Live event analysis of pro wrestling in the United States (non-WWE/AEW) for Q1 2022

Wrestlenomics subscribers got early access to this article on Wednesday, April 6.

With no notable social distancing restrictions as compared to 2021 and Covid vaccine requirements only depending upon the state, city or county, 2022 continued the progress made in 2021 in the regular running of pro wrestling shows across the country since a general restart on or around July 2021.

What follows is an analysis of pro wrestling shows run in the United States between January 1 and March 27, 2022. (I cut-off the date prior to March 31 to avoid WrestleMania weekend craziness and any shows that are trackable will be included in the mid-year report.)

This report excludes WWE and AEW and focuses on promotions outside this spotlight.


In the sections that follow, we focus on some of the national or international promotions and how they drew. As evidenced below, there are legs left in local promotion when several elements align: right talent, right town, right niche. Outside of the notable Game Changer Wrestling event at the  Hammerstein Ballroom (detailed later), the shows below outdrew any standalone GCW, NWA, Impact, New Japan Pro Wrestling or MLW shows in most cases by a wide margin.

  • Big Time Wrestling drew 3,000+ in Chillicothe, Ohio on March 12.
  • NEW (Northeast Wrestling) showed it can still draw for its biggest events even after all these years with 1,622 on hand in Poughkeepsie, New York on January 22 and 2,234 in Waterbury, Connecticut on March 27 for the Hardys.
  • Mucha Lucha Atlanta quietly drew another big house of 1,300 on March 6.
  • Big Time Wrestling drew 1,200 in the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, South Carolina on January 22, with some reports listing 1,000 and even up to 2,000.
  • Prestige Wrestling in Portland, Oregon drew a reported 1,000 on February 20 for a sellout in Portland’s Roseland Theater, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.


Game Changer Wrestling ran 12 shows in the first quarter of 2022 in advance of “The Collective” series of events in Dallas, Texas at the end of March and early April.

GCW’s most visible event was, of course, the show at the Hammerstein Ballroom on January 23, drawing a sellout 2,025. The total attendance was higher than previous wrestling sellouts in the venue due to the seating arrangement.

As the promotion moves to run larger venues, other notable events included drawing 800 in attendance at Harpos in Detroit on January 14 and about 600 at Center Stage in Atlanta on March 12 (about a 75% full house).

The promotion ran its first double shot in Los Angeles on February 25 and 26. The event on the 25th was its usual sellout at The UCC, with 800 fans. However the event on the 26th was the first time the promotion did not sell-out at the venue, with 50 short of a sellout.

A show planned at The Roxy in West Hollywood, California on March 24 immediately sold out its initial allotment of 175 seats and sold out the remaining 50 general admission seats by the afternoon of the show for a total of 225 in attendance.

The show in Hoffman Estates, Illinois on January 15 sold out rows 1-5 with Standing Room Only available.

Not everything was rosy for the promotion. Quick returns to Houston on February 4 (with 250 in attendance in a 300 seat setup) and Dallas on February 5 (in a new venue and down 75 tickets sold from the last show in that city) yielded lower attendances.

A show on January 1 (the later half of a New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day double-shot) and another double-shot in February on the 19th and 20th  in Atlantic City reflected slower advance sales. The Atlantic City event’s performance may be attributable to fewer marquee matchups than in the past rather than just overexposure. In correspondence with GCW promoter Brett Lauderdale, he attributed the February shows’ attendances to a potential “hangover” following the Hammerstein excitement. Lauderdale chalked up the winter shows drawing lower attendances overall to the limited appeal in the beach town during that season.


On January 8 and 9 Impact ran a double shot at The Factory in Dallas, Texas. In my hand count of the map, the “Hard to Kill” pay-per-view event on the 8th sold-out with 455 tickets distributed. The television taping on the 9th had 400 in attendance, or 88% of setup capacity.

Impact ran a double-shot in Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Charles Dodge Center. The venue can seat up to 3,200 generally and was set up for 275 reserved seats. My hand count revealed 214 and 223 tickets distributed in a two night stand on January 21 and 22.

On February 19 and 20, the company ran the Alario Center in Westwego, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans. The Observer listed 500 and 200 in attendance, respectively, for the events. I had a hand count of 392 reserved seats initially available with 158 and 56 distributed, respectively, each night.

