If you a current wrestling enthusiast, historian, or have watched the programing in the past, you are aware that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the machine of the wrestling world. I don’t want to speak out of context in the WWE’s eyes as we are not fans, we are part of the WWE “universe” and it’s not wrestling, it’s “sports entertainment” (HBO reference.) For the duration of this article, I will refer to us as fans, and the sport as wrestling, the way I remember. While the king has reigned, on the flip-side, there has been a rise in non-WWE programming. With the emergence of All Elite Wrestling (AEW), not since a quarter century ago, has there been such excitement and potential to push the wrestling world to both creative and physical limits.
AEW and WWE will be synonymous with one another for some time until we see AEW reach their full potential. With the upcoming television deal, ongoing YouTube series, AEW has made themselves available across many platforms to build their hype. Their first PPV, Double or Nothing, was an instant hit, a fresh perspective on an otherwise saturated market. We saw familiar faces and subtle jabs at competition (Cody and the throne) that simply made us fans excited for the future.
Over the course of the last quarter century, there have many alternatives to WWE programming. WCW brought out the competitiveness in the WWE that culminated in arguably the greatest era in professional wrestling. ECW was the edgy, hardcore alternative that even pushed the envelope farther than the Attitude Era did. As the years progressed, we saw upstart TNA/GFW/IMPACT try to throw their hat in the ring. This is also not taking into account the rise of the international and independent scene and their contributions to the wrestling world. This was a time where there has been no shortage of content, but once again the WWE seemingly controlled that market.
I’m sure that we can go on and on about the problems with current WWE product. That is not the point of this piece. WWE has long been on top and like any business at the top, when there’s little to no competition, there’s no urgency to change or improve. WWE knows that their fans will always be there. This has resulted in stale creative storylines and non-linear booking. I will commend the WWE on looking internationally and independently for new talents, however you could argue about their creative utilization. The fans have not only noticed, but internally as well. Wrestlers are growing more and more frustrated with how they are utilized. NXT should have been the force to push WWE farther creatively and as an organization, but personally they have failed to compete. They are arguably better than their main roster parent and it is apparent with each weekly show and Takeover events. Morale is always something you have to be mindful of in the business world and it appears on the surface that it reaching alarming depths. Unfortunately, WWE’s response has been to financially influence some of these performers without looking internally to their product that is even catching the eyes of the networks for the wrong reasons. AEW has the potential to push WWE creatively at a time when fans and wrestlers are growing frustrated and looking for alternatives.
AEW has provided the wrestling community with a hype machine that we have not seen in some time. Not since the WCW days, has a promotion been owned by someone with the financial backing to potentially light that competitive fire in Vince’s WWE. Their president is a wrestling fan and is backed by some of the best non-WWE competitors the world has to offer. Those signed to AEW also have the creative freedom to best present themselves and that has been evident as these wrestlers have crossed over to mainstream. Management and consultants within the company are comprised of familiar faces in the wrestling community whose expertise and experience only influence the credibility of the
product. The rumored talent from WWE that will come to AEW will inevitably aid the growth both in creativity and experience. This up an up and coming beast lurking in the shadows had long caught the WWE eyes ever since the whisper of their formation. Whether it be former talents that are now signed by AEW or that they were mentioned in that Sami Zayn promo, they have arrived and appears be here for the long haul.
The point was not to rant about what is wrong with the current WWE product. It is to emphasize how exciting it is to be a professional wrestling fan in today’s world. There is an upstart promotion ready to throw their hat in the ring and push those around to bring the best product to the table creatively. The current WWE talents that are ready to jump ship to AEW can only benefit the current state of professional wrestling. Hopefully, it allows the WWE to look internally and potentially push themselves as well as the wrestling world toward another Golden Age of Wrestling.