The ‘wrestling boom’ narrative started to materialise proper around ALL IN, a fantastic, paradigm-shifting celebration of the wrestling world beyond WWE. It doubled as a brochure for television executives searching for a new, DVR-proof sports property. What it became—the billionaire-funded All Elite Wrestling—successfully sold itself to TNT.
ALL IN was a marketing masterclass, but it feels now as if it created an illusion of prosperity, and not undeniable evidence of it. Best-selling Hot topic merchandise, instant arena sell-outs, and an anecdotal atmosphere of everything feeling ‘cool’ again furthered that narrative.
Something was happening.
It looks now as if this was limited to Independent wrestling, the major stars and hardcore currency of which All Elite Wrestling has subsumed and curated—but not grown. Ratings have fallen to well under the 1.4 million debut. They haven’t climbed once from that high point. Even if this original number was well above the projected and or desired number, the decline is concerning.
WWE, meanwhile, rather optimistically thought it was on the verge of a new boom. This was altogether funnier, and not worrying, in that WWE has settled into a secure future puppeteered by vast sums of corporate money. The move to FOX in itself apparently compelled WWE to forecast a new age of popularity because more homes now had the opportunity to watch it, as if the USA Network is on public access, and not among the top 10 most-watched channels across the entire United States.