Hello all an welcome to another edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column that you will all hopefully enjoy. I have not been around as of late due to life getting in the way. But I’m back at it and don’t plan on slowing down again. I do hope everyone is staying safe in this troubling time. Long introductions still aren’t my thing, so let’s get to…
THE MAIN EVENT
Despite WWE being around for a very, very long time, there are still a lot of things that they can learn from other promotions. In fact, some of these things they’ve done before. However, for some reason it appears as though Vince and company feel like it no longer applies to them. In an effort for global dominance of the professional wrestling industry, Vince has removed a few key staples of what a professional wrestling promotion should be. Or at the very least strive to be.
Despite its flaws, AEW certainly tries to accommodate various tropes that were engraved in the DNA of the wrestling industry. Perhaps WWE should look to AEW’s brand of wrestling, in terms of execution, as a way to enhance their own product. Some of which WWE has chosen to forget, others which could be used in an attempt to adapt to the times. The following are but a few things WWE can learn from AEW…
Back To Basics
The basics are essential to any wrestling promotion. It is the foundation on which a promotion is built upon. In the early days of WWE, the basics were what they thrived upon. So, what are the basics exactly? And how do AEW incorporate those basics into their product? Well…
Time Limits – This can be used to such great effect if done correctly. It can also create a sense of urgency in a match where the stakes are not high. On a couple of occasions AEW has used this to enhance a storyline or to keep two competitors from losing. This should be an essential tool in any promotion.
20 Minute Promos – How we all wish we do not need to sit through this every week; and sometimes more than once on a single show! Yes, AEW has also had 20 minute promos, but those are very rare. They’re not synonymous with it as WWE are. Nobody wants to see the same people in the same 20 minute promo every week.
The little things also matter a lot. Things like the champion coming out last as a sign of respect. Yet in WWE, either the face or the more popular wrestler comes out last more often than not. Also, more emphasis on the referee to make them feel more important as an authority figure. Hell, AEW even mentions the experience of a referee with regards to title matches.
These are but a few things that WWE should consider. The fundamentals are integral in any wrestling organization and WWE should be more proactive in implementing the basics.
Tag Team Division
This is a no-brainer. The Tag Team Division in WWE has been hot an cold for the entirety of the previous decade. When the division is hot they’re firing on all cylinders. However, it’s when the division cools down when they become hardly noticeable. It’s not that WWE’s Tag Team Division becomes nonexistent, it’s just that during its downtime a lack of effort from the writers is evident. And it’s not like their writers are unable to to present a compelling story for the tag teams. It’s more like when there are more important stories to be told the entire division has to take a backseat. And during that time they sit right at the back.
Admittedly, AEW has an advantage in this regard as two of their EVP’s are collectively one of the most prominent tag teams on the independent scene. So it should come as no surprise that tag team wrestling was always going to be a major part their promotion. In WWE, tag team wrestling is currently low on the totem pole when it comes to the importance factor. It’s funny because if WWE were to put emphasis on their Tag Team Division they’d be able to give AEW’s Tag Team Division a run for their money. There talent is certainly more than capable.
The WWE creative team has proven that they can write compelling television for the tag teams they have on display. Therefore, there should be no reason that WWE’s Tag Team Division can’t be as good – or even better – than AEW’s Tag Team Division.
One thing that is really tiresome when it comes to WWE’s television matches are the simplistic nature of them. They follow a specific formula which lack any competitive feel, dramatic nuances and the excitement factor. The matches that take place on television are more often than not storyline driven as a lead in to the next PPV. The most detrimental aspect is that the repetitive nature of their matches (i.e. the same wrestlers competing against each other nearly every week), puts a damper on the enjoyment level of the show. Sometimes WWE do allow their wrestlers to give it their all in the ring on television, but those types of matches are not very often. Admittedly, this does allow their wrestlers to be more inventive on PPV and have less injuries. But in all honesty, if they’re not going to put any effort in their television matches then seriously, what’s the point?
