Professional wrestling has been in a place it hasn’t been in many years in recent memory with the rise of a legitimate number two option to the WWE in AEW, a promotion that has caught the wrestling world by storm.
AEW just turned a year old at the turn of the new year, but in only a year, the promotion has risen through the ranks of pro wrestling possibly faster than any other promotion in history with major attention, a national television deal, big crowds all over the country and diehard fan support.
It helps that AEW has the financial backing of the Khan family and WarnerMedia, but the company’s quick success can’t just be attributed to those factors. The company has a talented roster of established veterans and new, up-and-coming stars that bring something different to its weekly television show, Dynamite, every week.
By almost all accounts, AEW has been the kick in the pants that pro wrestling has been lacking over the years. The rise of AEW has come quickly and the future appears to be very bright for the organization, especially off the heels of the recent news that Dynamite would be extended on TNT through 2023 and a second nationally-televised program would be brought into the fold as well.
The early success of AEW has been welcomed by most, but not everybody feels the same about the hot-shot upstart promotion. Some just don’t buy into AEW and feel it’s not memorable enough. Certain criticism towards AEW has been directed at its lack of focus on the women’s division and lack of character-building. Looking at things objectively, those are valid criticisms.
The in-ring action is top notch, but if the wrestlers involved aren’t being allowed to show their personalities and characters through promos, vignettes, or other platforms, they’re viewed as just great wrestlers with no characters. Compared to the women’s evolution the WWE has been doing over the past few years, AEW could showcase its women’s division a bit more.
Most of the time, the women’s division only gets one match/segment per week on Dynamite. And while most of the time they always hit the mark, there could be another segment or match thrown in for the women’s division. That would appease a lot of detractors and critics in its own right. Not everything is perfect in AEW despite its rapid growth, but nothing is perfect in any wrestling promotion.
No matter which side you fall on in regards to being an AEW fan or detractor, all fans should be on the same page in wishing for the most success possible for AEW.
But unfortunately, there are those who seem to be rooting against AEW and hoping it fails. That notion doesn’t make sense, especially in the grand scheme of things. How many fans have complaining about the WWE’s product in recent memory?
AEW gives the fans who are upset with WWE’s product a nationally-popular alternative in the United States, something that has been lacking since Impact Wrestling brief hopes of competing with the WWE in the early-2010’s.
That is why AEW has a brighter future than what Impact had a decade ago, it isn’t obsessed with trying to compete with the WWE. AEW is focused on being the best promotion it can be without trying to copy anybody else.
Unlike what many think of the WWE, AEW listens to the fans and takes into consideration critiques to its product because everyone involved with running the show wants the promotion to be great. So many fans have said the industry has been lacking for many years, but AEW is trying to help pump new life back into the mainstream wrestling scene. And so far, it has done a tremendous job of doing just that.
Dynamite has been in control of the Wednesday night ratings battle with WWE’s NXT for the vast majority of its existence. Even though it’s not Raw or SmackDown, NXT is viewed by most as the WWE’s best brand. It says something that Dynamite has beaten NXT in the ratings far more than NXT has beaten Dynamite. This has led to many fans resenting AEW and rooting for it to fail just because they’re, for lack of a better term, WWE fanboys.
Pledging an allegiance to the WWE isn’t a problem, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of AEW and it shouldn’t make fans want to see AEW fail. If AEW succeeds, it could help eventually improve the WWE’s product if it becomes a serious threat to the WWE outside of just beating NXT in the ratings. If AEW continues to thrive and get better, it’s not inconceivable to think Dynamite could start out-drawing Raw or SmackDown in the ratings.
Think about it like this, fans are still enamored with the era of pro wrestling that saw WWE’s Raw battle WCW’s Nitro in the Monday night wars. That is, by any metric you want to look at it, the hottest and most popular pro wrestling has ever been. It likely will never be that again, but the reason the business was able to flourish as much as it did was because both WWE and WCW had to step it up because both were viable number one options in the industry.
That’s why both products were as great and memorable as they were. The WWE hasn’t had to worry about competition for twenty years, so if AEW can continue growing, that is the best hope in giving the WWE competition within the wrestling business. Even though AEW isn’t worried about competing with Vince McMahon, growing into a serious threat to the WWE would be the ultimate testament to the work being done.
No matter whether you’re a “fanboy” for WWE or AEW, all wrestling fans should be rooting for AEW to succeed because one way or another, it will help improve the overall state of the wrestling business throughout the 2020’s and beyond, and that’s what mainstream pro wrestling has needed for a long time.