Impact ran Paristown Hall in Louisville, Kentucky on March 5 and 6. The venue can seat up to 2,000 and I had a hand count of 251 of the 268 reserved seats made available the first night.

The company returned to the 2300 Arena in Philadelphia on the evenings of March 18 and 19. On the morning of the 18th, I hand counted the ticket map as having 265 and 358 tickets distributed, respectively, for each night.


With a big show to close out pro wrestling at the Odeum falling in the second quarter of 2022 on April 16, the first quarter was relatively quiet for New Japan Pro Wrestling.

A collaboration with DEFY in Washington Hall in Seattle yielded a sellout of 600 fans on January 15.

A taping at The Vermont Hollywood in Los Angeles on February 17 drew a few hundred fans according to the Observer.

A show on March 20 in St. Petersburg, Florida, at The Coliseum was yielding an advance of under 250 tickets distributed a few weeks out. Seat kills made it hard to determine the final number but ticket sales were a struggle nonetheless. The Observer reported the attendance as 700.


Major League Wrestling returned to Dallas in a new venue, Gilley’s, on January 21. WrestleTix listed 734 of the 934 reserved tickets distributed. The Observer reported the event drew 908.

The February 26 show at The Grady Cole Center in Charlotte drew 850 according to the Observer. PWInsider listed between 900-950 in attendance.


The National Wrestling Alliance partnered with Tried-N-True, an independent pro wrestling promotion based in Tennessee, on February 12 and drew a sellout of 450 in Oak Grove, Kentucky.

The Crockett Cup was held  on March 19th and 20th in the rebuilt Nashville Fairgrounds and a hand count of the map the morning of the first show revealed 366 and 312 of 522 reserved seats distributed, respectively, for each night. There were three days of studio tapings that followed at Skyway Studios from March 21st to 23rd (a venue also used by Impact on July 17th through the 19th of 2021). The first night of tapings was listed on the ticket sales page as sold out.


With Ring of Honor going dark for an initial reimagining (only for an announcement that Tony Khan of AEW was buying the company), no shows were run in this quarter by the company formerly owned by Sinclair Broadcasting. The Supercard of Honor took place outside of this report on April 1st.


  • Maryland Championship Wrestling drew 800 on February 5 in Hollywood, Maryland.
  • Warrior Wrestling expanded outside of its usual venues with two shows. On January 22, it ran the Bendix Arena in South Bend Indiana with the Observer listing 550 in attendance and Cagematch listing 300. Its show in Cicero Stadium in Cicero, Illinois on February 12 drew 600.
  • Southern Honor Wrestling drew crowds over 500 on January 7 and February 4 in Canton, Georgia.
  • TERMINUS drew 275 on January 16 and 350 on February 24 in Atlanta.
  • PWG drew its usual sellout of 600 to the Globe Theater in Los Angeles on January 30.
  • Championship Wrestling presented by Carshield drew a sellout of 550. PWInsider reported that 75 to 100 were turned away.
  • Beyond Wrestling drew 400 to FETE Music Hall in Providence, Rhode Island on February 4.
  • CZW quietly ran shows once again. There were events on January 22 and February 6 in Havre de Grace, Maryland, drawing 40 and 100, respectively.
  • Control Your Narrative drew 150 at the Tin Roof in Icon Park in Orlando, Florida.


A total of 105 shows were tracked for this report. Of the 86 shows with an attendance available, the average attendance was 399. This mirrors almost exactly the 395 average attendance found in the second-half 2021 report.

Given that there were probably 10 to 15 times more events domestically, this is just a snapshot and shouldn’t be applied to any trend overall or meant in any way as a representative sample. Additionally, Georgia Wrestling History provides several local results per week so those may skew a wider analysis of attendance lower based on the volume of small Georgia shows.


In addition to confidence in my own abilities to hand count ticket maps, credit is due to WrestleTix, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Cagematch, PWInsider, The Wrestling Estate, Georgia Wrestling History, local media coverage, correspondence with Brett Lauderdale of GCW, as well as self-reporting by other promoters.

All information provided was to the best of my knowledge. Any factual errors are unintentional and will be corrected in future editions. Please reach out at any time with a concern or correction via

Disclosure/disclaimer: I am currently a shareholder of WWE stock. I have held stock in Sinclair Broadcasting Group in the past but do not currently hold any shares.

