Depending on your age, you might remember how the Monday Night Wars went. At the same time, you might have a few different memories of how things went. The time was certainly exciting, but there are a lot of issues involving rose colored glasses from back in the day. Things were not as amazing as a lot of people seem to remember them (some of those storylines and angles are just atrocious now and the wrestling is nearly unwatchable in a lot of places).

However, there was one area that was always exciting and it involved contracts. The best part of the Attitude Era was wondering who was going to show up in which promotion, as wrestlers were jumping in and out of contracts almost at will. This meant that you never knew who was going to show up on Monday Night Raw, Monday Nitro or in ECW at any given time. That made for some very exciting television from week to week, but the times have changed a little bit.

Over the last year, mainly thanks to the rise of AEW, a lot has changed about the way the wrestling world works. We spent so many years living in a WWE dominated world that the idea of another company rising up and making this much of an impact was almost unthinkable. Even at its peak, Impact Wrestling wasn’t making this much noise and even when it did, their “Monday Night Wars” were interesting for what, a month at most? AEW has made some real changes and that isn’t stopping anytime soon. But what about their ripple effect down the ladder?

This was the big surprise jump:

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I don’t think there’s any secret to the fact that wrestling is a very tiered industry. You have your top promotion in WWE, then the second level major promotions like AEW and New Japan, then….it’s kind of complicated after that. Aside from those companies, there are about a dozen ways to gauge who is next. You have promotions like Ring of Honor, Major League Wrestling, Impact Wrestling and the NWA, all of which are fighting a mostly losing battle for talent against the bigger promotions.

Now I know that sounds like something set up for a rehash of the Attitude Era battle for wrestling talent, but things are quite different today and it doesn’t exactly make for the brightest future. I know it can be cool to see where some people are going to go and I certainly get interested when someone goes from one promotion to the other, but at the same time, this does not seem like something that is going to be able to work in the long term future.

The biggest problem is how much things have changed over the twenty years since the Attitude Era. Back then, you had a pretty simple setup: Monday Night Raw and Monday Nitro were on at nearly the same time and ECW….well have fun trying to find it, if it even aired in your area. The point was you didn’t have a lot of options to pick from in order to watch everything, aside from owning a high quality VCR (Google it kids). That made things a lot more exciting, because you didn’t know what you might be missing if you flipped away for just a few seconds.

Oh yeah and then this one:

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That was twenty years ago though and now things have changed quite a bit. Now, not only can you just DVR months of any wrestling television show that you want, but you have the WWE Network or YouTube or any other means to watch all kinds of wrestling that you choose. There isn’t exactly much urgency to see what is going on because you can watch it at any time of your choosing. The excitement is gone, but there is another problem that it brings involving the talent, which is where this whole thing started.

Over the course of this past weekend, a pair of stories broke, both of which involved talent going from the smaller promotions to the bigger ones. First of all, former Impact Wrestling World Champion Brian Cage seems to have left Impact Wrestling and moved over to AEW (though this does not seem to have been set in stone just yet). What has been set in stone is Maxwell Jacob Friedman leaving Major League Wrestling and sticking with AEW full time, which is not the biggest surprise. Odds are the major promotions are going to be getting more and more exclusive as time goes on, and that is not a good thing for the wrestling industry.

Here’s part of the problem: back in the day, having someone jump to another promotion was a lot more interesting because of the surprise factor. Now though, how long can you go without hearing something that happened on any show? The internet allows these shows to be discussed all over the place, often before the shows are even done in the first place. Between that and being able to watch shows at your leisure with so much more ease, there is nowhere near as much of an impact as you might have back in the day. The news breaks out so much faster these days and there is only so much to be done from having a name appear.

At the same time, the exclusivity has not exactly helped things out. Consider Cage for example. According to Cagematch.net, since the middle of November 2019 (meaning about two months), Cage has wrestled sixteen total matches for nine promotions, the majority of which are available to see online without much of an effort. The matches have taken place in several states across America and even multiple countries. In other words, it is not hard to see Cage if you want to find him.

Remember Cage while you can:

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Unless you’re in Impact Wrestling that is, because now it seems that he is (likely) going to be in AEW a lot more often. The same is true of Friedman, who won’t be in Major League Wrestling any longer. I’m sure the two of them will work elsewhere, but it isn’t going to be for those middle tier companies, because the bigger idea seems to be to go either with the big companies or the smaller ones, and that isn’t good for the wrestling industry as a whole in the future.

That’s the problem with all of the moves towards the major companies: they don’t leave much for the other companies to do. I’m sure places like Major League Wrestling and Impact Wrestling will continue to bring in fresh talent from the lower level promotions and that is just fine (it’s worked for years and it can work now) but these departures only help the bigger promotions. That’s not a knock on AEW and WWE as it makes perfect sense for them to snatch up all of the talent they can find and keep them working as exclusively as possible (again: this is the ONLY place to see them, not in nine promotions in two months).

I’m not sure what this means for the future, but at the same time, this isn’t exactly promising for where things are going. Do you remember many of the good smaller promotions during the Monday Night Wars or just after? Is anyone wanting to see things like the WXO or the XWF showing up all over again?

The less dominance there is from major promotions, the better things are for the wrestling scene as a whole, but that isn’t something that is going to be stopped all that easily. AEW and WWE are not going anywhere anytime soon and they are going to take up a lot of the talent around the wrestling world. There is room for everyone, but it’s not exactly even.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.

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