What it’s like to attend a Tony Khan media scrum

On Saturday, I got the chance to participate in the media scrum following Ring of Honor’s Death Before Dishonor event in Lowell, Massachusetts. I know that there has been a lot of interest in these scrums ever since AEW started doing them after their major events, so people might be interested in what the experience is like. I decided to chronicle my experience and provide some thoughts and insights to the public on what participating in the scrum is like, as well as potential ways to make the experience better for everyone involved. 

For starters, the event isn’t really a media scrum. A media scrum is typically somewhat informal and spontaneous, with one person standing and answering questions while media members jostle around to get the best position to stick their recording device close to the interview subject. The post-AEW/ROH events are much more like press conferences. They are organized, public relations staff assist in organizing the questions from the media, everyone is sitting down, etc.

How to participate is straight-forward; if you have been approved for a media credential, when you pick it up before the show, a staff member will instruct you where to meet up after the show. In the case of Death Before Dishonor, the meeting place was right behind the section where the media was sitting. A member of the PR staff led us down a hallway into a small conference room, where a podium had been set up for Tony Khan and talent to speak.

When Khan (and whatever talent arrives with him) is there, media members take turns asking questions. To get in the queue to ask questions, you must signal to one of the PR staff members who are passing around the microphone. This can be somewhat challenging, since the pace of how Khan and his wrestlers tend to go through their questions is slow, meaning that a backlog of people waiting in the queue to ask a question builds up quickly. You may find yourself bumped in the order as it can be hard to keep track exactly when it is your turn. 

The advice I’d give to people is to continue to remind the PR staff that you would like to ask a question. This is very much a “squeaky wheel gets the grease” situation, and it never hurts to be aggressive in reminding people that you would like to go next.

For Death Before Dishonor, it was a smaller crowd of media members than for AEW PPV events. There were approximately ten people at the presser; Nick Hausman of WrestlingINC was the only person I know for a fact who flew in for the show. The rest of the group was made up of some national outlets that had local people on their staff (e.g., Justin Barrasso of Sports Illustrated, Liam Crowley of ComicBook.com) as well as some local sports media that occasionally dabble in wrestling coverage.

During the presser you are pretty much free to ask any questions that you want. There is no vetting of questions beforehand, so media members are free to fire away. I asked two questions during the presser, and while I would have liked to have gotten more questions in, I was at least satisfied with my experience. 

The first question I asked was for Claudio Castignoli, which was about if he felt like he had more in-the-ring freedom working in AEW and ROH, as opposed to WWE. After pausing for a second and making an incredulous face, Castignoli did give what I would consider a substantial answer.

The second question I had was for Khan, which asked if we would ever see The Briscoe Brothers on Dynamite or Rampage. Khan declined to give a straight answer, saying that he “doesn’t know” if they will ever appear in AEW, but said they’d be a big part of ROH. 

While Khan declined to give a definitive answer, he essentially did give us one. There has been speculation online that The Briscoes have not been able to appear on Dynamite or Rampage due to controversy surronding Jay Briscoe and a homophobic tweet he made in 2013. This speculation has been fueled by their noticeable absence in the build-up to Death Before Dishonor, since they were in the main event of the show against FTR. By declining to give a clear answer and saying that he “doesn’t know”, Khan, who we are led to believe controls every aspect of what appears on AEW television, is giving the indication that The Briscoes will not be on AEW TV going forward. 

The response was about what I expected. I did not expect Khan to give a definitive answer, since if our suspicions are correct, he isn’t going to acknowledge that Jay Briscoe may be problematic. Public figures are not obligated to give great, clear answers when the media asks them a question; it is up to the media and the public to decipher what something means based on the evidence that we have.

On social media there is a lot of frustration with the kinds of questions that are being asked during the pressers. I fully understand that frustration; and at times during the presser I was annoyed by some of the questions, particularly the ones that are kayfabe-based, or ones that are compliments of the show disguised as questions.

What I think is helpful to keep in mind is that media members have different interests in the kinds of questions they are asking. Some outlets are looking for comments on kayfabe storylines or angles, searching for news headlines like, “Claudio Castignoli says he is going to defend the ROH World Championship again at  ____” . Others might be writing feature stories and looking for quotes on certain subjects to round out their articles.

