Is There Nothing Going On In Wrestling?

Nick Paglino

Vince McMahonI can’t remember a time where professional wrestling mattered less to the landscape of American pop culture. I’m sure there have been other lulls in business or interest that may rival this but I cannot think of another period in my lifetime where wrestling has been so DULL!

But, one great thing about wrestling is the industry has the ability to shake itself out of slumber. So, if I was the Czar of Wrestling (a fictional title I gave to the late, great Dennis Coraluzzo), here is what I would do to wake the business up.

1. Bring all the heads of the families together for a conference.

The Czar calls a meeting and invites Vince McMahon and Paul Heyman as well as Dixie Carter, Jeff Jarrett and Hogan/Bischoff from TNA, Jim Cornette and Joe Koff from ROH, Northeast promoter Mike O’Brien and puts together a plan to get some interest going. Everyone doing their own thing isn’t “shaking the tree” and a secret agreement to map out a short-term strategy of chaos would immediately get everyone’s attention.

The purpose of this meeting and subsequent co-promotions would not be rooted in PPV dollars or TV ratings. The only goal of this meeting would be to create interest in the genre. From there, each company and promotion goes back to their own to use that interest to grow business on their home turf.

One idea is to have wrestlers from other promotions show up on a “rival’s” TV show. No wins or losses, just brawls. The genesis of such a fight could be some trash talk on social media between the wrestlers. Treat it as a shoot and see what happens. “Controversy Creates Cash.”

ROH has the smallest audience of the two other national promotions but there are over one million fans watching the TV show each week and many of them don’t follow the product on social media but they know who the WWE is. Many ROH TV viewers also watch Raw and some watch TNA as well. But the hardcore ROH fans are very active in social media and support wrestling in all forms under many promotional banners. Important to reach them as well.

Mike O’Brien is at this meeting because he is an awesome promoter and regularly books TNA talent. Have WWE guys show up at one of his events and stir some stuff up. Let Cornette and Heyman go at it online. Anything…

WHAT IS THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

2. Throw out the formats.

Everything on wrestling TV today feels stale, like I’ve seen it before. The Czar recommends format changes to each program on TV today. WWE is the worst… it’s been the same format since 1997. Internal changes can make things feel fresh and get fans talking. One change I would make is to reunite Michael Cole and Tazz on TNA. Bring JR to Ring of Honor. Send Mike Tenay and Kevin Kelly to WWE for a while. Put everything as it was after a few months but for the short-term, it will feel different.

WHAT IS THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

3. Lower ticket prices and promote.

One thing lacking in wrestling today is a lack of promotion for live events. WWE uses its TV shows to promote and yes, they still sell tickets but sales aren’t where they want them to be, especially domestically. TNA has had some success in some markets but they need help. ROH needs help too. No one is happy with the amount of tickets they are selling.

What does Mike O’Brien do? He promotes wrestling shows in the Northeast and draws good houses. He’s not running in NYC, Boston, Philly or anything close to a big market. What’s his secret? The Czar recommends putting O’Brien in charge of revising the promotional efforts of all wrestling companies. Also looking at what wrestling companies charge for tickets and roll back prices to make the product affordable for everyone.

Promotion is harder than ever. Takes more work than ever. Creating buzz about the industry might help but selling tickets comes down to effort. O’Brien puts effort in and all companies should duplicate what he does. Work harder!

WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

4. Get over yourselves.

This will be the biggest and hardest obstacle to overcome. Everyone has to be willing to think outside the box to change people’s perception of what wrestling is today. It’s not cool, it’s not relevant and it’s not getting better on its own. The Czar recommends stepping outside the normal comfort zone, letting go of some controls, listen to new voices and do things differently, even if for a little while. The sky will not fall if Vince lets Heyman book Raw for a while. TNA will still be standing if someone else takes the reigns for a bit.

Change in wrestling administration was a constant since day one but has virtually stopped over the past two decades. Now, with only a couple of national promotions, the number of new points-of-view affecting a product and the fans’ perception of the industry has reduced as well. New TV producers on networks like Bravo, AMC and HBO have brought different styles of shows to air over the past few years and it has changed the way all network executives look at their lineups.

Again…

WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

The Czar makes these recommendations with pure love in his heart for the wrestling industry and is just throwing ideas out there to get things moving again. Do you have any ideas?

Share your ideas on what you might do to change things in wrestling to @RealKevinKelly on Twitter.

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