Check out Lavie’s other work:

Wrestlenomics Radio 2022 predictions

On the latest edition of Wrestlenomics Radio, Brandon Thurston and Chris Gullo gave their pro wrestling predictions for 2022. Thurston and Gullo gave their predictions to 11 questions that they listed. These questions range from who will be the top men’s champion in WWE and AEW to average viewership numbers.

1. Will NXT be on the USA Network at the end of 2022?

Brandon Thurston: “I’m going to guess they made a two-year deal, which would run from September 2021 through September 2023. Given that the relationship between WWE and NBCUniversal is so deep, it’d be very easy to move NXT to Peacock and then spin it as a lateral or upward movement because, ‘Wow, it’s such a big deal to be on Peacock, and it’s so important to be on Peacock. That’s where the future is, and we’re targeting a younger audience, even though we’re not capturing them.'”

Chris Gullo: “I’m gonna agree with you, but I think moving to Peacock is definitely something that’s going to happen in the future. I don’t think it happens next year.”

2. Will Ring of Honor run an event in 2022?

Gullo: “I don’t think so, and here’s the thing, even though the social media is acting like nothing happened, the Ring of Honor social media, now that Sinclair doesn’t have to put a lot of focus on it, and they got so much more things going on, I think it’s gonna be one of those things like, ‘Oh, I know we’re gonna reboot in April, but we’re coming back in June,’ and then it’s gonna fade away in obscurity.”

Thurston: “I guess it depends on what Sinclair really wants for content. I will say yes. Does Sinclair feel like it’s worth it to have to do something very cheaply to produce some sort of weekly content? Do they want new content, because you can get it done more cheaply than they were doing it.

“I think there’s still money to be made in these occasional Fite TV or traditional operators too, these PPVS, but I think they will at least run one show. I don’t know that there’s going to be a Ring of Honor ongoing promotion, but I bet there’ll be a Ring of Honor show in 2022 that may or may not resemble anything like what Ring of Honor has looked like over the last few years.”

3. Will a wrestle currently in NXT 2.0 be in a show-closing match for a main roster PPV in 2022?

Thurston: “Towards the end of the year, yes. Who would it be though? Bron Breakker, I guess. Is he going to get called up and develop quickly enough to be in the main event of a PPV? I will say yes, if nothing else, because Vince McMahon sort of has to validate his own decision here and give it a try, at least.

Gullo: “I’m gonna say yes because I think Bron Breakker or Von Wagner, and it might be Elimination Chamber or something like that. I think both of those guys are going to be in some type of main event program, one of those guys, if not both, by the end of the year.”

4. Who, if anyone, will beat Adam Page for the AEW title?

Gullo: “I will say MJF.”

Thurston: “It’s probably not Kenny Omega. They probably don’t go backwards to Omega. They probably don’t go backwards to Jon Moxley or Chris Jericho. Bryan Danielson? Probably not. Probably Adam Page has got to get a win over Danielson now, even though Danielson would maybe make a great champion at this point. Maybe Punk and then somebody takes it off of Punk. MJF is a good guess though. I will go with CM Punk.”

5. Who, if anyone, will beat Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal title?

Thurston: “It’s Lesnar or no one. That’s the answer. Big match John Cena’s got more important things to do. I’ll say Lesnar.”

Gullo: “I think he has to lose it eventually. I guess Brock Lesnar would be the best guess. I can’t think of anybody else. If Rock wanted to at least be there for a month or two, maybe.”

Thurston: “I don’t think Rock is committing to anything more than one match, though.”

6. Will Windham Rotunda sign with AEW, Impact, WWE, or another company?

Gullo: “We’ve been having a lot of chatter these last few months about, can there be a third wrestling company that has huge financial backing, and I think this year, you’re gonna see somebody probably say, ‘Hey, we’re starting a new wrestling company. Let’s get on this TV rights train,’ and Windham Rotunda will be the guy. That’s my prediction.

Thurston: “I hope it’s Robert Rodriguez relaunching some Lucha Underground type approach. I would say WWE would be likely. Anything’s possible.”

Gullo: “They’re selling Fiend holiday merchandise.”

