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Creating an Alternative


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AEW is currently being hyped as an alternative to the WWE. Once upon a time that would have meant a roster full of athletic wrestlers having amazing matches. But the WWE product has changed. Arguably WWE also presents it's own alternative in the form of NXT.

Imagine you had to create an alternative to the WWE. You want to offer something different. What does that mean to you? A super serious sports league? A family product aimed at children? Game of Thrones meets wrestling? A triangular ring? Cats and trampolines? Spin the wheel to make the deal stipulation on every match? 

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It's a modern spin on Mid-South for me. It's big blokes clubbing each other. It's well defined faces and heels. It's a well produced hour of TV in a nice venue that's well lit and well attended, presented like a sports show with a southern voice on commentary and the owner of the territory, who is also the booker, getting across every angle as he sees it in his mind.

It's volitile but not violent, occassionally bloody for effect, and features  wrestlers who look like they can handle themselves talking and fighting a good game.

And it has colour. Loads and loads of colour. And face paint.

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21 minutes ago, tiger_rick said:

It's a modern spin on Mid-South for me. It's big blokes clubbing each other. It's well defined faces and heels. It's a well produced hour of TV in a nice venue that's well lit and well attended, presented like a sports show with a southern voice on commentary and the owner of the territory, who is also the booker, getting across every angle as he sees it in his mind.

It's volitile but not violent, occassionally bloody for effect, and features  wrestlers who look like they can handle themselves talking and fighting a good game.

And it has colour. Loads and loads of colour. And face paint.

Completely agree with this and it would probably be the only thing that could claim to be a true alternative as every other promotion is much of a muchness! I don't want clapping of moves or people dancing around each other. I want simulated combat that looks rough and ready, people who look different and characters!!!!

I'd also like to see an emphasis on rules, the reason people want to actually win matches and see people who actually cheat to win!

Edited by kieranjennings
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  • Something akin to Lucha Underground. Short (i.e. not three hours) regular episodes¬†with stories¬†that don‚Äôt take themselves seriously nor insult viewers, but give the wrestlers reasons to compete against each other.
  • Wrestlers who have characters that are marketable.
  • Prongs in all forms of digital media: YouTube; social media (Twitter, Instagram, etc); video games that could get the promotion visibility on things like Twitch in some way (be it competitions, roster/feature reveals, or whatever). Tapping into the zeitgeist as much as possible to get people invested in wrestlers as much as (and I loathe to) say,¬†an X-Factor or Love Island contestant.
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  • Two hours a week, maybe on different days¬† (1 on Monday and 1 on Thursday).
  • Three distinct 'tiers' - Heavyweight, Junior-Heavyweight and Tag Team - with titles.
  • Presented as a sport with weigh ins, a 'wrestling' theme rather than 'entertainment', press conferences etc.
  • A 'contenders' league - wins and losses mean something because you go toward or away from title matches and 'big money' rewards.
  • Three tournaments a year - HW, JHW and Tag - winners face the champion at the major event of the year.
  • Five 'PPV type' events with a 'Major PPV' once a year similar to Wrestle-Mania. I would go for June as the 'Big' event then August, October, December, February and April as the other months shows. It would allow 8 weeks build to the next event which is plenty of time to build a decent reason for a fight between talent.
  • Additional interviews, promos, backstory type videos on media platforms at 10 minutes in length max. Play into the age of poor attention spans - short, sharp highlights packages that people can tap into, get people interested and shared.
  • One mention of social media per hour. Don't 'do' a WWE with its constant 'trending now on Twitter' nonsense, it is irritating.¬†
  • A much more raw feel, gritty and unpolished. Take a page out of the Attitude era playbook, make it an event not a show.¬†
  • Podcast feuds. Get an announcer [think Mean Gene but an updated, cooler version] doing interviews with key wrestlers in the big feuds. Why it matters, why they hate each other, why they turned etc. Kayfabe the hell out of it, make it realistic, make it cool.
  • Cut cage matches, street fights and ladder matches to a minimum. At the most we are talking twice a year. Make them mean something, a true grudge match.¬†
  • Use tag matches with established and underneath talent to allow the greener guys to get experience and have upsets and build character. A little like NJPW but without it being overwhelming. You could go very NJPW and have factions or groups that support each other if you wanted to have a reason for the matches and teams.¬†
  • Never have a title match on free TV. Non-title matches should be used to propel wrestlers into 'big time' matches for titles. Make people pay for the privilege of seeing a title match.¬†
  • Utilise the titles properly. Create a 'wow' factor for title changes/champions. The lineage should be impressive and a title match should mean something. When was the last time the Intercontinental or Tag Team Title match was deemed a main event worthy of Summer Slam or Survivor Series? This would allow 'lesser' titles to gain prestige and allow the other tiers to have some recuperation time. If the Junior Heavyweight or Tag Title was important enough to main event it could free up the heavyweight guys to recover and vice versa.¬†
  • Allow the talent to come up with their own gimmicks and spots to get 'over'. Be much more organic with the story telling - go back to the good ol days of a rough idea and allow the guys to make it work. Work with what the fans give you, if they die for a heel turn, do it.¬†
  • Use guys that are new as cannon fodder - similar to the old AJPW attitude of making the younger guys earn their spots. It will, in the longer term, be rewarded by fans respect for the wrestlers and the feel good pay off when they finally 'make it'. Kobashi was an excellent example of someone who lost all the time only to build a following that wanted to see him win the big title.¬†
  • The biggest thing would be ditching the 'general manager' or 'evil owner' gimmick. Who would watch a company that is owned by an evil booker who isn't 'for' the fans? It was completely illogical and the hot shotting led to a short term gain but long term decline IMO.

