THE RANT: AEW in 2019 - A Revolution in Limbo

Posted By James Walsh on 12/26/19

All Elite Wrestling came on the scene in very early 2019 as Cody, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, Chris Jericho, and others were revealed as the backbone of the upstart promotion owned by Tony Khan, the son of Shad Khan who many know as the owner of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars. The promise of a new wrestling league had many, including me, excited about the potential of what an actual alternative on a high dollar level could mean for the world of wrestling. If you get right down to it, a pre-show to the first Dynamite with very little hyping got nearly as many views, within a few thousand, as the final episode of AEW Dynamite of the year on December 18th. So, what does that mean? Is the bloom off the rose already? Is momentum lost?

Before I continue, i want to be blunt in saying I am not a fan of WWE NXT. In fact, I believe Dusty Rhodes and not Triple H is the genius behind the elements of what made NXT so appealing to fans. In Dusty's wake, Triple H has picked up the slack and presented the show in much the same way. I don't think he came up with the vision for the show but instead kept it going and, of course, took full credit for it like the conniving son-in-law Lego Batman sounding prick he is. My dislike of WWE NXT, and it is WWE NXT, is that it was changed to resemble Ring of Honor production wise when ROH was hot with the Elite and they ran the same venues just before ROH went there to kill the market or bleed the market dry for ROH. NXT UK has followed the "bad for everyone else's business" model by KILLING the UK market and shutting down companies that were thriving before certain big noses stuck their ... Well, big noses in. And, make no mistake, if the CMLL owners sell and that 100 years plus rich history is shut down to become WWE NXT Mexico or if Dragon Gate, NOAH, or DDT is sold to WWE to conquer Japan as WWE NXT Japan, the goal is NOT to simply get the best talent from that region like nimrods believed in the UK. It is to do what was done in the UK - Kill competition. Kill other brands not owned by WWE. And, if you believe WWE counter-programming AEW Fight for the Fallen with WWEVolve, the bitch brand, or counter-programming AEW Dynamite with WWE NXT on the USA Network was to "make it exciting", you're a fool. The goal is to kill AEW. The goal is to kill competition and not permit anyone but WWE to succeed in any real way. And, again, NXT is WWE NXT. So, why not support an ACTUAL alternative and not a simulated one because you simply don't call it WWE and instead pretend it is a mystery promotion called NXT? Fools. Foolish fools!

Ok, back on point.

AEW needs to correct errors. Hey, who thought they'd start and do everything right? There had to be learning experiences and growing pains. But, the lowering numbers are a way to tell that the consumer is not loving all of what AEW is doing. So, what are the problems?

- Too many roster members of the same size and style. This leads to many of the same moves being done in each match. There's more flips on AEW than in the theme song of ROH's Flip Gordon... And, that song literally just goes "Flip, flip, Flip, Flip" over and over again.

- A women's division that isn't ready for prime time. From japanese talents who are under 100 pounds or sold to us as "legends" when no one outside of Japanese indy girl wrestling has ever heard of them to American talent not quite set for the prime time buzz unless it is in the crowd on the competitors show, there's problems. The roster has fileld out a little better. I REALLY like Kris Statlander, Big Swole, and more. Plus, Allie, who is a valet (and looking hotter than ever in her career) is a great worker and could add a logical style. So, the potential for the division is great... And, Britt Baker, who I took a shot at above, is a very attractive girl who can work. But, she's had a number of injuries I believe caused by being green. She's not yet connected with the live crowd which is a shame because as one of the lone American girls who can speak English - Especially early on, she had a golden opportunity to be the top girl there. She wasn't. Instead, Nyla "Almost a Woman" Rose was put in the World Title spot on the debut of Dynamite and I just am not sure people are "all in" on a transexual in a women's division. Boy, people won't like that I said that. But, it is the truth.

- The tag team division suffers from much the same as the singles roster - Too much of the same. The reason SCU stands out and why I am excited to see the Butcher and the Blade in competitive matches beyond the Cody feud. They do wrestling moves on a wrestling show that don't look like "Lets hold hands so we can both do a flip and land on our backs together" matches. Tag teams are supposed to cooperate with their partners... But, the tag teams, especially the Lucha Brothers, have cooperative moves with their opponents. Jack Evans and Angelico do this also and, on occasion, so do the Best Friends. The Young Bucks and Proud N Powerful both have trainwreck matches where there is carnage and in the end, only one man is left standing. I love the Young Bucks. ANd, I loved LAX in Impact. But, I don't think I'm being dishonest when I say that Proud N Powerful has not connected with an audience in AEW the way they did in Impact. ANd, no, I don't mean that they're heels. I just find there's a general "I don't give a damn" vibe from the crowd. But, not as much as for the Dark Order.

