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Trades in Wrestling? Why The Hell Not?
Trades are a part of everyday life. Whether it be in a grade school lunchroom or on Wall Street, trades or bartering as it is sometimes called, are part of what helps make the world go around. The trades I prefer to talk about pertain to sports and/or the sports entertainment business. This blog is a little different than what I would normally write, but considering the stagnate condition of Professional Wrestling, yes I said PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING, I would like to throw out an idea or topic that people might not have thought about before.
I’m sure we all know what the word trade means, but to keep it simple and make sure we are all on the same page here are a few definitions:
1. The business of buying and selling commodities; commerce.
2. The act or an instance of buying or selling; transaction.
3. An exchange of one thing for another.
You get the idea and I’ll get on with my point of this blog. I would venture to guess that roughly ¾ of wrestling fans around the world are interested in other sports as well. I, myself, am a fan of the big 3 mainly: Football, Basketball and Baseball, with some other sports sprinkled in here and there. We all follow specific teams and want them to do well and make the playoffs and win championships and all that good stuff. Other than that what is one of the things that we as fans look forward to whether it be in an offseason or during the regular season? Trades. Who’s rumored to go to what team and for whom and for how much money as well as whether the trade is good or bad and will it help “our” team? I could also throw free agency out there, but wrestling already has free agent type signings. My question to all of the fans out there is this: Why are there no trades in the world of wrestling? Think about that question. REALLY think about it. When I sit and really think about it I cannot come up with one good reason why trades cannot exist in the world of professional wrestling. I realize that there would be many obstacles and it would take several hours of deliberations and agreements between the major organizations, namely WWE and TNA, but considering the current state of the business today there is no reason why should this idea not be considered.
Back in the territory days of wrestling, the owners got together and decided which territory’s champion or star would capture and the NWA Championship belt. The individual territories would make a case for their star and why said star should get the strap. Whoever they agreed would win the belt would in turn travel and defend the belt in all of the other various territories. Many greats wore the gold, most notably guys like Harley Race, Ric Flair and “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. The reason I bring this up only to help prove my point, not to give a history lesson. If all of these egos can get together in a room for the sake of good business back then, then why can’t it be done today?
There would be plenty of skepticism going forward in today’s business because it is on a much larger scale and there is more at stake, let alone the precedent that such a bold move would set. However, this is not out of the realm of possibility in my opinion. Vince has had agreements in place here and there where he has shared one of his talents. He always let Jerry Lawler work outside of the WWE even when he was a more active wrestler. What about the working agreement he had going with Paul Heyman when he was still running ECW? Remember Jerry Lawler’s feud with Tommy Dreamer? The same type of agreements can and should be made with other “outside” wrestling organizations for the sake of giving wrestling fans all over the world what we want and that is new life to be breathed into a not quite, but slowly dying business. When I say dying, I don’t mean it in the sense that wrestling will die out completely. It will always be around in some way, shape, or form. What I am talking about is the business dying creatively. There hasn’t been enough freshness going on with storylines to create that great buzz-worthy environment on a consistent basis. Hopefully with The Shield storyline in the WWE, they can make amends for past failures on storylines of the same nature. On the TNA side, they had the hottest storyline in all of wrestling with the Ace’s and Eights, but they have dragged that out for so long now with minimal payoff that it has grown boring and stale.
Getting on with my point of this blog, there is a way to save the wrestling business for everyone, various wrestling organizations and fans alike. As crazy as it sounds and I know I am going to get ripped for this, that way involves trades. Simpler put, it involves the trading of wrestlers from one organization to another for the sake of helping out the talent, who are getting paid, but not getting utilized or pulling their weight. It is for the sake of companies who may have a great idea, but not quite the right personnel to pull it off in the way it was intended. It is for the sake of a creatively slowing business and for the sake of the fan who gets tired of seeing the same old thing week after week and on PPV month after month.
Just how could this possibly work you ask? How do trades in baseball or football work? All of the teams are run by separate owners as their own entity. It’s the same in wrestling. WWE is their own entity and TNA Impact is their own entity. Baseball, basketball and football teams all have many players under contract. Some of the players are in a developmental system or “minor league” and some of them are on the main or “major league” roster. It is the same in wrestling. In the WWE they have the NXT, formerly known as FCW as their developmental system and TNA Impact now run Ohio Valley Wrestling as theirs. Since wrestlers are just like players in team sports that are all under contract, why couldn’t Vince or Dixie pull off a trade of talent? Vince virtually eliminated all of his competition over the years and this would be a great way to utilize all of the talent across the wrestling world and give everyone a competitive chance to lessen that gap between organizations. Obviously, just as in team sports, there are some smaller markets out there that wouldn’t reap as much of the benefit as say a TNA or Ring of Honor would, but unfortunately there is no real way around that without the money being there. This is where the older or past stars come in and lend themselves to the independents as their draw for less money. This is still a good practice because it allows these guys who are past their prime to make a living and connect with the fans.
There are some main obstacles that would have to be overcome in this idea of trades in Professional Wrestling, but ones that could be resolved. I can see contracts being a big issue and ultimately it would probably change how they get written in the future for almost all wrestlers across the board. I’m sure we would see no trade clauses start popping up for the more developed stars who like where they are and don’t want to leave. The biggest obstacle for the owners/ promoters to overcome would be the non-compete clauses that they almost all employ with their talent. Times have changed. Vince has shown that he needs that competition to put out the best product. He has always been the fiercest of competitors who will stop at nothing to be the best. The problem is that he has eliminated any and all threats to him and the product has suffered greatly for it. There is no sense of urgency. Instead of worrying about who is beating who in the ratings and how can he overcome them, he is worrying about dropping Raw back down to 2 hours? The whole thing just does not make sense to me and wrestling needs to get with the program and change with the times. The idea of trading in wrestling is less about the talent going somewhere else and becoming a bigger star there and more about getting something in return for what an organization had and seeing what can be made of it by another organization. It is a win-win for all parties involved if done right. Are there going to be some bad trades? Absolutely, but if you ask me, this would make things more competitive at a quicker rate and would result in greater rivalries and a greater product all around in the world of wrestling.
I would very interested to hear what the rest of RSN Land thinks about all this as well as anyone else who cares to chime in be it via twitter (@JTSRussell) or Facebook. Have I officially lost it? Am I completely out of my mind for thinking this can and should be done? Probably and I know it isn’t very realistic, but it is my opinion and the object for me was to create an intelligent and very debatable topic. I feel like I have succeeded. I look forward to hearing from all of you and offering my rebuttals to any disputes or negative feedback.
I leave you for now with this thought. Without knowing the monetary value of wrestler’s contracts, what kind of trade would you try and pull off? Who are the expendables? Who are the untouchables within companies? Who would you go after and give up whatever you had to to get? The possibilities are endless. Expand your minds and join me on this little trip through a fantasy land that should be a reality.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and again, I hope to hear from each and every one of you.
Till Next Time…Peace Out Y’all!!
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