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Vitalli: The Wrestling Boom Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

The wrestling boom might not be all people are making it out to be.

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Dom Vitalli Article

Dom Vitalli brings a hard lesson from inside the business about the current “wrestling boom.” Is it real or social media fabrication?

Ever since the clock struck midnight to ring in 2019, there has been a buzz around the wrestling world that things were about to get interesting.  Hopes were high and expectations were set in hopes of changing pro wrestling as we know it, all for the better.  Many exciting things have happened since that time, but also, many questions are still unanswered.  We could very well be on the cusp of something monumental, but then again, it may just be a couple small steps in the right direction.  Let’s take a closer look.

One thing that needs to be considered is that wrestling fans, as well as many of the people within the pro wrestling world, live exclusively inside the “wrestling bubble”.  Being passionate fans of something that many of us have watched for most of our lives, it is very easy for us to become blind to reality.  The supporters of “viral” wrestling see it as innovative, fun, and different.  As this may be true to us wrestling bubble folks, the people on the outside who, let me remind you, are the VAST majority of the general public and the money we need to thrive, tend to see it differently.  Sure these types of stunts and shows might be a blast in a bar full of 200 people, but what happens when we try to grow?

What happens when a non-wrestling person, whether it be a potential sponsor or larger venue, see some of these things and want nothing to do with it?  Money gets taken out of all of our pockets.  Then we get stuck in dive bars, trying to hawk enough t-shirts to make it all worthwhile.  Pretty bottom-feeding for a “booming” industry, wouldn’t you say?

It should also be known that we are far from what a “wrestling boom” actually is.  Let’s look at the numbers.  According to wrestling historian and one of the greatest wrestling mangers to ever do it, Jim Cornette, in the territory days across the United States, there were approximately 320 full-time professional wrestlers whose sole job was that of a wrestler.  Now some of you Cornette haters reading this may have already lost focus, but I urge you to come out of that wrestling bubble for a few minutes.  So that’s 320 full-timers across the U.S, working nearly 5-7 nights per week.

Wrestling Boom Shane Strickland John Morrison

Shane Strickland and John Morrison – two of the few able to do this full time.

Working a town weekly, drawing multiple of thousands of people to that town.  Now let’s look at February 2019.  We will take WWE out of the equation since they are in a whole other stratosphere of their own.  Towns are usually run once per month, maybe bi-weekly at most.  Top independent draws are in the 1000-2500 range, and that is not regular.  Promotions that run the same city once per month struggle to break 250 fans per show, and that is on the high end. Wrestlers are working 2-4 days per week with 4 being on the high end, and most are working much less.

Being entrenched in the wrestling business both on the tail end of my in-ring time and the transition into behind the scenes for various promotions, I have a pretty good idea what some of the best wrestlers on the independent scene are earning.  If I were to make an educated guess, I would say that maybe 100-150 wrestlers that are not affiliated with WWE are making a decent full-time living from just wrestling, meaning, wrestling is their primary source of income.  Also, I stress the word “decent”.

There are many wrestlers out there that pride themselves on saying they are “full-time pro wrestlers”.  Meanwhile, they live in a 3 bedroom apartment, sharing it with 4 other people in a shitty part of town.  I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s not a decent living by any standards.  Compare the crowds.  Compare the dates.  Compare the numbers.  They just don’t add up to equate a “boom”.  Keep in mind, we didn’t even visit the Hogan 80’s or Austin 90’s eras.

We have to ask ourselves, “What are we presenting?  How can we get as many eyes on wrestling so we can monetize those fans?”  Again, thinking outside the wrestling bubble, the phony and hokey looking stuff just isn’t going to do it.  Show some of these “viral” clips to some of your friends or co-workers who are not regular wrestling fans like you.  Watch and listen to their reactions.  Sure they may laugh or think what they saw was cool, but the inevitable question will come; you watch this shit?  There is no sense of urgency for them to see this in person.

If you are a wrestler, show them these videos and tell me how it feels to have to answer, “THIS is what you do”?  One thing that many people forget is that the eras that drew the most money were when the major fan bases at the time felt a sense of realism with what they were watching.  In the territory days, the fans lived and died with the baby faces and were out for blood when it came to the heels.  In the Hogan era, kids were enamored with The Hulkster and begged and pleaded for their parents to spend their money on tickets, shirts, posters, dolls, and anything else with his face on it.  Males 18-45 could relate to that hatred Steve Austin had for Vince McMahon.  Fans that watched the genesis of the nWo just weren’t quite sure if what they were watching was a work or not.

The formula is quite simple, yet we have gotten so far away from it. Independent wrestling in 2019 thinks too much in the mirco instead of the macro.  They are much more interested in making $20 today rather than $100 for the next ten years (these figures are for example only).

I really do think pro wrestling is in a much better position today than it has been in quite some time.  It is up to the wrestlers, promoters, bookers, etc to ensure that we can all reach that next “boom” period.  Realism sells, just ask UFC.  Sure dick flipping and puking on each other is interesting to some, but anybody can do those things.  Not just anybody can be a believable professional wrestler and get paying fans to emotionally invest in what you do  That right there, is the true “art” of professional wrestling.  History tells us, that’s where the money is.


