How Did They Pull This Off
In the world of professional wrestling, the hard core wrestling fan has become over exposed to the “big leagues” and has entered into a period of independent stardom and breakout talents who showcase a work rate that meets and often exceeds the presentation that WWE provides. There has been a void in the wrestling world since the closure of WCW for a true competitor to WWE which has allowed for lazy booking and repetitive storylines and matches making programming difficult to watch.
The Wrestling World Finds Options
When WWE acquired WCW and chose to promote their own agenda, they failed to see the effect it would have on the long term success of the industry. Have we had amazing WWE moments? Absolutely! Have there been industry defining moments? Without a Doubt! Have there been more weeks when WWE programming fell short of the desired results? Unfortunately.
As WWE dominated the wrestling or sports entertainment world, new promotions started taking hold. Ring of Honor, TNA or Impact Wrestling, Lucha Underground, New Japan, AAW, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, and various other smaller promotions sprung up. The advent of streaming services allowed for new exposure to promotions from around the globe who lay claim to some of the best in ring work anywhere. Evolve, Progress Wrestling, 5 Star Wrestling, and many others are available on various sites offering an alternative to stagnant booking.
Stars are born!
As this new era of professional wrestling has begun to take hold, the emergence of new stars has become a constant factor in shaping the business. From Keith Lee to Will Osprey and from Kazuchika Okada to Jay Lethal, stars have emerged in virtually every corner of the world. WWE has taken notice and allowed the “Indy Darling” to eventually become the WWE Superstars of tomorrow. From Tyler Black a/k/a Seth Rollins to Bryan Danielson a/k/a Daniel Bryan, WWE has poached independent stars and made them the faces of their brand. Kudos to WWE for being smart.
Fortunately for the fans of an alternative product, there has been a great supply of new talent waiting for the opportunity to rise up and grab the spotlight in the smaller promotions and that supply doesn’t seem to be depleting any time soon. WALTER, Joey Janela, ACH, and Shane Strickland are but a few of the stars who main event independent shows all over the world and who can deliver in a big match situation with virtually any opponent.
Letting Greats Get Away
One thing that WWE has not done a good job at in recent memory is retaining certain stars who may seem like they are insignificant to the WWE machine but who offer a significant boost to other promotions when they leave the WWE. Cody Rhodes, Ryback, Damien Sandow, Wade Barrett, and many others have fled the confines of WWE and made a discernible impact on other brands. Rich Swann, Big Cass, and Enzo Amore have all had productive contributions beyond the arms of WWE.
Who saw that coming?
The one that WWE should never have let get away may be the one who makes the biggest impact of all. After leaving WWE, Cody has gone on a world wide tour of prominent promotions garnering accolades and taking championships in a host of locations. Being WCPW Champion, ROH World Champion, Northeast Wrestling Heavyweight Champion, and Global Force Wrestling Next Gen Champion not to mention having an amazing 3 match series with Kurt Angle all demonstrate both the skill and drawing power of Cody Rhodes. But his biggest contribution may be coming.
At first the concept of the ALL IN Show seemed like a lofty one from the get go. No promotion has sold out a 10,000 seat arena in the United States other than WWE since the closing of WCW. Not a single promotion has ran a show at the legendary Madison Square Garden venue since the early days of the WWWF and Toots Mondt with Vince McMahon Sr. Both of those look to change. All In sold out in roughly a half hour. Ring of Honor and New Japan will be running a show at Madison Square Garden in 2019. Both of these would presumably include Cody.
Why All In?
Cody and the Young Bucks developed the concept of the All In show as a way to send a message to the wrestling world that wrestling is bigger than WWE. They have succeeded. The card is stacked from top to bottom offering some unique dream match scenarios for die hard fans that they have been craving for quite some time. The NWA World Championship match between Cody and NWA Champion Nick Aldis promises to challenge for match of the night. The Ring of Honor Championship being defended is always a main event level match. Having arguably the greatest wrestler in the world, Kazuchika Okada, face Marty Skurll has instant classic written all over it. The Young Bucks teaming with Kota Ibushi to face Fenix, Bandito, and Rey Mysterio Jr promises to be a high flying clinic.
Having four of the world’s best females in one multi woman match should deliver as well with Tessa Blanchard, Britt Baker, Madison Rayne, and Chelsea Green looking to do the women proud. You have the special attractions like the Briscoes facing SoCal Uncensored and Arrow Star Stephen Amell facing Christopher Daniels. Even Joey Janela taking on Hangman Page could steal the show. Then we have a true dream match.
Two Champions One Ring
The announcement of the Mega Dream Match between New Japan IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega and Lucha Underground Champion Pentagon Dark took an already impressive card and put it on par with WrestleMania. The potential for once in a lifetime in ring work is unparalleled in the wrestling world. Omega and Pentagon could sell out most arenas around the world by themselves let alone the rest of the matches.
What does it all add up to?
After looking at how we got here and considering the impact that this card could have on the wrestling world, the All In Show may be redefine independent wrestling forever. The show has that old school feel of a Dusty Rhodes Super Show. It feels like the Last Tango in Tampa or the first Starrcade in 1983 all over again. WWE will never feel threatened by Ring of Honor. They will balk at the notion that New Japan poses any real competition to their machine. Impact Wrestling is delivering amazing content as of late but will never rise to WWE level. Perhaps no promotion ever will but the real question is not about selling the most tickets or having the biggest television distribution deal.
Mainstream wrestling fans will tune in every episode of Raw and Smackdown because of the exposure and footprint WWE has. What truly matters though is what the absolute die hard and hardcore wrestling fan really wants. They too will subscribe to the WWE network and keep an eye on the product from week to week because that is what die hard fans do.
What changes is that they now have something a little bit different that they can feel proud to be a part of. They buy their All In T-Shirts and ROH replica belts. They are throwing up “Too Sweet” hand gestures and proudly displaying Young Bucks and Bullet Club Merchandise at WWE shows. There is almost an ECW feel to today’s independent wrestling fan which only furthers the notion that it is independent wrestling that makes the wrestling world work.
WWE poaches talent and uses past success to fund future endeavors. Great for them but given the choice of watching an episode of Raw or going to an AAW show live, I will take the AAW show. If I can go to WrestleMania or see Independent stars at WrestleCon, I choose WrestleCon. I can always tune in to Raw the night after Mania and see the same matches again.
What are your thoughts? Comment Below!