wrestling

Why WWE Is The WCW Equivalent In the WWE vs. AEW War

May 22, 2019 | Posted by Jordan Huie
WWE vs. AEW, Booker T, NXT

Hey, if Chris Jericho can call it a war, so can I. And before you say it, I’m obviously not talking in terms of popularity, business or even necessarily who will end up winning between WWE and AEW. Personally, I don’t actually want a winner per say, I’d like to just see them both thrive for the foreseeable future, let them compete forever like the Coke and Pepsi or DC and Marvel of wrestling. One can be a blatantly better product, one can be hugely more successful financially, but both can co-exist and push the other to work harder for a long time to come.

So no, I’m not talking about status. When I say that WWE is the WCW equivalent here, I’m talking purely in terms of product.

I just find it funny, y’know? Everyone wants to make the comparison between AEW and WCW now, whether in good ways or bad. Getting their shows onto TNT made it entirely inevitable, as does its creative being headed up by a Rhodes family member. But the image they’re shooting for is one far removed from the company that scared the then-WWF to death in the 90s only to collapse in on its own madness after the turn of the millennium. As far as actual booking goes, WWE is the far more apt comparison to its former competitor.

Wildcard Rule last month, 24/7 Title this month. The day after Brock Lesnar’s shock-for-the-sake-of-shock MITB win no less. This is the norm. Gimmicky concepts and poorly thought out surprises all for the sheer sake of unpredictability. This isn’t gonna go away anytime soon, purely because these things aren’t really working. When one bit of nonsense fails, their response is to come up with some fresh new nonsense.

This is the era WWE wishes to usher in on the cusp of finally getting viable competition. On a product-to-product basis they are clearly not ready for a war. Just judging by the precursor that was All-In and the Road To Double Or Nothing YouTube series alone, you already get a much better sense of consistency and vision, an aim to focus on everything that is awesome about wrestling today. (So, everything that’s not WWE’s main roster, basically.)

Cody Rhodes’ match with his brother on May 25th sees him trying to finally kill the Attitude Era and put it to bed, per his own words, just as WWE is attempting to invoke that nostalgia yet again, nearly two full decades later. AEW isn’t the one trying to bring back the past here.

I mean what are the odds that on the week of Double Or Nothing, with the AEW-TNT deal still fresh on everyone’s minds, the WWE Network happens to add 20 episodes of WCW Thunder, including David Arquette’s infamous WCW Championship victory? What are the odds that a WWE Untold episode, featuring Eric Bischoff and Booker T discussing the failed reboot of WCW before its cancellation airs on the Network the same weekend as the first AEW PPV?

I’m not a conspiracy theorist but it’s a little hard to look at that and not see WWE trying to remind everyone how terrible WCW was by the end, and once again thump their chest on winning that war. The message seems clear. They destroyed one competitor and want to think they can easily do it again.

But… as far as what you see on TV goes, isn’t WWE a lot more analogous to WCW these days? They have a mountain of underutilized, unhappy talent being thrown tons of money just to keep them from working for competitors. Constant relying on stunt booking and last-minute changes to shows, even regarding the most significant of decisions. Rewrite after rewrite of entire episodes of your flagship program within hours or even minutes of it going to air. These are all things people criticized WCW for in its dying days, things that are now synonymous with how WWE operates creatively and has been for years.

And as far as the David Arquette stuff goes… be honest, you could see Shane McMahon being world champion some time this year, couldn’t you? Picture it. Triple Threat Falls Count Anywhere match at SummerSlam. Roman Reigns Superman Punches Shane off a scaffold, and he falls directly onto an awaiting Seth Rollins. (Yes, two SmackDown guys challenging for Raw’s title because WILDCARD RULE~!) The entirely unconscious Shane ends up in a pinning position with Roman way too far away to break it up, boom, new Universal Champion. It sounds ridiculous, and absolutely would be, but would you put it past them to do something like that?

I mean, it is the best in the world we’re talking about here, he really should be world champion, right?

I probably sound like I’m down on this. I’m actually not, to be honest. Not as much as I should be, anyway. Here’s the thing, WWE has basically been bad for as long as I’ve watched it, which dates back to 2006 for me. Flashes of awesomeness every now and again, sure, but on a week-to-week basis, there’s a ton of mediocrity. And there’s no (willing) audience out there for mediocrity, but there’s always an audience for a show that’s outright terrible.

Presuming you’ll be seeing more columns from me after this, there’s something you’ll come to learn about me. My personal motto in wrestling and in all things, really: “If something is going to be bad anyway… make it garbage.” Maybe the “so bad it’s good” phrase has been played out but the meaning is as true as it’s ever been. You never hear anybody talk about how much they love Waterworld but The Room is a cult classic. The 50s spawned hundreds of long since forgotten alien b-movies, but Plan 9 from Outer Space has endeared and endured.

To me, that’s basically how I’ve enjoyed WWE for the past few years, if I’ve enjoyed it at all. My only wish at this point is for it be consistently bad enough to be worth watching. Sure I’d love for it to actually be good, I pine for Triple H’s takeover as much as the NXT guy… but that’s clearly not happening until Vince dies and I’d rather not be sitting here hoping for that. So honestly, until that day comes… by all means, hire Russo and make this thing truly terrible.

Not even kidding. My girlfriend and I have been watching through all the Nitros and PPVs (and maybe Thunders now…) of Russo’s run as head of WCW creative recently, purely to take the piss out of how dumb it is, and it’s honestly a treat. Frankly, the points where Russo was obviously temporarily removed as head booker, or at least had his role diminished, are just kinda boring. They’re like toned down versions of his insane product. That’s when they start to look a little bit like WWE usually does now, actually. Again, don’t let it just be bad, make it garbage! Garbage wrestling is amazing!

It was dated in plenty of ways but ahead of its time in many others. I mean really, all it amounted to was a meme show, long before memes took over the world. If that version of Nitro was around today, the internet would blow up every week with gifs and spoofs, every episode would be akin to another Sonic movie trailer being released on the regular.

And that’s powerful! You can scoff if you want, but memes and a whole lotta hard work pushed Kofi Kingston to one of the most emotional WWE title wins ever last month! Don’t tell me New Day would look at all out of place in 2000’s WCW, snarky fourth wall comments and all. Sure, if that was the state of things there would’ve been at least six Pancakes On A Pole matches by now, but regardless.

I’d never want this kinda product to be only major thing in wrestling, I love the genre too much. But now that we have a mainstream alternative that’s gonna show the world at large how genuinely great and cool wrestling can still be, why ask WWE to do the same? It’s not like tanking their product hurts them in any real way. They’re so big now that they’re effectively idiotproof. So why wouldn’t they act like idiots?

Go ahead, let them be as stupid as they want to be. Relish in it. Bask in WWE mirroring WCW in every way they possibly can.

Meanwhile, AEW will be content to make a product for the modern age.

article topics :

AEW, WCW, Jordan Huie