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Cook’s Top 5: Miz Moments

Cook brings the most must see Top 5 of the week! Is it obvious or a MIZtery?

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The Miz WWE

This week is all about our new WWE Champion, The Miz!

Let’s be honest, Miz might not hold the Championship for too long. He’s got a big match with Bobby Lashley next week. We wish him luck, and maybe something unlikely will happen resulting in Miz holding on to the title longer than anybody expects. Still, I feel the need to get this particular edition of the Top 5 out there as soon as possible.

Here are the Top 5 Miz Moments!

5. Main Eventing WrestleMania

The match itself…not so great. Miz was obviously the third most important person in the match. He also suffered a concussion. But the guy still main evented WrestleMania and beat John Cena, which is something that not too many other people can say. This will remain Miz’s biggest WrestleMania match unless they get Bad Bunny to wrestle him this year.

4. A Ladder Match with Dolph Ziggler

Miz & Ziggler have quite a bit in common. Both hail from the Cleveland area. Both prefer to think of themselves as being from Hollywood. They’re both egotistical characters that make up for what they might lack in size with ego. They’ve been in WWE forever with limited changes to their character, pretty much on the same level of the card. Naturally, they get along pretty well & have good chemistry.

2016 saw the best incarnation of their on-screen issues, with Miz & Ziggler trading the Intercontinental Championship back & forth. The Ladder Match ending the feud at TLC is considered by most to be Miz’s best match. I don’t have a ton of other options off the top of my head, so we’ll go with that.

3. The First MITB Cash-In

You always remember your first. At this point in time, much like here in 2021, Miz wasn’t seen as the most believable choice to be WWE Champion. However, the man had a briefcase, and, importantly, this was back before the briefcase gimmick was completely run into the ground. So when Miz ran down at the end of Raw to cash in on Randy Orton, it got a tremendous reaction.

People were either really happy or really angry. I was on the angry side of the spectrum, especially since I had a cold and was writing a news column during all of this. Man, I remember when the week or so a year I would a cold was the only time I really felt like crap.

What can I say, Miz has grown on me over the years.

2. Feuding with The King

A lot of old school wrestling fans found it hard to believe that The Miz had become WWE Champion when more deserving wrestlers from their childhood never had been. Heck, Jerry Lawler, a God of Memphis rasslin who piledrove Andy Kaufman into oblivion, had never even gotten a shot at that title, even though he’d worked for WWE for nearly twenty years. Seemed wrong to a lot of people, but nobody expected that wrong to be addressed.

Lawler was celebrating his sixty-first birthday the week after Miz defeated Randy Orton for the WWE Championship. One thing led to another, and Lawler got his very first WWE Championsgip opportunity. In a TLC match! They got the fans believing that Lawler could win the title…until that pesky Michael Cole kept Lawler from climbing further up the ladder.

It was nice to see the King get another important run on WWE television long after we thought it was possible. A large part of the reason it was possible? The Miz. He portrayed himself as just beatable enough that the title change could happen. Also held up his end of the bargin in the promos, which was never easy for Lawler’s opponents.

I know everybody likes a title change, but this was the best work Miz did during his first WWE Championship reign by a wide margin.

Honorable Mention: Marrying Maryse

You knew I had to mention this, right?

1. Talking Smack to Daniel Bryan

I’ve always been a Daniel Bryan guy. Back when he was Miz’s “rookie” on NXT, I thought the idea that Miz would have something to teach him was a bit outrageous. It was an interesting pairing though, and the Miz/Bryan relationship/rivalry has provided plenty of compelling moments over the years.

None moreso than the night where Miz did something that a lot of people didn’t think was possible: make himself seem right & Daniel Bryan seem wrong. The way Miz defended himself in this tirade was pretty much impossible to argue with. Maybe Miz doesn’t wrestle the way that hardcore wrestling fans would like, but he is pretty much the prototypical WWE Superstar of his era. He always works hard, is never hurt, and you don’t have to worry about him embarrassing himself or the company.

This promo raised Miz’s character to another level at the time, and definitely added some fuel to the fire for Bryan’s eventual return. If you want to see one Miz promo that sums up who he is & was, this would be it.


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Bodeen’s Top 5 Moments: WWE Elimination Chamber 2021

Bodeen Green is back with your look at his Top 5 Moments from WWE Elimination Chamber!

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WWE Elimination Chamber 2021 Kevin Owens Jey Uso

Bodeen Green is back with your look at his Top 5 Moments from WWE Elimination Chamber!

Due to the short build between the Royal Rumble and Elimination Chamber, there was a general lack of excitement from fans heading into the Elimination Chamber Pay-Per-View, especially with the lack of established matches on the card. Despite this, the Elimination Chamber was still a solid show to watch, mainly due to both chamber matches being fun to watch, with the last chamber match, having a shocking but awesome twist.  So as we leave the Elimination Chamber and take yet another step forward on the Road to WrestleMania, let us look at the top 5 moments that stood out on this short but solid show.

