To that end, the last two or three years have seen a dramatic increase in the number of cooperative double headers where two companies will run back to back shows in the same building on the same day. Even just over the first four months of 2011, you had two examples of such high-profile joint efforts in the CZW-EVOLVE double header that closed the ECW Arena, as well as this coming weekend when ROH and CHIKARA team up to present the Synergy events in Chicago Ridge, Illinois. I think that in an environment where everyone needs to take the extra step to get the fans to part with their money, it's something I would expect to see a lot more of in the near future.
Look at it from the fan's perspective: let's say you live in Poughkeepsie, NY and you know that CZW is going to run a show in Philadelphia one weekend and EVOLVE will be there the next. You want to go to both shows and you would buy merch at each, but there's no way you can afford to gas up your car for two trips down there, each of which is an over six hour round trip. However, if you find out they're running the same day in the same building, then hot damn is that something you want to go to! Now you've got two shows from two of the top independent companies in the country happening in one day, and you only have to buy enough gas for one trip. Since you're now getting more value for your money, it's easier to justify the cost of travel.
From the perspective of the companies, it's an opportunity to piggyback off of one another and hopefully create more interest and higher attendance for both events. Though the NWA does still exist in some form, it will never be what it was years ago because the nature of the business in 2012 simply won't allow for a group of independent companies to band together in an official capacity. It barely worked the first time, for that matter. However, if you have a network of loosely associated major independent companies working together without having to really work together, it's a much better deal for everyone involved because they're just sharing the building and hopefully the fans, and nobody has their fingers in anyone else's business.
From the wrestler's point of view, anything that increases business for the various independents also increases their chances of making a living in the business. Obviously, being booked on both halves of a double header means two paydays, but there's other factors to consider. First, there's always going to be great new talent that one company is going to discover before everyone else. If a couple of those independent companies go down or start running less shows because of a lack of interest or lack of fans willing to travel longer distances to see indy shows, there's always the chance it would take those talented young wrestlers longer to get discovered, or possibly not get discovered at all. Less shows also means less chances for the wrestlers to get bookings, and you might wind up with really talented guys leaving the business because they're unable to make a living through it.
By running double headers, you're not only hopefully going to drive up attendance for that specific day, but you also have the chance of attracting fans of the other company who may have never checked your product out, but decided to give it a shot since they were in town. I've thought for years now that fans who complain about there not being any wrestling they connect to just aren't being exposed to enough wrestling, because there's something out there for fans of literally every style and presentation of wrestling. I can even use myself as an example because I never realized how much I would enjoy what CZW does until I saw a couple of their shows live as part of double headers in Philadelphia.
Of course, there are potential drawbacks to these kinds of arrangements, though most of them boil down to how one would make fans perceive the other. For example, since so many of the top independents use a lot of the same wrestlers, you could wind up with situations where a guy who is a main eventer in one company gets squashed by somebody much lower in the pecking order on the afternoon show, then goes on to win the other company's top title later in the evening. That disparity takes something away from the fan experience because it can be a little hard to wrap your head around watching two different universes play out in completely different ways right in front of your face.
The other thing that might become an issue is if one company in a given double header clearly presents a better package than the other. Nobody is EVER going to publicly say "Yeah, we decided to stop doing these doubleheaders because XYZ Wrestling is so good that we can't compare." However, people have a habit of talking about this kind of stuff, especially online, and while it's one thing to be compared unfavorably to another company because of what someone sees on the DVDs, it's another thing for people to say that they watched both shows back to back and yours was by far the weaker of the two. Nobody wants that to happen, especially when the local fans (ie: the ones who aren't traveling) might hear the talk, or see that one show has a less impressive card than the other, and only go to one. Nobody wants the reputation of inferiority, so both companies would need to bring their best to not just avoid fans deciding that they can miss your half of the double header, but also because you really want fans to feel like the day they spent watching both shows was money well spent.
Those considerations aside, if everyone is able to present strong shows and not book each other's main eventers into oblivion right in front of their fans' eyes, then I think that this is the kind of arrangement that can go a long way toward sustaining independent companies over the next few years. Ideally, it's a situation where the fans, wrestlers, and promoters all win, as well as any vendors like Highspots that travel to the venue to set up a table and will now have the chance to sell their wares to fans of both companies. You can't do double headers all the time, and promoters will have to resist their natural urges to milk a winning formula for all it's worth and run it into the ground to the point where it won't make money anymore, but I think double headers are generally a good thing in an economy where it's increasingly difficult to get fans to part with their money.