One of the great things about The Chairshot is the fact we recognize that there is wrestling outside of WWE. As fun as it is to talk about the world’s biggest wrestling company, there’s plenty of other stuff that deserves our attention too.
Here are the top 5 non-WWE things we’ll be talking about in 2020.
5. Will ROH Make It Through 2020?
Listen, I have nothing to base this feeling on. Maybe ROH’s ratings on Sinclair-owned stations are good enough to justify keeping the promotion running. I’m sure the ROH office is doing all they can to keep the execs happy. But man. There is just no buzz behind this fed right now. Like nothing. It’s like the past few years of Impact, where you wondered why they were even bothering.
The only time you even hear about ROH anymore is when somebody’s complaining about managment or concussion policies. They’ve lost their spot as the smark darling. They aren’t the #2 or #3 fed by default. They’re not even New Japan’s little sister fed. It’s a random fed with random stuff going on airing in syndication in random time slots on random stations.
Can ROH get their buzz back? Things aren’t looking good from where I sit.
4. NJPW of America: Will it stick?
So there’s been all this talk of the new company New Japan has formed in America. It’s been a slow process that culminated with an announcement in October. There have been phases, which I will quote here:
Phase one: discovering new wrestlers in markets outside Japan and developing talent through the LA Dojo.
Phase two: run events in the US, including at Madison Square Garden and Dallas this year, both independently, and with the assistance of other promotions.
Phase three: establish a company within the US, and be ingrained in the everyday fabric when it comes to fans’ wrestling consciousness.
There’s going to be a more active touring schedule. Cool. But how are these shows going to look & compare with a standard NJPW show? And how are they going to be ingrained in the everyday fabric of fans’ wrestling consciousness when their TV deal with AXS TV looks to be done & their streaming website isn’t easily accessible for North American-based viewers? I think something announced this past week, where Chris Jericho agreed to give Hiroshi Tanahashi an AEW title shot if Tanahashi could beat him at Wrestle Kingdom, might be something to keep an eye on. Is the AEW/NJPW relationship better than we’ve been led to believe, or is Jericho/someone else trying to work an angle to help get the companies on the same page? I, for one, am intrigued.
3. The Powerrr of the NWA
Probably the biggest surprise of 2019 was the return to the forefront of the National Wrestling Alliance. Billy Corgan’s fed had gotten the ball rolling with the 10 Pounds of Gold webseries, but things got kicked up a notch with the debut of NWA Powerrr. A studio wrestling show that looked like 1983 Georgia Championship Wrestling with a similar format & some modern performers was able to find a sizeable audience on YouTube. There was a slight bump in the road with one of the announcers, but that issue has been addressed & the commentary has been upgraded with the addition of Stu “Good News” Bennett.
So what happens in 2020? They seem to be testing a monthly PPV model with Powerrr on YouTube every week. Should that work out, we may see a move to bigger venues. What I know for sure is that Corgan had a 20 year plan when he bought the promotion, so he’s not in any rush. And he’s in a good spot to not be in that rush right now. It might behoove him to stay in that spot.
2. Will Impact’s improved TV lead to a resurgence?
2019 was a good year for Impact Wrestling. The Don Callis/Scott D’Amore regime produced a show that got good critical reviews & managed to keep at a certain level in spite of a talent roster constantly in flux. Their parent company bought AXS TV and gave the show a better night, time slot & network. For the first time I can remember, there’s something of a positive buzz around the company.
Impact will have a constant television presence at the same time all year, unless they decide to change it themselves. They have fresh talent like Sami Callihan, Tessa Blanchard, Brian Cage & others. There’s also some established talent like Rob Van Dam. Can they get the right mixture going & produce a show that appeals to an even wider audience? It could come down to Callis, D’Amore and other Impact staff being able to scout talent. They won’t be able to keep people that WWE want, and it’s likely that AEW could take people they want. If Impact keeps a deep bench & plans ahead, they should be able to keep making waves in 2020.
Honorable Mention: MLW?
I dunno if Greg has taken the permanent plunge back into social media or not, but I did see him looking for suggestions on smaller feds to cover. The result, quite honestly, surprised me.
I want to cover one "smaller" promotion on a weekly basis in 2020. Which one should I cover?
— Greg DeMarco (@ChairshotGreg) December 29, 2019
I’ve seen a very little bit of MLW. Several months ago. I don’t get the channel it’s on, and honestly the show didn’t grab me enough to make me watch it regularly on YouTube. But apparently it’s a thing with Chairshot readers, or at least Greg’s Chairshot readers. I assume most of you reading this read him as well. Therefore, I feel a need to mention MLW in this column, even though I’m not really sure what to mention. Alicia Atout?
Accepting 2020 bookings including hosting, announcing, interviewing, appearances, signings, and influencer campaigns. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ✌⚘ pic.twitter.com/TNtEsGbGEg
— Alicia Atout (@AliciaAtout) December 27, 2019
Sure, why not. I’m glad Alicia caught on somewhere. AEW has like 55 interviewers under contract so she didn’t get much of a chance there.
1. The progress & patience of All Elite Wrestling
AEW was the biggest non-WWE story of 2019, and I can guarantee it will be the biggest non-WWE story of 2020 in some form or fashion. There are two key points to keep an eye on:
The progress: People will be looking at TV ratings for Dynamite because that’s what they’ve been obsessed with since the late 90s. As important as those are, we also need to keep an eye on YouTube views for Dark, Being the Elite, clips from Dynamite and all their other programming. Attendance is also an important metric for AEW. Dynamite has been up & down, but the big events are still selling out in short amounts of time. Should that stop happening, we’ll know there’s really a reason to worry.
The patience: Will AEW management panic over things like falling ratings? So far, they’ve been content to play the long game with their story telling. They’re trying to build stars, and haven’t given up on people who haven’t started out well. (Dark Order) If the ratings keep falling, and other metrics take a turn for the worse, will they push the panic button? If they do, what will it look like?
I hope I’m wrong because I want everybody to be successful, but I get the feeling we’ll find out in 2020.