All In was an unqualified success this past weekend, and everyone involved should be proud of what they accomplished. I did not see the show myself, but from all accounts I got from people I trust it was a good show and worth the price of admission. More importantly the people who supported it are ready for more. While the crew should rightfully be soaking in their success for a bit, the future will be need to be figured out before too long. So of course I have some dopey opinions they’d probably be just fine to disregard but since I paid for this thing I’m gonna fire them off anyway. Here goes:
Decide what you’re gonna be
Do you want to run All in-style shows once a year? A few times a year? Do you want to be a fully functioning year round entity encapsulating the best of non-WWE wrestling with tours and pay per views? What of the companies that most of you work do for, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor? Are they gonna be your backers or will you simply work for them as freelancers while you push whatever this thing is going to be? Was this the first day in new age or was this just a one off to capture the wave and cash in as long as it lasts or until Vince McMahon makes you an offer that you’ll accept, whichever comes first?
There is a block of fans out there that very much want this to be a real thing that goes on, and will travel to fill the arenas to keep it alive. But you’re going to need to decide what keeping it alive looks like, and if wrestling history is to be any kind of guide then keeping it alive is going to look different than what you’re doing now. Keeping it alive is going to require you to do things more like the dreaded WWE than your most diehard supporters may like, but it’s absolutely vital if this is going to be more than a pet project of a few guys for a little while. Otherwise Vince won’t have to drop any kind of hammer on it, it will just take itself out from the inside.
Formalize the company situation
Right now the guys and gals on the show mainly work for Ring of Honor, New Japan, Impact Wrestling, the indie circuit, or some combination of the four. Which leaves everyone outside the guys from Japan who are loyal to their home company ripe for the WWE pickings. Even Kenny, Cody, and the Bucks. You’re going to have to get some people to sign exclusive deals that keep them away from the WWE, and you’re going to have to find some way to make the New Japan/ROH alliance something that can hold up and not go the way of the old NWA/AWA partnership or the AWA/World Class/Memphis collective from the 80s. In both those cases the partnerships eventually crumbled but not before one of the companies involved pilfered some talent away from one of their so called partners.
Avoiding that means some kind of formal agreement where both companies reach an agreement on talent sharing, cross-promotion, etc. Do the top names agree to a certain number of dates for each company? Are there going to be more cobranded shows? Do people who sign with this entity still get to work dates on the indies or one shots as a local talent for a WWE show? Who pays them? That’s just the tip of the iceberg; there are a lot of other things that people who know how this stuff works would want figured out I’m sure. In my opinion continuing to rely on a loose arrangement is a recipe for disaster; one day you’ll look up and see that Vince has signed some of your top guys and that your supposed partner has locked up the other ones with exclusive deals just as they tell you that things aren’t working out as they planned and it’s time to move on separately.
What’s your content going to look like?
All In, for all the talk about it being real wrestling, sure had a lot of sports entertainment incorporated in the show. The most notorious of these were the parade of people dressed up as penises in a mock up of the Undertaker’s parade of druids. Needless to say that if they are looking to expand beyond the people who came out or watched at home then stuff like that has gotta go. They’re going to have to decide just how wide a net they want to cast, and what they’re willing to change up and how much they want to risk diluting whatever edginess
But never mind that, what about any other programming between now and the next show? Are they going to rely on Being the Elite, the Bucks YouTube show, to carry forward the storylines or will they do some stuff on platforms that people can find without having to be told where to find? I and a few other people mentioned lack of storylines for All In and were told that we should have watched BTE; what about people who aren’t on Twitter? How can they find out what’s going on? Are they gonna be expected to fish around blindly on YouTube to find BTE and watch hours of it on the day of the show? I have not watched BTE but given that ROH does very little in the way of character development on it’s TV broadcasts (I’m being real generous here) then that’s probably the horse they’ll have to ride.
At the end of the day, everything comes down to what exactly it is they want to create. Is it something that will fade once the new car smell dissipates, something will end when the Elite retire or otherwise move on, or something that will endure and can be handed down or handed over from generation to generation? Is this is a vehicle to channel the niche they’ve carved out into a personal windfall or something greater?
And that decision ultimately hinges on what Kenny, Cody, and the Bucks choose for their own futures and whether or not their shoes can be filled should they opt for the big paycheck from the WWE. This is a pivotal time in that they’re probably at their highest point as far as what they can demand but are also at a peak in popularity outside WWE that can get them a lot of things. A year ago I’d have them all going soon but now I don’t know. But right now they really do have the world at their feet and they should revel in it then use it to get whatever it is they truly want.