Pruett’s Blog: All Elite Wrestling’s identity crisis

By Will Pruett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@itswilltime)

All Elite Wrestling is two shows into their existence. Both shows have been very good, with one of them being great. Both shows have featured top-notch production value. More than any upstart promotion in the last twenty years, All Elite Wrestling feels major league. It might shock you to learn AEW is in the midst of an identity crisis.

One only needs to look at the entirety of AEW’s two major presentations to see how their identity is fractured. Their pre-shows have been the exact opposite of their major specials. Instead of generating excitement for the show to come, an AEW pre-show is a chore. At Double or Nothing, AEW gave us a battle royal with high stakes, but very little backstory. It brought us a cavalcade of 22 humans with almost no time to get to know their characters.

If the Double or Nothing pre-show offered little character work, the Fyter Fest pre-show offered too much. The show was riddled with references to a pair of documentaries released, and in and out of the pop culture zeitgeist, months ago. The models and the tents may have seemed funny if this show occurred in January, but it was June. While the pre-show may have had the best match of the night, the crowd was quickly silenced by a weird librarian comedy sketch, a disappointing Leva Bates match, and a non-wrestler in a hardcore match for no reason.

If Fyter Fest had not been a free show, I would not have continued watching. This is no way to expose a new promotion to (hopefully) new and returning wrestling fans.

While Double or Nothing and Fyter Fest have been fun to watch, they still left me with a ton of questions. Both shows have relied heavily on blood and weapons-based violence. Fyter Fest, in particular, had Cody taking a nasty chairshot to his head and Joey Janela vs. Jon Moxley in an ultra-violent main event. When asked about this, Tony Khan vehemently denied that this is the kind of show we’d see on TNT, but what else do we have to go off of? While I understand his thoughts on pay-per-view (or streaming) being different than TV, shouldn’t AEW be focusing on what the unified feeling of their shows will be?

If they won’t be super violent and they won’t have a bunch of dumb jokes in the first hour, what will they be?

This lack of a unified vision is evident in their online presence as well. All Elite Wrestling was born out of the Being The Elite YouTube series. AEW has storylines, match announcements, and show announcements occur on Being The Elite, but the YouTube channel that show appears on is not AEW’s main outlet. If I’m looking for AEW’s excellent “Road To” specials to get ready for a show, I cannot find them on AEW’s main YouTube channel; they’re on Cody and Brandi Rhodes’ Nightmare Family channel. Even the Double or Nothing pre-show caused angst and frustration when I had to find TNT’s channel to watch.

Is the YouTube confusion a massive deal? Not really, but it could easily cause fans to give up on finding and watching AEW while trying to discover it.

All Elite Wrestling is a really good wrestling promotion thus far. The people in charge seem smart, particularly when it comes to garnering fan support. I’m hoping many of the weird inconsistencies in the promotion up to this point will sort themselves out once their weekly television show starts airing, but they still feel important enough to point out now.

AEW is a promotion figuring out who it is and at Fight for the Fallen, I hope we see a more unified vision and AEW’s next step.


Will Pruett writes about wrestling and popular culture at prowrestling.net. Of interest to him are diversity in wrestling and wrestling as a theatrical art form. To see his video content subscribe to his YouTube channel. To contact, check him out on Twitter @itswilltime, leave a comment, or email him at itswilltime@gmail.com.

 


The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features ProWrestling.net's Will Pruett discussing AEW Full Gear including the polarizing Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega match, what's drawing Will to AEW Dynamite over NXT TV, the appeal of NWA Powerrr, and much more...


Readers Comments (6)

  1. Write This Way July 12, 2019 @ 3:47 pm

    AEW is not remotely close to a really good wrestling promotion so far. They’ve had 1 great match that told a meaningful story, a few decent spotfests, some stunningly crappy hardcore brawls, and humor that would get the IWC smarks to wet their pants with anticipation of mocking it into oblivion if WWE had done exactly the same things with exactly the same people.

    Right now AEW is worse than TNA was when it first debuted with girls in cages, Flying Elvis’s, and body stocking wearing Johnsons. Their only hope is a money mark getting smart and telling Omega and the Bucks they have no say in gimmicks/storylines from now on.

    • What an absolute and total reach. I watched the first few TNA shows live on ppv back in the day, and I’ve watched the first two AEW shows. The preshow gimmick stuff isn’t really my thing, but the three way tag was itself alone better than anything TNA put on in those early shows. TNA’s constant midget jokes, Dupp nonsense, Cheex, sexism, convoluted point system in hardcore brawls, and use of Ferrara as a color commentator are lowpoints for the industry’s history. The only saving grace for TNA back then were the X Division matches. Stop exaggerating just to justify your AEW bias.

    • So what, you’re saying WWE is on fire right now when you’ve got a 70+ year old creative head who can’t seem to count to 4 when it comes to his own wildcard rule? Give me a break. Your criticisms of AEW are so off base it’s almost laughable. There are those of us out there who enjoy hardcore wrestling and a little variety in our shows, and don’t want to watch a sanitized G rated product. And before anyone counters WWE is PG, the writing is not. It’s “G” rated, I assure you. The last thing the wrestling industry needs is a “money mark” who doesn’t understand the industry controlling yet another wrestling promotion.

      Your comment just comes off as sour grapes because you don’t care for Omega and the Bucks, honestly.

      • Write This Way July 13, 2019 @ 12:12 pm

        No, twatmonkey, that’s not it. In the real world it’s actually possible for WWE to be the worst it’s been in 20 years and still not be as bad as AEW at the moment. 2 things can suck at the same time.

  2. I would argue that all the things you correctly pointed out in the column show that AEW is far away from a ‘really good wrestling promotion.’ They’re actually the the exact opposite. It’s a total cluster so far from the pre-shows to the bad comedy to one of their main stars Kenny Omega going from goofy to intense, sometimes in the same 10 seconds with the weird drumstick thing during a serious beatdown of Moxley, outdated unprotected chairshots to the head, no coherency between what’s been on TV versus what’s been on YouTube, and on and on. I’ll wait to judge until the fall but it’s been a brutal start so far and no one seems willing to admit it.

    • Write This Way July 13, 2019 @ 12:14 pm

      No, no. According to KING, if you correctly criticize AEW for being really bad up to this point then it automatically means you think WWE is the most super bestest thing ever.

      Of course, fans of smart wrestling that’s treated as a sport are disgusted with AEW being so stupid and dropping the ball on a great chance to change the landscape.

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