Welcome to another edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column that you will all hopefully enjoy. I’ve just started a new job so time is very limited. Therefore, there won’t be an Undercard and Dark Match section this time around. With that being said, let’s get right to…
THE MAIN EVENT
Just by reading the title alone I know that many will instantaneously disagree. But yet I believe it to be true. WWE has been around for a very, very long time. Vince McMahon’s professional wrestling company has the greatest legacy of any professional wrestling promotion in the history of the sport. He’s drive and ambition to become a wrestling monopoly is unmatched. I don’t think it can be argued that when the general public thinks about wrestling the first thing that comes to mind is WWE.
But as we all know, this wasn’t always the case. Once WCW reached the peak of its popularity there were two promotions that the masses knew about. Up until that point WWE wasn’t the be all and end all of wrestling in the mainstream. Vince and co. was still in the process of monopolizing the wrestling industry. Therefore, WWE wasn’t the go-to promotion for all wrestling fans. There was more to choose from. The threat that WCW posed was just the battle that Vince McMahon needed to finally get a stranglehold on the industry. And on that fateful day in 2001, when WWE overcame and purchased WCW, McMahons’ reign as the undisputed king of the wrestling world began.
Ever since then WWE has been seen as the unequivocal ruler of the wrestling industry. A few have tried to to go up against Vince’s wrestling juggernaut but they couldn’t come close to scathing WWE. Wrestling became synonymous with the premier wrestling promotion. Ask anybody in the general public what wrestling is and their response would probably be something along the lines of “Oh, you mean like WWE?”. Whether you like it or not that’s a fact. A fact that Vince and co. take very seriously in order to maintain their dominance in the professional wrestling industry.
WWE is mainstream through and through. The fact of the matter is that only hardcore wrestling fans and the IWC know about other wrestling promotions. That’s the case in the majority of instances. Sure, there will be a few casual fans here and there who know about one or two other promotions, but the majority of the world only know about WWE as the only game in town. As long as ROH has been around I’ve never heard a single mention of that promotion outside of the IWC. TNA might have maybe been on casual fans lips at some point in time, but those days are long since forgotten. AEW are still looking to make a name for themselves so they’re fairly irrelevant in this argument.
This is why pro-wrestling needs WWE. Sure, we as hardcore fans don’t care about the mainstream appeal of a wrestling promotion. But you can bet your bottom dollar that each and every wrestling promotion is in the business to make it big. Or at the very least be put on display for a broader audience. Why wouldn’t they want that? This amounts to better television deals, more exposure and of course an increase in revenue. This allows their business to be in operation at a high level for a prolonged period of time. Impacting the business to get butts in seats and maintaining those butts in seats are two totally different – albeit equally aurduos – tasks.
Professional wrestling needs WWE because they provide exposure for the wrestling business. If it wasn’t for WWE I would not know about any other promotions. I think it’s fair to say that all fans after 2001 got into wrestling because of WWE. Like I’ve mentioned, they have almost unlimited exposure which makes them easily accessible. If it wasn’t for WWE I would never be into wrestling because wrestling wouldn’t be big enough to air in South Africa. WWE is such a global juggernaut that our cable companies thought wrestling was popular, which is why they’ve added TNA to their broadcasts. What they didn’t realise is that it’s not wrestling that’s popular, it’s WWE. Or at least the only well-known wrestling commodity.
This is the impact that WWE has on the wrestling industry. Watching WWE has caused a ripple effect on my wrestling viewership. Without WWE I would have never been interested enough to explore the wrestling world further. That exploration landed me on this website. And being on this website exposed me to an entirely new world of wrestling that I didn’t even know existed. Case in point, if people get bored of WWE but still enjoy wrestling they venture out to find something better. That need for something better/different then leads them to an independent promotion that they really enjoy. Sometimes people even go to wrestling shows to check out what other wrestling is out there because WWE gave them the keys to the wrestling world. As you can gather, the point is that WWE is at the root of all fandom.
WWE has so much exposure that their wrestlers can use that as a gateway to the movie industry and various other media outlets. That then gives them even more exposure which benefits WWE and the wrestling industry as a whole even more. Vince has a keen eye for always keeping his promotion at a substantial level in the entertainment industry. Sure, his brand of entertainment is catered a niche market, but he is capable of putting out his product beyond that. The exposure that WWE garners may not bring them any new fans, but the purpose it serves is that of a brand who is well-known in the entertainment industry, whether in a good or bad light is irrelevant. Wrestling may not be popular in general, but WWE as a brand sure is.
Not only are WWE good at creating exposure for the wrestling industry (by creating exposure for themselves), but they aide in the exposure of wrestling talent from the independent scene who would otherwise be unknown. When independent wrestlers spend time in WWE and go back to their roots they’re suddenly seen in a different light. I wouldn’t be surprised if those wrestlers think themselves different to their independent peers as well.
It’s safe to assume that those wrestlers who left WWE can request bigger paychecks because of where they were before. Not only that, but alot of the time those WWE rejects/fallouts get a big spot on any card that they’re on. They’re even treated like a bigger deal over another promotion’s homemade stars. In theory this should get eyeballs on their product, especially if the wrestler was fairly popular in WWE. That is just in theory though. However, this has not been proven to be undoubtedly true.
The fact of the matter is that pro-wrestling needs WWE to keep the industry relevant. Wrestling fans are a dying breed and besides WWE most people don’t know what’s out there. Therefore WWE is an integral cog in the wrestling industry machine. They provide exposure for the wrestling business. They open the door for new fans, even though they decline to enter. They also expose independent stars to a broader audience, who in turn becomes a bigger attraction once they leave the employ of WWE. In essence, WWE is the backbone of the wrestling industry. Without them, the industry we love is doomed to fail. Whether you like it or not, pro-wrestling needs WWE.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. Do you think the pro-wrestling industry needs WWE? Please leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can pop me an e-mail at [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @donfranclop. Any and all feedback is always much appreciated. But until next time, folks…
This is Don Franc signing out.