10 Alarming Signs Over The Future Of The Pro Wrestling Industry

AEW, WWE, NJPW: has every major wrestling promotion already peaked?

Tony Khan HHH

The pro wrestling industry is in a far more decent state of health than some would you have believe.

Those "some" are prelim comedy acts who appeared in WCW when it was massive without doing anything to make it massive. If they didn’t exist, the industry would appear no different in 2022, but they were there, and they can always say they were there on the pathetic podcaster grift.

Both AEW and WWE are hugely successful on cable; if they aren't winning the respective nights outright, it's a surprise when they aren't in the top five. To borrow a football cliché, you can only beat the team put in front of you - and WWE and AEW are narrowly edging out Kettering Town. Or Manchester United, since cable TV is nowhere near the powerhouse it was in a bygone era.

WWE has never been more profitable. AEW, if they procure a much improved rights deal next year, will become the most profitable #2 ever. On a strict, technical level, the wrestling business has never drawn more revenue.

But is this really a true reflection of its popularity?

Or has a desperate television industry only just stopped taking the piss out of wrestling, and its supposedly dirt-poor redneck audience who can't afford the fancy wares dangled in front of them by the few advertisers who wish to associate with it it?

MJF's AEW World title reign already promises to be amazing in the medium-term - but what about the long-term?

10. Not One Promotion Is Operating At The Peak Of Their Powers

Tony Khan HHH

Over the last several years, there was always one promotion that could be relied upon to deliver true best-in-class pro wrestling. At least one promotion has operated as the very best version of itself since Hiroshi Tanahashi and Minoru Suzuki's King Of Pro Wrestling 2012 masterclass both put NJPW on the map and catalysed a new era of in-ring excellence.

The promotion was absolutely incredible for seven years thereafter: the intricate counter-driven main event style set new standards of drama and the mathematical precision of the booking allowed the big moments, like the coronation of new Ace Kazuchika Okada, to resonate on an epic scale. PWG caught fire as the irreverent, state-of-the-art league around the same time, and at the midpoint of the decade, WWE NXT was so good that it literally felt impossible. Surely it wasn't a WWE property. Did Vince even know about it?

Then, AEW, at its peak, achieved nothing less than pro wrestling nirvana with its surreally awesome blend of atmosphere, build, expression and quality.

Is it hyperbolic to state that wrestling is entering into something of a creative dark age?

Of course, it will never feel as bland, flat and grim as the early 2000s, which struggled badly as the market leaders of the western and eastern scenes, Antonio Inoki and Vince McMahon, descended into hubristic megalomania. Even then, Pro Wrestling NOAH was phenomenal.

WWE peaks highly, but it still reeks of sports entertainment sh*t far too often. That NJPW style, played out in front of clap crowds, feels more formulaic now. The magicians have exposed their tricks through overexposure and a refusal to evolve. AEW is still excellent at its best, and a true return to form may well be imminent, but the adrenaline rush of late summer '21 will be difficult to reattain, particularly since one baffling moment seems to rear its head on a weekly basis.

Ask yourself this: is there one promotion out there that meets the standard of TakeOver: Brooklyn I, Dominion 2018, or All Out 2021?

And if all of wrestling has peaked, that may be because...


Writer, podcaster and editor. Deft Punk. Author of Becoming All Elite: The Rise of AEW, which is available to purchase at the following link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-All-Elite-powerful-Wrestling/dp/B09MYSNT71