Lutz’s Blog: WWE isn’t part of the professional wrestling family because it refuses to be

By Jeff Lutz, Staffer (@JeffreyDLutz)

Last week, WWE reported record quarterly profits. During a pandemic, even. What an accomplishment. So why is nobody celebrating?

Because we remember that WWE saved money by unnecessarily firing wrestlers shortly after the COVID-19 outbreak forced a long-term move to an empty (or mostly empty) Performance Center for television and pay-per-view tapings.

Because the conference call with stockholders to release WWE’s financial information was actually kind of tragic. Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon seemed disengaged and unwilling or unable to offer insight into the creative future of the company.

Because television ratings are bottoming out, storytelling has been directionless and uninspired, and because other pro wrestling companies embrace the industry. Meanwhile, WWE isolates itself and is so afraid to try anything new that 1980’s relic Bruce Prichard is responsible for much of the content on its two flagship TV shows. Its previous idea for a new direction was installing Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman, those guys from the ’90s, as creative thought leaders.

At least those gentlemen fit WWE’s most popular demographic – old white guys.

Journalists don’t root for one wrestling company to succeed, especially at the expense of others. But let me tell you why it seems many who cover the business are more emotionally invested in AEW than in WWE. AEW has been on television for nearly a year, so any preference has nothing to do with its newness.

AEW is proud to be a wrestling company and WWE is not. It’s as simple as that. I could end the column there, because the evidence supporting that argument is overwhelming. But just for fun, let’s go through some of the most glaring examples.

Remember when Vickie Guerrero showed up in AEW for the first time, seemingly a one-off then, and WWE’s response was to ban its talent from appearing on Guerrero’s podcast? That seems rational, doesn’t it? I’ve never listened to Vickie’s podcast, but I know that interviews away from the WWE umbrella expose more of a talent’s personality than WWE’s writing can ever muster. Guerrero was doing WWE a favor and WWE shut her down because … reasons?

It’s impossible to say WWE doesn’t care about wrestling history. It does. It truly, madly, deeply cares about its own history, so much that it frequently rewrites it. While the individual members of Degeneration X, The Clique, and Evolution stack Hall of Fame rings, contributors from the early years of the business are grouped together in a video package to announce their inductions at each year’s HOF ceremony.

AEW seems like it actually cares. It features Jake Roberts, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and others on TV regularly as a nod to the past, not to capitalize on it. It realizes that the story of professional wrestling can’t be told without WWE, so it embraces that fact when allowing Bret Hart to unveil the AEW championship belt. WWE treats these appearances as affronts and punishes the talents involved and its own fans by preventing them from having more personal access to WWE’s stars through outlets like podcasts.

WWE stifles creativity. I have no idea if Dean Ambrose, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Eric Young and others who have complained about their WWE characters are the next great creative minds in the business, but I do know that WWE refuses to find out.

The scariest part of the recap from last week’s WWE conference call was just how grim the creative future of the company looks. McMahon seemingly has no interest in passing the baton or trusting anyone who wasn’t by his side in 1987 or 1996. Triple H is apparently waiting patiently, but he’ll probably be in his sixties by the time Vince McMahon is unable to continue.

So who’s next? Probably not any of the longtime producers, whom WWE deems increasingly expendable. Not any of the performers WWE has already lost because McMahon is too stuck in his ways to solicit ideas from young, energetic people. Not Bruce Prichard. Please, not Bruce Prichard. Really used to love his podcast, but … no. Just no.

AEW can’t be 100 percent positive, even after nearly a year, that wrestlers make the best bookers and writers in 2020. But it’s admirable that owner Tony Kahn is staking the future of the company on innovation and progress rather than depending on whatever worked when WrestleMania was a novelty. If WWE was similarly invested, maybe Cody Rhodes would still be working there, pitching ideas that don’t lead to the lowest viewership in Raw history.

Ideas, especially from talent, die in WWE. Its wrestlers have to escape the most profitable wrestling company in the history of the world to find any kind of creative freedom or satisfaction. Imagine if it worked that way in other forms of entertainment. Community theater would be more appealing to actors than a Netflix series. Double-A baseball over the big leagues. Local bar shows over headlining Coachella.

Wrestlers are feeling more at home in AEW and Impact Wrestling because they’re heard, acknowledged, and appreciated there. It’s a family and if one of those companies succeeds, they all succeed because that means wrestling is succeeding. It doesn’t mean they aren’t competitive with one another, it just means they recognize the importance of ideas, creativity, and inclusion.

The year 2020 has been rough, but at least companies like AEW and Impact are living in it. WWE is on another planet, building plexiglass barricades to keep good ideas away and waiting to see if 1987 comes around again.



Readers Comments (10)

  1. Awesome take.

    • Stupid Take.

