It’s safe to say that AEW has generally been a success since it burst onto the scene. It managed to entrench itself as the number two wrestling company in a short space of time and grab a very high-profile TV deal in the process. However, there are a few things that are stopping it from taking the next step and truly challenging WWE for that top spot. We’ve taken a look at what we feel some of those issues are and what the series can do to try and bridge the gap.
AEW tends to have sponsorships that don’t really fit with what it offers. The TV show sponsorships that air on TNT make sense because of the synergy between the two brands. But some of the others just seem completely out of place. A good example of this would be the gambling theme that seems to run through a lot of its PPVs. ‘Double or Nothing’, ‘The Buy In’, ‘Casino Battle Royale’. All of these are linked to gambling in some way. Yet, there is very little in terms of gambling-based sponsorship. It would make sense to get some of the very best casinos in place to advertise on these shows. As there is a gambling theme, there is a chance that it would create higher exposure for both sides and therefore lead to more money being made.
While this might seem like a small issue, sponsorship is a big deal when it comes to revenue. With high-quality sponsorship, the company will be able to hire a better quality of performer, which will give it the opportunity to compete at a better level. WWE has some of the biggest and best sponsorships in the industry. This is an area where AEW needs to catch up and fast.
When it comes to AEW events, one of the aspects that stands out the most is their lack of consistency. The show can be great and then the ending can completely ruin it. Or, on the flip side, the show can be pretty average and the ending is fantastic. This goes for the promos, skits and in-ring action. It’s understandable to a degree as it’s still a relatively new company and is building up its audience. However, if it wants to be seen as a true competitor, then this needs to be wiped out.
One of the best ways to do this is to use Dark and Dark Elevation as a training platform. If people are performing to a high level there on a regular basis, then they get the chance to move up to Dynamite and PPVs. Too often, wrestlers are given a shot on Dynamite when they’re either just not of the required quality or aren’t quite ready yet. AEW really needs to focus on its quality talent in general until the younger and more inexperienced talent is ready to step up.
Signing Too Many Wrestlers
This is a big issue that AEW has. It has signed too many wrestlers. Perhaps that is the wrong way of putting it. AEW has signed too many wrestlers who are not good enough to be on a top-level wrestling show. It doesn’t have the benefit of a development brand and high-class training center. It can’t sign people with potential at this moment in time. Those that it does recruit need to be ready to perform at a high level from the off. While it might seem quite unfair, the company needs to get rid of some of the deadwood that it has in place.
This will allow more quality to be shown on the flagship shows. It will improve the overall quality of the product and help to keep viewers in the long term.
A Question of Tone
Sometimes the comedy is too over the top. Sometimes the matches never slow down. The reason Andre the Giant was such a big deal in the past was because he wasn’t there all of the time. We weren’t overexposed to him. With over-the-top comedy happening on a regular basis, it does mean that the show can sometimes become somewhat of a parody. It should be used sparingly. We’re not going to go full Jim Cornette and say it should never be used, but it doesn’t need to be so often and so full-on.
The same goes for the matches. When all you see is high-flying, incredible acts of athleticism, it loses its spark. Sometimes, something a little bit slower helps to make everything else look better. AEW needs to realize this before it burns its audience out and they move onto something else.
Sign Some Truly Top Tier Talent
This is one area that AEW hasn’t really managed to pull off so far. While it has some great performers on its roster, since Jericho signed, it hasn’t really brought in anyone who will take the series to the next level. There are two obvious choices for the company here, as well as one outside-the-box signing. Unfortunately, all three are unlikely, but if AEW had any sense, it would cut down its roster in terms of deadwood and push the boat out for these three.
CM Punk is the first one. Even bringing him in as a personality who doesn’t wrestle would be an incredible move. Punk could help to improve the quality of the show and would be a fantastic authority figure. Imagine, the man who fought against the authority in WWE coming back as ‘The Man’ in AEW. His skills on the mic would improve every scene he was involved in.
Daniel Bryan is the second one. He’s out of contract now. While WWE is trying to sign him to a new one, he still hasn’t decided what he is going to do. Signing Bryan would be a statement of intent and would open up a whole host of dream matches for the company. He would instantly improve the product and would be a perfect signing.
Finally, there is the outside-of-the box signing – Brock Lesnar. Brock is a household name. He has dominated combat sports for almost two decades now. The man is a legitimate machine. He also doesn’t really fit into what AEW does. However, he would bring eyes to the product. If AEW could convince him to sign and could come up with something interesting to do with him, it could be a true turning point for the company.