7. Will New Japan get a weekly TV show on a network in >30 million U.S. households?

Thurston: “No. No. No.”

Gullo: “At this point, no. I think a couple of years ago would have been to strike when the iron is hot. I don’t think it happens now.”

Thurston: “I put the the threshold at 30 million households because that’s roughly AXS. That would be about a little less than half of U.S. households. Vice is about 50 million.”

8. How many times (in the same week) will Dynamite have a larger P18-49 audience than Raw?

Gullo: “I don’t really see wrestling ratings moving a lot in 2022, but I think this will probably happen, let’s say, three times.”

Thurston: “It’s happened twice this year. I don’t think it’s going to happen in the remaining few weeks of the year. January 3, there is Monday Night Football, so it could happen then. It came close before Monday Night Football. I will say five, five times in 2022.”

9. How many times (in the same week) will Dynamite have a larger P2+ than Raw?

Thurston: “Zero.”

Gullo: “I concur, zero.”

10. Who will buy WWE’s next-day VOD rights currently held by Hulu?

Gullo: “I’m going to go with the surprising candidate Tubi TV. Been seeing a lot of advertising for Tubi, and I think Tubi TV needs programming. Tubi TV will be buying VOD rights. Fox owns Tubi TV.”

Thurston: “The Fox connection does make sense. Peacock and Amazon, I think it’s got to be one of those two. I’ll take a lower revenue deal with Amazon just just to scare the crap out of my TV partners, but does Amazon really want to play there? I don’t know if Amazon really wants to play any U.S. sports rights outside of the NFL. I will say Peacock.”

11. Predict their average viewership (P2+ and P18-49) for 2022:


WWE Smackdown: 1.977 million, 0.52

WWE Raw: 1.587 million, 0.45

AEW Dynamite: 893,000, 0.34

AEW Rampage: 485,000, 0.18

WWE NXT: 525,000, 0.13

Impact Wrestling: 80,000, 0.02


WWE Smackdown: 2 million, 0.48

WWE Raw: 1.6 million, 0.42

AEW Dynamite: 900,000, 0.35

AEW Rampage: 450,000, 0.17

WWE NXT: 550,000, 0.13

Impact Wrestling: 97,000, 0.02

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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New Japan Pro Wrestling 2021 Business In Review

New Japan Pro-Wrestling concluded its G1 Climax 31 at the Nippon Budokan on Thursday. Kazuchika Okada won the tournament, and the company will be preparing for a three-night Wrestle Kingdom 16 event in January 2022.

Recent vaccination data from shows 70% of the population in Japan are fully vaccinated. However, New Japan has been running their shows in Japan with limited attendance throughout the past year, even as wrestling events in the U.S. return to full capacity while just 57% of the American population has been fully vaccinated.

From August 2020 to June 2021, a period when Japan’s leading wrestling company returned to events but had no shows in Japan at full capacity, New Japan barely managed to profit. The promotion was basically a break even business, reporting the equivalent of about $60,000 U.S. in net income, or ¥6,292,000 in Japanese yen.

Revenue is a different story. New Japan stopped reporting the number on its official website after 2019. Parent company, Bushiroad, reported its sports division, which now consists of New Japan and Stardom, generated 4.5 billion yen through the eleven months of August 2020 to June 2021, or about $40 million.

Bushiroad reported a loss of 280 million yen for the same eleven-month period, about $2.5 million. But the maker of trading cards and mobile games reports it expects a “substantial profit recovery” in the new fiscal year.

New Japan’s revenue likely held up in part because streaming service NJPW World had 116,000 paid subscribers worldwide in January 2021, the month of the company’s biggest event, Wrestle Kingdom. The subscriber count is the service’s highest ever.

The last time New Japan ran an event at full capacity in Japan was before the Covid-19 pandemic in February 2020. As a result of not being able to run events at full capacity, New Japan more events than in pre-Covid years. Based on the current event schedule, the promotion will run 174 events in calendar year 2021. However, six of those reported events are New Japan Strong TV tapings in the U.S.

This is a slight increase from 170 events in 2019 and 162 in 2018. October 2021, when the G1 Climax took place, was a big month for events, with 21. This is the most events New Japan ran in one month since January 2020, when it ran 19.

