Has Game Changer Wrestling become a top three wrestling promotion in the U.S.?

On the latest edition of Wrestlenomics Radio, Brandon Thurston and Chris Gullo discussed Game Changer Wrestling selling out the Hammerstein Ballroom at the Manhattan Center for their Jan. 23, 2022 event “The Wrld On Gcw.” WrestleTix has the official count of the event of 2,025 tickets distributed, which GCW has touted as a record for the venue for a pro wrestling event.

Post Wrestling’s John Pollock has noted what GCW can do with the momentum they have achieved over the past year, including a possible media deal. Thurston and Gullo discussed GCW’s growth and how the promotion compares to other major U.S. wrestling promotions.

Chris Gullo: “If you just look at current popularity, would it be Game Changer? Ring of Honor, obviously, we know what’s going on there. Impact, they’re selling out that Sam’s Town Casino in Las Vegas, but that’s not a lot of fans. And MLW is doing okay but still not consistent touring. NWA, I don’t even know if they’re doing fans at studio tapings. I could be wrong with that. But GCW has consistent buzz. You’ve seen Matt Cardona, Jon Moxley and others create viral moments on social media with their appearances in GCW, and the Briscoes.

Thurston: There’s a big difference between GCW and all those all the other companies that you just mentioned, in that GCW is an independent company. What do I mean by that? This is a very non-technical term at this point. They’re an indie wrestling company. NWA is not an indie wrestling company. Impact, certainly, is not an indie wrestling company in the same sense that I mean right now. MLW, NWA and Impact are not indie wrestling companies in the way that GCW is an indie wrestling company.

“Because they’re not, maybe, in some ways, it’s harder for them to get this surge of grassroots fandom. All those other companies that we just mentioned, Impact, MLW and NWA, maybe there’s others that we could rope in here too, they’re coming to this, probably appropriately from sort of a media distribution approach. Like we talked about a number of times here, the pro wrestling business is not that viable as just a live event business. It’s more viable if you can sell media, of some form, to somebody.

“WWE and AEW are the biggest beneficiaries and examples of that. The majority of their revenue comes from media, comes from the broadcasts of their events, but GCW, they’re in the media business too, clearly. They’re selling pay-per-views through Fite TV. They were with IWTV. There’s a legal dispute happening there, but this is a company that tours around the country and does the sort of smaller-scale live events in a way that none of those other companies are. Certainly in terms of zeitgeist or buzz, GCW has the strongest trajectory momentum in that way.”

GCW regulars like Effy, Allie Katch, AJ Gray and Nick Gage are expected to appear at the Hammerstein show, and GCW has announced that AEW star Eddie Kingston will be at the event as well. Gullo discussed a unique aspect of GCW that differentiates itself from other U.S. promotions.

Gullo: “One thing I think they do too is identity of talents, and what I mean by that is a lot of their talent work other independents, but they really put them in the forefront. When you think Effy, you think Game Changer Wrestling. You think Nick Gage, you’re thinking Game Changer Wrestling.

“You think Allie Katch, you think Game Changer Wrestling, AJ Gray and so on. It’s something that no other independent companies do. I don’t identify one wrestler like, ‘Oh yeah, that guy is solely this independent company,’ but you’ll do that with these Game Changer talents, even if they work other places, and I think that’s something that they do on a whole different level. Very 1995 ECW-esque, which people compare them to.”

Thurston: “I mentioned a moment ago, I’m scraping all this data. One of the things that I want to look at in the Cagematch data is who are the wrestlers who are wrestling for the greatest variety of promotions in given periods of time, such as the year of 2021.

“And in the preliminary scrapes that I’ve done so far, you see at the top of the list of people, wrestlers who have wrestled for the great variety of promotions, at least, reflected in the Cagematch data, are wrestlers like Effy, and AJ Gray, and Allie Katch and people like that. I don’t know that you could say similar for the wrestlers who are most associated with MLW, NWA, Impact and companies of that nature, for whatever that’s worth.”

Excerpts from Wrestlenomics Radio were edited for clarity.

Jason Ounpraseuth has covered pro wrestling since 2019. He co-hosts the Gentlemen’s Wrestling Podcast.

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also an independent pro wrestler and trainer. For more, see our About page.

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