Going off this week’s very excellent edition of The Squash podcast (27/06/2017) hosted by Ben Spindler and Gavin Duenas, I decided it would be a fun blog to try and tackle the same subject that they expertly handled, if you were given free reign to create an alternative to the wrestling conglomerate that is the WWE, how would you do it?
Some of what I say in this blog will be echoes of what Ben and Gavin covered in their podcast, so I highly recommend giving that a listen first and then coming back here after. However, I feel as though I have some key differences to the way I would build up this alternative to the way they would do it.
For the sake of arguing I’m going to roll with the assumption that this company we’re building from the ground up has the pulling power and production value of around the Impact Wrestling level (Sans financial problems).
So let’s get cracking by taking a look at the general structure of my alternative to WWE.
Firstly, I think it’s very important to note that the WWE is for the large part focused upon the “Entertainment” side of pro-wrestling, rather than the faux-sport side. As such, my new company would lean heavily in the other direction, taking the sport aspect in its stride and treating everything with a serious sense of realism. This would feature in a range of aspects of the company, including press conferences before each PPV (Which would be every 2 months) where fighters would build a large amount of the pre-match hype. To compensate for there only being a PPV every 2 months the company would have bi-weekly shows instead of weekly, with the show time clocking in at 2 hours.
Feuds would be based around the idea of two wrestlers wanting to prove they are the best in the world/working towards a title shot/fighting over a championship. This way when personal feuds do come along (Again, they would be realistic feuds, no fighting over custody of children) they feel all the more important and real blood feuds can be crafted.
Wrestlers would be rotated so that the major stars aren’t appearing every other week, keeping their larger than life aura in tact and preventing acts from getting stale. With perhaps the larger stars who are currently involved in feuds only appearing in sit-down interviews, or promo packages to keep hype and interest going, then re-appearing live on TV at the following show.
Instead of having one style of wrestling on the show, e.g. the WWE Style which results in Cruiserweight matches feeling exactly the same as heavyweight ones, I would instead split the roster up into true weight-classes as is done in MMA and Boxing (From which the vast inspiration of this company shall be drawn). Each weight class would then be given a unique style and feel to it, whilst at the same time allowing the unique aspects of individual wrestlers to shine through in order to help get over their own character/style. Also, I wouldn’t limit the wrestlers to only ever having to fight others from their own weight class. If the story is good enough then someone who has been booked to look like a star in their own weight class can make the jump up or down to challenge a champion from another class if they are able to prove themselves against other members of that new weight class first.
Finally in terms of structure would be the aesthetic of the product itself. I wouldn’t want to feel anything like WWE, so we can do away with the ramp and large set that WWE have, and instead we would focus on a more intimate setting. For our entrance I want to think of the Madison Square Garden entrance, where wrestlers walk down a tiny pathway, with fans on either side. And it terms of entrance music/presentation I want to copy what the WWE (Ironically) has done with Sonya Deville in NXT. Give wrestlers an entrance that makes them feel like a badass, attire and all. Once you have got them over enough that their entrance alone makes them feel like a badass, then the wrestlers can do all the hard work in the ring to complete your in-ring product.
As for personnel and who I would bring in, I would want to avoid any potential “WWE rejects” so as to feel completely isolated from that brand of wrestling. Only bring in stars who were legit top guys in the WWE, should they be released (e.g. Del Rio, Jeff Hardy, Bobby Lashley etc.) but don’t strap a rocket to their back right away. Make it seem like they struggle once they get to your company, that way you can begin to paint the picture to your audience that the competition is tougher here than in the WWE.
Beyond the WWE former stars I would focus entirely on the best workers in the world in terms of in-ring performance. Remember, this promotion wouldn’t be reliant upon promo work, as is the case in boxing a lot of that would be done through video packages and pre-taped interviews (Where you have all the time in the world to get the right take), so the people you bring in can be pushed to the moon so long as they can get their wrestling ability over.
Top Indy-scene stars should be your projects, the guys who you do strap a rocket to and see if they can take off. If you can mould these Indy-stars into world renowned wrestlers, who carry your company on your shoulders, then you’re doing a lot right (Think TNA’s best years where it was being carried by AJ Styles, Kaz, Daniels, Storm, Roode, Abyss and Joe).
The final piece of the puzzle would be your authority figure. Instead of having a GM or Commissioner, as is the way in WWE, I would have an owner/promoter (Think Dana White in UFC). Someone who can do the talking for wrestlers if needs be, and who can book impartially because they just want to make the company the best it can be without having a personal agenda.
Combine all this together and I think you have a pretty damn solid recipe for an alternative pro-wrestling platform that moves away from the WWE mould.
But that’s just one Mark’s opinion. Let me know what you think on social media by finding me @MitchKAdams.