WWE announced this week that their developmental federation NXT will be running a show on May 16th in Albany, New York. This show is planted firmly between two shows scheduled by successful independent promotion 2CW (Squared Circle Wrestling) out of Syracuse, New York. 2CW is having a show in Amsterdam, New York on the 15th that is less than an hour from Albany, and their follow up show the day after the NXT show is within two hours driving distance.
I would find it hard to believe that this booking is coincidental, especially after the poll that WWE sent out asking fans which independent promotions they support where 2CW was one of the choices. The promotion is very successful, drawing over 2,000 fans to events numerous times and putting on high-quality shows that have put 2CW at the top of the conversation as arguably the best independent wrestling promotion in the United States.
The poster for the event features Kevin Owens planted firmly in the center, who is a former 2CW Champion. I understand it isn’t uncommon for the company’s champion to be featured on a promotional piece (Owens is NXT champion), but he is a highly popular wrestler in central New York largely in part to his performances in 2CW.
It will be interesting to see how this event will affect 2CW’s ticket sales, if it will affect them at all. Fans are very loyal to the promotion (some have tattoos of their logo), but I could see casual fans that only want to spend money on one show that weekend skipping the independent scene to attend the well-known NXT. I believe this is the WWE’s goal.
The question most people would ask is why would WWE care about independent wrestling? I think their track record of wanting to be the only game in town (or the world) would answer this. It doesn’t matter if you are a giant promotion like WCW or a small independent company, WWE wants you gone. Any money spent on independent wrestling (such as 2,000 ticket sales) is money the WWE feels should be spend on them.
2CW could be on WWE’s radar for being part of the RAWLTERNATIVE event earlier this year, where many independent companies in the U.S. came together to broadcast a show on YouTube at the same time as WWE’s Monday Night Raw. The show was designed for fans that may be bored with WWE’s programming and to offer them the alternative style that independent wrestling showcases.
I asked 2CW’s owner Josh Jeanneret if he thinks that WWE is targeting independent promotions and he gave me a resounding “Yes.” I will be speaking to him further after the shows in May.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffLane22