Earlier this month Neville walked out on the WWE and is currently attempting to get his release from the company, against their wishes, in order to work on the independants. Neville is currently set to walk down a path carved out by wrestlers like Cody Rhodes, Ryback, and Austin Aries.
I was born in 1995 and didn’t really get into wrestling until the mid 2000s, for as long as I’ve been a fan of wrestling WWE has been the only game in town and certainly the only major player on TV. Ever since I’ve started following wrestling writers and youtube channels on the internet all I’ve heard is about how great wrestling was in the attitude era and how it will never be that good again because no company can contend with the WWE anymore. The competition of the monday night wars produced some of the best wrestlers and characters the business has ever seen due to wrestlers having more freedom because they knew they could jump ship if they were being misused, sound familiar. Since the fall of WCW internet smark wisdom held that no company would ever match WWE again, and while no single company has come close to pulling in the cash or ratings of the WWE, the shear number of great independants has allowed them to collectively offer a better alternative for talented midcarders who have been lost in the shuffle of Raw and Smackdown.
The internet has allowed fans to find a wider variety of wrestling, and for smaller promotions to cultivate a following and build rosters from a mix of local wrestlers and bigger, well traveled stars like Marty Scurll and the Young Bucks to draw in huge numbers of fans both to live shows and online pay-per-view shows. Promotions like Ring of Honor, Global Force and PWG in America, Progress and WCPW in the UK and New Japan in get this Japan, have been able to collectively offer talent a profitable alternative to the WWE.
The current independent scene is in some ways reminiscent of the old territory system that was sacrificed to feed the Hulk Hogan era Golden age of the WWF. The territory system like the current independent system afforded wrestlers mobility and the opportunity to fine tune both their in ring skills and promo skills while not overstaying their welcome in one territory.
While it sucks to see guys like Neville leave the WWE it may be a sign of great things to come. After all the territory system and the monday night war gave birth to the two biggest peaks in wrestling history, the Golden era of mid to late 80s and the attitude era of the late 90s. Following that pattern it may be that this new more open landscape of wrestling may bring forth another high point in both wrestling as a whole and in the WWE.
Written By: Jason MacKinnon (@oohkillemjason)