WWE has no equal…and that sucks.

If you have WWE stock, it’s time to sell.

The company’s value has never reached better heights than this year. Big money TV deals sent WWE’s stock market value skyrocketing and despite sinking ratings and a mostly-frustrated fanbase, Vince McMahon’s pockets have never been heavier.

But there are cracks in the foundation that threaten to knock them off their high perch…albeit only slightly.

The Saudi Arabian show, Crown Jewel, will happen as scheduled, despite the government admitting to murdering an American journalist. Everything about this feels dirty and wrong. It’s easy to roll your eyes and say “they’re carnies; they don’t care where the money comes from, so long as it comes in.” And I get that, but before now it was easy to see WWE as lovable carnies that maybe run the “throw the ball in the fish bowl” game at the Fair, and not the shady “keep the roller coaster propped up on cinderblocks” carnies that everyone knows to stay away from.

Doing a PPV in a country that refuses to allow women wrestlers even to appear on the card is bad enough. Running propaganda videos for the country is even worse. Everything bad about it earlier this year, when WWE hosted the stupidly-titled “Greatest Royal Rumble,” is ten-times worse today, in light of recent events.

And then there’s the money.

“It’s a business,” you say, “of course Vince is going to take the cheque. When has he ever been principled?”

True, but it’s dirtier now than ever. Watching legends of yesteryear, including Shawn Michaels—whose retirement was the only one I was sure would stick—trot merrily down the ring, selling out for what probably is a humongous payday just feels dirty. I feel dirty watching it.

In fact, I don’t plan to.

Not that Vince cares. He’s got the money whether I watch or not; whether you watch or not. Even if no one watches, the WWE still gets paid. Knowing that, and watching the performers I’ve been following for nearly twenty years sell out to a truly evil regime, makes me want to wash my hands of it all. Seeing the WWE become a plaything to a Saudi Prince—whose father presumably ordered the death of the American journalist and who refuses to let his family leave the country—is disgraceful. Why is Shawn Michaels even competing? Why Undertaker? It’s because the Saudis asked for it. It’s because the guy writing the cheques hasn’t watched the product since 1998 and only wants to see those old hands, the way a child plays with his toys.

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I could ask why Sami Zayn isn’t competing, but I already know the answer and it has nothing to do with how healthy he is. On the other hand, his health has everything to do with his not being invited; the government WWE is in bed with would be compelled to arrest him on sight for the crime of having a different nationality (Zayn is of Syrian descent).

So if all this disgusts you as much as me, let me put a cherry on top of all this: Nothing is going to change. The stock may dip, what with the PR hit and the recent Roman Reigns departure, but nothing’s going to change. Nothing will change until someone else comes along and forces WWE to change.

And that’s not going to happen either.

Sure there’s always some wealthy businessman who thinks about getting in the pro wrestling business, but whether they do or don’t, it never matters. WWE keeps rolling and no one ever makes them break a sweat. A wealthy businessman might have success (even without actually coming close to “competing” with WWE) if he put money into an already existing company like TNA to help them with production value, talent acquisition and TV distribution.

But even then you’re looking at a late-WCW situation where an unprofitable venture bleeds money hoping for an eventual (but likely never materializing) day when enough non-WWE fans buy-in. Running a business model on hopes and dreams is never a good look, which is why the aforementioned businessmen who invest often end up washing their hands of such ventures after dabbling for a while.

WWE has too many structural advantages, both in terms of distribution deals and raw capital, to be competed against on anything close to equal footing. WCW had Turner money and the whole framework of the old NWA to build onto. Once the former ran out and the latter ran off, the company cratered.

The amount of cash you need to run a profitable pro wrestling company, one that actually makes enough money to be a worthwhile venture for big money backers is…well I should just stop because it’s a paradox. You’ll never have enough cash to do it because it’ll always take more cash than you have.

Nothing will bring down WWE except for WWE.

Not even Vince McMahon could start a wrestling company from scratch right now and succeed, setting aside the fact that he’s old and out of touch and doesn’t actually like “wrestling” anyway. If Vince retired today, handed the company to Triple H, took a billion dollars on his way out the door and started his own new wrestling company, even THAT would not be able to compete with WWE.

WWE simply has too many structural advantages that are already baked in, through years of being around, through celebrity endorsements, through brand recognition, and most important of all: WWF/E has been in the middle of two lightning in a bottle fads, the 80’s wrestling boom and the late-90’s Monday Night Wars. They started the former and won the latter. You can’t create a fad (at least not purposefully; you always just sort of stumble into them and ride the wave). Duplicating one is even more impossible, especially if you’re starting from scratch.

“But maybe,” you say, “those companies—ROH, TNA, etc—all failed to take a big bite out of the marketplace because they’re trying too hard to be WWE-lite. Maybe someone needs to come along and try something different with pro wrestling!”

Lucha Underground is the first wrestling promotion that has tried to do something different. How’s that worked out? There’s not enough money or interest for it to be a viable alternative from a business standpoint. The others like ROH and TNA just try to copy the formula with only minor tweaks and they’re basically invisible in terms of public awareness.

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It’s like trying to start up another professional football league in the USA. Are there things wrong with the NFL? Obviously, but those frustrated fans aren’t going to switch to a UFL or an AAFL or a USFL or an XFL because of a half-century of brand loyalty; it’s insidious like that.

Sorry to disappoint those of you hoping WWE will finally yield to a new number one, but the fact is WWE’s standing is so secure and, more importantly, so all-encompassing, that every start-up that even thinks about thriving alongside them is doomed to fail because it’ll be a money loser. A small company like ROH can work because they have no aspirations to be anything more than a mid-major company that brings in just enough profit to stay alive. But even they won’t be around forever: Money will run out eventually, and if not, WWE has more than enough to keep buying talent, not to use them but to keep them away from those mid-majors, eventually killing the competition they really don’t even have.

WWE is the NFL, which makes the eventual second-failure of Vince’s XFL even more hilarious…and frustrating.

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