AEW boasts the best roster for professional wrestling, but WWE is the leader when it comes to sports entertainment.
Professional wrestling. Sports entertainment. They are two sides of the same coin. They are two parts of the equation as to why wrestling fans watch hours of content, spend their hard-earned money to attend events, and waste finger swipes to argue with strangers on social media. Both are important parts of the industry and represent something different within it. That is why Tony Khan is right when he says that All Elite Wrestling has the best overall roster of professional wrestlers in the business.
“In my opinion, we have the best pro wrestling roster in the world,” Khan said during the AEW WrestleDream media call. “I’m not saying that all the stars are in AEW, but I think we have most of them.”
This statement by Khan raised some eyebrows for some, especially those who find a way to debate every single piece of AEW versus WWE. For some, Khan was right because this is the promotion that gets all the arbitrary stars given out by your favorite wrestling critics. Then there are others who will claim Khan is incorrect because individuals like Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Becky Lynch, Bianca Belair, and others are in WWE. As with any debate, there’s always a space of grey where the truth really lies. It’s the same thing when it comes to this conversation.
Professional Wrestling vs Sports Entertainment
AEW does have the better professional wrestlers on the roster. This means if you took the entire roster, there are more men and women in this promotion that will put on higher-rated or critically acclaimed matches. With names like Bryan Danielson, Daniel Garcia, Rey Fenix, PAC, Bandido, Hikaru Shida, Toni Storm, Thunder Rosa, and more, that is an understandable statement. As a promotion, AEW fosters professional wrestling over all else, the in-ring and the perception that it is at a higher level than the competition is an important metric for this organization.
WWE does sports entertainment much better than AEW. WWE as a machine has the power and influence to create bigger stars than AEW. Part of that is due to the brand recognition within a company that has been around in some form since 1953. John Cena, The Rock, Steve Austin, The Bella Twins – none of these individuals would be who they are without the media machine that is WWE.
Does this mean that the company completely forgoes great professional wrestling? Absolutely not. Look back at examples like Sheamus versus GUNTHER or Ilja Dragunov versus Dijak and many more as examples of great wrestling action in that promotion. But it is a correct statement to say five-star matches and positive reception from critics are nowhere near the top of the priority list.
AEW also has a roster of developing names that can become cross-over powerhouses like MJF. But the company doesn’t have the same platform strength to create the same type of opportunities for the roster to become entertainers like those in WWE. At least not yet.
People watch professional wrestling for different reasons. For some, they come to watch the amazing feats of athleticism and the simulated physical confrontations that mimic combat sports. For others, they come for the week-to-week storylines featuring some of their favorite characters, with a bit of action sprinkled in. Everyone has their own opinion, and no one should be surprised that promotions focus on what they see as most important. All Elite Wrestling decided to focus on professional wrestling and has built a company that does that at the best clip in the industry.