AEW: Playing the long game with Kenny Omega vs Adam Page

NJPW, Kenny Omega (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)
NJPW, Kenny Omega (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images) /

The feud between Kenny Omega and Adam Page has the potential to be a blockbuster series for AEW if it is played out right over time.

The AEW heavyweight title eliminator is one of the main attractions during this cycle of promotional storytelling. The first round occurred last week, and the second round is coming up on this Wednesday’s edition of AEW Dynamite. At first glance it looks like the tournament is leaning on an expected feud between Kenny Omega and Adam Page. While that angle would be big money for the company, AEW should delay rushing right into the angle, instead letting it build a bit longer.

Storytelling is a strong point in All Elite Wrestling. The promotion has made it a point to let viewers know that everything is connected and weekly occurrences have meaning. This keeps fans locked in, attempting to catch every important detail each week. The angles involving The Elite have featured several call backs to previous matches, angles and one-liners from each show and the YouTube series, Being the Elite. This is what has made the eventual splitting of the group more enticing to viewers. Everyone knew the fracture was coming and now it is time to head into its next phase that includes a feud between Adam Page and Kenny Omega.

While everyone knows it coming, this angle should not immediately begin in this heavyweight eliminator tournament. There is an opportunity to swerve fans a bit by having the Bucks cost Page the upcoming match against Wardlow. The idea is to allow the Bucks to get Page back for costing them their title opportunity and solidify their idea that he is not of a high enough caliber to be a part of the Elite. All the while, Omega advances to the finals on the other side of the bracket and eventually into the title picture against Jon Moxley.

Page, on the other hand, should move into different feuds with others on the roster. MJF, Lance Archer, Shawn Spears, Brian Cage – there is plenty of names that can be used to help build Page’s babyface stature. AEW has done an excellent job rebuilding him after what was an initial run that was very mediocre. He can become a major babyface for the company with what they have built. The payoff being a one-on-one series against Omega in the main event picture.

AEW does not have to rush this. While WWE struggles with knowing when to let a feud end, dragging angles out for months on months, AEW suffers from the other end of the issue by having angles end abruptly. Moxley’s title angles mostly end after one match, with him moving onto the next challenger very quickly. In some ways, that hurts the people who have been built up to face him. Another example is the Cody versus MJF feud. That is another example where everyone knew the split was coming, but the anticipation could have been increased by allowing them to stay “friends” much longer, perhaps even getting a tag team title run. The outcome worked in the end, but again there’s value in delayed gratification.

A recent example of delayed gratification in story telling is the build up between Sasha Banks and Bayley. While the recent development of the angle has seemed rushed, the initial story telling helped build the anticipation that hopefully does not end with their match at Hell in a Cell. The buildup of that angle led to them delivering a segment that garnered the biggest television ratings across professional wrestling in months. Kenny Omega and Adam Page can have that same impact if that build is properly timed and promoted. While the AEW title eliminator looks like an opportunity, the finals should not be where these two men meet in their first match.

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AEW excels in storytelling. They have successfully got a lot of things right with how and when they present their top stars. Still, there’s value in stretching out the outcome of an angle. The feud between Adam Page and Kenny Omega should have as much time it needs to give fans the exact outcome desired. Rushing that through the AEW heavyweight eliminator tournament is not the right time.