In some ways what I propose is a Westernised version of NJPW. We have a much more serious, kayfabe based product with a no-nonsense style with tonnes of variety. The Juniors can carry the 'wow' factor, the tag titles can bring the drama and the heavyweight contenders can smash the hell out of each other. Plus it allows for recovery and gives guys the ability to graduate into the higher ranks - Juniors moving into Heavyweight etc. This whole system should allow new talent exposure and build character by working with established guys. Social media should be a means to an end but not the key focus of the whole damn show! 

Edited by Michael_3165
why not
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Not a clue what I’d want as an alternative, not really. Hilarious considering how much time I’ve wasted hate watching WWE! Off top of my head some stuff like . . .

A taped 90 minute show with steady storytelling, regular hooks and cliffhangers.

Keep the work as believable as possible. No big guys doing moonsalts or little guys out powering big guys.

Credible, protected interviewers, refs and announcers. If you want a coperate shill hire somebody to do that exclusively, don’t stick your play by play guy in that position.

No pandering to the crowd during promos. They should be looking to nix the ‚Äėyou deserve it‚Äô type bullshit and fan entitlement,¬†not¬†encouraging it.¬†

Establish match rules and be consistent with them. Opens up storytelling possibilities.

Nice, bright, but simple production. Different looking sets for big shows. No headache inducing camera cuts and zooms. Let things breath.

Find fresh ways to exploit the ‚Äėtv show‚Äô part of the show. Think back to the NWO fucking about with the graphics or the echo¬†in the production truck.

No authority figures on screen. Never. Have one appear in video if they’re needed for a controversy or whatever.   

Maintain kayfabe at all costs. No fourth wall bollocks, no shoot angles, no hugging and kissing on¬†Twitter, no wishy washy face/heel dynamics, no ‚Äėyou deserve it‚Äô childhood¬†dream bullshit.¬†Let me suspend my disbelief dam it!

Squash matches. Establish a hierarchy and actually book your stars like stars. 

Blood. Use is sparingly for hot main event feuds.

 

Edited by Mr Butternut Squash
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The main things that put me off WWE is the volume of content (I guess you can have too much of a good thing), the camera cuts and associated presentation awfulness in the HD era and characters I don't care about in waffer thin or meandering storytelling.

Anything that solves that would be great. The problem is I'm not one for the standard indy style (or the fans) so I struggle to engage with what I do catch and don't go in for steaming and all that to watch the stuff that's recommended.

I've quite enjoyed the bits of MLW I've caught and I'm keen to stick with it though.

