Why ScreenCritics Shaun is hoping for the best when it comes to WCPW; but still isn’t convinced by the direction its taking.
There’s one new name in the wrestling industry that’s got people talking in 2016. From almost nothing, WCPW has risen fast to become a prominent figure in the UK independent wrestling scene, pushing aside some established names to perch itself as the face of wrestling this side of the Atlantic. Yet for all the gains they’ve made; there’s a few fundamental issues that stop me from really buying into the product. Don’t get me wrong, what they’ve achieved is magnificent. But right not it’s just not for me.
For the uninformed, WCPW is What Culture’s Pro Wrestling federation. Operating out of Newcastle, the brand has quickly caught fire within the UK independent scene. With the help of the company’s sizable Youtube audience, WCPW has quickly moved to the front of the UK’s independent wrestling scene and attracted some of the most prestigious indie talent in the UK and beyond. It all sounds great and if it ended there you’d have a true Cinderella story in the works. Sadly though once you focus on the product, its flaws become awkwardly prevalent.
The big reason I don’t watch WCPW week-to-week is because its weekly show Youtube Show Unloaded ultimately feels pointless – more pointless than Smackdown in 2015. The reason for this is because the federation has taken the somewhat awkward decision to spotlight book. After years of calling WWE and TNA out for the same trick, it appears the fellas over at What Culture aren’t above a bit of spotlighting themselves. Big names come in, have a few matches, then disappear until the next big event.
It goes slightly beyond that though. One big name is fine, but ultimately WCPW stacked its PPV card with names that ultimately shone way ahead of their own talent. Cody Rhodes picked up the company’s Internet Championship (Another lifted idea from WWE) while Drew Galloway captured the company’s main championship in a match he was only inserted into not seven days ago. After weeks and weeks of build to Joe Hendry getting his title shot – it’s hard to not feel that the company pooped the bed slightly by hot-shotting the Championship over to a guy who’s really not all that involved. Heck, last nights Pay Per View was a monument to a man who hasn’t featured on WCPW programming once. WCPW’s Delete attempting to ride Matt Hardy’s amazing 2016 into some name recognition.
The problem with this kind of booking, it devalues the worth of the roster that isn’t being spotlighted. It highlights the fact that WCPW isn’t confident in its own roster to sell PPVs – instead giving audiences the kind of nostalgia acts that ultimately sell tickets. It’s a great tactic and I suspect worked a treat in getting people to cough up for the PPV – but a good promotion it does not make. I’ve read a few online reports that the Loaded tapings suffer from incredibly varied booking; something you can see by the end product of these PPVs. When you stack your deck so heavily in the favor of part-timers; it puts an awkward strain on those who are trying to carry the company themselves.
When the cheques have cleared and the big names are gone, it’s left to the guys the company didn’t have confidence in to carry the weekly can. It reminds me somewhat of early NXT – and not in the good way. As a viewer, I don’t feel that confidence in the product and while it’s great that the company is spending huge amounts of money to get these names in the door; ultimately I’d rather they have a crack at building their own legacy and pushing new stars that can one day carry the can. Rummaging through TNA and WWE’s leftover bin can only to diminishing returns down the line, as that well begins to run dry. Matt Hardy is hot stuff today but when his Delete gimmick is dictating the direction of PPV’s; it’s not a good thing.
It’s nice to see a new kid on the block and in the five months since WCPW touched down – the company has come leaps and bounds. But ultimately it’s trapped in that awkward “We can’t make our own stars, so we’ll leverage the star power of others” to sell PPV’s. Great stuff, but it’s not for me right now. I recommend checking out their stuff on Youtube. My hope is that sooner or later, the What Culture staff take a backseat and allow their product to speak for itself. Rather than trying to create Pacitti Club’s and inserting their staff into matches, I’d rather see the quality speak for itself.
Wrestling is undergoing some huge shifts right now and there’s a prominent place for a strong UK brand that competes internationally. To this end I hope WCPW continues to grow. I just hope it outgrows some of its more awkward habits before they undermine what is a promising product. For all the money spent, it can’t hide the fact there’s some serious growing to be done.