On average, approximately 15 hours of pro wrestling are on television every week. If you add a WWE or AEW pay-per-view on top of that, you’re up to 18 hours. If you watch streaming shows like Ring of Honor and NJPW, you’re at 21 to 24 hours. And if you go to local wrestling shows on top of that, you’re closer to 27 to 30 hours. Wrestling fans are overexposed to amazing events, so much so that audiences find themselves forced into company allegiances as a means of time management rather than bonafide brand loyalty.
But not everyone has the patience or dedication to get through more than 24 hours of fighting in a week, which means that new solutions to the problem of oversaturation are emerging online. Wrestling companies are wise to the change in viewer patterns and have begun hiring on-site GIF-makers to capture the essential moments of every match in repeating videos between three and ten seconds. The GIF, quite simply, is the future of pro wrestling.
WWE, unsurprisingly, is the foremost expert at this. With its weekly Raw show clocking in at around three hours, the company seems hyper-aware that a way to hook people in is presenting its program without any time fillers. The official WWE accounts posting short videos of the most exciting moments from their shows (which often feature lengthy and meandering talk segments) have become far more entertaining than actually watching TV. WWE’s social media team is particularly deft at making buzzy pop-culture references alongside each clip.
Pretentious theorizing about our schizophrenic and attention-deficit culture aside, the GIF has become an indispensable tool for marketing, especially on the indies.
“People are definitely starting to blow up because of [gifs]," says the beloved and wildly prolific professional GIF-maker known as Jocay. "People like Alex Zayne, they’ve been doing some crazy stuff. They’re getting booked more places. Some of them end up on TV because of it. I’m not saying it's going to happen like that for everyone, but some people can make a career out of it.”