      Those “old white guys” being demonized are the ones who created the awesome product we all loved in the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s.

      The problem is those guys are not the ones creating the product today!

      Instead WWE has an entire hollywood style team of idiots scripting every aspect of the product and they are now required to adhere to an ever changing standard of political correctness imposed by everyone from shareholders, TV networks, news media, and “woke” activists. They’re scared shitless to go outside the box.

      At least AEW is trying to be a little edgier. I think as time goes on, they will continue to improve.

  2. The bias is clear among the writers for the sites I frequent. WWE has trotted out some truly garbage ideas recently, but AEW is right there with them, despite editorial spun to the contrary.

    For all the “staking the future of the company on innovation and progress,” AEW continues to recycle concepts and characters from WCW and ECW, badly wanting to be either or both, to present what comes across as a copy of a copy of some of the greatest hits of the Monday Night Wars era with a less compelling cast. Meanwhile, they let WWE live rent-free in their heads and in their content.

    Face it, the “for the boys, by the boys” crew have had their year and they’ve hit their ceiling. These supposedly caged creative minds are no more creative outside the lines of WWE than they were in it. Or am I mistaken that Cody Rhodes and Co. and the Good Brothers are pitching ideas to the tune of even lower viewership than the lowest viewership in Raw history?

    But, good for them that they can have their own community theater to play pro wrestling with their buddies on TNT, YouTube, and parody PPV, attaining that elusive creative freedom and satisfaction while they bitch and moan now about how bad they had it while they were under contract to WWE and how everyone wants to join them.

    Being part of the machine is clearly not for everyone and that should be expected. And maybe they are happier with what they are doing now, but let’s not assume that makes what they are doing any good, let alone any better than WWE. Just because you want to frame it that way does not make it the case.

    Really, what truly good idea has been presented outside of WWE that could have helped right the ship, only to instead be kept away by plexiglass barricades?

    I’m sure Bruce Prichard would love to know.

    • I endorse everything Jeff wrote. I’m sure Jay P, with his opinion above also believes Trump when he says the virus is under control (and every other vile thing/lie he spews).

      • I am not sure what Trump has to do with this.

        Jay is right in my opinion. All these guys who complain about the lack of creativity in the WWE leave and come up with nothing original.

      • Well now, that couldn’t be any further from the truth, but please do tell – what was your thought process here? And what was the end goal?

        Do you find having an opinion that doesn’t resonate within the AEW echo chamber to be that offensive that you go straight to baseless personal insults grounded in perceived political leanings? And how and where did you discern enough information to make that particular inaccurate judgment from my comments?

        Should I take your barb as an affront even though it is factually wrong, or should I merely be amused by its fallacy?

        Did you feel a sense of accomplishment in posting your comment? Does it persist even though you are incorrect?

        Really, I would like to know.

        • Write This Way August 4, 2020 @ 9:16 pm

          Thank you. Despite what little Jeffy wrote, AEW is even worse than the worst version of WWE, with both companies being offensively bad. Impact makes both look like they’re competently run.

          Meanwhile, this author is the same goof who was applauding companies for firing workers during the #whocareswhatthehashtagwas movement last month, even when several of the cases had absolutely no evidence presented. Maybe that’s why little Jeffy’s biggest career accomplishment is riding his dad’s coat tails on a mediocre radio show in a tiny market.

          Lutz is the new Will Pruett, and having these high school theater beta boys reflects extremely poorly on Jason and his site.

  3. I agree with some of the things Jay P says. A lot on this site view WWE and Vince especially as the evil empire and are critical of everything WWE does. Seems like WWE has gotten most of the criticism for how they’re handling the pandemic when there’s not much difference from other companies too.

    About a year in, there’s really very little fresh and different with AEW other than spot-fests. They get the benefit of more opportunities for “sick burns” because they can have promos bashing WWE.

    I often wonder what some people thought of when they watched the Undertaker documentary. Taker is so loyal to Vince and praises him so much it must have made some of the writers on this site cringe.

  4. Write This Way August 4, 2020 @ 9:09 pm

    “At least those gentlemen fit WWE’s most popular demographic – old white guys.”

    “AEW is proud to be a wrestling company and WWE is not.”

    AEW’s biggest demographic is white guys over 50.

    AEW isn’t a wrestling company. It’s an indy BS company with a very low ceiling. The crapfest they put on most weeks is every bit as bad as what WWE does most weeks.

  5. As far as I am concerned, whichever company or style of wrestling people prefer is up to them. Whether you think the actual shows of AEW are any better or worse than WWE’s is in the eye of the beholder. Where Jeff is totally right though, is how much WWE’s relationship to the rest of the wrestling industry stinks. The Vickie Guerrero podcast story is a great example. I have been a WWE fan for most of my life but I am sick of them now, and it has little do with the actual shows.

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