It’s great to have another prominent wrestling promotion out there doing well, it really is.
However, I do have a problem with all the industry experts refusing to criticise the company for doing the exact same things they ridicule WWE for. I’m going to run through the 10 most glaring examples here for you all to digest and form your own honest opinion.
10. Pre Shows
I think it’s safe to say the one thing we all hate the most about WWE PPVs right now (minus the ridiculous running length) is the awful pre-shows they make us endure. They’re a nightmare of adverts, hype videos we’ve already seen a thousand times, and matches that mean nothing played out in front of a half empty arena.
It’s a terrible way to get fans to buy your PPV, even more ludicrous for WWE as it’s all on the Network anyway. But AEW have also fallen into this trap with their Buy In shows, which, while not being as painful to watch as WWE’s efforts, are still a needless addition to an already bloated event. They should look at what fans hate about WWE right now and remove that from their shows moving forward.
9. Three Man Commentary Booth
Another thing we can all pretty much agree on is that WWE needs to do away with the three man commentary booth because it just doesn’t work, yet AEW keep shoehorning three commentators onto their broadcasts. Jim Ross has repeatedly gone on record to discuss the problems he has with a three man team, and it’s been evident throughout his tenure with the upstart promotion.
He sounds rusty, often gets interrupted, and surprisingly knows very little about most of the talent on show. I’m not blaming JR. He’s the greatest announcer of all time. It’s the format that is killing him. Just pair him with Excalibur, and have Tony Schiovane rotate weeks on TV with JR moving forward. That way, AEW won’t again be copying WWE in an attempt to do it better, they will be looking at what doesn’t work in WWE and altering it for their own gain. That is how AEW will succeed.
8. The WCW-Esque Feel Of The Product
Let’s be honest, if the letters were not AEW, and instead WCW, you’d think it was a reunion show for the Atlanta-based promotion. The production looks cheap and tatty. WCW looked tired back in 2001 and AEW seem to be using the same model. I like the way they creatively design the arenas so not every show looks the same, which is something they are doing different to WWE.
However, it comes off looking tacky and cheap, which is not something you expect from a company owned by a billionaire. They need to hire better cameramen, lighting equipment and staging. It all needs a proper shake-up, and I fear they will try and copy WCW Nitro and have some random WWE guy we had all forgotten about wander out during a match for the “shock factor”, which brings me nicely to my next point.
7. Prioritising Ex WWE Talent
This is a major problem for AEW, as it was for TNA too. I see the strategy though, it’s very simple. They want eyeballs on their product and the quickest way of doing that is by hiring talent that the world knows and have the company revolve around them. But that formula is short term and will cause AEW major problems moving forward.
Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Cody, PAC, Dustin Rhodes, Jake Hager and even Shawn Spears all plied their trade in WWE to varying degrees of success. Yes, some are still in the prime of their careers and have done well on the Independent scene, but to the casual fan they will forever be seen as “Former WWE Superstar.”
This formula only works if you allow your home grown talent to overcome these bigger names, thus making them the stars. However, there is no sign of them doing that and it seems as if they are just making the same mistakes as TNA did. Fans that are tired of seeing the same old faces in WWE aren’t exactly going to switch over to AEW when their World Champion is Chris Jericho. That’s why I think their TV show could be in serious trouble when they go up against NXT, because the wrestlers there are fresh, hungry and more importantly new. AEW should be that, but instead they are fast becoming a home for unwanted WWE talent.
6. Chris Jericho As World Champion
While we are on the subject of ex-WWE talent taking over AEW, let’s talk about their decision to crown Chris Jericho their first ever World Champion. Okay, I see the logic of having a real name become the standard bearer of the new company, but surely he’s already helping the promotion by just being there?
If ‘Hangman’ Page had defeated the legendary Chris Jericho, it would’ve cemented him as a legit star right off the bat. As a legend, you’re there to give the rub to the younger talent. However, Jericho seems to be this generation’s version of Hulk Hogan. On the outside, it looks as if he is hogging all the limelight, using his stroke to get the main events, and deluding the decision makers into thinking he’s the only reason why the promotion got off the ground in the first place.
