Welcome one and all to another edition of The Main Event. I am your host, Don Franc, back with another column that you can all hopefully enjoy. Long introductions aren’t really my thing, so let’s get right to…
AEW Stars Too Small For Cornette
Jim Cornette recently made comments regarding the size of AEW stars, saying that they’re too small. Well, its hard to argue the size of the AEW roster, especially since wrestling has been associated with big, muscular men to the general public. However, Jim Ross mentioned a few things in response to Cornette’s comments, with one being that Cornette is set in his ways. Cornette is from the old school so of course he has a specific viewpoint on what he believes wrestling should be. However, he is so set in his ways that he doesn’t realise that times have long since changed.
For the better part of the past decade smaller wrestlers have come to the forefront; even in WWE, the land of giants. Cornette needs to adapt to the times and accept that the wrestling industry is no longer the same as it once was. Unfortunately, he’s old school mentality perhaps hinders him from seeing how wrestling has evolved over the years. Cornette needs to stop living in the past and come the realization that the Goliath’s of the world have mostly been slayed while the David’s of the world have taken over. I can understand it must be a hard pill for Cornette to swallow to see wrestling “shrink”, but such is the times and living in the past will only make him seem like a grumpy old man.
Jim Ross also made a great point in saying that some of a the greatest of all time – including Ric Flair – were never considered giants. At the end of the day, Cornette grew in the wrestling business at a time where giants ruled the roost so perhaps that is all he knows. But not getting over the past can make you bitter. One thing about Cornette, from what I’ve read, is that he is uncompromising in his beliefs and he will most likely never retract his statement of AEW having too many small wrestlers. Well, unless they get a few giants that is. The old school way of viewing wrestling is outdated and I think Cornette should view wrestling with a more modern perspective.
And now, onto…
THE MAIN EVENT
It’s no secret that I’m a huge AEW fan. I’ve found their show highly enjoyable. However, no wrestling show is without it’s flaws. AEW is no exception to that. There are certain things that AEW should avoid in order to stay true to what they represent. These things will ensure that public opinion does not change and in the process it will maintain there core fanbase. You can always grow from there, but you have to keep your hardcore fans happy first and foremost. Therefore, AEW should make sure that they avoid things like…
Not Staying True To Their Brand Of Wrestling
AEW has created a brand that caters to the sports orientated aspect of mainstream professional wrestling. I feel like this aspect has defined their brand in the early stages of their television run. This is a vital element in the DNA of All Elite Wrestling and one they should never part with. They promote their brand as a competitive sporting environment and that has since become their identity. And once a brand loses their identity it’s only downhill from there. By staying true to their brand of wrestling they will always retain their hardcore fans. This will then allow them to make an attempt at catering to new fans.
As time goes on, however, an identity may have to be altered to adapt to the times. Take WWE for example, they’ve had to change their brand of wrestling numerous times in order to keep their product appealing. However, they’ve always stayed true to their storyline-based brand of wrestling, even to this day. I say this because even if AEW eventually have to re-evaluate their formula, they still have to stick to their identity, their brand, that they created when they started running their promotion. That way they core fans will never be able to turn on them by saying they’ve changed. And if there’s one thing that many people hate, it’s change.
Getting Too Silly With Their Storylines
This point sort of fits into the above point. AEW’s brand of wrestling is more centered around the competition aspect of the industry instead of the storylines. For that reason they should avoid silly storylines that are prominent in almost every promotion in the world. Admittedly, when I first started watching AEW last October, I kept wondering about the lack of storylines, mainly because that is what I was used to with WWE. Then as the weeks went by I started seeing the stories unfold in subtle ways, with only a select few programs that you’d call a legitimate storyline.
That’s what I got used to. That’s what I identify AEW with. Even when they started a storyline that was silly – the Nightmare Collective program – they came to their senses pretty quickly and shelved it. That’s how proactive they have to be in identifying silly storylines and wrestlers – like Shawn Spears who they took off TV for awhile – that don’t work. Currently, the silliness of the Broken Universe has invaded AEW and I have to say I don’t like it. It does not fit AEW’s theme at all. Even the Exalted One videos are silly. Like I mentioned in the first point, AEW need to stay true to their brand of wrestling and silly storylines doesn’t fit the mould.
Lack Of Continuity
One thing that irks me in wrestling is a lack of continuity. The lack thereof has the potential to completely void a storyline and make everything that came before seem meaningless. Continuity is what makes things sensible in a predetermined world. Continuity is also perfect when a wrestling promotion works in a shared universe, and AEW definitely falls into that category. Everyone is involved with each other in one way or another. There’s always a certain history that each wrestler has with another wrestler. This is why continuity is much needed in AEW.
