First and foremost, let’s look at the roster. Over the years you would often see a handful of international wrestlers, but they would usually be grouped into one of two categories (save for Canadian wrestlers, who were normally just like any other wrestler on the roster): character designed to appeal to fans of the same nationality or foreign heel. Often times these wrestlers’ nationalities would be their entire character. Bruno Sammartino was basically just a strong man from Italy, Pedro Morales was known for having a firey Latin temper and Nikolai Volkoff was just an evil Russian because Russians were evil by default.
By comparison, let’s look at today’s WWE roster (according to their Wikipedia page):
Adam Rose – South Africa
Becky Lynch – Ireland
Cesaro – Switzerland
Chris Jericho – Canada
Diego – Puerto Rico
El Torito – Mexico
Emma – Australia
Fernando – Puerto Rico
Kane – Spain
Kevin Owens – Canada
King Barrett – England
Kofi Kingston – Ghana
Layla – England
Natalya – Canada
Neville – England
Paige – England
Rosa Mendes – Canada
Rusev – Bulgaria
Sheamus – Ireland
Tyson Kidd – Canada
Viktor – Canada
While the majority of the roster is still American, it’s rather interesting to see how many foreign born wrestlers there are on the roster, which isn’t even looking at all the international talent down in NXT. They may not all have in depth, developed characters, but we’ve come a long way since evil foreign heel or firey Latino wrestler. Now we have these wrestlers with characters beyond their nationality, which is becoming more of a detail than their defining trait.
On top of the wrestlers hailing from other countries, you also now have shows airing from other countries. Sure there were always shows taking place in England or Mexico or Japan, but in today’s wrestling world, you can see more stuff than you ever did before. Look back to the recent “Beast in the East” special. Instead of just hearing about these specials airing anywhere in the world, for once we can actually see them.
This is hardly anything new as you would have pay per views such as “Insurrextion” or “Rebellion” in England and “Global Warning” in Australia, but the only way to see those were to pick up the DVDs once they were released in America. While they were just glorified house shows, it’s always fun to see an extra wrestling show with the occasional good match involved. However, finding them wasn’t the easiest thing in the world as they weren’t anything the biggest shows in the world.
Now though, something like “Beast in the East” is easily available and can even be seen live. It’s a very cool idea to be able to see these shows in their live timeslots as it makes the show feel even bigger. Yeah Brock Lesnar is in action and Finn Balor is challenging Kevin Owens for the NXT Title in Japan, but it’s airing live. That may sound like an unimportant detail, but being awake at 5am to see the show made it feel like something that I had to see.
Finally, WWE has been having more mainstream coverage in recent months. From Ronda Rousey drawing attention at “Wrestlemania XXXI” to Brock Lesnar’s re-signing being announced on “Sportscenter” to The Rock being a mainstream star in Hollywood to John Cena appearing in “Trainwreck”, WWE is feeling like a bigger company than it has in a long time.
While the company may not be on fire business wise, it certainly does feel like more people are looking at WWE than they have in a long time. That kind of mainstream coverage (and that Hogan guy) had a lot to do with the Rock N Wrestling Connection, and while it’s not likely to happen again, this extra attention for the right reasons is something WWE can always use.
It’s long since been established that WWE is the king of the wrestling world. However, the last few months and years have seen them flexing their muscles even more than usual. Between the rise of NXT and its international stars to the ability to see the shows from around the world to the mainstream attention WWE has been getting, it feels that WWE is further establishing itself as not just the biggest wrestling company in the world but also a major sports company.
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