Wrestling Is Both a National Media Phenomenon and a Local Periodic Market

by David Beard, Associate Professor of Rhetoric, University of Minnesota Duluth and John Heppen, Professor of Geography, University of Wisconsin River Falls

[unpublished notes excised from a recent project]

The wrestling industry is both a national media phenomenon (visible nationally on cable and soon, again, broadcast TV) and a periodic market (as national promotions appear periodically in local venues and as local promoters arrange for local events).

A periodic market is a type of market whose meetings are separated by market-less days. For example, farmers’ markets might be bustling with people on the weekends, empty and shuttered for the rest of the week. Periodic markets are necessary when a threshold population is not present to support the market on a regular and continual basis. In microeconomics, a threshold population is the number of people necessary before a particular good or service can be provided in an area (one place for more info about periodic markets can be found here: http://periodicmarketsandruraldevelopment.blogspot.com/2011/02/periodic-markets-and-rural-development.html).

Nationally, few cities or regions are strong enough to sustain regular wrestling in one location more than a few times a year.  The traveling WWE shows (Raw, Smackdown, etc.) address this; so does the WWE NXT system, for example, as it rotates across several locations in Florida (e.g. Crystal River, Daytona Beach, Cocoa, Dade City, Tampa, Venica, Sanford, Largo, Lakeland, Casselberry). WWE NXT appears in these venues periodically, rather than calling one “home” (the way that other forms of entertainment, like the movies, are available regularly at movie theaters).

Similarly, local pro-wrestling shows, as events of limited appeal, rarely meet the threshold population for even weekly shows in a single venue. In a market as large as the Twin Cities metro area (approximately 3,000,000 people), still, wrestling operates as a periodic market, moving from venue to venue on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly rotation.  In Minnesota, shows are dispersed across a half-dozen venues from Western Wisconsin to the Twin Cities area (more on this at http://mpcaaca.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Volume-6-Number-1-2018-.pdf).

In economic terms, periodic markets reduce the distance that a buyer must travel to obtain goods and services. In functioning as a periodic market, wrestling promoters reduce the distance to commute to a wrestling show for at least some of the audience, some of the time. (There are diehards, the core of the community of fans, who will travel across the distances from venue to venue.)

Even if a single wrestling venue were built in the Twin Cities, there would be good reason to keep rotating venues. Veeck (1992), in a study of periodic markets in rural China, found that, despite the growth of permanent vendors, periodic markets still held appeal for social functions. Villagers continued to patronize periodic markets because it gave them a chance to see friends and relatives and allow for continued social interaction with people.

As periodic markets, local indie wrestling shows serve a social function for fans of the local wrestling community. Though the action they see in person may not match national promotions seen on television, the local show continued to provide the personal and social interaction that is not possible via television.

Periodic markets in wrestling bring the national to the local and they bring the fans into social interaction at the indy level.

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