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I think a stats based show could be interesting, people love shit like that now. A sort of Match of the Day presentation.

Presenters, pundits, a referee explaining the decisions, breakdowns of various techniques showing why they won the match or why they work.

in fact, I’d like some sort of league format. Take the 16 biggest cities in the US and Canada and maybe even 2 or 3 teams in Europe and give them squads, maybe the league is split into conferences so everyone has something to play for.

Play offs, finals, cup competitions.

drafts, transfer deadline day, it’d be great.

or shit, I don’t know.

youd still have storylines too in the way sports teams have grudges and local derbies except they’d be able to stew a little longer as they wouldn’t meet every week.

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I'd have a studio based show, but one that looked good where a panel discuss the events of the companies live event tours. Basically rather than a start to finish show in an arena the company tapes at most of it's live events in smaller but interesting locations; think good look theaters, Beach clubs etc but no arenas they are saved for big live events. Over the "week" )although stuff can be taped wherever whenever) different segments would occur  including matches and angles infront of crowds. If something is shit it gets taped another night, if a crowd is full of shitty neck beards they show doesn't get on TV.

The panel would discuss what happened, i like the previously mentioned idea of interviewing referees or others involved for analysis, they can break away to interviews and perhaps have 1 or 2 matches live in the studio if an audience in the studio was deemed necessary.

The general format would be to gravitate to characters with a purpose. I'd expect every main worker to be doing something, going somewhere. The creative process would be focused on what the characters reason is for being in wrestling and where it is going.

I'd want a late 80's early 90's throwback in terms of characters, story lines and behavior. Hell I might even make it a retro show. I like the term "Late Night Wrestling" for the TV show. 

I'd also expect my roster to be in the gym working out to get the right body for their part, noone should look like an average Joe without goo reason.

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It's difficult if your business model is being paid for live TV, but if you can get away with pre-recorded, I'd bring back two things from ECW that would feel alternative/fresh now:

1) The show is clearly a packaged affair rather than (whether live or taped) presented as a continuous 60/120/180 minutes.

2) The format is never fixed. You can start with an angle or a match or a backstage interview or a highlights video or whatever works for the stories you're telling and the quality of what you have available. Some weeks the show will have stuff from more than one live show. Some weeks it will be a single match in an hour, bookended by promos and post-match. Some weeks it will predominately be clips. Some weeks it will be two or three or four full-length matches. Some promos will be in ring, some backstage, some 'on location'.

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8 hours ago, tiger_rick said:

And it has colour. Loads and loads of colour. And face paint.

God, yes. A thousand times, this.

In much the same way that Raw became the dream show of mid-2000 smart fans, filled with long, drawn out matches, it also feels like everyone turned into boring E-fed characters from 2003. No-one wears masks or facepaint anymore. There's no colour whatsoever.

Practically everyone's look is, "black trunks, beard, wet hair, serious face." 

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13 hours ago, JNLister said:

SomeÔĽŅ weeks the show will have stuff from more than one live show. SomeÔĽŅ weeks it will be a single match in an hour, bookended by promos and post-match. SomeÔĽŅ weeks ÔĽŅit will predominately be clips. Some weeks it will be two or three or four full-length matches. Some promos will be ÔĽŅin ring, some backstage, some 'on location'.

So NXT then? 

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19 hours ago, tiger_rick said:

It's a modern spin on Mid-South for me. It's big blokes clubbing each other. It's well defined faces and heels. It's a well produced hour of TV in a nice venue that's well lit and well attended, presented like a sports show with a southern voice on commentary and the owner of the territory, who is also the booker, getting across every angle as he sees it in his mind.

It's volitile but not violent, occassionally bloody for effect, and features  wrestlers who look like they can handle themselves talking and fighting a good game.

And it has colour. Loads and loads of colour. And face paint.

To add to this, everything takes place inside the ring or during an interview.  No backstage skits, no spoopy promo videos, just people fighting or getting interviewed about their upcoming fight.

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One thing I always thought was pretty cool was a promotion based around teams or factions, like DG. It allows for more nuance as regards blue-eyes and villains, without getting too complex, because the motivation is always clear.

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