As a representative of Wrestlenomics, I knew my questions had to be fact-based and oriented on the more serious side. Personally, I think the pressers would be a lot more interesting if the kayfabe questions were dumped entirely; the pressers are too good of an opportunity with one of the most powerful individuals in wrestling, as well as numerous top performers being available for questions, to be wasted by asking kayfabe-based questions, or complimenting the people on their performances. However, I understand that there is a market for kayfabe-based comments and “soft news” and those questions will always be a part of the pressers.

I do think there should be more people at the pressers pushing for real information. The conduct of some members of the media is questionable. Before the presser started, I heard one media member loudly talking about how people on social media complain about the media not asking “tough questions”, and stated that you simply cannot do that. The individual then said that if Vince McMahon was in front of them at a presser, they would obviously not ask McMahon about the recent NDA scandals.

That shows the difference in mentality between the various members of the wrestling media. To me, not asking Vince McMahon about the scandals if presented with an opportunity to do so would be a complete dereliction of your duty as a member of the press. To other people, it’s a toxic idea, something to steer clear of at all costs for fear of ruining a relationship with sources. My response to that would be how valuable of a relationship do you have with a source if you are not allowed to ask them the most important questions?

There is also a tendency for some people to include their own opinions before asking a question, things such as, “I think that was a great match. What do you think (wrestler X)?” 

Not only are these questions boring, they also pose an ethical dilemma. By asserting your own (favorable) opinion into the question, you are admitting a clear bias towards a particular response, something that reporters should steer clear from.

Why do people choose to insert their own views into the presser? One explanation is that they are afraid of having a negative relationship with the person they are interviewing, such as a wrestler they like. By prefacing a question with a compliment, they are indicating that they are a fan of the wrestler, and that the wrestler should appreciate them for saying they had a great match or whatever. 

Another explanation is that the line between analysts and reporters in wrestling media (and in all media) has been blurred. For many people in the presser, if they were not attending the presser they would either be writing reviews online of the show or hosting a podcast reviewing the pay-per-view. I suppose that can translate to people assuming it’s common to add a little of their opinion into their questions. Either way, I think it would be an improvement if the media attempted to have a more publicly unbiased disposition when asking questions to the talent (and please, hold your applause).

On the AEW side of things, there was one major negative. At one point during the presser, while Wheeler Yuta was fielding questions, Daniel Garcia came in and shot an angle, interrupting Yuta and complaining about how he lost his match. He was ushered out by security and that was the end of it. The whole thing lasted under one minute. 

I understand why AEW/ROH does things like that; it makes the show feel more “real” and Garcia was very good in the angle. However, I’m here to do a serious job based on real issues, and I don’t like being used as a prop for a wrestling angle. My time is more valuable than that, and I’m not interested in being part of the show. It also creates an awkward transition where Yuta and Castignoli had to react in kayfabe for a minute before going back to answer real questions.

In my experience, AEW/ROH does a pretty honest job with the press conferences. They are much more media-friendly in this environment than WWE ever is. You are allowed to fire away with any question you can come up with, and even if Khan or the wrestlers decline to say anything substantial, you at least are able to get those answers publicly on the record, something that is almost non-existent in wrestling coverage.

The pressers can be improved the most by the wrestling media taking itself more seriously. If more media members were committed to asking real, honest questions and gathering relevant information, as well as being willing to be a little tough sometimes and not shy away from the hard questions, the experience would be improved across the board. 

We would get way more relevant information out of the subjects, and it would also create an environment where the media supports each other more, since people can ask follow-up questions if they feel like a previous question was not answered in a satisfactory manner. It is difficult to do that when we are bouncing between honest questions and kayfabe commentary.

Lastly, I’d add that if you ever have the chance to attend an AEW event as a member of the media, I strongly suggest you go. The coolest thing about it is getting to meet other media members in-person, and network a bit. Wrestling media is a very isolated job. Most people work out of their homes and only communicate digitally with their colleagues. Major events with media coverage allow people to meet up with one another, share thoughts and ideas, and promote a healthier media environment.

Jesse Collings is a writer and reporter who has written for WrestlingINC, Voices of Wrestling, and other outlets. He is currently a reporter for Gannett/USA Today.

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 Laviemarg@Lioncubjobsearch.com.

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:

The end of Ring of Honor as we know it

On the latest edition of Wrestlenomics Radio, Brandon Thurston sat down with TrumpMania author and The Business of the Business co-host Lavie Margolin to discuss Ring of Honor. ROH put out a statement that the promotion will go into hiatus after Final Battle. It has also been reported that ROH talent will be released from their contracts and will be allowed to take other bookings.

