Opinion: Why 2019 is a 'New Year' for WWE and Professional Wrestling
On the 1st of January comes the announcement: Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks are starting All Elite Wrestling (AEW) with the backing of Tony Khan.
The excitement on the internet is palpable. Could this be the next WCW? Is this the beginning to the new Monday Night Wars?
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After all, being a wrestling fan it's impossible to leave behind the memories of the once-great time period of wrestling -- The Attitude Era. At that time, wrestling was certainly at a peak. A typical fan could turn on their television on a Monday night and switch between WWE RAW and WCW Nitro.
Does that feeling still apply to the modern day scenario? Could AEW and WWE be about to compete on a major level? After all WWE talents are wanting to leave the company to join AEW aren't they?
Realistically, the answer is no. AEW could never compete with WWE at the major level that the fans are expecting.
Wrestling has changed now.
No longer is WWE a company with whom any current promotion can realistically compete. They have established themselves as the global leader of their brand of 'Sports Entertainment' -- also called Wrestling.
However, not having any real competition does not mean that they are a monopoly without any prospective rivals on the horizon.
Across the Pacific Ocean lies Japan, and there New Japan Pro Wrestling has a stranglehold. While WWE is extremely popular there, the 'far-east' is still putting up quite a fight. NJPW is not even the only major wrestling promotion in Japan. They have AJPW (All Japan Pro Wrestling), Dragon Gate, and Pro Wrestling Noah breathing down their neck.
Across the Atlantic, there is a revival of the wrestling scene in the United Kingdom. The UK has seemingly stepped up its game to an enormous degree, with All-Star Wrestling, PROGRESS Wrestling, and Insane Championship Wrestling putting out shows regularly. Here WWE has managed to gain quite a few working relationships which have helped them develop their own roster.
Finally, on their own continent, the wrestling scene has never been better. Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, EVOLVE Wrestling, Lucha Underground, AAA, Major League Wrestling are all top-rated promotions. Add to that AEW and you have another prospective rival.
So where does this leave the fans?
It used to be that as a wrestling fan you looked through four hours of television seeing WWE, and that was it. But now, with the so-called 'Independent' promotions all making waves, fans are trying to keep up with as many wrestling promotions as possible.
This is where it begs the question.
Can a wrestling fan be called casual any more? Sure there are those who switch on WWE shows and that's all they know about wrestling. But that does not seem like it will last.
Five years ago, most fans would not be able to name any promotions outside WWE other than NJPW and TNA (Impact Wrestling).
Now those same fans are waiting breathlessly to see what happens when AEW comes out. So the number of fans are increasing. Those who are tired of WWE's product are waiting to see what the outside promotions can put up.
WWE is not taking this lightly.
Their product away from the main roster has changed completely. NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live are extremely well-produced shows with some hard-hitting action. They have caught the thread and made sure that they will have the ability to provide hardcore fans with the sort of wrestling they want.
But how much of a wrestling product can a fan realistically consume?
There's WWE RAW, SmackDown Live, NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live. That's eight hours of WWE programming on a non-PPV week alone. Add pay-per-views to that, and you suddenly have another four hours. Is it a big-four PPV? Then there's Takeover as well. So that makes 15-16 hours of programming.
Can a fan really see that much wrestling in a week and still have a life of their own? Not to mention the shows put out by Impact, NJPW, and ROH, to just name a few.
If you're a Mixed Martial Arts fan add to that UFC and Bellator. Possibly even ONE Championship.
Suddenly, the week does not seem long enough.
Thus, even if there are more fans than ever in wrestling at the moment, the ratings have continued to drop. They are getting exactly the content they want curating to their desire at some point in the week.
So now, standing in 2019, it might be possible to say that it is the fans who are the real winners here. Wrestling companies have to put out amazing product to keep a hold of their fans because otherwise, they will just switch to another company who gives them what they want.
The competition is real.
Does that mean WWE is in danger after all?
For a large part of the world, 'professional wrestling' and 'WWE' are terms that can be used interchangeably.
In conclusion, for or a wrestling promoter? 2019 may not be looking too bright.
However, it's safe to say that 2019 is a great year to be a wrestling fan. You're spoilt for choice.