The day after All In found me reflecting on the important moments and people in wrestling. Without a doubt All In was a landmark show for wrestling. SLAM! Wrestling writer Matt Bishop called All In “independent wrestling’s version of an all-star game.” It sure was a huge moment.
In April 2019, New Japan Pro Wrestling and Ring of Honor will be holding a mega event at New York’s Madison Square Garden. This is a massive show as well because a foreign wrestling company is running a show at a venue that only showed WWE/WWF/WWWF events for decades. Wrestling fans are being catered to by promotions and wrestlers who want to make their shows something fans truly want to see.
I then started thinking about who the most important person in wrestling could be. Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks have certainly made their marks by promoting the All In show. They did a great job! Maybe it is Triple H? Heck, he is rebuilding the territorial system, under WWE’s banner, and giving wrestlers a place to work and hone their craft.
In my opinion the most influential or important person in wrestling over the last decade has been Colt Cabana. At All In, Cabana, a wrestler and commentator for Ring of Honor Wrestling, was wildly cheered for his efforts on the card. Sure he is a Chicago guy, but the fans in attendance came from around North America to see the event so I don’t buy the hometown hero pop. Rather, they cheered Cabana for what he symbolizes and what he has done for independent wrestling and wrestlers.
In July 2010, Colt Cabana launched the first episode of his monumental podcast The Art of Wrestling. This podcast was the first one put out by a wrestling personality. I stumbled onto his podcast that year and was amazed by the stories he was able to tell. Cabana opened the door to the closed world of wrestling by bringing the stories of the wrestlers who were on the hustle, trying to ply their trade. While Cabana did interview some big name wrestling stars, more often he talked to wrestlers who were on the independent circuit and perhaps not well known to the audience.
The Art of Wrestling connected the audience with the very real life struggles of the independent wrestler. I can remember Kevin Steen questioning whether he should continue in the sport and then a few months later he became a WWE superstar. I was also struck by Cabana’s openness. At times, he seemed to use the podcast as a personal therapy session and we listened to the doubts and worries that this larger-than-life character carried with him. Cabana showed us that we are all vulnerable and have the same worries.
Colt Cabana is also known for his merchandise sales. He was one of the first wrestlers to really use social media and his website to create a sales centre for his fans to connect with him. I have been working on a story about the “Art of the Gimmick Table” for a few years and every wrestler I interview remarks that I should talk to Cabana. He showed wrestlers how to market themselves and make some money through a website and a variety of quality products that keep changing and are improved on.
Also, Cabana revolutionized the t-shirt sale. For many years independent wrestlers have sold t-shirts at local wrestling shows as a way of getting some extra income. Cabana, as featured in my article about Pro Wrestling Tees, developed a partnership with One Hour Tees to create a platform for wrestlers to buy affordable quality shirts and also have their fans buy them directly from the site. Now fans from around the world can buy their favourite wrestlers t-shirt at any time and the wrestler receives a cut of the profits. As a result wrestlers have another income stream so they can focus on what they love — pro wrestling.
Perhaps the most important thing Cabana has done is defend himself and his podcast in court. A WWE doctor took exception to some remarks that were said on his podcast by a guest and that doctor sued Cabana and the guest. The defense of himself and his podcast had far reaching ramifications. If the doctor won the case it would have opened the door for other people to sue podcasters for comments that their guest uttered. Every podcast across the world would have been at risk. But Cabana defended himself and podcasting. Of course, he went through considerable stress during the trial, but in the end he was successful and won the day thus preserving freedom of speech.
Colt Cabana has been the most important person in wrestling for the better part of this decade, and it wouldn’t have happened if WWE hadn’t released him and his Scotty Goldman character. He taught wrestlers how to make a life for themselves through promotions. Cabana pioneered wrestling podcasting and showed us the hearts of the people who entertain us. He set up the deal that helped wrestlers make a living through t-shirt sales online. He fought for the rights of the little guy and won for his podcast and the freedom to express views. Colt Cabana the wrestling community is ALL IN to you!