The Answer To Wrestling’s Future Exists In Rasslin’s Past

I hope that everyone reading this is perfectly aware that the innovation driving the future of industry, politics, and commerce is about to shift in a wild manner that will render most of what we know about both America and the world, irrelevant. However, professional wrestling has always moved in a manner incongruous with the traditions of American industry, politics, and commerce. Thus, because pro wrestling has already seen the future, Capitol, via our partnership with the United Wrestling Network, is taking a quick step back to take two bold steps forward into a very known unknown.

Intriguingly though, where you may see competition for where we’re headed from WWE, we just see a yin to our yang, and the opening of a massive door to where wrestling heads for the future.

Let’s kick things off with an unflinchingly honest fact. Very very soon, all of your favorite pro wrestlers worldwide will in some way work for Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Entertainment. In the past three years, WWE has become a company that has expanded to encompass six unique and globally available for first-time viewing promotions with six different visions of the future of pro wrestling under its purview. By the end of 2017, there will likely be 300 wrestlers working for the company under those six offshoot brands. These brands are as “small” as tournaments-to-integrated sub groups like the Cruiserweight Division, Women’s Division, and wrestlers from the United Kingdom, to being as “large” as the established profit drivers that are globally broadcast Raw and Smackdown, plus digital/live content experiment-as-company NXT.

For those who are unaware, the WWE World Champion is Indo-Canadian and Punjabi-speaking heavyweight Jinder Mahal, a savvy nod to WWE’s desire to engage with the 1.3 billion people who currently live in India and have never been truly mass target-marketed pro wrestling. As well, two-decade independent veteran Samoa Joe is a contender for the Universal Championship, and Smackdown heavily features legendary Japanese performer Shinsuke Nakamura. Both of these performers are pushed, not-so-obviously, as an acknowledgement of China and much of Southeast Asia as being similar to India in that they have never been target-marketed first-run North American professional wrestling.

World Wrestling Entertainment’s wrestling-as-content strategy dovetails very well into creating a relatively newly monetizable and ever-so-quickly growing marketplace. In the 21st century, content consumers now engage with more intrigue and speed than ever before. Both WWE and UWN are keenly aware of this fact, and are capitalizing on the depth and scope of wrestling now available. It’s in unifying and strengthening this evolving industry by mirroring aspects of what the National Wrestling Alliance was from the 1950s-1980s worldwide that the answer to wrestling’s future lies in “rasslin”’s past.

From 1948 to 1984, the National Wrestling Alliance comprised 30-plus organizations worldwide that allowed for talent to travel between promotions who were yes, in competition with each other, but also attempting, via competition, to elevate the level of entertainment for a wrestling-adoring fanbase worldwide. The promotions promoted their own shows and the shows of fellow NWA promotions via talent and content sharing, plus occasional intra-promotional events.

From 1984 to WWE kicking off their re-branded NXT-as-live studio TV program in 2012, the wrestling industry evolved from being a competitive territorial model to being a two-horse race for sole control of the North American wrestling industry as a soft-power control over the global industry-in-full. By 2001, the World Wrestling Federation outlasted the classic era National Wrestling Alliance and World Championship Wrestling, the Turner Broadcasting subsidiary which Ted Turner turned Jim Crockett’s arm of the NWA that he purchased in 1988. As well, 2001 saw the WWF settle into the era of being World Wrestling Entertainment, a globalized and corporate wrestling-as-entertainment brand traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

By 2012, said brand redoubled its interests in the wrestling part of its entertainment by turning it’s wrestler developmental center in Tampa, Florida into a weekly television product broadcast via a pre-existing content agreement WWE had with Hulu. As well, when WWE partnered with Major League Baseball’s streaming content development arm to catalogue the video history of the industry which they had purchased, the NXT model was used to create tournaments to extend the company’s brand and developmental reach into cruiserweight, UK-based, and female wrestlers.

Insofar as contemplating the future of where the rest of the non “WWE Universe” is headed, we at Capitol Wrestling and at the United Wrestling Network overall have an idea. Alongside Capitol, there are 15 different promotions in the UWN, spread among 11 states and three countries worldwide, including Canada and the UK. Of course, there are, at present, well over 1,000 active-to-semi-active non-WWE promotions worldwide. Ideally, what the UWN is bringing you is the best of these 1,000 non-WWE affiliated promotions featuring independently-contracted talent.

Capitol Wrestling starts its weekly online streaming television with a voiceover noting that we “bring you the best of professional wrestling from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.” That’s stated on purpose in the sense that Capitol is very much a classic, “old school NWA”-style territorial promotion that covers an established region. Unlike our new brother promotions like Combat Zone Wrestling and Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, we intentionally do not cast a net wider than the 1000 mile strip between Maine and South Carolina on the Eastern Seaboard. As well, from this day forward, we will only be using talent that’s from outside our established territorial region in alliance with our fellow United Wrestling Network promoters.

Here’s another truth bomb. World Wrestling Entertainment is already well along the course to re-birthing a globalized and highly-streamlined version of a modern, global, digital, mobile, and fully accessible National Wrestling Alliance that will include Wrestlemania, Raw, and Smackdown, plus the established legacies — both on-screen and via their WWE Network — of Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Starrcade, Nitro, Extreme Championship Wrestling, and more. That’s 200 combined years of wrestling history that’s defining wrestling’s present. But, what about the future?

As aforementioned, professional wrestling has always moved in a manner incongruous with the traditions of American industry, politics, and commerce. Thus, when I note that I believe that I’ve felt for 25 years that the internet works as well backwards as it does forwards, it makes sense that WWE has plunged into the depths of rasslin’s past to get us to where we are right now. However, WWE is a publicly traded corporation as well, and is in many ways creatively hamstrung by operating so entirely within the mainstream eye.

Separate, yet related to WWE, UWN is making an aggressive play in a modern era to capitalize on how pro wrestling in this generation has a broader and deeper spread of creative freedom, progressive storytelling, and modes of talent development. UWN is keenly aware of the fact that there’s now 40 times as many promotions and roughly 15,000% more talent potentially available than as compared to eras wherein 30 territories or one “worldwide leader in sports entertainment” governed the wrestling industry. That’s massive. Even more massive is that .000002% of the world is doing a job where it was believed that that only one in a million people (.000001%) were supposed to be great. Yes, that literally means that where there was once one, there can now be two.

History, numbers, and what we believe to assuredly be Capitol’s (and by extension the United Wrestling Network’s) success in the future, does not, and will not, lie.

Who’s ready to have some fun?

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