WWE get ridiculed for putting titles on part timers, yet AEW, who talk about change constantly, just went and did the same thing by making a 50-odd year old man their World Champion. Seriously, why should I watch AEW when they are doing the exact same things as WWE, only with a guy who is considerably a lesser draw than the likes of Goldberg, Brock Lesnar and Undertaker?
5. Cody Being A Carbon Copy Of Triple H
This one tickles me. Every fan and his dog criticise Triple H for the ego-driven way he is portrayed, especially at WrestleMania. He has these grandiose entrances, then wrestles for 30-plus minutes and gets no one but himself over. I could’ve just used the same description for Cody.
He might be doing it in a mocking way, but even if that is the case, he shouldn’t be as again it’s coming across as a cheap imitation of a promotion we are already tired of. Cody is doing the exact same things as Triple H, so why isn’t he getting the same criticism? Triple H has built a career and legacy, while Cody was a mid-card attraction at best in WWE who had to leave and become VP of a company to get booked the way he believes he should be. I have news for Cody – he’s an average talent who, if AEW closed their doors tomorrow, would be back in WWE losing to Baron Corbin. Nice guy, but someone who believes his own hype and whose ego is threatening to run wild over the upstart promotion.
4. Multi Man Matches Being Car Crashes
This is something WWE have done since the days of TLC in the Attitude Era, yet AEW are portraying their car crash style of wrestling as something brand new. It might be to some people who haven’t heard of ECW, the Cruiserweight division in WCW, or even the X Division in TNA. All AEW are doing again is copying something that has worked before.
In fear of sounding like Jim Cornette, I genuinely hate this style of wrestling. It may look spectacular, but if I wanted to see acrobatics I’d go to the circus. I want to see actual wrestling where stories are told and all the combatants sell, which is sadly becoming a lost art because the wrestlers just want that cheap pop and are willing to risk their careers on it. Not good, not cool, and needs to stop.
3. Kenny Omega Being A Loser
Could you imagine the outrage and uproar if WWE had booked Kenny Omega the way AEW are doing? Since he has arrived there he has been forced to carry Chris Jericho to a passable main event to then lose to him, then get laid out by a debuting Jon Moxley, before losing to PAC at All Out. It’s mad.
AEW have the one true original star on their books that they could build their company around to promote fresh new talent, but instead choose to have him be the whipping boy. They’re copying all of WWE’s bad habits and it needs to change. Omega more than likely would’ve been better off in NXT, because he sure as hell can’t be booked worse than he already is.
To the casual fan, Omega is just a loser with weird hair and even weirder facial expressions. AEW had the chance to create something special, instead they went down the WWE route and got Vince McMahon’s mid carders to erase him from prominence.
2. Women’s Revolution
This is coming about so half assed that they need to stop. They clearly don’t want to promote women in the same way WWE does for a number of reasons, the main one being they just don’t have the talent or star power to do so. I mean, if they couldn’t get Sasha Banks, who was seemingly desperate for a change this past year, they sure as hell aren’t ever going to get Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch or Ronda Rousey.
So what does that leave them with? Brandi? Awesome Kong? Not exactly brimming with talent, is it? AEW threw their available women into the awful Casino Battle Royal at All Out. It played to silence because the fans didn’t care. AEW don’t care. Women aren’t their priority right now, which is understandable, but don’t pretend it is then deliver this shoddy excuse for a revolution.
1. Stop Bashing WWE
Number one rule in wrestling – don’t mention the competitor. Sadly for AEW, that’s all they can do. It’s like a disease with them. Every time they get the opportunity, they take aim at WWE, a company which more than likely they will be begging for jobs with again in the near future. They need to take a step back, focus on themselves, and deliver an original product which isn’t just a watered down version of something we are already tired of.
I don’t care if they have a billionaire running it, that didn’t save WCW, and it won’t save AEW. The wrestlers cannot be allowed to run the show, didn’t Tony Khan learn anything from the Monday Night Wars? Those who fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @JK_CFC3. Thanks for reading!