Since the territory system died out when Vince McMahon took over the Pro-wrestling world in the mid-eighties, it has gotten increasingly harder for tomorrow's superstars to get noticed. For every CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, there is a Sami Callihan or Adam Cole, ready to make an impact on a national scale.
Independent Wrestling has been stigmatized as a form of lesser entertainment for years. That label is due to unscrupulous promoters who use backyard wrestlers or washed up "legends" who are on an event to collect another paycheck.
Sometimes these promoters advertise talent that no-show. Whatever the reason independent wrestling has many times been scorned by mainstream wrestling fans.
Yet, there are three reasons why Independent wrestling does matter. Wrestling for an independent promotion allows for young superstars to develop. Second, a good independent show is fun for the family. Lastly, independent wrestling provides a viable alternative to what WWE or TNA Impact Wrestling offers.
1. Allows Wrestlers to Develop
The times have changed. The business model in the 70's and 80's was to have a weekly TV program to promote the live show at the local arena. Now, WWE and TNA have changed that model. The idea to promote live shows has been replaced with attempting to promote the monthly Pay-Per-View.
However, the lifeblood of a true independent is the weekly, or in most cases, the monthly live show. Most independents today rely on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube to promote their shows. Most independents do not have a weekly program. If an independent promotion is lucky they may have a rabid fan blogging about their show, or a wrestling website may pick up the occasional newswire.
But, what this allows the talent to focus on is their on-ring work. These days, it seems that promoters are overly concerned with promo work rather than actual wrestling. Solid in-ring work trumps promos any day of the week.
This is where working in the independents helps out the developing talent.
One day, you may be a title holder in one promotion. The next day, a wrestler may job-out to a local up- and-comer a hundred or so miles away. Since there are no overly complicated stories to make things confusing, a local indy show is more about the in-ring performances than trying to get over a story (and in effect getting over the person who wrote the story).
This forces a good independent wrestler to focus on developing his skills in the ring.
2. Fun for the Whole Family
The focus on a good independent show is family entertainment. It simply makes good financial sense as well. Rather than just marketing a show to Jim and Bob, for example, why not market a show to Jim, Bob and their families.
Instead of having two guys in the crowd, a good indy promoter will want those two guys and their families. This increases ticket revenue and merchandising revenue (if the independent promotion has merchandise).
While there are still "niche" promotions that market ultra-violence or "smart mark" wrestling, a good indy show will have facets of everything to appeal to a broader base. The reason I personally support and help get the word out about ECWA is because the promotion does such a great job of putting on a show the entire family can enjoy.
And, that is exactly what a good independent promotion provides.
3. Independent Wrestling Provides a Viable Alternative to Mainstream Wrestling
Let's face it. WWE and TNA Impact just do not deliver the goods on a consistent basis anymore. Most shows are overbooked to the point where it drags down the product.
The current CM Punk and Chris Jericho program should have just been about two guys proving to themselves and the audience who is better. Instead, we are treated to a soap opera storyline about an alcoholic father and drug addicted sister. All the extra fluff is not needed, and it ruins the anticipation of the match.
Conversely, going to a local independent, you are nearly guaranteed to have a good time. All the young guys that are on the show are going to be working extra hard in an attempt to create buzz for themselves. The prototype independent wrestler is always going to put his best foot forward and work a great match to get noticed by bloggers, reporters, or the occasional scout for one of the big two.
What this means to the fan going to the show is a good show. I have personally seen three or four five- star matches in the past three months going to local indy shows.
Kekoa "The Flyin' Hawaiin" and Johnny Silver was the last five-star match I saw. There were maybe 400 people in attendance. When I went to Backlash 2006, I was lucky if I saw two good matches with 12,000 people there. My point is, the guys try so much harder on the smaller scale just to get noticed. The end result is better quality matches for the fans.
In summary, independent wrestling does matter. Since the territories have died, this is really the only place for the superstars of tomorrow to develop. For the fans, it offers a great night of affordable family entertainment. Finally, the fans are guaranteed to see the superstars of tomorrow ply their craft, and it really creates a viable alternative to the mainstream.