You don’t need to be an expert on the sport of Pro Wrestling to realize that, like it or not, WWE isn't merely the major force in the wrestling business today, it is the wrestling business today, simply put...!
When talking about wrestling, at least with common fans or in mainstream media, you're talking more or less about WWE.
WWE is a publicly traded, multibillion dollar enterprise, with most of the industry's big name stars, past and present, under contract (and those who aren't yet would just jump at the chance…!). It's the company with the hugest production values, the glittering lights, the biggest venues, the major TV network deals, the large endorsements, and mainstream Hollywood celebrities clamoring towards it every week. Ultimately, it's the place where any up-and-coming superstar would dream of shining on its stage one day. It's Professional Wrestling's major league so to speak, putting all the other promotions (regardless of how good they really are) on the b-list.
And guess what? As good as it is for their business, WWE isn't fond of competition either…!
Back in the early 80s when Vince McMahon Jr. took reigns of what was then the WWF, he embarked on a war path that led him to raiding all the smaller regional wrestling promotions existing at the time. It wasn't long before he ran them all out of business, buying them out and adding their major talent to his roster, thus clearing the battle field for the final showdown with the only major competitor left remaining, WCW.
We all have our fond memories of the Monday Night Wars, back when Wrestling was hip, edgy, and fun. WWF's Attitude era was at its fever peak, while WCW was dominant for a while with its intriguing NWO angle. The two major promotions went at it head to head every week, in an attempt to out do each other, and while they almost destroyed one another in the process, the biggest winners in that war were us, the fans.
When the dust of battle finally settled, only one victor emerged, and that was WWE, thus beginning a new era.
The wrestling scene turned into a one horse race. WWE was getting lazy. Unchallenged, the promotion started to compete amongst itself by dividing its roster into two separate brands, RAW and Smackdown! This of course wasn't going to work to the same effect; the two McMahon owned shows weren't running head to head, and neither of the two was threatening to put the other out business. During all the years since the brand split I can't recall once ever holding a heated discussion with a fellow fan arguing that his brand was better than mine like the frantic debates we used to have during the Monday Night Wars. We all know that they're all one and the same company, owned by the same guy, and with talent showing up frequently on both shows, the whole brand split seems quite useless as far as I'm concerned.
During this time, other wrestling companies were emerging, in an attempt to offer an alternative to WWE's stale product.
TNA on the other hand while deemed by many wrestling fans and experts alike as WCW v2.0 is continuing in that age old tradition of a southern based wrestling promotion competing with WWF/WWE. TNA emerged after WCW folded and has since progressed in bounds and leaps during its few years in existence, but somehow always remaining on the border of being WWE Lite so to speak, hiring ex-WWE wrestlers and using storylines similar to those seen on WWE television. Never the less the group presents an alternative to the current WWE product.
Then we have Ring of Honor Wrestling (ROH), who ironically enough seems to have risen from the ruins of the original ECW in Philadelphia, picking up from where its extreme predecessor left off, only this time with the focus being on in ring athleticism, high flying maneuvers, and a code of honor that binds wrestlers. During its early stages most of its performers were thought to be rejects that would never get hired by WWE, but the internet wrestling fan base was hot for them, and soon enough the stars of ROH rose to the ranks of the biggest names in the business. Today, names like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, and CM Punk (all who have started off with ROH) are headlining major events and holding world titles, while other ROH names such as Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuiness, and others are amongst the most sought after stars in the industry. Surprisingly enough, and in spite of having younger wrestlers and catering towards a younger audience, ROH's product is very old school in its approach and presentation, with dimly lit arenas, fiendish managers accompanying monster heels to the ring, short back stage interviews, and the focus being mainly on in ring action. It's definitely a promotion worth watching.
In spite of their efforts, neither of the two is taken very seriously outside of diehard wrestling fans such as people like you who are reading this. For instance, in the awake of the Benoit double murders and suicide case, The US Congress put Wrestling under investigation regarding the talent's wellness in an effort to stop deaths in the sport. To the best of this writer's knowledge (and I could be mistaken), the investigation focused solely on WWE and completely ignored TNA and ROH who simply slipped unnoticed under the radar…!
Regardless, we're back to having 'the big three' in wrestling again, only this time we have one big company with two smaller ones competing for the number 2 slot.
These two companies have cooperated in the past. Many of TNA's top stars (the aforementioned AJ Styles and Samoa Joe along with Christopher Daniels just to name a few) originally came to TNA from ROH. For a while TNA allowed its wrestlers to perform on shows and events held by ROH, until suddenly TNA decided to pull its talent and send a 'seize and desist' letter to ROH warning them from making further DVD sales of their shows using TNA trademarked names. In my opinion that was the wrong move on TNA's behalf, showing that they haven't learned from the mistakes of WCW before them, who, if they cooperated with ECW could've avoided shutting down or at least prolonged their existence.
Neither TNA nor ROH have a chance of facing WWE by itself and coming out on top. ROH made the mistake of going on air on Monday nights with the provocative tagline "Wrestling returns to Monday nights". If anything that caught WWE's attention and in a bad way…! Now, WWE is raiding their top talent and if they don't watch it they could end up being sucked dry. Don’t be fooled by what people in the company are saying; the migration of their top stars is an omen to the beginning of the end. After all, what is any wrestling promotion without its top draws?
TNA isn't much better off either. True, they are on the heels of signing a 3 year extension to their deal with Spike TV, but they're a company riddled with bad booking and management decisions. It looks like no matter what they do, TNA is unable to market its PPVs or make anything it does look significant. Adding to their trouble is the bad press they're getting on the Internet from certain wrestling reporters and radio show presenters who are nothing more than WWE tools bad mouthing TNA and exaggerating its mistakes to make the product look worse than it really is. Realize this: Part of TNA's popularity stemmed from it being an internet sensation, so turning their internet fanbase against them could be harmful.
By paying off a portion of the wrestling media to bad mouth it, and sandwiching its PPVs between WWE and MMA events, thus deferring the public from buying them, WWE continues to hurt TNA. If this continues they might just end up running it out of business too.
So instead of fighting one another, I think TNA and ROH should team up to try and take on the WWE together. What each of them lacks the other has, and I think that a combination like this could result in a most interesting show good enough to make even Vincent Kennedy McMahon himself stop a moment to take a look.
Imagine the feuds you could have: at the top of the card you could have Austin Aries as a cocky heel champion, chased by AJ Styles! In tag team action you could have The American Wolves taking on Beer Money Inc., and The Young Bucks vs. The Motor City Machine Guns! Imagine Sarah Del Rey vs. Tara (AKA Victoria to those of you who still under a rock and haven’t seen her on TNA yet), Kenta vs. Samoa Joe, Daniels vs. Danielson (well, he's leaving to WWE but this is fantasy here…!), How about the monster Abyss facing off with The Necro Butcher? The possibilities are nearly endless! With TNA's production values, and ROH's talent pool and stars, you could have one of the hottest promotions ever…!
To accomplish this, the promoters of both companies would have to put their egos aside and work together for the common good of the sport, either that, or some billionaire who loves wrestling has to buy them both and merge them together…!
As neither is likely to occur in the foreseeable future, and as I am not a billionaire, I guess all I can do is sit back and enjoy what these two have to offer…while it lasts…
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