Hello again. A few days ago, we looked at how WWE’s NXT brand is suffering with unsustainablility. This time, I’d like to flip the coin and look at the positives that WWE’s brands has over AEW Dynamite. I have a ton of praise for All Elite Wrestling bringing us an alternative product, and it has done incredibly well to consistently beat NXT in the ratings. However, it still has a long way to go if it wants to rival Raw or SmackDown in the long term.
While AEW has had its moments, it’s safe to say that WWE has them beat. And yes, AEW has a looser feel and they allow for more creative freedom. There’s a lot more comedy involved. But where WWE exceeds is in its production and storytelling. The Boneyard match between The Undertaker & AJ Styles is a prime example of what I’m talking about. The way this was shot was so professionally done, it’s difficult for AEW to compete. I’m not saying they couldn’t do something similar, but where are they finding someone to tell the story better than an Undertaker or AJ Styles? AEW has had some good moments though.
Stadium Stampede was pretty fun (albeit goofy), and so was the time when Kenny Omega & Matt Hardy ran down Sammy Guevara; although the latter example was more backstage brawling than anything cinematic. What will be most interesting is to see how Sting & Darby Allin deal with their upcoming Street Fight with Team Taz. In a recent report, Sting said he pitched for a cinematic with The Undertaker, but WWE rejected it. So perhaps some of the ideas he had will find their way in to this one? If anyone can tell an intriguing story, it’s The Stinger. It has the potential to be the best cinematic AEW has produced.
#2. Women’s Division
I already touched on this topic a few months ago. So in case you missed it, you can read an article detailing every wrestler in AEW’s Women’s Division here: Has AEW Under Delivered With Its Women’s Division This Year?
WWE’s Women’s Divisions are way more important and appreciated. Partly because NXT got the ball rolling, but mainly because of the Women’s Revolution, the Four Horsewomen, Stephanie McMahon, Asuka, and many other factors. Even NXT’s division is better, although I’d say it’s the weakest it has ever been if you look outside Io Shirai, Rhea Ripley, Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzales.
Outside of MJF, FTR and perhaps Kenny Omega’s faux “Bullet Club”, are there any great heels in AEW? Not really. Some fans find MJF overly dramatic. FTR are only there if you take Tully Blanchard in to account. With Omega it’s more about Don Callis, because the rest of ’em are trying to be “cool” heels (which is ineffective).
They had something interesting going with the “Bastard” Pac, but they made him a face with the Death Triangle. Eddie Kingston was getting there… but isn’t much of a threat to anyone. Britt Baker is probably too much fun to be universally hated. Taz is getting along nicely, but there’s an extreme amount of work from the rest of the group (aside from Ricky Starks) to make it something truly despicable. It feels like AEW destroyed all of their most promising heels for no reason.
In WWE we have Roman Reigns, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton. The Hurt Business, Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler, King Corbin, Bayley, Johnny Gargano’s “The Way”, Pat McAfee, Grizzled Young Veterans, Legado Del Fantasma, Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzales, Toni Storm, Imperium, and so many more. There’s a sweet face-to-heel ratio going on in WWE, although I think they wasted the potential of some.
For example, Timothy Thatcher has no right being with Tommaso Ciampa right now. Let’s hope he turns on Ciampa like he did Pete Dunne. Retribution should be miles better than the losers they are. Karrion Kross is in some kind of tweener limbo. WWE could be doing more, but at least they actually have heels. AEW has so few it’s difficult to get behind the babyfaces. Can MJF turn on the Inner Circle already?! And why do I not care if Sting & Darby Allin beat up Team Taz after what feels like months of mindless promos?
Selling in the wrestling business has been dead for ages. I’ve argued it too many times before. Not so long ago, I had a discussion with a wrestler about this subject, and they said they are taught certain ways of doing things. Apparently, I shouldn’t be critical unless I’ve actually wrestled? Much like how critics shouldn’t review movies because they never produced a movie themselves? Wrestlers go about hitting their spots, but I think they forget what’s ultimately important.
The fans know what looks great and what sucks, and wrestlers should cater to their audience. They should listen to them, because it’s those people who get them over and pay their wages. Most (not all) fans shouldn’t be perceived with this old carny attitude from the 1950s. They aren’t marks who don’t know any better. It’s difficult for some inside the wrestling bubble to understand this though, because you can’t have the same perspective as a fan.
It’s like making a video game. You can’t make a game and understand how it plays yourself, because you know exactly how it works. It’s not til a clueless gamer picks up the controller that you can see what works and what doesn’t. I like to believe the most important thing to anyone watching is that the moves look and feel effective. After twenty minutes of non-stop action, we want these guys to be spent. We want these guys to be laying on the mat for 3 to 5 minutes catching their breath. If someone is triple Super Kicked in the head… they better be selling that crap for the next 10 minutes! If the same guy stands up two minutes later and runs around… did it really happen? What was the point?
WWE isn’t exempt from this either. I watched NXT UK this week. It had a hard-hitting main event between Jordan Devlin, and much bigger opponent Dave Mastiff. Afterwards, Devlin celebrated like he hadn’t just been run over by a truck. But at least it’s not like AEW, which is one of the worst shows in terms of selling. Especially tag team matches! They go for spot, after spot, after spot, and most of it is meaningless. Does it look cool? Hell yeah! Very athletic. But after seeing the same spots a few dozen times it quickly gets old.