And that’s where WWE needs to learn from AEW regarding television matches. AEW puts on consistently good television matches every week. And I’m not just talking about one great television match per week that WWE sometimes grants us. AEW puts focus on professional wrestling matches and that is constantly on display week in and week out. It’s their mentality of putting out great television weekly – and incorporating great matches into that weekly television – that sets them apart from WWE. The best part is that eighty percent of those matches happen for a reason. Those wrestlers competing have some sort of history between them and that provides their matches with a bit of flair to create interest.
WWE needs to take a page out of AEW’s television match playbook. Their storylines no longer have the impact of years gone by. And because of their storyline-orientated nature they need to provide great matches on television to combat the ever annoying stale factor.
WWE know about being an adult-orientated product all too well. Hell, they won the Monday Night War by using adult themes and pushing the envelope. Nowadays? WWE hardly ever pushes the envelope. Sure, a “shit bomb” will be dropped here and there. But for the most part their show is family friendly. Look, I’m aware that their product is catered to kids, but perhaps that is why their product is boring. They can never push the envelope substantially because their angles have to be watered down to cater for the kids. Because WWE is a publicly traded company they have to abide by certain rules and keep their shows accessible to a younger audience.
Alternatively, AEW caters their shows to a different audience. An audience who would not appreciate a kid friendly approach. Therefore they can easily put on a more edgy product and nobody would blink an eye. Because of their different audiences (and the fact that WWE is a publicly traded company), WWE can clearly not revert back to their mature ways. However, there are other adult-orientated themes that WWE can learn from AEW. Foul language and edgy storylines isn’t the only way to be more adult-orientated.
Like AEW, WWE can focus more on the competitive factor. AEW’s ranking system really gives their show a more realistic feel. All sports are a numbers game and implementing that will make WWE feel more legit. Besides that, WWE would feel more adult-orientated by having their shows be less cartoonish. Yes, their larger than life approach has served them well in the past but times have changed. That’s why I miss the Reality Era because at least their storylines felt fresh and it was born from real events. If WWE could find a middle ground between their family friendly product and adult-orientated themes I believe their show would be better off.
This has been a complaint of many a fan over the years. The fact of the matter is that WWE puts out way to much PPV’s during the course of the year. It’s gotten to the point where their PPV’s have become repetitive as they run out of ideas for their PPV’s. In fact, it’s so bad that they need gimmick PPV’s to make things interesting. But yet it has an adverse effect on those gimmick matches because they lose their value. This also has an effect on their television matches as they have so many PPV’s spread throughout the year that they can hardly ever put any emphasis on their television shows.
That’s where AEW comes into play. Their PPV business module is truly great and it allows a number of things to take precedent. Historically, PPV’s are generally where shit goes down or comes to a head. And in WWE’s case, they have so many PPV’s that they can’t follow that formula every month. This then devalues the purpose of a PPV. AEW doesn’t have that problem because they go months without having a PPV. However, they cleverly promote certain episodes of Dynamite as PPV-esque and that truly is a great formula for making fans interested in watching.
This is a great formula for any professional wrestling company to follow, especially WWE who has overexposed the PPV market. I highly doubt WWE will take this lesson from AEW, but at the very least they could revert back to brand specific PPV’s. That way more time could be devoted to compelling television matches and stories could be built up more intricately what with there being more time between PPV’s for each brand. Hell, they’re already doing it with NXT so why not give it a go on the main roster.
There are plenty of things WWE can learn from AEW. Some new, some that they’ve done before. However, Vince is so set in his ways that you would have to wonder if he ever thinks of change. Business modules and formulas constantly need to be updated so that you can adapt to the times. And learning from a new company with fresh ideas can only be beneficial to a product that feels stale, ineffective and lacking innovation. Every company can learn from the next, whether you a global juggernaut who has monopolised the industry or not. Unfortunately, in the case of Vincent Kennedy McMahon, pride will always be a driving factor. And as the saying goes: pride comes before the fall.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. What do you think WWE can learn from AEW or other promotions. Please leave a comment below. Any and all feedback is always much appreciated. But until next time folks…
This is Don Franc signing out.
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