5. Riddle becomes United States Champion

Heading into this match, it seemed highly unlikely that Riddle would beat the United States Champion, Bobby Lashley. Even though the match was a triple threat match and Riddle did not have to pin Lashley to win the title, fans had seen Riddle lose to Bobby time and time again, making it seem the only real threat to Lashley’s title reign in the match was Keith Lee. However after Lee was taken out and John Morrison won a match on the pre-show earlier in the night, things seemed somewhat possible for Riddle.

All three men looked good in this match, as Lashley dominated the start of the match, helping fans get their breath back from the opening Elimination Chamber. This would force Riddle and John Morrison to team up on Lashley, despite being teamed up on Lashley would fight back and seemed to have things won as he put the hurt lock on John Morrison, only for Riddle to attack Lashley with the crutch belonging to MVP and pin John Morrison to become United States Champion

Yet again, special credit has to be given to MVP as a manager, he serves a purpose and actually looks like he’s being effective in helping Lashley. An example of this was MVP encouraging Lashley to stay outside the ring to recover as Riddle and Morrison treaded blows inside the ring.

4. The Tribal Chief reigns supreme for now

Instead of defending the Universal Championship inside the Elimination Chamber, Roman Reigns would use his power to face the winner of the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match, straight after the match. This was yet another great heel move from Roman as it once again showed how much power he has backstage due to his bloodline and role as a main-event player.

After Daniel Bryan survived a brutal chamber match, Roman Reigns would come out straight after the match, giving Daniel Bryan little time to recover. Roman would go to spear Daniel, only for Daniel to reverse it into the Yes Lock, making the impossible seem possible, only for Roman to counter and punish Daniel, locking in the guillotine for the win.

After holding the Universal Title, Roman would be hit with a spear by Edge, who seemed to copy Roman from earlier on SmackDown as he whispered in Roman’s ear, before pointing to the WrestleMania sign, giving fans his answer on who he’s gonna face at WrestleMania.

3. An Awesome finish

After The Miz won the Money In The Bank briefcase at Hell In A Cell against Otis, it seemed like every Pay-Per-View he would give Drew McIntyre a threat, stating he was going to cash in, however as time went on, it seemed more unlikely he would ever successfully cash in the Money In The Bank briefcase and win the WWE Championship from Drew McIntyre.

Each after he pulled out of the Elimination Chamber match, it still seemed unlikely Miz would cash in successfully, especially with it being so close to WrestleMania. However, after we saw backstage footage of The Miz talking to MVP backstage before the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship, things started to become interesting.

After McIntyre had won the Elimination Chamber match to retain his WWE Championship, Bobby Lashley would come out and dominate Drew, leaving The Miz to cash in on Drew, allowing Miz to win the WWE Championship, putting a massive twist on the Road to WrestleMania.

2. McIntyre survives the Elimination Chamber   

The Elimination Chamber match was filled with heaps of sub feuds, especially with the WWE Champion, Drew Mcintyre who had old rivals in Randy Orton and AJ Styles, as well as a new feud with his former best friend Sheamus, despite this, Drew would keep a level head and dominate everyone in the match, before eventually hitting a claymore on AJ Styles to win the match and retain his title before The Miz would cash in.

Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton would start the match before Drew would come in and dominate both men. Kofi Kingston would come in next and hit Orton with a roll-up to score a shock elimination. Orton would RKO both Hardy and Kofi, allowing Styles to have an advantage as Omos helped destroy his pod, so Styles could enter early in the match. Kofi would be eliminated by Sheamus, as well as Hardy who was eliminated by Drew.

AJ, Sheamus and Drew would trade blows, with Sheamus hitting Drew with a Brogue kick, only for Styles to hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Sheamus to eliminate him. With Drew now battered and broken Styles would attempt a Phenomenal Forearm on Drew, only for Drew to hit a Claymore Kick in mid-air to survive and win a great Elimination Chamber match.

1. Daniel Bryan goes the distance 

Despite the Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship being a great match I personally found the opening chamber match earlier in the night much more enjoyable. It felt much more smooth and natural than the later chamber match with all 6 men involved looking strong with Daniel Bryan, being the clear MVP of the match as he entered the chamber first with fellow dark horse Cesaro and went on to win his third Elimination Chamber match.

Cesaro and Daniel would start things off slow as they entered the match first. King Corbin would then come out, followed by an irate Sami Zayn who could not believe we entered forth. Corbin would be the first eliminated after Cesaro put him the Sharpshooter. Kevin Owens and Jey Uso would then come out with Owens eliminating Sami. As Sami exited the ring Jey would trap Kevin’s arm in the Chamber door, superkicking him then eliminating him.

Cesaro would then mount a comeback only for Jey to ruin his momentum as he superkicked Cesaro and hit a splash to eliminate him. Jey would then attempt a splash of a wounded Bryan, only for Bryan to get his knees up and hit Jey with the running knee to win the Elimination Chamber match.

These were my top 5 moments from the Elimination Chamber. What were your top 5 moments and what did you think of both Elimination Chamber matches? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 


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