That continuity keeps their shared universe alive. I love how the commentators always make mention of previous matches/moments/incidents that took place previously when two wrestlers are competing in the ring. For instance, last week on AEW they aired a video package for the quarterfinal match for the TNT Championship between Cody and Shawn Spears. In that video package they made mention of Shawn’s debut when he hit Cody in the head with a steel chair and also of how Cody defeated Shawn, with Spears saying how he needs to avenge the loss to Cody nearly eight months ago. So with that history, AEW was able to add drama to a simple tournament match. And that’s the power of continuity, which is why AEW should avoid dropping the ball with regards to that.
So, this is something that AEW has actually been guilty of. When a wrestler debuts, would it not make sense for them to have a strong debut? You’d think that, but AEW has a weird way of debuting new talent. Basically, a lot of new talent that debuts on Dynamite lose, which I find extremely odd. Perhaps some of those debutants only came to AEW for a single match, or AEW doesn’t have big plans with them. If that’s the case then that’s totally fine, but AEW needs to be careful with how they debut new stars, especially those that they want to have stick around. For the most part, WWE is extremely good at booking new talent strongly (albeit underwhelming).
But with AEW, they had Wardlow lose his debut match as well as Jeff Cobbs. Granted, both those debutants lost to main-eventers, yet with how they were presented before their matches (as monsters), it kind of makes their monstrous claims invalid considering they lost their very first match. Perhaps Cobbs was a one-off, but they should have taken better care of Wardlow’s debut if they have any major plans for him in the future. AEW needs to be very weary of how they book debutants and avoid having new stars lose momentum before they even have the opportunity to gain any. Well, with the way they’re booking Lance Archer, it looks like they’re learning.
Putting More Focus On Former WWE Wrestlers
This is the biggest point that AEW needs to avoid. Bringing in former stars who have already established themselves in WWE is not the right way to go about their business. I think there should be a cutoff on how many established WWE stars AEW are allowed to bring to their roster. If I want to see WWE stars in action then I’ll just watch WWE dammit! The recent addition of Matt Hardy worries me. Him joining the AEW ranks makes me think that AEW is willing to offer any WWE star a contract if they’re available. The thing is, nobody wants to see WWE 2.0 and AEW should avoid that by any means necessary. If you want to know why, just ask TNA.
I can understand that established stars who were on WWE TV has the potential to bring more eyes onto the product. But with that being said, AEW has a fantastic cast of talent who should be their main focus. Too much of something is never a good thing, and in my opinion AEW has more than enough former WWE guys on their roster. I spoke above about identity, so I really don’t want AEW to put all their chips in the WWE basket. Look, guys like Brodie Lee, Spears, Hager and the like I can understand coming to AEW. They were overlooked and unappreciated and they got repackaged when they came to AEW. In those instances it’s acceptable, although AEW should avoid hiring stars that are instantly associated with WWE.
These are but a few points of consideration when it comes to AEW remaining true to who they are and avoiding staples that their peers have undignified. The onus is on AEW to remain vigilant in their quest of one day being able to compete with WWE. The management of AEW have years upon years of data to syphon through when it comes to making a promotion successful. They should use that data – and their own experiences – to avoid any potential risks that may damper their ambitions.
Last Friday, WWE officially announced that they’ve parted ways with The Revival. Nobody can say that they didn’t see this coming as The Revival wanted to leave the employ of WWE for quite some time now. They finally got their wish and they are now free agents who go by the name of Top Guys. I couldn’t be more happy for the duo. I know all too well the feeling of being stuck at a job and wanting out so badly but not being able to get out. You feel trapped. Once you feel trapped you become miserable and that could potentially affect your performance.
WWE never truly appreciated their talents and what they could bring to the table. Sure, WWE booked them as prominent members of the Tag Team Division for a while, but that was solely to stop them from leaving the company and going to their closest rival, AEW. And now that they’ve escaped the clutches of WWE – and with no 90 day no compete clause – AEW is most likely where they’re going to end up. I am excited at that prospect because if they do end up in AEW, they will at least be going to a promotion that values its Tag Team Division.
And since Top Guys have trademarked “No Flips, Just Fists”, their storyline going into AEW pretty much writes itself. Their motivation can easily be that of a team who wants to put an end to the “flippy” nature of AEW’s Tag Team Division. That division flips in abundance so there’s no shortage of a mission being put in place for Top Guys if they were to join AEW. I’d imagine they’d get pretty favourable booking. I would not at all be surprised if their first targets were the Young Bucks, who are amongst the “flippiest” of them all. I’m sure Young Bucks would do the job, and that would then set Top Guys on their path for dominance.
I mentioned in the main section that AEW need to be careful of how many former WWE employees they bring to the promotion, but in the case of Top Guys I think its acceptable being that they were overlooked in WWE. I’m really excited at the prospect of Top Guys going to AEW and I’ll be keeping a close eye on how things unfold.
And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. What else do you think AEW needs to avoid to stay consistent? Are you excited for Top Guys potentially going to AEW? Please leave a comment below. Alternatively, you can pop me an email on [email protected] or follow me on Twitter @donfranclop. Any and all feedback is always much appreciated. But until next time folks…
This is Don Franc signing out.
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