- Dark Order and the Nightmare Collective are too whacked out. I loved the segment with the TV on in the hotel room as that came off well and was well executed. But, the debut of Dark Order at Double Or Nothing was met with 11,000 fans chanting "Who Are You?" And, after half a year, no one really cares who they are. High dollar, high quality promo packages trying to give the characters depth doesn't change the fact that the characters themselves are deeply flawed and the talent behind the characters just ins't that great. As for the Nightmare Collective, Brandi is a great promo. And, Awesome Kong is a great worker. But, what is it? It is weird.... But, is it a voodoo gimmick? Is the hair they take going to make those girls follow the Nightmare Collective like some kind of voodoo curse and they eventually leave the group by beating Kong or Brandi and taking their lock of hair off the collection? That would have been what I would have done. But, in the end, it isn't. Plus, how is Brandi a heel seemingly in some sort of voodoo trance with Kong but Cody is a face? Do they not have dinner together? Doesn't he ever say, "Hey, I'm Zack Morris here. I'm 1993 Sting in WCW. People love me. Why are you so out there?" Logic matters. And, this gimmick, right now, has very little. Maybe it will get there.

- Story telling has been hit and miss. Almost everything Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho have done has been dead on perfect and has resulted in some incredible moments. But, there was a moment on the December 18th Dynamite with Hangman Page and Kenny Omega. People were interested in seeing what two Elite members going nose to nose like Hogan and Warrior in 1990 would result in. And, instead, Pac entered to announce he kidnapped that nice Japanese boy that Kenny seems so fond of if you watch the Being the Elite series. It killed the momentum, it killed the moment. And, instead of Hangman versus Omega which is interesting and we've not seen before, we have Pac wanting a 17th match with Omega because that dead horse just hasn't been beaten quite enough yet.

In the end, there seems to be one solution that I can think of that could fix a lot of these messes.

- Put ONE person in charge of the show as the head of "creative" or the bookking team. Given the success of what has worked thus far, that person should be Cody. With that logic, he could sand down the rough edges around the things that need to be sanded down. For example, if Kenny Omega wants to bring in a dozen more Japanese girls that resemble anime characters he's a big fan of, someone has to tell him "no". If the Young Bucks want to have another 55 minute car wreck match where they jump through so many tables and off so many ladders that by the end, a flop off the top of a ladder brings no crowd reaction because so many have already been seen, he needs to tell them "no." If the Lucha Brothers want to do Ring Around the Rosie all holding hands with Jack Evans and Angelico and then do multiple stagey looking flips and flops where everyone lands on their back after multiple variations of flips and NO ONE TAGS IN OR OUT AT ANY POINT, he needs to tell them "no". American company. American logic. American programming. Not NJPW, not AAA. And, there's nothing wrong with that. But, if you are going to appeal to former WCW fans or modern WWE fans, you have to do a style built for an American audience. If that sounds closed minded, you're part of the problem. Logic sometimes has to be closed minded. Do I want to go rob a bank? No, I don't. I'm closed minded to that. You know why? Because it is WRONG!

The brand also needs to hire new talent with different styles than what they presently have. Killer Kross is available. For God sakes, SIGN HIM! Luke Harper, SIGN HIM! Variety is the spice of life. So, lets make the show a little spicey! And, pick up some available talent that are leaving other brands like Jeff Cobb should he become available. Shane Taylor also would be a good signing if he became available and rumors suggest both may. They're not the 180 pound 25-35 year old flip and flop wrestlers that you see on Dynamite each week. Therefore, they'd stand out and bring diversity to the show.

The fact is that AEW still has a lot of momentum. It is a traveling wrestling company with shows airing on TNT in prime time! That's incredible! And, I still love the product though I just tore it apart. The brand needs to improve to regain that fresh feeling it had in October. And, to win back the fans who are falling trap to and being fooled by the simulated alternative that is WWE NXT instead of watching the actual alternative that is AEW. It is not too late to "right the ship" nor do I think things are at a stage where the ship needs to be righted. It simply has cooled off and the trends are starting to go away from the brand to the tune of the Young Bucks leaving Twitter instead of staying on there to fend off the incoming by the WWE lemmings desperate to find fault with the biggest threat their brand has had in 20 years. You've got to put up your dukes, Bucks!