It would appear there are a number of changes happening in the wrestling landscape at the moment. From the shift in WWE with its draft split along with its new champions to the vast outside “Universe” of the Indy scene, particularly in the UK and Ireland, it seems changes are happening everywhere and they all appear to be for the better of the fans and more importantly, the wrestlers themselves.
Lets start with WWE. John Cena is still the face most associated with WWE. However all the time we hear of Cena taking on more non-wrestling projects like his reality show True Grit and minor parts in various films. Little by little his head is turning towards the world outside the WWE bubble and more power to him for that, he’s fully entitled to the opportunities that come his way. However that leaves WWE in the situation where they have to plan around their current crop of Superstars. That has led to the brand split, along with the orders from the USA Network in America due to declining ratings, which in turn brought on the new wave of talent getting a chance to showcase their abilities as the main players in the game. Those who have stepped forward most noticeably are the current champions of both Raw and Smackdown, Kevin Owens and AJ Styles.
Kevin Owens and AJ Styles have a completely different look and style but both are equally fascinating to watch perform. Owens carries himself around the ring as though he is a 200 pound guy but yet backs it all up with his power and nasty streak. He is definitely not what the casual fan associates with the WWE look and that’s one of the things that is most interesting about the changes that are happening. Owens has so much ability and charisma that he can’t be denied. In a similar vein, Styles is a smaller wrestler compared to the giants of years gone by but he is one of the most entertaining and technical wrestlers to ever step foot inside a WWE ring. His aerial arsenal and mat combinations are joy to behold and keep fans attention throughout his bouts. However most interesting of all this is that these two guys were originally what you would call darlings of the internet fans.
For years fans have boasted about the wrestling abilities of Owens, Styles, Seth Rollins, Finn Balor, Sami Zayn, Dean Ambrose and many more. Only a few years back these guys were all plying their trade on the Independent scene all around the globe. Each of the performers mentioned above had numerous road blocks in their way when it came to their chances of success in the world of WWE. Probably the biggest factor was the size issue for most of them and the look when it came to Owens. Thankfully things have changed and each of these men have gone on to be given the chance to shine on the biggest stage of professional wrestling on a weekly basis. This is great news for all us fans who get to enjoy their contests.
However for every Kevin Owens and AJ Styles there is a Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes, guys who decided not to renew their contracts and to pursue adventures outside World Wrestling Entertainment. Barrett has tried his hand at acting and one hopes he will return to the Indy scene and perhaps follow a similar path to that of Drew Galloway after he has had a chance to relax and re-charge his batteries. Galloway is an entirely different story to Barrett in so far as he was dropped from his WWE contract and had to go back to the independent scene but his character rebuilding steps have been first class all the way turning him into one of the hottest free agents around. Barrett can go the same way if he is so inclined.
Cody Rhodes is a different story again. He left WWE on his own terms with the goal of going back onto the independent circuit and rebuilding his reputation from the ground up and improving his all round worth. He gets to work a slightly easier schedule if he chooses and pick his appearances due to his name value. He has already worked the BOLA 2016 tournament in America and made Q&A appearances with Inside The Ropes in the UK and Ireland and is working the UK wrestling scene. Early indications are that Rhodes loves what he does and wants to work hard on building his own character away from that of Stardust. This leads into the topic of the thriving UK and Ireland independent wrestling scene.
The Indy scene is at an all time high in the UK and Ireland. Over in the UK there are a vast number of regional promotions putting on quality cards every other week. Leading the way are Insane Championship Wrestling in Glasgow along with their English counterparts in Southside Wrestling, PROGRESS Wrestling and What Culture Pro Wrestling to name only a few. In Ireland there is Over The Top Wrestling, Celtic Championship Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Ulster. And we haven’t even mentioned the promotions operating in Germany, Belgium and the rest of Europe as well as Asia and Australia and New Zealand. In a nutshell there are vast opportunities for the independent wrestler trying to carve out a piece of the market for his or her self. The main problem is getting enough bookings to make ends meet.
However there is a nice middle ground that we fans get to enjoy and that is the regular appearances of the top Indy guys and gals in one promotion or another. There is such a strong contingent of UK wrestlers at the moment and the scene is a hotbed of activity. We are lucky enough in Ireland to have OTT Wrestling bring in UK talents for shows such as Pete Dunne, Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre Jnr and Ryan Smile amongst others. It is great to see each of these lads getting to perform on the road to hopefully bigger and better things in each of their futures. The passion the fans show at cards across the board appears to be as good as ever and sell outs are happening again!!
This is all good news for wrestling as a whole. Hopefully this mini revolution of sorts starts to take shape and kicks on to bigger and better cards for all promotions. With a good trade understanding between promotions it means everybody from the performers themselves, the promoters and of course the fans getting a chance to soak it all up and take it all in. Maybe a mini revolution is a bit strong of a term to use or then again maybe the word mini isn’t quite big enough to describe what’s going on. At the end of the day, whatever way you slice it, one thing can’t be denied. This is a great time to be a wrestling fan. Promotions are interacting. Even WWE and UFC managed to come to an agreement when it came to Brock Lesnar. Long may this wind of change keep going and long may we fans keep enjoying it.