So I’m well aware that criticising PWG is just asking for trouble; there’s no doubt the promotion is the darling of independent wresting fans at the moment, and indeed has been for a few years. However, I’d argue that whereas the period from 2010-2012 was legitimately a golden era for the promotion, the last couple of years have seen a decline – a relative decline mind: PWG is still well worth following. But nonetheless, there are some flaws that most are seemingly inclined to overlook. I’m not arguing here that the emperor has no clothes; but that he isn’t as well-dressed as many like to make out.
It was watching the 11th anniversary that really inspired me to write this piece. To me, ELEVEN was like an IWA Mid-South show from 2004-05: a show that started late and finished in the early hours of the morning (not that this makes a difference to the DVD viewer); a card whose booking largely consisted of ‘indie dream matches’ (although you could argue that that’s a trait of early ROH as much as anything), and a card where the majority of the matches went longer than they should have, to the detriment of the match quality. In short, it was fairly representative of where PWG are in 2014.
Perhaps stagnation rather than decline is the word I’m looking for. In the last few years, PWG has run between ten and nine shows a year. This prudence has been praised by many; operating within their means, quality over quantity etc. But as the years go on, you get the feeling that rather than prudence, it’s simply a lack of ambition on the owners’ part. No-one is suggesting that they start running 20 shows a year again; but there’s things you can do to try and further your promotion without putting yourselves in jeopardy. For instance, a PWG iPPV would surely break even. But they aren’t interested even in finding a venue which has air-conditioning; they seem content to run the same building, in front of the same fans nine times a year.
Ah yes, the fans. One of the things that undoubtedly makes PWG special is the crowd; how often have you watched a match in Evolve taking place in front of ten men and a dog and thought “I wish this match was happening in PWG.”? However, on recent shows I’ve noticed that fans have been going mad for matches that quite frankly, weren’t particularly good. I call this “Florence and the Machine syndrome” – where a crowd pops for anything and everything. (It would be interesting to get a wrestlers perspective on this actually: would you be annoyed if fans cheered despite the fact you knew you were having a dog of a match?)
Ultimately of course, the way the company is run is the owner’s prerogative; “It’s my company and I’ll do what I like with it”, might be Super Dragon’s reply. The problem wrestling companies have though, is that as the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland put it, “it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place” – that it to say, you have to work very hard to stand still. The problem PWG have is that since 2010 they’ve been trying to stand still; and have started to stagnate as a result. And while PWG is still a very watchable product, there has been a decline in it; but then again, if no-one is willing to highlight it, why should the company be concerned?