The tickets for the All In event being held in Chicago on September 2nd sold out in less than 30 minutes and with it, possibly ushering a new era of wrestling. The event itself is being put together by Cody Rhodes and Matt & Nick Jackson, who are known as the Young Bucks, without a major wrestling organization sponsoring it. The event is featuring talent that is widely featured in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, and Pro Wrestling Guerrilla. They’ve only announced talent and the only match that is even on the card at the moment is Cody vs whoever the NWA champ is (currently Nick Aldis). Is it safe to say that we’re living in the “Independent Era” of wrestling?
I think ground zero for this current movement ironically begins with WWE starting the WWE Network. Without its success other independent, and international, feds wouldn’t have tried switching to streaming instead sticking with the DVD/Blu-Ray model they had. Some feds still use this model, PWG for instance, due to having talent that is currently under contract for other organizations that would not allow them to appear because they would be featured in a pay-per-view type event. Being able to stream various matches and promotions makes it easier to find the next big thing, be it a new promotion or finding the next Daniel Bryan, and to see them evolve. Another contribution from WWE has also been not listening to their fans as they continue to seem to push talent that the crowd is reluctant to get behind. This has also led to people beginning to check out their local indys or check out other promotions that are streaming.
In addition to independent bookings, merchandise is a major way for indy wrestlers to make money and connect with fans. The launch of prowrestlingtees.com has helped make it easier to get merch from your favorite wrestler. The Young Bucks have basically created a model for how to avoid having to do business with WWE and create your own path. They’re consistently selling new t-shirts and this helped put them in a position to control their own destiny with regard of where they want to work. Cody Rhodes may have taken a play from CM Punk’s playbook, but instead of walking away he asked for his release. Upon getting booked on the indy scene Cody’s stock went up almost immediately and he’s become one of the best villains around. He knew that given an opportunity he could make it work and so far it has.
The viral nature of gifs, YouTube videos, and social media has also helped any number of indy wrestlers gain exposure. Joey Ryan’s YouPorn-Plex seems to go viral at least once a month. The Japanese promotion, DDT Pro, also seems to have things go viral periodically. Especially their weird match types (empty apartment, empty stadium, train, etc) or any match revolving around the Ironman Heavymetalweight championship that can be won by anyone or anything. A ladder recently had a retirement ceremony. The Young Bucks even have their own YouTube channel/show, Being the Elite, that not only features Cody, but many other indy superstars like Kenny Omega, Marty Scurll, Adam Page, and others. The show started as a sort of “on the road” type show but has turned into more than that and has been influencing wrestling angles in ROH and NJPW for a little while now.
I was one of the lucky ones to get tickets for this event. I really believe that we’re at the beginning of a new era of wrestling and one that seems to be lacking in WWE’s active participation. Sure they have NXT, 205 Live, and Seth Rollins helping to take care of the in-ring side of things, but they produce so much filler content a week that you don’t really need to watch Raw or Smackdown live anymore. You can either wait until the PPV or catch clips on YouTube. With the times changing and there no longer really being “appointment TV”, you can give something else a try. I’m all in on seeing what this “Independent Era” has to offer.