbatory interests. The “All In” sellout will include many of those same people.
Those people are jerks and spoilsports. But events like “All In” desperately need them, because they spend. Heck, WWE needs desperately them.
Is “All In” a new beginning? Can similar shows be built off this one? What does “All In” do for Ring of Honor, and for New Japan’s American shows? There’s a limit to how often a show like this can be done. What is it?
Perhaps it’s me that’s a jerk and a spoilsport. But when you put the success of “All In” within the context of the pro wrestling business in America, it feels like an oasis in the middle of a huge desert.
The dirt-sheet/internet geeks will disagree. They have to. It’s their life.
The performers will disagree. They have to. It’s their life.
But there might not be much left for the pro wrestling business in America. Vince McMahon dies. and then Triple H and Stephanie sell WWE to a giant media conglomerate – like when AOL Time Warner owned WCW. Uh-oh.