In a post on LinkedIn, ROH COO Joe Koff said that when ROH does return for SuperCard of Honor in April, the focus will be on “creating original, engaging content drawn from our incredible archive and our engaged fans.” Margolin gave his thoughts on what this means for ROH.

Lavie Margolin: “My guess is that they’ll have some sort of fan reaction person on the street type of content interspersed with the archives, so that they can consider it first-run programming. I found it very curious because we’re starting to hear already that Ring of Honor is shopping its archives, which makes sense, but was Ring of Honor being shopped as a whole?

“I don’t understand why not, if it wasn’t. I assume that it was. So by releasing all of the talent under contract, one would assume that that’s an asset. You’re taking it from what’s an active company and moving it to an inactive or next phase. So if they shopped it around, they must not have been satisfied with the offers to go to this stage.”

A feature on Sinclair’s internal issues was put out by Sports Illustrated. The feature detailed how Sinclair’s internal problems hurt ROH as a result. There a have been mixed reports on whether the ROH tape library is up for sale, but Thurston and Margolin discussed the value the tape library has.

Margolin: “If it’s a viable number, who would buy it? First, we would look inside the business, and it would make the most sense right now for AEW to purchase it. From what I understand, there had been reports that AEW has always been interested in buying the rights to All In, but they couldn’t come to agreement or maybe Ring of Honor said it wasn’t for sale at the time. But to get the rights to this library for AEW now would be the perfect time because to enter streaming, they might have built up hours of content, in Dark matches for YouTube and so on, but it has no context.

“It has no historical significance. You just have to have been interested in the content, whereas Ring of Honor content, some of it, especially in the early years, might be dark, need to be reformatted, the music and the sound and audio and whatever, but you have this wonderful history and this thread.

“And if there’s some viability to the DVD-only releases, you have thousands of hours of content that would need to be worked on but, really, creates the historical aspect of the business. People got mad at me about four or five months ago when I said AEW should just buy Ring of Honor, buy Impact, close them down and use it for a streaming service because that’s the only alternate history in North America that’s produced to a decent degree and you have most of the talents that have emerged from there.

Brandon Thurston: “Especially now that they have CM Punk and Bryan Danielson. They’ve got their, their histories, their stories. Outside of WWE. That’s the prime area of their careers is Ring of Honor.”

Margolin: “You can have some fun, especially when you have them under contract with wraparounds, introducing the matches or following the matches and so on. Even commenting on the matches, depending on how many hours they want to get involved with all this, but there’s a lot you can do. You have the talent, their library and you have them under contract to utilize.”

Thurston: Do you think there’s any interest from WWE at this point now they’re on Peacock getting guaranteed money?

Margolin: Yeah, I think there’s interest, to a degree. I think A, just to take it off the market from others. B, as it threads a story have a number of their own talents as well, there’s something to utilize there, but they’ve always been fairly rigid on their rates, and it seems to have been, maybe this is a little bit dated, but it always seems to have been a standard amount.

“So it would be at a low price, and I think Sinclair’s looking for a win, so maybe it’s worth it to them to hold on to it, to keep producing these shows into perpetuity. I don’t know if Anthem is looking to spend more money on pro wrestling anytime soon, but certainly Impact could kick the tires. And Billy Corgan, he’s acquired content before. To buy a whole Ring of Honor tape library, he might have the cash, but he’s also a smart investor.

“He’s not throwing everything at the NWA. So that would certainly be somebody that would be interested in now. There’s all these streaming services. For example, Pluto’s pro wrestling station, I don’t know if they’re throwing big money at any promotion. For some, it might be a split of advertising revenue or something like that.”

Thurston and Margolin discussed further on where ROH talents could wind up. Margolin also gave insight into Sinclair Broadcasting.

Thurston: “It seems to me that the role that AEW is occupying right now, there was a good window for Ring of Honor to occupy that role, if they had been more ambitious, and my impression is that Sinclair has been very risk averse and has not wanted to take these big financial risks. And I guess maybe we’re just kind of seeing why where maybe Sinclair just isn’t the most financially stable company, and you can understand maybe why they didn’t want to take so many risks.

Margolin: “There was certainly a moment where they had something. As we would examine the attendance numbers, and it was exciting, for me at least, the year when they broke 1000 and then climbed a bit higher. No one’s doing these numbers on average or hasn’t done these numbers and in quite a while so it was fun to watch that growth.