Despite taking four months off in 2020 due to the Covid pandemic, that year will still likely have a significantly higher total attendance count than in 2021, which had a full year of events.

Due to 2021 events held at limited capacity, the median attendance for shows through October has been under 700. This is less than half of what New Japan has done in previous years, with 2019 being a high year of a median attendance of 1,700.

A slide from Bushiroad investor relations disclosed that New Japan and Stardom combined make up 14% of Bushiroad overall business. Additional slides highlight Stardom’s even in March at the Nippon Budokan show, as well as New Japan’s distribution on Roku.

New Japan content was launched on free ad-supported video service Roku in February. Bushiroad’s slide touts that Roku has over 40 million users, but it’s likely not more than a small percentage of users have ever watched New Japan on the service, where the latest content is from several months ago.

New Japan hasn’t been on traditional television in the U.S. since its weekly program left AXS TV in late 2019.

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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WWE pursuing New Japan is good strategy, AEW’s reaction wasn’t

On the latest edition of Wrestlenomics Radio, hosts Brandon Thurston and Chris Gullo broke down the news of WWE and New Japan Pro-Wrestling in talks over the past few months.

According to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, WWE president and chief revenue officer Nick Khan is in talks with New Japan about WWE being the exclusive U.S. partner with the promotion. New Japan currently have working relationships with All Elite Wrestling and Impact Wrestling, and they have worked with CMLL and Ring of Honor in the past as well.

PWInsider reported the focus of these discussions centered around free agent Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson), related to having him re-sign with WWE but also able to work dates with New Japan. In the past few years, Bryan has expressed interest in wrestling outside of WWE.

The news has had fans come up with fun photoshop memes, as well as think up some potential dream matches. Thurston noted the timing of this news.

“So consider the timing of this,” Thurston said. “If this information was dropped from the WWE side to Dave Meltzer, on the week of AEW’s Double or Nothing pay-per-view, then from a media strategy standpoint, you’ve absorbed some of the conversation, some of the energy directed towards AEW on one of its biggest weeks of the year. You’ve got people talking about New Japan and WWE, instead of AEW.”

Thurston continued as he gave his thoughts on a WWE-NJPW relationship from a strategy point of view.

“This would be a working relationship that no one was clamoring for, but it would, from a strategy standpoint, from WWE’s perspective, at least block AEW from doing something valuable,” Thurston noted. “A relationship between AEW and New Japan is one of the most valuable cards from a talent standpoint, from a fan attraction standpoint, that AEW has to play.

“A lot of the energy New Japan lost since 2019 with the western market, including in the United States, was a result of New Japan losing Kenny Omega and to a lesser extent, the Young Bucks. Those two are now with AEW. AEW was able to absorb a lot of that fan energy. So getting Kenny Omega back in the ring to rekindle some of these feuds with people in New Japan including Kazuchika Okada, Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kota Ibushi is obviously another big one, that’s a big play for AEW to get ahold of if they can put a big, let’s say, an Omega vs. Ibushi match on an AEW pay-per-view.

“That could be huge if it’s built and executed correctly, and it’s important here to note that the Observer mentions WWE pursuing an exclusive relationship, at least among U.S. partners with New Japan. So that would exclude, presumably, AEW from having a relationship. When you think about whether or not you’re going to leave WWE, like Jon Moxley did, and think about where else you’re gonna go, one reason why you might more strongly consider AEW is they’ll let you work New Japan like they have let Moxley work New Japan. They have let Chris Jericho work in New Japan. So if you take that away from them, then you’ve got one less piece that’s going to attract talent who may not be feeling creatively satisfied in WWE.”

Thurston broke down more of WWE’s strategy behind a working relationship with NJPW.

“What’s the result for WWE in this? Maybe get a few really cool matches out of it but at the end of the day, you’ve got Vince McMahon in control of the main roster creative, so I don’t think this is going to be a very good thing if this happens and comes to fruition,” Thurston admitted. “It’s not gonna be this great thing for fans or for WWE, and maybe there will be some benefit for New Japan. New Japan’s probably feeling some financial pressure right now from the state of emergency that’s been declared in Japan related to Covid-19, causing New Japan to postpone events. New Japan relies on live event ticket sales for the majority of their revenue, unlike these U.S. companies that have enormous media revenues.

