The New Evolution of Pro Wrestling


For the last couple of years, ever since All Elite Wrestling was formed, many fans, critics, journalists, and more have proclaimed AEW as the new ECW. There is plenty of evidence to show a parallel there.

Back in the mid-to-late 90s, when professional wrestling was booming, Extreme Championship Wrestling grew and cultivated a rabid fanbase. Fans that embraced ECW’s style of pro wrestling and rejected all others as posers. As corporate. As the system trying to hold down the little guy.

In a way, All Elite Wrestling felt the same when it first started in 2019. It embraced the indie wrestling side of things. Where WWE had the glitz and glamour; the stadium shows and million-dollar stage pieces, AEW had the “real wrestlers.” The wrestlers who didn’t do it for the money, but for the love of the business (though many AEW stars were offered profitable contracts). For a brief period, it seemed AEW was the new ECW.


But, as Yoda once said, “there is another.” A small indie company that has quietly been wading in the waters. A company that was revived and rebranded in 2015. In the last eighteen months or so, it has been putting on shows, cultivating a rabid fanbase much like the original ECW did, even doing so without television.
GCW. Game Changer Wrestling.

This past weekend saw their wrestling event The Wrld on GCW and the internet was abuzz. It had indie stars such as Blake Christian, Allie Catch, and AJ Gray. But it also promoted mainstream names like Jon Moxley and Matt Cardona. Wrestling Twitter was all over the place with Marko Stunt showing up, Brian Myers shocking assistance of Cardona, and Nick Gage finally appearing after many fans thought the GCW star wasn’t going to be booked.

The saying “if you know then you know” has maybe never been more apropos than when talking about GCW. What started as a small company putting on shows over the last two decades has grown into what some may call the premier indie wrestling company today. The Wrld on GCW proved just how much of a devoted following the wrestling company has. Maybe even more committed than your AEW supporter.

Where the original had ECW had Mikey Whipwreck, GCW has Effy. Where ECW had Tommy Dreamer, GCW has Joey Janela. Where Extreme Championship Wrestling had the crazy and wild Sandman and Sabu, Game Changer Wrestling as Nick Gage. None of these comparisons are based on their in-ring skill, but the emotional connection to their die-hard fanbase.
GCW fans are the new ECW fans.

Which brings us to this new evolution of pro wrestling. If GCW is the new ECW, that would make AEW the new WWE. Not in a sense of WWE’s failings and unable to let talent get over by either putting them in Mad Max cosplay or changing their names. No, AEW is the new WWE in that many wrestlers coming up want to work for the company. The WWE of the attitude era.
That doesn’t mean WWE isn’t a logical, and to some people still a meaningful aspiration, but their recent track record is on display for everyone to see. You can look at examples such as Keith Lee, Karrion Kross, even the relaunched NXT 2.0.

So, if GCW is the new ECW, and AEW is the new WWE, what does that make WWE? Dare I say WWE is the new WCW?

Not the WCW Viagra on a Pole match. Not WCW of late 2000 and 2001, when ratings were tanking and they couldn’t save themselves. When I say WWE is the new WCW, I mean the late nineties. The time of the fabled 83 weeks of Nitro beating Monday Night Raw in the ratings. But even after that, there was still a hint of professionalism for WCW. It might’ve not been the place ever wrestler aspired to go to, but it was a good company that for a time was still a draw. They just didn’t seem to know what to do with the talent they had.

WWE isn’t a horrible place to go. Sure, they may make asinine name changes, ridiculous zombie movie-tie ins, and finish matches with referees pleading with wrestlers to not go too far in a Hell in a Cell match, but it’s still WWE. It’s still World Wrestling Entertainment. A billion-dollar company that has all the brand-name recognition to get companies like ESPN and shows Good Morning America to report on them.

If you’re a wrestler and you feel you’ve gone as far as you can go on the indies and want to go where wrestlers can be themselves, contribute to entertaining storylines, and be part of some of the best wrestling in America, many want to go to AEW. But if you’ve made a name for yourself and think you can do better than AEW, especially monetarily wise, WWE seems to be the new WCW.

The place Kevin Nash and Scott Hall defected to for a bigger paycheck. The place Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage went to later in their career. Like WCW with Turner money behind them in their heyday, WWE still has that world-wide reach. Wrestlers just have to be aware that adjustments may be made, and they might even get it wrong.

In the end, whether it’s staying indie and considering yourself punk rock and not a sellout (whatever that means in today’s world), wanting to venture into new territory where the words “professional wrestler” are embraced and not frowned upon, or you want the bright lights of WrestleMania and believe you can be one of the few lucky ones to main event the Showcase of the Immortals, the choices for pro wrestlers today seem abundant. And all of us wrestling fans get to enjoy whatever kind of wrestling we want.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.