Monday, May 14, 2018

Power to the Proletariat: All In Sells Out

The Bucks and their business partners scored a major victory with All In ticket sales
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Tickets to All In went on sale at 4 PM Eastern Daylight Time yesterday. At 4:29 PM EDT, tickets had sold out. Capacity at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, IL is over 10,000, so Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega, Marty Scurll, and Adam Page hit their goal in less time than it takes for the average sitcom to air on network television. This victory is personal for the wrestlers who set out to promote the show. It's also a victory for independent wrestling. However, most of all, it is a victory for labor against capital in an industry where capital is more superfluous than in other industries but where it's treated as far more essential for some reason.

While the former Elite faction of the Bullet Club (in kayfabe, they're going through a few things right now) have contracts with New Japan Pro Wrestling and American backing from Ring of Honor, this venture has been clear from the beginning that it was a personal challenge. Rhodes and the Jacksons specifically had no real backing from anyone corporate. All In has been a labor by labor the whole way through, unless you count their financial influx through sponsors. Then again, sponsorships have been self-gotten, so basically the money coming in from Cracker Barrel and other corporate donors was the fruit of their labor. Because of that work, All In will gross more than $500K just on ticket sales alone.

The common knowledge in wrestling is that no one outside of Vince McMahon could promote a show stateside and draw five or more figures, and that no one can produce a show, period, without some kind of backing from capital, someone who wouldn't work the show but reap unequal financial benefits from it just by providing money up front. Cutting out the middleman of the promoter should put the fear of God into McMahon and his corporate machine. It should also be a wake-up call to an eerily conservative wrestling locker room to figure out their worth, which is a lot higher than they think it is right now. Basically, All In proves to the wrestling world that labor has the power, if Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, which was founded by and mostly run by the regulars during most of its history, didn't before.

The counterargument is, obviously, that not just any wrestler can pick up and promote a show, but to argue that is to miss the point completely. Obviously, Podunk Shindieson won't be able to promote a show on the scale of All In, but the fact that Rhodes and the Jacksons can shouldn't be used against them. They're stars of the highest magnitude, and they were able to get five figures at premium prices to sell out in no time. Wrestlers at lower levels of star power shouldn't have any problems selling out shows commensurate to their status on the scene if they put in the work gladhanding and promoting. The lesson here is that you don't need to trust some scumbag who has money to throw around and might want to rip you off when you and your band of scumbags that you know and run with in locker rooms and rings can do the same without a middleman.

All In needs to be treated as a watershed moment by those who can make use of its influence, because it can cause a revolution in professional wrestling. Wrestlers seized control of promotion, and thus they have scored perhaps the most important sell-out in recent pro wrestling history, maybe the most important since WrestleMania 3. The only way labor could have scored a more important victory is if WWE wrestlers came to their senses and unionized in solidarity with no exception, finally forcing McMahon's hand over three decades after it should've been forced.