wrestling / Columns

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Of AEW

January 16, 2019 | Posted by Justin Watry
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Backstory

Since the beginning of the All Elite Wrestling rumors, I have been on board with this. Now that we have an official announcement and a little bit of a reveal, it is time to look at the promotion (so far).

The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly Of AEW

The Good

Jacksonville Rally – I loved the idea when it was first made public and still do. Going to the location of a nearby Smackdown LIVE taping, doing a rally a couple of hours before the show started to grab WWE’s attention and stamping Jacksonville as the ‘home’ base was super cool. Nobody buys for one second that this was all a giant coincidence. AEW knew exactly what they were doing, and they need to own up to it rather than a feed a BS story to their buddy reporter.

Tony Khan Stays Hidden – This was a small thing that very few mentioned but was a BIG plus in my book. Tony Khan is reportedly bank rolling this promotion and playing with his daddy’s billions. If he would have taken center stage and proclaimed himself the on air General Manager or smiled with his famous friends, a massive red flag would have gone off. Instead, he stayed in the background, did some media later on, and that was it. Good on him. More on Khan later…

Roster – Chris Jericho grabbed the headlines in signing, but he has been rumored for months now and in typical Y2J fashion the more he denied involvement the more it meant the story was true. I expect Jim Ross is next to be announced. Besides him as the big former WWE name there, look at the others. Young Bucks, Britt Baker, Neville, Joey Janela, MJF, Cody Rhodes, Daniels, etc. Lots to like if you are a diehard wrestling fan. Heck, AJ Styles and The Hardyz are soon to be free agents. Add in a JR, Kenny Omega, Bill Goldberg (as a special attraction) and a couple others off the independent scene; you are set!

Double Or Nothing – I expect a sell out come May in Las Vegas. Just as I expect their charity event in Florida to do well. Have to announce things early BUT also have to hold back on details. Gotta spread out the love. Can’t blow it all in one shot.

Wrestling Speak – Wins and losses will matter. Health is important to the performers and the fanbase. Pay will be handled accordingly. No intelligence insulted. Lots of great promises if you ask me. I do worry that this all sounds TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE though. No way all of this ends up being factual. For now, it all sounds good. Time will tell if this ends up being fantasy or reality.

TV Deal – I 100% believe AEW has a television deal in place already. I also 100% believe it is a fairly decent television deal. Heck, I want to go one step further and state it is going to be a surprisingly strong television deal. Turner is reportedly interested, so that would mean Bleacher Report LIVE (streaming website trying to hit it big soon), TBS, or even TNT. Then there is Paramount (formerly Spike TV) or even WGN – which aired the ALL IN kickoff show last year. Do not listen to anybody who says differently – AEW absolutely needs a TV deal in order to be relevant.

SUMMARY: On the whole, I like a lot about the beginning stages. In my recent Fact or Fiction appearance, I said my excitement level was a 9 out of 10. That was before the rally. Now? I want more! As pumped as I am, there are some concerns. Let’s take a look…

The Bad

The Name – All Elite Wrestling just reeks of wrestlers naming a promotion after themselves. Right or wrong, The Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes are the faces of this entire thing. I expect them to be in front of the camera, behind the cameras…and yeah, AEW is basically THEIR company. If you love their act and watch their YouTube series religiously and are counting down the days until Kenny Omega signs on too, this is like Christmas morning to you. For me who just wants to watch wrestling and get a variety, this could be too much of one thing over taking the product. That is not even mentioning the fact that Brandi Rhodes is in an executive role. If Cody Rhodes and friends were not running the company, there is 0.00001% chance she would have that position.

Tony Khan – No doubt Tony Khan is a real wrestling fan. He knows his stuff and has a lengthy history of following the ins and out. In a lot of ways, he is just like one of us. Sure, he has a silver spoon in his mouth, but in terms of being a fan, he is a fan. Just like us. The problem with that is something he admitted to after the Jacksonville rally. He is socially awkward and doesn’t do much except work and watch wrestling. Is that the guy who you want running the company? Is that thus guy who is going to cut a deal with a Vince McMahon or a high end executive? Is that the guy who will play hard ball in a contract dispute? I don’t know. Right now, it scares me a little bit.

Wrestling – Based on all the interviews and quotes, it feels like AEW is definitely targeting the die hard fans. Internet crowd if you want me to be blunt. High flying, flips, and The Elite all over the posters. That may work if you want a couple hundred thousand viewers on YouTube, but will that draw numbers on TNT? Or TBS? I get that is why Chris Jericho was brought in, but once the bell rings, wrestling needs personalities. Needs story telling. Needs something for the casual audience to take notice. A million different “five star matches” are not going to gain buzz outside of the internet bubble. Sorry, it just won’t. That leads to me to my next issue.

Media – You know what sucks? When a friend tells you something is super amazing and you just NEED to see it, only to find out he over hyped it. Not just over hyped it but really overdid it. Rather than expecting something good, you went in believing the thing would be ultra extraordinary and the greatest thing ever!!! Sure seems to me the wrestling media has been ‘paid off’ or certainly been slanted with their coverage of AEW so far. I am not going to name names, but I absolutely believe some media members are either on the payroll or are working as unpaid consultants behind the scenes. Unfair and biased is just the beginning when your buddies are the very same people reporting news and covering your product. Just reeks of exactly what I noted above. Rather than being fair and telling it like it is, everything is super amazing and the bestest bestest of all time. Does more harm than good if you ask me. Everybody remember FloSlam and the clowns who had a stake in that mess? Yep, those exact same clowns are now backing AEW.

SUMMARY: A lot of these concerns are simply being cautious. I feel way more positive than negative about AEW currently. Let’s not kid ourselves though. There are a few red flags that have popped up early.

The Ugly

Equal Pay – To be fair, Brandi Rhodes later clarified the remarks made during the Jacksonville rally. Thus, I am a little bit more relaxed than I initially was. Ladies and gentlemen, Britt Baker is not going to be getting the same amount as The Young Bucks. Sorry. Cody Rhodes and MJF will not be receiving equal pay. Chris Jericho is not coming in for pennies considering he was reportedly STILL talking with WWE up to the last minute. Stop it. This is something Ryback said on his podcast a year or so back, something that wrestlers win or lose should be paid equally. It is ridiculous and so far off base it hurts my brain. A background extra or secondary actor should not be getting the same paycheck as the lead star. It is just silly. This was another instance of AEW wanting to garner a pretty headline and win favor with critics but ended up tripping over their words.

WWE Shots – As much as I loved the rally taking place right outside of a Smackdown LIVE taping, I hope that was just the ‘first shot’ and nothing more. Chris Jericho saying the word ‘Universe’ to end his promo was just cringe worthy. Same with Cody Rhodes commenting that he won’t shove anybody down the fan’s throats. A clear shot at internet fans and their Roman Reigns hatred. Ugh. I strongly disliked when TNA Impact Wrestling spent a year ripping on WWE at every turn, and I hope AEW does not follow suit. Just do your thing. Have a great product, get millions of viewers on Turner and change the business for the better. Starting a war or going on Monday nights right away or whatever, please no. Be what you name proclaims – elite.

SUMMARY: I know wrestlers are workers by nature and tend to twist the truth (Jericho) when they see fit. I get that. However, we are dealing with millions (or billions) and a potential major boost to the industry. Play it straight forward, be somewhat honest and run this business like a business. You don’t even need a Wellness policy or stock price like WWE. Leave that to them. Let your wrestling show do the talking. The rest will follow.

Cheap Plugs
@JustinWatry
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article topics :

AEW, All Elite Wrestling, Justin Watry


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