When most people think professional wrestling, the first three letters that come to their mind are WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment). Well, the multimedia juggernaut isn’t the only company that provides cage matches and piledrivers. During Labor Day weekend, several non-WWE performers organized an independent event called “All In” at the Sears Centre in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates. It was the first time in 25 years that a non-WWE or WCW (the defunct World Championship Wrestling, owned by Ted Turner) pro wrestling event in the United States has sold 10,000 tickets.
That wasn’t the only record broken – Pro Wrestling Tees, a Chicago-based apparel manufacturer that primarily sells online, generated nearly half a million dollars in revenue over the weekend. In addition to hosting two sold-out meet-and-greets with legendary grapplers CM Punk and Kazuchika Okada at its retail store, the company sold over 20,000 products including T-shirts, jackets hats, pins, action figures and posters.
“A regular weekend normally sees 50 customers,” Pro Wrestling Tees owner Ryan Barkan told Sports Illustrated. “Our retail is not normally that busy, but I opened the store as a show room. It’s a place for wrestling fans to come and see the merchandise and how we make it.”
Launching a decade ago as custom apparel shop One Hour Tees, the e-commerce outlet quickly targeted the pro wrestling industry, partnering with performers to create T-shirts using their image and likeness. Splitting the profits 50/50, Pro Wrestling Tees has paid out over $3.5 million in royalties from the website as of last year, Sports Illustrated reported.
Our busiest day ever at the shop. Met so many @pwtees fans. Met some wrestlers we work with that I never met before. I've never seen so many of our shirts in one place than what I saw at @Starrcast18. Today was crazy and it's only Thursday.... 🤯— OneHourTees (@OneHourTees) August 31, 2018
The company offers e-commerce stores for wrestling legends (including some who have passed on), current stars, promotions and personalities. In order to have a store, wrestlers must have 10,000 followers on social media or pay a $75 set up fee, according to SLAM! Sports. Social media has been the company’s main advertising as its wrestler-clients regularly post about their merchandise at the store. It’s free publicity, and the ingenious marketing strategy has built Pro Wrestling Tees into the top wrestling apparel producer in the world.