Jim Cornette is one of the more polarising figures in the modern wrestling landscape.
People seem to hate and love him in equal numbers and the mere mention of his name tends to spark a Twitter storm like no other. He is passionate about the industry and has no problem letting you know his feelings on any and all topics with it. One of those topics is AEW. Some may roll their eyes at his words, but it could be vital that the fledgling promotion listens to the sage wisdom of someone who has overseen his share of wrestling successes.
Of all the points that Corny has made on his podcast with regards to All Elite, the most important may well be in regards to match lengths, especially when it comes to their PPV shows. Simply put, they are too long. It’s all well and good to have a main event that goes for well over twenty minutes, features several false finishes, and pops the crowd with high spots but when every match on the card does the exact same thing it instantly becomes less special and far more draining.
With the current presentation that AEW is putting forward nobody feels special as each and every man, woman, and child on the roster is shown as being equal. As talented as someone like Darby Allin maybe, he should not be presented as being just as much of a challenge to opponents as the likes of Chris Jericho or Hangman Page. There needs to be more variety and the way to do that is to put on more matches that only run for ten minutes or less but achieve everything they need to in that time.
Take Brandon Cutler vs. MJF from the debut Dynamite show, for instance, it ran for just a few minutes but both guys got their stuff in, and it built MJF, a future megastar, up for the audience. This type of match not only makes one guy look more dominant in ending things quickly but it also breaks up the card and allows for people to take a breather. It’s not a mile a minute and as such people can enjoy it but also rest a little and be ready to pop bigger for what’s to come.
The current format that fans have seen with Double or Nothing and other such AEW events is exhausting. The wrestling is mostly good to great but that doesn’t matter when every single match is designed to be a high energy, spot fest. If there’s no room to go up then the crowd will go down and reactions will lessen for the more important matches. NXT TakeOver events follow in the same vein but they have the benefit of far shorter run time so that fans in attendance don’t have the chance to become too drained before its all over. Perhaps a similar run time would behoove AEW too?
Another big sticking point for Cornette has been the lack of believable tough guys on the roster. There are plenty of characters and flashy performers but how many of them do you really believe could win a fight in the real world? Unfortunately, despite the sports-orientated presentation, the roster is still weighed down by the likes of Orange Cassidy, Michael Nakazawa, and Joey Janela. There are places where those guys fit in and add to the show, but this is not one of those places and they really do hurt the legitimacy of the company.
If you’re a new fan and you tune in and see a man with his hands in his pockets slowly kicking another man with no impact whatsoever then are you going to stay tuned in or are you going to switch the channel? Comedy has a place in wrestling as was proven by the likes of Santino or even Mick Foley, but these guys aren’t having people laugh with them, they’re laughing at them and at AEW by association.
Just take a look at the recent NWA Powerrr broadcast and you will immediately notice that a good number of their wrestlers actually look like they can take your head off. James Storm is a fine example of that and someone who Cornette praised on his podcast recently. He looks like a grown man and is easy to take seriously. Now, you don’t need an entire roster like that, but it would benefit AEW to have a few more such men, even if just to provide balance.
People who argue against Cornette seem to be under the belief that he is out of touch and just hates everything about modern wrestling but that is not the case. Cornette certainly has a fondness for the more old school approach, but so too does he have plenty of praise for modern wrestlers who don’t embarrass the business. One example would be AEW’s team of Jungleboy and Luchasaurus. You wouldn’t necessarily expect him to like the duo, but he has heaped praise upon them for their ability to connect with the crowd, and for Luchasaurus’ athleticism.
He also frequently points out MJF as a stellar example of what a modern heel should be. He is, after all, one of the few guys who have managed to generate genuine heel heat regularly from his audiences. There are many other examples but the point here is that Cornette does not bash modern wrestling for the sake of it, he verbally eviscerates those that make a mockery of the business he loves so that others might avoid the same pitfalls.
What detractors may forget is that he has overseen OVW during its best period. He booked the likes of Brock Lesnar, John Cena, and Randy Orton before they made it big and he also turned out one of the best weekly shows after they were all long gone. He utilized the talent he had and, just like Heyman, accentuated their positives whilst hiding the negatives. He knows how to craft a storyline and an episode of television. Going as far back as Smoky Mountain Wrestling you can see how talented he is when it comes to presenting his product. To ignore his advice is to arrogantly stride towards failure.
AEW is clearly a success straight out of the gate and so it would be easy to point to this early promise as a sign that any and all criticisms are invalid, but that would be foolish. Over the long term, these niggling problems could easily cause them to see their audience dwindle and the hype die down. If they refuse to evolve and to recognize their mistakes then the future will not be as bright as it should be for them.
Listening to the advice given out weekly by Cornette could do wonders for The Elite. There is a reason that he has been successful in the industry for as long as he has.
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