“So I see this, from WWE’s standpoint, being along the lines of other things that they’ve done in recent years with their strategy, including warehousing 300 wrestlers, many of whom they don’t have anything to do with in their content. It’s along the lines of moving NXT off of the WWE Network and onto the USA Network. It’s not really clear what the financial benefit was. It’s not really clear if moving NXT made WWE more profitable than it would have been otherwise. The value of NXT’s TV rights are, in my assessment, not huge, well under $50 million, probably closer to $20 million per year. The new deal that they just signed, that will go into effect this fall, does not appear to be any significant up step.

“So it’s more about defense, I think, for WWE than it is about offense. And purely capitalistically speaking, I think that’s a smart move by WWE, if this is really happening.

“If I’m Nick Khan and if I really understand the wrestling landscape the way that I think one should, I think to myself, well, the biggest problem for fan retention and for talent retention is Vince’s creative. I can’t get the pencil out of Vince’s hand. Vince isn’t going to change. Vince is so out of touch now that his son-in-law is showing signs of being out of touch.

“So I can’t improve the content internally, and the external threat to the WWE brand is everyone else’s superior content, but maybe I can create a relationship that will mitigate the superior content or get some of that superior content under my control. That means taking the access to New Japan away from AEW and putting it into your own hands. Whether it bears fruit for yourself or not, it’s a net win for you.”

Gullo pointed out how on the New Japan side of things, the move is most likely financially motivated. He noted that New Japan do not take kindly to their talent being mistreated citing World Championship Wrestling under Bill Watts and TNA.

On the same day the news dropped, AEW CEO Tony Khan filmed a promo released on Twitter before AEW Dynamite and during WWE Smackdown. Tony Khan took shots at Nick Khan, addressing the report of WWE’s talks with New Japan. Thurston noted what Tony Khan’s promo signals as well as what it means for WWE’s strategy.

“So not even thinking about whether it’s a good promo or not, I think this is a bad strategy move by Tony Khan. It’s the actual WWE and New Japan offices that are talking to each other. I’ve been told by people on both sides, that between New Japan and AEW, it’s mostly Rocky Romero, who’s the New Japan USA office, talking to AEW, as opposed to the Japanese office.”

So when Tony Khan said New Japan agreed the promo was a good idea, it’s questionable whether he’s referring to the Japanese office.

“I know a lot of people think the promo is the greatest thing. They’re really positive on it.

“It did make me want to watch Dynamite more,” Thurston said. “The promo was posted during Smackdown when a lot of people are on Twitter, thinking about wrestling. So there’s probably some people who watched Dynamite more than would have otherwise. But again, if I’m WWE and if I feel threatened by AEW, which to some extent I should, and if I think an exclusive New Japan relationship hurts AEW, which it would, then this promo reassured me of that notion and I would double-down on pursuing that deal.

“Personally, I want the wrestling industry to be more competitive. I want the content in all companies, especially the highest profile companies to get better, and this promo tips his hand. Tony Khan encouraged WWE, in my view, if WWE is as smart as they supposedly are, to swallow up more good wrestling into their inauthentic universe, which means the greater consolidation of power for WWE in the wrestling space and a weaker wrestling industry than there would be otherwise.

“And secondarily, it’s another step down the path we’ve seen so many other wrestling executives take. It seemed a year or two ago when AEW was in its first days as a company, if you paid attention to things that Tony Khan said, his background and his demeanor, you’d think, okay, we’re safe with this guy. This guy is not going to turn into an Eric Bischoff, a Vince Russo, a Jeff Jarrett, a Dixie Carter, or a Vince McMahon in terms of putting themselves out there as an on-screen character too much.”

The original transcript of the podcast was edited for conciseness and 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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Google web search trends for Q1 2021: WWE, AEW, New Japan, Impact, Stardom, ROH, and more

Q1 2021 just ended, and WWE still has about 10x the Google web search volume of any other pro wrestling brand.

But let’s dig deeper into Google Trends.

