Monday, February 3, 2014

We're Number 1! We're Number 1!

Vince McMahon
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents on Twitter

Disclaimer:  Other than a couple years working as a commentator, ring crew member, and one time wrestler, I have no real experience in business aspect of professional wrestling.  I'm just a fan of more than 30 years with an opinion and what I think are good ideas.  I'm writing this post after one of my readers suggested the topic.  Thanks, Pokerface.

My initial thought is at this point: I don't see another company taking that top spot from the WWE.  Sure, sometime down the road it could happen, but for more than 50 years the WWE/F has had (pardon the pun) a strangle hold on the business.  Vince McMahon has completely revolutionized things and for the last 13 years really hasn't had any competition.

That's not to say there aren't plenty of talented wrestlers and performers in TNA, ROH, and the soon-to-be-returning Chikara.  But I just don't see any of these companies knocking Vince from atop the mountain, or even making him budge a little.  As long as Vince is making the day to day decisions and continues to control his company, I think WWE will always be number one.

WWE goes pink
Photo courtesy: WWE
In my opinion the hardest part for another company to dethrone the WWE would be defining their purpose.  The WWE isn't just a wrestling company and it's really not even just sports entertainment anymore.  Vince McMahon and his employees have created something bigger than wrestling itself.  I'm having trouble properly articulating this, but I look at what WWE has done with wrestling and changed it.

Now the Network is coming along in a matter of weeks, and I can't imagine it being anything but a success.  The company has done a number of movies, books, and toys which has put WWE in a league of its own.  Then you add the public service efforts like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Be a Star, and the Wrestlemania Reading Challenge and you can see it's about much more than the wrestling.

Don't get me wrong though, I believe a company can come along and compete with WWE in terms of wrestling.  There are so many great talents out there, not just in the companies I mentioned above, but in other independent companies.  I think to make a run at it, a company needs to have someone with a lot of money and a lot of patience.  Creating a top notch wrestling organization isn't going to happen overnight.  You can't use a bunch of ex-WWE and WCW stars and expect to build something solid either.  I'm not saying disregard these superstars, but they can't be the focus of the company.  Stars like Hulk Hogan, Sting, Kurt Angle, and Jeff Hardy weren't able to pull TNA very far in the ratings.

Eric Bischoff & Hulk Hogan
Photo courtesy: TNA 
Fresh talent, creative storytelling, and likable characters are just a few of the ingredients in this formula. There is a lot of speculation that Jeff Jarrett is working on developing a wrestling company.  If it's true,  I hope he's serious about it.  No one who is entering this business should have the mindset that they're going to put Vince McMahon out of business.  I think that's where Eric Bischoff failed with WCW and I think that's part of Dixie Carter's problem in TNA.  The 80's and 90's proved there is room for more than one "big time" promotion.  I miss the days when the AWA, NWA, WWF, MidSouth, and World Class Championship Wrestling all had weekly programs on, featuring great action and entertainment.

In wrapping up, I believe it's possible to create some legitimate competition for the WWE, but I think it's going to take a lot of staying power, money, and talent to take that number one spot.  At this point in time, I'd be happy with a solid number two that's focused on doing its own thing.  I'm really glad that Chikara will be returning in May, and while they'll likely never end up on cable or have their own network, it's great wrestling with excellent storytelling that has turned me into a fan.  Plus, we do have plenty of great independent wrestling out there, so if you haven't already, I'd encourage you to support those efforts too.

1 comment:

  1. A #2 promotion needs to have logical booking and match psychology (don't let everyone kick out of finishes constantly and don't use too many high spots or too much violence, let everything happen within the context of a match) and it doesn't need to rely on guys that wore out their welcome in WWE. It can even resign itself to being a "developmental territory" to some degree as long as it can replace departing talent.

    In my opinion ROH could be that #2 if it had enough money and if the TV show wasn't taped a month or so at a time. I think you can have a taped show, but I think you need to tape one week at a time and air the show within three or four days of taping.