Every year the pro wrestling and sports entertainment world has a number of signature events that fan clamour to see. With all the changes in the industry over the last couple of years, we have reached a point where there are significant milestones that could be reached which will have an impact on the genre for years to come.
WrestleKingdom 12 – although it’s already passed, WrestleKingdom 12 is on this list because it represented a major milestone for New Japan Pro Wrestling. The company had been gaining attention it the West for a few years but with the inclusion of major WWE Superstar Chris Jericho in the semi or double main event against international wrestling’s hottest star Kenny Omega, the event was slated to give that growth another huge jolt.
With increases across the board in attendance, revenue, and New Japan World subscriptions, the event did just that. The quest for another major league wrestling company for fans in North America just took a giant step forward.
Starrcade – in 2017 WWE decided to bring back the annual Thanksgiving tradition to the Greensboro area. While the event was highly criticized for not being on the WWE Network so fans everywhere could enjoy it, locally it was a success and it did spark the conversation with newer fans about wrestling history.
Starrcade, and even more so Thanksgiving Wrestling in Greensboro, became a major topic again in the community, having its tradition dating back several decades. In 2018, WWE will present this event on the Network and hopefully will restore that tradition, one that ironically enough the company itself had a major hand in eliminating three decades ago.
Strong Style Evolved – The second part of New Japan’s entry into this is the Strong Style Evolved event which is the second NJPW run show in the states following last year’s G1 Special.
To also be held in Long Beach, this time they’re going to a proper arena at the Pyramid that can hold far more fans than the event did last year. If New Japan is able to have another sell out, which given the speed at which tickets sold out last year shouldn’t be an issue, this will be yet another step towards variety in North American wrestling.
Progress At Wembley – Over in the UK, the pro wrestling scene has arguably been one of the hottest, and somewhat underreported trends in the industry for a few years now. Progress Wrestling has been at the forefront of this and in 2018 they will be holding an event at Wembley’s SSE Arena which can hold 12,500 fans for a wrestling show. It’s the same arena the London NXT TakeOver took place in which marks the first time in years that a non-WWE promotion will run a show in a venue.
The attendance of this show is not a guarantee but simply having the visual of a Progress Wrestling show in such a venue is powerful, and if they do manage to get close to a sell out, it will be a tremendous statement that the UK scene is back in full force.
However, it will be a challenge given the climate of North American wrestling’s fanbase. Many suspect that they’ll need heavy hitters like Daniel Bryan or CM Punk to reach that number.
All In – Speaking of attendance, what started out as a response to the opinion that they couldn’t sell 10,000 seats by Dave Meltzer, Cody and The Young Bucks have taken that as a challenge and concepted the All In event for September 1st of 2018.
While at the time of this video a location hasn’t been announced, this event is perhaps the most important of all the others on this list for several reasons. The first being that if it is successful it would be the first non-WWE wrestling show to draw such a number since WCW closed it’s doors in 2001. The second, this event unlike the others isn’t sponsored by an actual wrestling promotion. Cody and The Bucks are putting up their own money to fund the event. Thirdly, there are many who doubt their ability to draw such numbers.
Given that most Ring of Honor shows that feature this faction often sell out 2,000 to 5,000 seat venues in advance, I’m not so sure it’s a stretch for them to get there. However, it will be a challenge given the climate of North American wrestling’s fanbase. Many suspect that they’ll need heavy hitters like Daniel Bryan or CM Punk to reach that number. By this summer, we should know whether or not this is a fool’s venture or if Cody has actually taken up the mantle of his late father as a successful pro wrestling promoter.
2017 could be seen as a year where the seeds were planted for this growth of international and indie wrestling. With the increase in attendance and visibility and interest for these other wrestling companies as well as the renewed investment by WWE to re-establish long lost traditions for local areas, 2018 might be the year we see what fruit those seeds with bare.