“You had New Japan and Ring of Honor sort of working together, and then at a certain point, it sort of seemed like, okay, who is sort of the secondary option and the third option, now that Impact is sort of bouncing around on stations people aren’t getting, and it looks like New Japan had its chance moment. I’ve been thinking about what if Mark Cuban would take on the Tony Khan role, basically before I was even aware of Tony Khan, sort of championing it in the US and sort of opening up deals and infusing money and making it bigger than it is, but that never happened. There was a New York Times article sort of connecting Cuban and New Japan and everything that was going on there.

Thurston: “One of the connections with Cuban is that he started HDNet.”

Margolin: “They ran the show in Dallas and so on, and then with Ring of Honor, I remember, Joe Koff had an interview once where he said that he contacted the CEO of Sinclair, Chris Ripley, and he took a picture of three or four WWE production trucks. And he said to him, ‘This will never be us,’ and to me, that always stuck in my mind.

“Joe Koff believed that he couldn’t compete, and certainly, it was reasonable that you weren’t gonna compete with WWE, but to imagine it as bigger than it is. I remember Cody Rhodes would would sort of tweet about before this discussion with Dave Meltzer and so on, he was trying to get big arenas booked and encouraging them to be more ambitious. Basically, his guess was that they weren’t going for it.”

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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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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Net Promoter Score: March 2021

Patrons got early access to this article on March 28 at patreon.com/wrestlenomics.

I collected responses for another survey that measures Net Promoter Score.

The results from the study done in late December to early January were published in the Wrestlenomics Pro Wrestling Industry Report (available via Payhip and Patreon).

I obtained responses through a Facebook ad again, to hopefully obtain a more random sample. I’m considering using Google Ads too in the future.

Monetary support from patrons made this study possible. Hopefully as we continue to produce valuable research, we produce a flywheel effect that drives interest and allows further investment in surveys and other research like this.

I plan to continue to do the NPS survey, maybe every quarter, so we can collect data points over time and evaluate trends. Below you’ll see the beginning of that as we now have two data points over time (for December/January [will be referred to as “December” for shorthand] and March).

It’s notable that the wrestling companies this time were listed in random order. In the previous survey, the wrestling companies were listed in this order for all respondents: WWE Raw, WWE Smackdown, WWE NXT, AEW Dynamite, Impact Wrestling, Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

The New Japan sample small enough to not take very seriously, but it’s plausible that appearing last for all respondents in December and appearing in a random position for each respondent in March contributed to the lower scores for New Japan in December and higher scores for the company this time.

I discovered it’s probably more fair to break out regular viewers’ sentiments from those of occasional viewers, rather than combining them as I did earlier. Regular viewers, as you might expect, tend to be more positive toward the program they watch than occasional viewers. Plus, some programs’ respondents are mostly regular viewers (like WWE main roster shows and AEW) and others (like ROH and New Japan) were mostly occasional viewers. A relevant breakdown will be displayed below.

With the prospect of full capacity live events and hopefully a return to normal life on the horizon, I included in the same survey form a question about the respondent’s willingness to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Results for that are also displayed below.

Although I spent a similar amount of money on the Facebook ad this time, only about half the number of samples were collected. The sample was also adjusted for disparities in race and gender, as compared to reports of viewership data.

Instead of targeting multiple major English language countries, this time I decided to focus on the United States only. Therefore the December results were filtered to responses from the U.S. only.

NPS results for March 2021

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NPS results over time: 

Regular and occasional viewers

“Dec 2020” here refers to responses collected between December 30, 2020 and January 3, 2021.

Regular and occasional viewers

Regular viewers only

Regular viewers only

Occasional viewers only

Occasional viewers only

Lapsed viewers only

Lapsed viewers only

How willing are U.S. wrestling fans to get vaccinated?

The below chart measures responses only from U.S. adults aged 18 years or older. 

Realizing there may be other factors that consistently coincide with vaccine willingness, information about age, education level, and household income was also collected and shown below.

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These results are comparable to the general public in the U.S. According to a study by Pew Research Center in February, 69% of Americans said they would probably or definitely would get vaccinated or already had at least one dose.

Political affiliation

I anticipated political affiliation might relate to vaccine willingness, and it does among respondents to this study. Respondents who identified as Republicans were 8x more likely than Democrats to say they won’t be getting vaccinated. Nonetheless, as you can see above, I didn’t find strong differences in vaccine willingness among viewers of different wrestling programs. Nor did I find strong differences in political affiliation about viewers of different programs.

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

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