That question may seem perplexing to starved WWE — and to an extent, TNA — fans, but beyond the realm of Divas and Knockouts, there is a wide range of women’s wrestling to be consumed on an independent level. To this writer, it’s always perplexing when fans say they want women’s wrestling but aren’t willing to look beyond the mainstream for it — especially in this day and age, when it could be argued that there may be too much women’s wrestling.
When we first launched Diva Dirt in 2008, the most notable independent female promotions were SHIMMER and WSU. The pair were by and large the two predominant promotions around; both enjoyed success by offering an alternative to the women’s wrestling on television, and by having few competitors. While women’s promotions weren’t completely unheard of in the new millennium before SHIMMER came along (ChickFight predated both it and WSU), SHIMMER was perhaps the most well known. WSU would nip at its heels with a product more rough around the edges, until 2010 when it ultimately helped change the women’s wrestling landscape for good. (More on that later.) Fast forward to 2012 and it’s hard to keep count of the number of promotions available. And with the recent announcements of another newbie, the unfortunately titled BLOW, and Amber O’Neal‘s ArenaChicks expanding into the Internet pay per view territory, I can’t help but ponder if too much of a good thing is, well, a bad thing?
Perhaps spurred by the successes of existing promotions, we’ve seen new additions to the women’s wrestling portfolio grow at an exponential rate; some competing alongside SHIMMER and WSU in the United States (SHINE, ArenaChicks, AIW’s Girls Night Out are notable), and others being more territory-based such as Europe’s Pro-Wrestling: EVE and Montreal’s NCW Femmes Fatales. Of course, this concept isn’t just exclusive to women’s wrestling: you see a hit TV show, the following year you’ll see multiple similar shows (and even this website has inspired countless similar ones over the years).
While, in theory, it’s great to have all of this women’s wrestling to watch, can the already small, niche audience handle all of the products available and aren’t promoters losing out because of all of the competition?
That latter question may be better answered by a promoter. In fact, it will, so watch this space for an exclusive column from EVE promoter Dann Read. But as for the first question, I personally cannot find myself keeping up with all of the different products out there (as much as I would like to). Most of us have a job and/or a household to run, so then, who has the time or money to watch everything? Between SHIMMER, WSU, Femmes Fatales, Girls Night Out, ArenaChicks, EVE, and all the newcomers vying for our attention, it’s probable that the majority of fans will be more selective in choosing which promotions they give their time and money to. This has a knock-on effect; some promoters who previously had a fan’s custom may no longer have it. On an independent level, this could be the difference between life and death due to the cyclical nature of the business: independent promotions rely on ticket, DVD and iPPV sales to fund their next shows. It also means that the wrestlers, who may be enjoying all of the extra bookings right now, may soon lose out, too, as — you guessed it — those sales also help pay their booking fees.
It’s almost ironic that the very medium which helped grow the niche that is independent women’s wrestling — the Internet — may be the very reason it becomes an oversaturated, bloated marketplace. With the advent of the Internet pay per view and video on demand in wrestling, there’s more choice and more product than ever. Again, it seems that, spurred by the success of WSU, which in my estimation changed the game female-wise for wrestling with its move into the iPPV market, more promotions are trying their hand and giving fans more choice than, really, they know what to do with. With SHINE running every month, EVE making its iPPV debut this year (full disclosure: in conjunction with Diva Dirt), ArenaChicks expanding into the field, and newcomer BLOW launching via iPPV later this year, I can’t help but feel someone is going to miss out. While I was happy to drop a certain amount every few months for WSU when it was the sole female event on iPPV, with all of the new entries, do the majority of fans have the time or money to consume every iPPV available to them? Well, I guess we’ll find out, but the likely answer is ‘No’.
Another aspect to consider is the crossover of talent between different promotions. With the same talent appearing in several different promotions, playing several different characters, it’s difficult to keep up with the talent, too. And frankly, some of us don’t want to keep up. The gutsy, heart-of-a-champion Mercedes Martinez I know and love from WSU is not the same Mercedes Martinez you see in SHIMMER or SHINE, and if you watch all three promotions, juggling two to three different versions of Mercedes Martinez is a hassle. More problematic than Martinez (for me, anyway) is getting used to seeing SHINE’s version of Allysin Kay in a group that isn’t the one that made her famous in WSU: the Midwest Militia. Instead, I’m seeing her as part of a new duo, Made in Sin. It doesn’t quite compute after seeing her as one third of arguably the best group to come along in women’s wrestling in some time, a group that took the scene by storm in 2011. Would I rather not see more of the Midwest Militia? Granted, each promotion wants to tell their own stories and create their own characters for the talent, and that’s understandable, but fans again have a choice — they can decide to stick to seeing one version of the talent they like, which means other promotions using the same talent in a different role may miss out on their custom.
Can you have too much of a good thing? In this case, I’m beginning to feel you can. The amount of promotions and product popping up is becoming overwhelming, and if women’s wrestling reaches that dreaded saturation point, I can’t help but feel that everyone — from promoters, to wrestlers, to fans — will lose out.
What do you think of this issue? What are your viewing habits? Tell us in the comments or via Twitter (@divadirt)!