Pro Wrestling Tribalism – I have never understood the need to “pick sides”

I have never understood the need to “pick sides” when it comes to pro wrestling companies.

When I enjoy something on television, I continue to watch it. Likewise, if I don’t enjoy something on television, I simply stop watching. There is no desire within me to critique someone else’s interests because they do not match my own. So, you like “General Hospital?” Cool beans. You’re a fan of “My Little Pony?” Awesome, keep on keeping on.

Tribalism isn’t unique to pro wrestling, and it isn’t new to the business either. I remember the early days of internet message boards during the late 90’s. It was full of the same spiteful, nonsensical ramblings of thirty something’s who just couldn’t stand the fact that you “like that company?” It was as exhausting and petty then as it is today.

Obviously, social media amplifies the voices of these bad faith fans, and in this political climate, everyone feels the need to choose a team or side to root for.

The reality is that AEW, WWE and the wrestlers themselves are mutually beneficial to one another. The WWE finally has a competitor with deep pockets and an abundance of resources that can drive them to continuously improve their product, as well as bolster talent’s leverage when negotiating contracts.

For AEW, a healthy and thriving WWE continues to attract a broader, casual audience to pro wrestling. More eyes on the product is a win for everyone.

Imagine if the real “forbidden door” was opened and the WWE began working with AEW and other promotions. A card stacked with talent from those two companies alone would be absolutely RIDICULOUS. I truly believe that show would pack 100,000 plus and it would likely sell out in hours.

Not surprisingly, the majority of talent themselves carry no such allegiances. Sure, they raise their respective company flags in public, but behind the scenes they are always rooting for the successes of one another. I would imagine that most of them find this entire subject to be preposterous. Just go take a look at some of your favorite wrestler’s tweets and retweets, especially in real time during premium live events or pay per views.

Ten years ago, the IWC was begging for something like AEW to come along and shake up the industry. Even the most diehard of WWE fans were looking for an alternative option, especially as the PG era began to really take shape.

That alternative option has arrived, so why can’t those same people embrace what AEW has created?

Something similar can be said about the pro wrestling connoisseurs that constantly bury the very idea of “sports entertainment,” despite the reality, that every pro wrestling promotion is in fact, also, a sports entertainment company. This “gatekeeping” is bad for the business. If we want to keep wrestling alive and thriving, we need to encourage and welcome new fans, regardless of which show they prefer.

You don’t have to like or watch either company. Watch them both like I choose every week, or you can watch one or the other. You don’t have to choose a side, but if you do, you don’t need to wear it around like a badge of honor.

Pro Wrestling is hot right now and not just for the major promotions. It’s true that we are living in a content boom unlike anything we’ve ever seen before and that provides unfathomable opportunity for creators.

This is a time where we all can find a community to be a part of and that’s pretty amazing. The IWC could be a special place if we all just let it be.