Professional wrestling’s in a weird place right now. On the surface it seems like it’s very popular, with WWE getting massive TV rights deals and other companies like AEW and New Japan Pro-Wrestling flourishing, but TV ratings, ticket sales, and other concrete metrics have been in a steady decline for two decades. It’s being propped up by a diehard fan base that spends more and more money on what they like, and that is responding with fervor towards alternatives to the ever-unchanging WWE, which has dominated the business this entire century despite having an openly adversarial relationship with its most passionate fans. Basically wrestling is making more money than ever despite being less popular than it’s been at almost any time in its history. It might be flush now, but it’s a little disconcerting for the future of this incredibly weird, incredibly fun form of entertainment.
If anybody’s figured out how to keep wrestling thriving for decades to come, it might be PJ Hawx. In a recent match for WildKat Wrestling at a mall in Louisiana, Hawx pulled off the kind of insane wrestling stunt destined to go viral and wind up on ESPN, despite being such an obscure indie wrestler that he doesn’t even have a Cagematch entry.
Here’s what he did:
Okay, if you’ve been to a mall anywhere in America in the past 40 years, you’ve maybe wondered what it would be like to jump off the second floor. (Or maybe I’m alone in that…?) Well, this dude just went and did it, and onto other dudes, to boot. It probably isn’t proper to start a “holy shit” chant in a shopping mall, but this is one of the few recent wrestling spots I’ve seen that would legitimately deserve that overused chant. The camera angle in this video helps a ton, of course—I’m not sure if the distance Hawx fell would look quite as alarming if this was shot from ringside. Still, this is an absurd high spot that nobody at that show will ever forget, and which has already heavily boosted Hawx’s profile among wrestling fans; and since apparently neither he nor the opponents who caught him got hurt, that means it’s worked out better than Hawx probably ever expected. The only negative I can think about it is how it’ll now inspire any amount of copycats trying to one-up it with something crazier and more “extreme.”
Okay, no, this isn’t really the future of “the business.” This is just an eye-catching one-off that happened to strike at the right moment to go viral. Hawx probably isn’t even the first wrestler to jump off a shopping mall’s balcony—he’s just the one who happened to do it right now, and happened to post video of it on Twitter during a slow time for sports. As crazy as this spot is, it’s not going to have any impact on the popularity of pro wrestling. Still, it looks cool, and that’s always been a major part of pro wrestling.