Everything in life runs in cycles.
Take football – or soccer for TWM’s American readers – for example.
In the 1970s and 80s, Liverpool was the dominant force, while the 90s and 2000s were filled with joy for fans of Manchester United (and sometimes Arsenal). The 2010s have been a bit of a mixed bag but it’s safe to say that the blue half of Manchester is where the trophies have been landing.
And now, going full circle, it looks as it 2020s will be a joyful time for Liverpool once again – I hope.
Wrestling is much the same, except it happens every 20 years.
While Liverpool was taking on all-comers in Europe, Hulk Hogan was destroying everyone in the ring, alongside Andre The Giant, while becoming a household name around the world for the WWF.
For many, the 1980s was one of the biggest boom periods for professional wrestling.
This gave way to a downturn of dodgy characters and gimmick wrestlers in the early 1990s. Bastian Booger anyone?
But skip ahead 20 years and you have the infamous Attitude Era. WWF legends such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, The Undertaker and Mick Foley were battling WCW icons like Sting, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash for ratings.
This was another boom period in wrestling’s history.
But that gave way to a serious downturn in ratings and interest in the product during the 2010s.
What once was pulling in 10 million viewers a week was now lucky to hit two million, despite the now-WWE having some of the most talented in-ring wrestlers we graps fans have ever known.
Put the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Seth Rollins and The Revival into the Attitude Era and they would have thrived. But now, as the 20-year cycle comes round once again, it seems like we are on the precipice of another boom period.
I won’t go into great detail about the start of All Elite Wrestling, because there are literally hundreds of articles on this very website which do just that. But they are on the cusp of completely changing the industry and giving fans the first real alternative to WWE since the 90s.
And there are also the same amount of pieces describing how the WWE will have to up its game to combat the inevitable ratings war we’re about to see – Enter The Fiend.
Here’s the interesting part, and this might come as a shock to wrestling fans – there are more than just those two companies who are going to play a part in this new wrestling boom.
Now, we all know about the storied, confusing and often frustrating history of the now named Impact Wrestling. But this past year has arguably been the most creative and exciting product in the last five years of said odd history.
Ratings are up, talent levels are increasing, and the company itself is FINALLY on a stable footing.
The National Wrestling Alliance is also on the rise.
The announcement of the company’s return to television might have flown under the radar somewhat, but owner (and music legend) Billy Corgan took to Youtube to declare that it would be making its television debut in October – the same month AEW does the same thing, and the same month WWE Smackdown moves to Fox. Going back to Impact for a minute, they also announced an agreement with Twitch to show their weekly programming on its platform. The website has millions of members across the world and this is only a good thing for wrestling.
So, to recap: WWE, AEW, IMPACT and the NWA are all on the rise, Ring of Honor is….there. To be frank, there isn’t much I can say about everyone’s favourite forever-Indie company other than yes…it still exists. Just.
Away from the top companies, I would like to set my readers a challenge: Find me a UK city or American state that doesn’t have its own independent wrestling company?
There are shows in every town, city and state every weekend, and sometimes every day. Fans of professional wrestling have more wrestling available to them than they know what to do with and that’s not a bad thing.
There is an extraordinary amount of real, genuinely exciting talent available across the globe – and they aren’t all signed to WWE/NXT or AEW, nor do they need to be. There also, finally, seems to be an acceptance from the older generation of fans and legends that the time is right to step aside and let the younger crowd take over.
Going back to the WWE, the younger talent has two of the best minds in the business to learn from in Paul Heyman and Eric Bischoff. In AEW, there’s Dean Malenko, Dustin Rhodes and now Tully Blanchard to pick the brains of.
Impact has D’lo Brown, Al Snow and more at the top of its learning tree, while the NWA has pretty much any legend from the 80s and 90s available at the drop of a hat to impart knowledge upon its young, yet experienced roster.
All of this makes for a very exciting time for wrestling fans, and I feel I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that this looks set to be the start of another boom period.
And when this one ends, I’ll see everyone in 2040, or maybe 2060.
You can find me on Twitter @ACailler. Thanks for reading.