Back in May of 2017, an honest question from a fan prompted an honest answer from everybody’s favorite “star man” Dave Meltzer. When faced with the idea of Ring of Honor selling 10,000 tickets to a live event, Uncle Dave quipped, “Not any time soon.”. After hearing this, Cody Rhodes fired back with what may be the most pivotal, “Hold my beer,” that wrestling has seen in years. Joined by the Young Bucks, they decided to gather up all their friends, and with ROH’s blessing, put on a show. “All-In”, with it’s star power and grassroots hype machine, could very well be the genesis of something we have not seen in over 17 years….legitimate competition for the WWE.
Trust me, I am not getting ahead of myself here. As always I am just calling it like a see it. Cody Rhodes has managed to something that nobody else has been able to do. He created a big time event out of nothing. When tickets went on sale in May, they sold out in a half hour. 10,000 tickets, in 30 minutes, not a single match announced, and only a handful of confirmed performers. It may not seem like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but its a BIG FREAKING DEAL. If you don’t believe me, here are some numbers to back it up.
1997 is arguably one greatest years in the history of wrestling. It was the heart of the Monday Night Wars, and WWF and WCW were must-see TV every week for wrestling fans. Both companies put on 25 PPV events combined that year. Out of those 25, only 12 were in venues over 10,000 people. That’s less than half! Some of the biggest stars who ever breathed were active at this time, countless Hall of Famers, and they weren’t in arenas in the 5 figures. This is a significant stat that cannot be looked over, especially by the WWE in 2018.
Now I’m not naive enough to think the McMahon family(Triple H included) are shaking in their proverbial boots, because they shouldn’t be. But it would be against their better judgement not to at least sit up in their chairs. There is no true threat to the WWE right now. NJPW is an excellent product. It’s viewership in the US is growing every day, especially since it is readily available to watch or stream on their pay site and AXS TV. Yet they can not been seen as a viable competitor because of simple geography. They are half a world away, and aren’t kicking down the doors in Stamford. They are an excellent alternative when we need a break from the WWE, but that’s where it ends. “All-In”, and to a point ROH, can change all that on September 1st. Cody and the Bucks are putting together something that nobody has had the balls to do since Eric Bischoff, and they are doing it in the WWE’s backyard.
Speaking of backyards we can not ignore the ROH/NJPW Supercard show at Madison Square Garden next Wrestlemania weekend. As a native New Yorker, MSG and wrestling go hand in hand. For years it has been WWE’s home field, and I’ve seen a bunch of amazing shows in that hallowed building. Running shows Mania week is nothing new, but having one THERE, on THEIR biggest weekend, is a warning shot right across the bow of Titan Towers.
This week with the announcement of “All-In” being available for viewing on the Fite TV App adds another wrinkle to this already compelling story. The show is already a success based on the gate, and with the buzz being created, as well as matches finally being announced, it primed to be a landmark event in the history of the industry. Even if the show is bad, it won’t matter. Why? Because they were able to pull it off. The Starrcast convention being held that week is just icing on the cake. Now it’s interactive. The fans are getting what they always dreamed…a wrestling weekend that is about THEM.
As a fan I have no choice but to be excited for this event. A lot of that has to do with Cody Rhodes. He is one of the most fascinating wrestling stories of the last decade. He is on his way to being the first guy in the post-WCW era to have success in WWE, leave the company on his own terms, and be even more successful on his own. He has the knowledge, the talent, and the pedigree to change the business as we see it. Could Rhodes become the next Vince McMahon? Probably not, but that’s not what the WWE should be concerned with. From the WWE’s perspective, the scarier outcome is that he becomes the first Cody Rhodes.