The landscape of wrestling in the United States is changing. Long gone are the days when we had two viable top rate promotions going head to head in a ratings war. Even worse, long gone are the days where two promotions could maybe not co-exist, but compete adequately enough in the same market to the point that fans had an option. With the death of WCW, mostly through their own dealings and doings, we were left with one monopoly that oversees professional wrestling in America on the biggest stages; WWE.
This isn’t to say that the WWE is bad or even that it doesn’t provide the right amount of entertainment at times. WWE has always been good for the entertainment value it provides. Sadly, the word “entertainment” is where WWE starts going wrong for a lot of people.
See, the WWE stopped being a “wrestling” company somewhere along the line and became ashamed of what professional wrestling was supposed to be. They stopped treating their athletes like athletes and instead referred to them as “Divas” or “Superstars”. They openly admitted to viewing years as “seasons” much like a long-running TV series or soap-opera would. Is wrestling a bit like a male-oriented soap-opera? Sure. But the way WWE views wrestling versus say… the way Japan views wrestling with the likes of All Jaapn, Dragon Gate and most importantly, NJPW, makes WWE feeling shameful in the way it approaches the profession.
This all however, started changing when NXT really started taking off. NXT become the “in-house” Indy promotion for lack of a better term, where the bullshit of the main roster was cut-down and instead of the entertainment lean that the product on USA network had, you were getting hard-hitting matches between young kids fresh off of development deals and fresh out of the Indies. Numerous darlings of the IWC nowadays came through NXT, people like Owens, like Cessaro, and probably more importantly, people like Bayley, Charlotte and Sasha Banks.
In short, Triple H for all of his warts, truly went back to the well and started looking toward wrestling versus entertainment. He started hearing the calls from the fans and it’s definitely paid dividends. If you look at the top of the card on the main roster nowadays, it pales in comparison to years ago, and the influx of young talent who made their way through NXT, with it’s heavy Indy-influence and “wrestling-centric” pedigree is a sight for sore eyes.
This is why the allegiance with Evolve and WWN Live is the right move in the current climate WWE finds itself in.
Evolve, probably more so than the ROH’s or the PWG’s of the world, is beginning to produce top notch athletes who are becoming the next crop of stars in this industry. People like Tomasso Ciampa, and Johnny Gargano, who recently made their debuts on NXT are going to be studs once and when they get a deal with the WWE.
In the case of Johnny Gargano, Gargano held the title for 2 years within a WWN Live promotion and was the cornerstone of their new movement. His offense is fluid and he connects on such a wonderful level with the crowd whether face or heel, that his ascension in this industry is going to wonderful to watch, especially with the skill and the passion that he brings to the profession. “All Heart” is a goldmine waiting to happen. He’s the real “get” or the real “coup” out of this deal.
Add in the technical ability of Timothy Thatcher and Zack Sabre Jr., men considered to be the most proficient in their field at the current time, and WWE has access to talent that they never did before, talent that gives the fanbase something they may not have seen before. A deal like this provides exposure to new techniques and disciplines that WWE fans may have seen less of in the past and it gives the WWE a bit more street credibility in the eyes of the “wrestling community”.
WWE has taken heat over the years for trying to move past being just a “wrestling company”, but a move like this helps give them some access to those Indy fanbases, who for all their warts are rabid and passionate. Bring in one of their guys and they’ll follow and fill arenas, as we saw with Punk and Daniel Bryan. A deal with Evolve takes all those Evolve fans and suddenly has them tuning into a Monday Night Raw when ratings are struggling, or gets them to buy a subscription to the WWE Network if only to see their guys perform on the big time. Cross-promotion leads to cross-pollination, folks.
For Evolve, it’s a benefit because it’s going to serve as a calling card for them going forward. From here forward they’ll be known as the place to go if you want to get the “look” from the big show. As such, they’ll be able to attract higher caliber talent than other Indy promotions and sustain themselves more adequately because WWE, which for all intents and purposes is probably going to use them as a feeder system to NXT, isn’t going to want to see them fail.
You’ll start seeing a lot more of their stars on WWE events and in a business where your name is everything and nothing is more important than your last show or your last match, association is currency. That becomes, pardon the pun, “money in the bank”.
And when NXT guys occasionally come back for shows like Sami Zayn is doing for Evolve? You’re going to sell out that Evolve show, pop a bigger than usual live gate, get a few more PPV buys and see the benefit of sending your guys to bigger and better things through tangible assets.
The union of Indy with WWE shouldn’t be scorned. It should be celebrated. We’re going to get better wrestling because of it. Our industry is going to be strengthened by it. If Evolve somehow ends up on the WWE Network in the future am I ever going to complain? If WWN Live works out a deal with WWE to cross-promote shows and have NXT guys work events for both promotions are we really going to hem and haw?
It’s best for business. As crazy as the idea would have sounded just a few short years ago.
The deal is a declaration of intent and one we should applaud:
Wrestling, slowly but surely, is back to being a priority for WWE.
Tags: Evolve Wrestling, johnny gargano, WWN Live