Let me be clear…the WWE isn’t the be all and end all of pro wrestling. Heck, the WWE doesn’t even like to use terms like wrestler…preferring “superstar” or pro wrestling….instead choosing “Sports Entertainment.”
Is it the largest pro wrestling related company in the United States and perhaps the world? Sure….but despite Vince McMahon’s corporate machine devouring the territorial system of days past…there are still options out there for pro wrestlers and the options seem to be growing…not dwindling. With that being said, love them or hate them….they are still the one place most aspiring young pro wrestlers want to go to.
Why is that? The obvious answer is a steady income…higher pay days and global recognition. Some have become huge stars…while others may have been a quick flash in the pan. As the old Frank Sinatra song goes…”If you can make it there…you’ll make it anywhere.” To a large degree that is true…just not 100% accurate. There are those who have made successful careers for themselves without the aid of the WWE’s corporate machine.
You can look to guys like AJ Styles….Christopher Daniels….Samoa Joe….Sting…and countless others who made their names on the independent circuit or another major promotion. Sure, they may have had a brief “cup of coffee” in the WWE giant…but nothing that made then into the successes they are today. It can be achieved with talent…hard work and a little bit of luck. These guys did it….so it is not impossible. There are those who would prefer to stay independent.
There are also those who made it to the grand WWE stage and became successful and translated that success into bigger paydays outside of the company. Look at a guy like Matt Hardy…who said in an interview about his independent career, “This is the most fun I’ve had in wrestling because there’s no pressure, there’s no stress. There’s people that contact me all the time with decent offers and I’ll go I’m not interested. I really am my own boss and it’s nice.” Hardy did acknowledge the power of WWE’s worldwide TV and how that has helped him and well he should.
Would Matt Hardy be able to have the career he has now without the WWE’s influence? That is a debatable question……more than likely…probably not. The company gave him so much exposure…that he is now a hot hand outside of the WWE’s Universe. Matt was always considered by many as having a great business mind and of course his talent speaks for itself….but the WWE afforded him a marketable name.
That brings us to the former Alberto Del Rio now known as Alberto El Patron independently. He is perhaps…currently the hottest free agent in all of wrestling. Would it be that way if Alberto stayed in Mexico all these years? It is interesting to think about though….Alberto was always a great technical wrestler with a great deal of charisma…but was stagnant in his last days with the WWE. Once he left the company…all of a sudden….every promoter north, south, east and west wanted his services.
El Patron can now pick and choose where he wants to wrestle and get a huge sum of money for it. The WWE needs to be given credit for his recent surge in popularity. The WWE is not without its faults however.
They have had their problems in capitalizing on the Asian market. Sure, they signed KENTA but I seriously have my doubts he’ll get the proper time to develop into the star he was in Japan. The WWE also seems to have a difficult time pushing foreign talent who don’t necessarily have the best grasp on the English language.
A memorable gimmick in the WWE can extend a wrestler’s career…long after they are done with the company. Look at the late Matt Borne who used variations of the Doink gimmick on the indy scene…the same for Lanny Poffo with the Genius character…even my dear friend who recently passed away…Tim Arson got a boost from playing a Zombie one time on WWE TV.
Announcers can also benefit from time in the WWE. Individuals like Todd Grisham and Jonathan Coachman parlayed their WWE exposure to jobs with ESPN. Matt Striker who had a decent small indy career before the WWE came calling…now is a heavily sought after announcer. The WWE doesn’t create these people’s abilities in the ring or on the mic….they just accentuate them.
All in all the company has its faults…serious faults…but in the grand scheme of things…it is the one place where a no name can become a hot commodity.