So something weird is happening with WWE and I’m of two minds about it. They seem to be more open to partnerships with indie companies. Adam Cole recently defended the NXT North American Championship in Evolve Wrestling against WALTER. Kassius Ohno wrestled in the Super Strong Style 16 tournament for Progress Wrestling this year. Hideo Itami is going home to wrestling longtime rival and tag-team partner Naomichi Marufuji in NOAH. It’s incredibly fascinating to see things that probably wouldn’t have even happened 5 years ago happening now. It gets more eyes on these promotions and their talented rosters. It also helps generate more buzz within the business so lapsed or new fans may want to check out new things.
There’s another side to this as well. Ring of Honor was recently going to try to run a show out Madison Square Garden. It had seemed like things were pretty much a go until they weren’t. The scuttlebutt is that a high ranking person within WWE made a phone call and got the event cancelled. ROH brass is understandably upset about this and it sounds like they’ll fight it. Other companies, like Impact or MLW, seem to be flying just under the radar enough to gain buzz with fans but not enough for WWE to view them as competition…yet.
I wasn’t really a fan of wrestling at the time, or even old enough to have an opinion on the matter, but this does sound a lot like what the WWF used to do back in the territory days. They’ve updated it for modern times so instead of squashing everyone, they’re going to partner with some, especially international promotions like Progress (United Kingdom) and NOAH (Japan) so they can get their foot in the door in a new market. Once in that market if you’re seen as a competitor, something that ROH is due to their relationship with New Japan Pro Wrestling, they may try to cut you off any way they can. It does seem that WWE is trying some aggressive expansion and now that they have some extra money to throw around due to their Fox deal, they might be able to pull it off. What I think they may fail to realize though is that competition does make for a healthy market and if they decide to absorb their competition again, like they did with WCW and ECW, the current burgeoning boom period we’re in may come to a quick end. We may soon find all of those available options on the WWE Network.