First, an explanation of the data we’re looking at:

  • We’re measuring topics, not strings. In all cases here we’re measuring search topics that Google Trends creates, not individual search strings, which would be less all-encompassing and probably less informative. For example, in the case of WWE, we’re not measuring how often the string ‘wwe’ was searched for but rather we’re measuring all searches Google Trends purports related to WWE, the wrestling company (or as GT identifies it, the “media company”).
  • These are relative values, not absolute. The values you’ll see below in the tables on the left are relative values. GT does not provide the absolute number of queries in any form; all its data is relative to the peak for the parameters you enter. I collected monthly data, which is the granularity that GT allows when you’re collecting data beyond a span of five years. A 100 value in this case equals the month with the highest search volume. I’ve made the decision for comprehensibility sake (and because Q1 2021 just ended) to average months into quarters, so you won’t actually see any instances of 100 below.
  • Below, a given value in one table is not equal to the same value in another table. Because the values are relative and standardized against the peak volume for that topic, the values below are not comparable between wrestling companies. For example, below, a 50 for WWE is not equal to a 50 for AEW or any other company. You can put multiple topics on the same scale, but that’s not what we’re doing in this article other than in the above bar chart.
  • This data is volume adjusted. But hasn’t Google search volume in general increased over time? How can we measure activity from 2004 on the same chart as 2021? The data is volume adjusted over time. It’s a measurement of searches as a percentage of all search activity. For more info, read the Google Trends FAQ.


WWE’s worldwide search volume declined again in Q1, for the seventeenth consecutive quarter.

If this was the stock market, we would say WWE’s search volume has been in recession since Q2 2017. That period is roughly when ticket & merchandise sales, and Network subs began declining.

But what about WWE’s domestic market? Maybe that’s different.

In the U.S., WWE’s search volume has been down 17 of 18 consecutive quarters. The exception was when volume was up 1% in Q2 2019.


All Elite Wrestling finally got a search topic in Trends this year.

Worldwide searches for AEW were up in Q1 by 4%. The U.S. trend is similar, up 7%.

Q2 2019 and Q4 2019 were big debut periods for AEW, when the company had its first pay-per-view and first Dynamite episode, respectively.

We’re only now getting into a “steady state” time for AEW where these comparisons are becoming meaningful.

New Japan

New Japan is up 15% worldwide in Q1, which is probably skewed by the fact the company shut down for the pandemic at the end of February 2020. That’ll be a factor through Q3 comparisons as New Japan didn’t return to running events until July.

Queries in the U.S., though, are still falling. This was the ninth consecutive quarter of decline in U.S. volume, which notably began with the Q1 2019 launch of AEW, when former New Japan stars Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks signed with the new promotion.

But domestically for New Japan, searches remain strong. For Japan, Q1 2021 approached the quarterly high of Q1 2019.


Impact Wrestling search volume is a fraction of what it was in the early 2010s. But Impact has seen quarterly gains in three of the last four quarters. That lines up with the beginning of the pandemic, actually.

U.S. trends for Impact are comparable.


The Japanese-based women’s promotion Stardom continues to climb and outpace Ring of Honor and Dragongate in worldwide Google web search volume.

This is even with Stardom’s May 2020 data point excluded as volume was exceptionally high coinciding with the passing of Hana Kimura.

Note the above chart uses a logarithmic scale. AEW, NJPW, Impact are in a separate stratosphere relative to the other companies shown (and WWE in a stratosphere above that).

Google web search is suggestive at best, and other important metrics like ticket sales are hard to take any meaning from in the pandemic era, but it’s probably past time to start including Stardom in conversations when we consider, say, the fifth biggest pro-wrestling company in the world.

If you’re wondering where U.S-based brands like Major League Wrestling and the National Wrestling Alliance fall in this comparison, Stardom is ahead of either by about 3x over the last twelve months, globally.

Stardom has grown in worldwide search for 20 consecutive quarters, since Q1 2017.

In Japan, volume for Stardom has doubled in many recent quarters, including Q1 2021.

In this U.S., though, the recently ended quarter put an end to twelve consecutive quarters of growth.

Ring of Honor

Ring of Honor searches appear to be at an all-time low. Could searches for ROH be lower now than in 2004? Google Trends also shows 13 consecutive quarters of decline, worldwide.

Searches for the Sinclair Broadcasting subsidiary peaked in 2015.

U.S. results for ROH are similar.

Brandon Thurston has written about wrestling business since 2015. He’s also worked as an independent wrestler and trainer.

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