I think we all remember the infamous Monday Night Wrestling War between WWE and WCW in the mid to late 1990’s. Two of the biggest companies going at it for television rating and pay per view buy rate dominance. In the process, the wrestlers were jumping from promotion to promotion making millions in guaranteed money contracts. It was a good time to be both a fan and a wrestler as the industry was simply booming.
Now, fast forward to 2018 and I dare say that potentially another wrestling war may be brewing. While WWE has become a billion dollar juggernaut since the Monday Night Wars ended in 2001, many smaller companies have developed through the ashes of the now defunct WCW and ECW. In particular, there was the rise of both Ring of Honor and TNA/Impact wrestling. Both promotions initially didn’t seek to compete with WWE, but rather be an alternative to other wrestling fans.
TNA did attempt to reignite the Monday Night Wars in 2010, but that quickly fizzled out. Ever since then, TNA and other promotions seemed to be battling it out with each other to be the number two promotion in pro wrestling. Enter New Japan and things have seemingly begun to shift ever so slightly. New Japan Pro Wrestling has been around since 1972 and in the past has had working agreements with both WWF and WCW.
New Japan has had its own far share of wars with their rivals in Japan…All Japan through the years. After all the dust settled with that, New Japan sees to have risen to the top promotion for Japanese wrestling. They have expanded their television deals outside of the country to places in Europe and the United States. They too are owned by a billion dollar company in Bushiroad.
The success of their television deals, has lead New Japan to hold shows outside of the Land of the Rising Sun to here in the states. All while securing solid working relationships with Ring of Honor. With New Japan seemingly gaining more and more momentum in international markets….it appears other promotions are uniting with New Japan to bolster their expansion.
Chris Jericho has been the master of constantly evolving his character and most recently did it while with New Japan. Feuding with New Japan’s top stars in Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito has reinvigorated Jericho’s career. Now Chris Jericho is putting together a wrestling cruise and has managed to get stars from Ring of Honor, New Japan and Impact wrestling to appear on it. He also hasn’t ruled out ever appearing on Impact in the future.
Impact Wrestling which had been on life support for several years, has finally begun to make a turnaround creatively and financially. Don Callis (Formerly Jackyl in the WWF) and Scott D’Amour took over the reigns and have really improved the company’s overall product. Their success is largely due to emphasizing their talent and willing to work with various other smaller promotions. That willingness to work with others instead of competing with each other has formed solid shows and developed new stars not owned and controlled by WWE.
Lucha Underground offered a unique style of television with exciting lucha libre action. They have since partnered with Impact to exchange talent and it has so far paid off dividends with Impact getting the likes of Pentagon Jr, Rey Fenix, Taya Valkyrie and others. Lucha Underground may or may not last much longer, but if they don’t last…many of the luchadors and other talent there could find homes elsewhere outside of WWE.
Now, you can also add Smashing Pumpkins front man Billy Corgan and his newly acquire National Wrestling Alliance into the mix. He too seems to have formed a bond with these other promotions and has crowned Cody Rhodes as his new NWA world champion.
All of these talent exchanges between New Japan, Ring of Honor, Impact and Lucha Underground could ultimately create a new and perhaps improved war between WWE and everybody else. This concept isn’t exactly new as Verne Gagne of the AWA, Jim Crockett Jr of the NWA and Jerry Jarrett in Memphis and other promoters attempted to unite and work together in the 1980’s only to fail miserably. The reason they failed was because of egos and greed. They ended up battling each other instead of their common enemy in the WWF.
Will a new partnership between all of these outside promotions be any different? So far, it has been working. It has all been done slowly and gradually. If Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks independent show…’All In’ was any indication, this has the potential to be a formidable force. That does mean big corporations like Athem (Owners of Impact) Sinclair (Owners of ROH) and Bushiroad (NJPW) have to be willing to see the common “enemy” and work together for the long haul. Could that happen? So far it seems to be a resounding yes.
That in itself seems to be a scary proposition. Is Vince McMahon worried like he was with Ted Turner and WCW back in the 90’s? No, but I am sure he has begun to take notice. How can McMahon ignore the success of All In with over 11, 000 fans filling up an arena without a single match being advertised for it. How can McMahon ignore that Ring of Honor with New Japan have booked a long standing institution for him in Madison Square Garden for Wrestlemania weekend?
The way things are shaping up, it appears that on one side you have New Japan, ROH, Impact, NWA, Lucha Underground, House of Hardcore and various smaller companies together against WWE. If for nothing else, this has helped wrestlers become hot commodities once again. Guys like Cody, the Young Bucks, Sami Callihan, Kenny Omega, Pentagon Jr…have so much more leverage than ever before. That in itsef is a good thing. War what is it good for? Absolutely everything.