Competition is good for business. Every major “boom period” in WWE’s history has seen WWE having a top competitor. When WWE was first forming into the titan it is today, the United States was full of territorial promotions. In the 1990’s WWE saw a heated rivalry with Ted Turner’s WCW promotion. As WWE began to purchase all of its top competitors, the company began to take less chances. With no real threat to their flagship programming, WWE has been able to “play it safe” with characters and story archs. Without an ambitious, young compnay on the heels of Vince McMahon, WWE has become bland in recent years. Is it possible WWE will ever see another rival?
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling was founded in 2002 after the collapse of WCW. Jeff Jarrett and father Jerry. WWE was the only top promotion left in the United States, leading many to believe wrestling was bad for business. TNA began as a pay-per-view program, not reliant on television broadcasting deals. However, as TNA continued to grow, they eventually found a home on Spike TV, where the flagship show, Impact, has been a mainstay since 2005. TNA has slowly become the second largest wrestling promotion in the United States. However, WWE doesn’t seem to recognize the promotion as competition. While TNA has spoken freely about WWE on their program, WWE has only referred to TNA in tongue in cheek references. While TNA consistently pulls in just over one million viewers each week, WWE reports far stronger numbers (roughly 4 million weekly viewers). WWE has seen no decline in pay-per-view sales either.
In May of 2011, Ring of Honor announced that it would begin to broadcast a weekly television event. The wrestling world rejoiced as the top independent promotion finally got to showcase its roster on a larger platform. Ring of Honor has made a name for itself as an alternative to WWE’s programming and is known for its in-ring action as opposed to WWE’s sports entertainment model. However, Ring of Honor is not broadcast worldwide. The show is only seen in select markets and its pay-per-view events are all online affairs. Where-as WWE is viewed in 150 countries (in 30 different languages) worldwide. Although Ring of Honor is growing, it is unlikely the promotion will become steady competition for WWE in the near future.
As WWE continues a trend of steady ratings and pay-per-view buys, the company has not seen a significant ratings spike in some time. With no real competition in sight, the company continues to produce safe television programming with no risks. Could another company rise to the same level and challenge WWE for the top spot, just as WCW did in the 1990s? Anything is possible in the world of professional wrestling but for now, it seems highly unlikely.