Feature: Steve Anderson on Wrestling’s Latest Cottage Industry


Being released by a major wrestling promotion used to represent a career setback. Fame and fortune disappeared as the now former superstar would have to slog their way through independent circuits and enter the “Where Are They Now” category.

Then came two things. The WWE’s “best wishes” firings and the World Wide Googly Inter-web-site.

Even the lowest level guys get pub on the official WWE site. Hell, the development wrestlers get a mention. From there, it is a slew of interviews by major and minor websites. Fans who didn’t give a whit about them before now hang on their every word. Where will they end up next? When can I see this former WWE star?

I remember when I used to hobknob about the old local indy circuit in my area. The thought of having a major star, past or present, was absurd. We had the local guys. Occasionally a big name that was trained by the promotion’s owner would show up for a cameo, but those appearances were few and far between.

Now, being a former WWE star is becoming a cottage industry. While not living the first-class lifestyle, a wrestler who once appeared under the fed’s banner can now eke out a decent living.

Lance Cade spent nine years in WWE. He never broke through that glass ceiling nor did he ever receive anything resembling a sustained push. Armando Estrada was largely forgotten following his Umaga days, relegated to being ECW General Manager. One release and best wishes later, his name is everywhere.

What is the fascination with those that WWE rejected? Maybe itâ<80><99>s the “reality show star” phenomenon. These people with little dignity who put their foibles and failings on worldwide television for all to see. Whether they were the first or last one eliminated from their respective competition, the clock started on their time as celebrities. 15 minutes does not apply anymore. These people stay around forever.

Or maybe fans see the chance to see this big-time wrestler in smaller venues closer to their home. Indy wrestling promoters of all ethics are true marks for any wrestler who appeared on a pay-per-view. If you had an action figure made of you, consider your ass hired.

Those former WWE wrestlers may not have main-evented a pay-per-view, but they’re main-eventing in armories and school gyms around the country.

Career setback, indeed.

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