You know, I truly miss WCW. I miss having them as that alternative to the WWF that I used to watch as a kid on Saturday Nights at 6:05 Eastern time on TBS, and through their Monday Night Wars with WWE as a teenager. It truly was a great era to be a wrestling fan. I was reading the article that WWE.com put out about how Eric Bischoff nearly bought out WCW back in 2001, and his plans to relaunch the brand. They were so close to getting everything done until the new owners at Turner decided they didn’t want wrestling on their network. I consider WCW closing its doors to be one of the worst things to ever happen in professional wrestling. When WCW died, a pretty large segment of wrestling fans stopped watching professional wrestling altogether because it was their brand. They were those kids who grew up saying Ric Flair was champion and not Hulk Hogan who went down with the WCW ship that was once deemed unsinkable. Competition brings out the best in every product. Not just wrestling, but most forms of entertainment are some form of competition. Whether it’s WCW vs WWF or Marvel vs DC, everyone loves competition! WWE has grown stagnant as the only game in town, but this column isn’t about that. It’s about that slight possibility that competition can still happen, but most likely won’t.
In today’s landscape of the professional wrestling business, SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT MEGA CONGLOMERATE WWE runs the show. Their brand is everywhere, and they make sure you hear all about it when you watch their product. They are producing more wrestling than ever between their television brands Raw and Smackdown as well as the fresh run wrestling shows on WWE Network like Main Event, Superstars, and NXT. That is 8 hours of fresh run WWE product each week. There is no other product in North America that is even close! With over saturation comes being content. WWE knows that no one can touch them, so why bother to go against the grain? Their marketing team wants their brand in your face.
The chance that WWE will have competition is pretty slim right now. The reason for this is because wrestling is a pretty hard sell to networks these days. Sure you have Lucha Underground on El Rey (great stuff too) and TNA Wrestling on Pop TV, but those networks aren’t major like the USA Network which is available in way more homes than either of the above mentioned channels give your 5 hours of WWE programming each week. If you notice, Jeff Jarrett has been doing Global Force Wrestling tapings but none of the networks here in the US are sold on it. They are celebrating getting a TV deal with a channel in New Zealand. That’s cool and all that they will get wrestling in Middle Earth, but what about another wrestling option here in the US? Why is TNA on the channel that I used to watch as a kid, and get pissed waiting for the guide to scroll past and tell me what is coming on HBO 2? I guess you gotta start somewhere.
Ring of Honor has the luxury of being owned by Sinclair broadcasting which puts them on local Sinclair broadcasting affiliates across the country as well as another channel they own called Comet. It’s a throwback to the old days when pro wrestling was readily available in syndication each week. Right now, I am sure their goal is to keep being an alternative to WWE but black ink is more important at this juncture. This tells me that Sinclair and ROH are willing to grow together which is needed on a larger scale for competition to happen in pro wrestling again meaning it would have to happen on a large national network The last time it happened on a major scale was when Ted Turner bought out NWA Jim Crockett Promotions in 1988, and rebranded it World Championship Wrestling. What if I told you that there is a slim possibility that this can happen again?
When WCW closed its doors, WWE got the intellectual property as well as WCW’s massive video library. What a lot of people don’t know is that there is a WCW entity that retained liabilities not taken by WWE, and it’s known as Universal Wrestling Corporation. It still exists as a subsidiary of Time Warner. Eric Bischoff said that they needed a clean sheet of paper. Well wrestling fans, someone a folder in those offices at Time Warner is that clean sheet of paper. This means that not only could a wrestling promotion be set up, but that promotion can air on TBS and TNT. That is some interesting shit, right? Now I know that Time Warner said in the past they didn’t want wrestling on their networks, but could it happen again with maybe the right owners who make the right sales pitch? It’s possible, but definitely not likely. For now, we can enjoy the fact that while there isn’t competition available at the moment; there are still plenty of options out there for wrestling fans thanks to the internet and those smaller promotions that are lucky to have those television deals because at least it is something. I think we should all try our best to lend our support to comes of these companies like TNA and Lucha Underground as well as your local independent promotions. Another thing, what if Sinclair Broadcasting can somehow evolve past local channels and syndication and shop their show to a major network that may even pay some of the freight on it as far as production and branding does? They tested the waters with Destination America, but what if a Spike TV or Fox Sports start calling? Or what if those channels for Sinclair under broadcasting somehow become national networks?
I know, I know…if are terrific! Right? I know that Vince McMahon likes to say that he considers everyone competition because it’s all entertainment, but deep down I know he misses have competition in professional wrestling. Heck, I am sure that he respects Ted Turner and Eric Bischoff for going to war with him and giving him a fight. So what do you think? Is it possible? Will we ever see competition in pro wrestling again? Has that ship sailed? I definitely think that the return of competition can keep the wrestling business healthy, and that it would be great to have back. When there is competition, it gives the wrestlers more options in order to make money, and leverage with contact negations instead of having to deal with corporate bullying, and makes both companies do their hardest to top one another. In the Land of the Rising Sun, New Japan, All Japan, and Pro Wrestling Noah will sometimes hold events together because they understand the importance of propping each other up, and they respect the spirit of competition.
As always you can hit me up on Twitter @whosantcox with your thoughts and opinions, and I am also now goofing off on Instagram under the username “UltraGoldenAnt”. I’ll catch you next time, wrestling fans!
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