Times they are a-changin’. Old Bob probably wasn’t reflecting on the shifting tides of the wrestling industry, but it seems a pertinent song in 2019’s world of graps. In the last few months, there hasn’t been so much a shake-up as someone’s punted the whole thing across a car park just to see what would happen. Why a car park? Fuck knows, to be honest.
And a lot of the blame for these shenanigans can be placed at the feet of those pesky Elite members. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but they’ve only gone and started their own wrestling company! A company backed up by a shitload of money and one which at the time of writing has already got Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho on-board. It’s funny how one little chink in the engine has blown the whole thing up.
Because blown-up it has. While some people appear to be in denial about this fact, the wrestling landscape is very different today than it was a year ago. Suddenly, there’s competition. Not for TV ratings or PPV sales, WWE still trounces everyone in that regard. No, the competition is for talent. It wasn’t that long ago that there was only one option in town for those who wanted to make a lot of money by dressing up in spandex. Now, there’s a few. AEW has forced ROH and WWE to open the cheque books. Even NJPW is swooping in and making sure they have the likes of Kota Ibushi signed up. For the first time since the death of WCW, it is possible for wrestlers to say fuck you and go make their money elsewhere.
None of which should be news to anyone as I’m pretty sure even those living under rocks have heard about it. We’ve already seen this in action as WWE has started to refuse people their releases, and talent who wish to go are being forced to wait out their contract. Meanwhile, ROH is throwing money at wrestlers like Bandido and AEW has ventured overseas, convincing the likes of CIMA’s acrobats to get on board. A marketplace that is used to having one big dog cherry-picking the best talent is suddenly being forced to fight over every scrap. It’s fucking exciting.
You want to know the really great thing, though? As a fan, it doesn’t matter where these wrestlers go. As a fan, you aren’t tied to WWE or ROH or NJPW or AEW or Stardom or OTT or PROGRESS or how many other fucking wrestling promotions can I name. You can dance between them all. Spend your Saturday watching Jay Lethal vs Marty Scurll, your Sunday with Tanahashi and Jay White and your Monday with, em, I haven’t watched WWE in a while, let’s go with Brock suplexing Elias, is he still a thing?
I get it, we all have our favourites, and the natural reaction is to protect them. Quite frankly, I didn’t want Hangman Page to leave New Japan where in the last year he’d found his feet. I would prefer if WALTER hadn’t chosen to join the McMahons and their disgusting view of the world. If I had it my way, they’d wrestle for promotions I enjoy watching. However, we live in a time where we can watch everything. Even if, like me, the thought of lining Vince’s pockets makes you feel a bit sick, you can still find that shit, there are plenty of websites out there, friends (do pay for your wrestling, people. Just not WWE. Fuck them).
We are the winners, not the wrestling companies. They must be hating it. WWE is having to pay mid-card talent money they don’t want to give them while Sinclair Broadcasting (who aren’t much better than the McMahons, to be honest) is having to push more money into Ring Of Honor than ever before. For us, though? That just means more action. More wrestlers turning up where you don’t expect them. More companies being forced to put time and thought into their in-ring product lest they fall behind. And a world where the joy of choice is in your hands once again? Is AEW going to change the wrestling landscape forever? Who knows. They could be dead in a year, while we’ll have returned to a one-party state of affairs. Or, maybe, just maybe, it’s the start of something awesome. Stop worrying about it, and enjoy the ride.