November 30, 2023

New Fury Media

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How Wrestling Shaped American Identity State by State

Wrestling has always played a significant role in American pop culture, bringing not only entertainment but also considerable economic advantages.

This article delves into the economic effects of wrestling by state, with a particular focus on the impact of Ohio Valley Wrestling. We’ll also explore the stories of some of the biggest stars to grace the wrestling stage, look forward to a new wrestling-focused Netflix show, and examine the financial might of WWE’s flagship event: WrestleMania.

Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW)

OVW is more than just a wrestling school. It represents the history, the struggle, and the passion of wrestlers trying to make a mark in the industry.

Background and Financial Overview

Ohio Valley Wrestling, situated in Louisville, KY, once operated as an independent promotion. However, its influence grew when it collaborated with WWE as a developmental territory. The wrestling school now boasts a revenue of $3.8 million and has 41 employees. Keeping them on their toes are rivals like Apex Wrestling School, Bordercitywrestling, and SantinoBros.

Former Smoky Mountain Wrestling, ECW, and WWE wrestler Al Snow has owned Ohio Valley Wrestling since 2018 (as majority owner at first and as minority owner since 2021). Snow also worked as a road agent for TNA (later named Impact Wrestling) from 2010 to 2017.

Former Ties With WWE and Iconic Alumni

During its association with WWE, OVW witnessed the nurturing and growth of some of wrestling’s biggest stars. Notable names like Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, The Miz, Dave Bautista (Batista in WWE), and CM Punk polished their skills within OVW’s walls before dominating the global stage.

All of them became massive WWE superstars, main eventing numerous pay-per-views all over the world, including WrestleMania, contributing to WWE’s unparalleled success.

Lesnar also transitioned to the UFC and is a former UFC heavyweight champion while Cena, Orton, The Miz, Bautista and CM Punk also appeared in numerous movies and television shows. Cena and Bautista are now among Hollywood’s biggest stars. Their success after starting their careers at Ohio Valley Wrestling inspires those who are part of the promotion these days.

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Upcoming Netflix Show

The modern wrestling world is a mix of old-school values and new-age aspirations. This duality is perfectly captured in the upcoming Netflix show “Wrestlers.”

Synopsis and Show Insights

Launching on September 13, “Wrestlers” is directed and executive produced by Greg Whiteley, the mastermind behind Netflix successes “Cheer” and “Last Chance U.” The docuseries takes a deep dive into the challenges and triumphs of Al Snow and his wrestlers, as they juggle personal goals and team dynamics in an attempt to rescue their beloved gym.

Official synopsis: “Once a proud finishing school for aspiring pro wrestlers, the gym has since hit hard times. Acclaimed wrestler Al Snow clings to an old school wrestling philosophy with a heavy emphasis on storytelling, but in spite of the love of a few diehard fans, the gym struggles week to week to stay relevant enough to keep its doors open.

Things have become so dire financially that Al has to sell a majority stake to a group of local businessmen including Matt Jones, the most popular radio personality in the state of Kentucky. Matt and the new ownership group have infused the struggling gym with much-needed cash but it still operates at a staggering loss.

The new owners have given Al the summer to turn things around. Wrestlers chronicles the efforts Al and his band of aspiring wrestlers make as they struggle with their personal ambitions and each other while they attempt to come together to save this historic gym.”

Economic Impact of Wrestling

Wrestling isn’t just about powerful holds and high-flying maneuvers. It’s also a substantial economic force, driving considerable revenue for its host regions.

WrestleMania’s Monetary Muscle

WWE announced a staggering $215 million economic impact on the Los Angeles region after this year’s WrestleMania, setting a new record. The event has continually shown its economic prowess, with cities that hosted WrestleMania since 2016 reaping over $1.2 billion cumulatively. This year, the extravaganza attracted a record-breaking crowd of 161,892 over two nights at the SoFi Stadium.

Attendee Demographics and Insights

Delving deeper into the attendees’ demographics reveals some intriguing figures. By enhancing the event week’s itinerary, visitors spent an average of 4.1 nights in Los Angeles. A significant portion, over half, traveled from outside southern California, with 15% being international fans. Additionally, these visitors tended to have an average income exceeding $100K.

WrestleMania’s Future Plans

As one of the most anticipated events in the wrestling calendar, WrestleMania never ceases to amaze. The upcoming year promises to be no different.

Anticipation for Philadelphia’s Turn

In 2024, wrestling fans can look forward to WrestleMania 40 on April 6 and 7 at the Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. The spectacle will stream live on Peacock for US fans and on the WWE Network for the global audience. With tickets having been available since August 18, the anticipation is palpable.

Closing Thoughts

In summing up our exploration, wrestling, as an entertainment and sports medium, has unequivocally shown itself to be a formidable player in shaping cultural and economic landscapes. The in-ring confrontations, captivating storylines, and athletic prowess are not mere entertainment pieces but are emblematic of a deeper cultural entwinement. The sport tells tales of heroes and villains, of aspirations and challenges, echoing the broader human story that we all share, albeit in a uniquely American context.

This connection is evident in the story of Ohio Valley Wrestling. Its rise, fall, partnerships, and eventual resurgence highlight not only the business side of things but the human element as well.

Wrestling schools and promotions like OVW aren’t just about producing the next superstar; they’re about fostering community, camaraderie, and a sense of belonging. They serve as crucibles for talent, perseverance, and storytelling, giving countless athletes the platform to both chase their dreams and inspire millions along the way.

On a broader scale, the phenomenal economic impact of events like WrestleMania cannot be understated. Such significant numbers underscore that wrestling isn’t merely a niche interest but a global phenomenon, driving local economies and putting cities on the map as destinations for fans worldwide. These fans not only celebrate the physical feats they witness in the ring but also the shared experience with fellow enthusiasts, solidifying wrestling’s role as a unifying force.

Moreover, the intersection of wrestling with mainstream media, as seen with the upcoming Netflix show, is a testament to its evolving role in popular culture. No longer relegated to the fringes, wrestling now finds itself at the heart of conversations, bridging gaps between generations, backgrounds, and interests.

As we reflect on the intricate tapestry of wrestling’s impact, from the local wrestling schools in Kentucky to the grand stages of WrestleMania in Los Angeles, it’s evident that the sport, with its mixture of athleticism and theater, is quintessentially American, deeply ingrained in the nation’s psyche and poised for even greater influence in the years to come.

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