McGuire’s Mondays: Hypocrisy reigns supreme in the AEW vs. WWE fight


By Colin McGuire, Staffer (@McGMondays)

“I don’t buy into this odd mentality of one company or the other. It’s weird. … It’s wrestling. An amazing gig. But still, it’s wrestling. Relax. It’s supposed to be fun. And it’s just a segment of the fans, not most fans, and definitely not the performers. Within the industry we all know that more choices is better for everyone and pushes us all to be better. As a wrestling fan, which I still am, it’s exciting that there’s viable companies providing wrestling on national and worldwide platforms. If you’re actually a fan of wrestling, and not acronyms, that should make you happy too.”

Those were the words of Adam Copeland. They came after he debuted for AEW one week and one day ago. The former Edge took time to be gracious by offering some words regarding his move from WWE to AEW on social media and he went through great pains to drive home the point that … “Hey, this is cool! WWE is cool with me! I’m cool with them! The departure was amicable! Nothing to see here! All good, bros!”

OK, that was snotty. And to be fair, I believe everything everyone involved has said about the move. Nobody seems to begrudge anything from anyone making any decision in this particular situation and if it’s not genuine, these people are damn good at faking it. Still, there was something about Copeland’s words that stuck with me. It was the first part combined with the last part. “I don’t buy into this odd mentality of one company or the other,” before hitting us with the purely condescending, “If you’re actually a fan of wrestling, and not acronyms, that should make you happy too.”

Well. All right, then.

Those words came from a guy who’s boss, Tony Khan, has tweeted about everything from beating “Smackdown” in the ratings, to how much he believes AEW puts on better shows than WWE, to the requisite criticism for WWE doing business with Saudi Arabia. Conversely, those words also came from a guy whose former boss, Paul Levesque, mocked the success of AEW’s Dynamite show by saying something along the lines of, “Congratulations, you beat our developmental program” in the ratings. And on both sides, these are merely the first instances that cross my mind as I write. There are dozens more through the years-long competition that has formulated between AEW and WWE.

But here we are again with another wrestler looking down from on high, pointing out how “weird” it is that fans of different wrestling companies have picked sides. Everything has been reduced to a debate about a debate about a debate. There’s the first layer – the simple AEW vs. WWE piece that sits atop Discussion Mountain. Then there’s a deeper second layer, which people like Eric Bischoff revel in pointing out, that dismisses any potential of AEW even competing with WWE in the first place because the two companies don’t consistently square off on the same night at the same time on television each week. And then there’s that third deepest layer, where the wrestlers inside the AEW/WWE bubble occasionally look out their windows, pick up some stones, and whip them through the glass by saying things like, “Oh, chill out, guys. It’s just wrestling. We all root for each other. You make up these wars in your heads, you silly, little simpletons!”

Now, wait just a minute.

There are flaws in every aspect of a debate like this, and this much, everyone has to know is true. It’s probably unhealthy to blindly throw every inch of support behind one side without leaving room for consideration surrounding the other. That’s not a pro wrestling thing; that’s a life thing. And especially as we now see people going back and forth between companies, knowing that those moves are only going to increase with frequency in the near future, such an outlook can easily back fans of either side into corners that make them look unwise and hypocritical (cue the CM Punk debate once he returns to The Big Bad WWE here in month or two).

On top of that … well, yeah, man. Wrestlers in both WWE and AEW have worked their asses off for years to get to where they are and this is an industry that doesn’t necessarily accept a lot of applications for its jobs. If you make it to either company and have even a modicum of success, you already won, and unless you, as a fan, are satan’s spawn, it’s just the simple “Don’t Be a Dick” rule that applies to rooting for people to succeed in their profession. These people take risks for our entertainment. And more often than not, they grew up as super fans in the same way we are super fans. If you have a problem with seeing dreams come true, then that’s not on the dream-seeker; that’s on you as the dream-hater.

But for people on both sides of the aisle to speak down from on high, claiming that there is no true competition … and all of this stuff is made up in the heads of people begging to witness conflict … and everyone roots for each other, no matter the company … and everyone needs to settle down because nobody behind the scenes takes any of this seriously … and fans’ obsession over this issue is merely a reflection of how “silly” they are … and any strife is nothing more than a narrative made up by the nasty, no-good media …

… That’s not going to work for me, brother.

It’s one thing to say, “Hey guys, tone it down;” it’s another to pretend like wrestlers, commentators, high-level bosses and company owners haven’t helped fan this feuding fire over the years. It’s saying, “Hey, don’t put too much gasoline on that fire, we need to let it calm down.” But then, just one more time for good measure, you throw some more lighter fluid on it to see the flame rise for your own entertainment. When those around you call you out for making the fire more intense, your only response is to tell them that they need to settle down and what they saw was all in their heads.

So, in other words, let’s not believe in acronyms. But when schedules align and the two companies go live on a Tuesday night, let’s send John Cena to NXT and make a Jay White vs. Hangman Page match out of nowhere.

Let’s not believe in acronyms. But let’s publicly engage in debates about attendance figures for stadium shows and how they are calculated, let alone compared to shows that emanated from the other company.

Let’s not believe in acronyms. But let’s call the other set of letters a piss-ant company at a Hall of Fame ceremony.

Let’s not believe in acronyms. But let’s briefly center an entire story around the possibility of one of your biggest stars leaving your company for the other company.

The list goes on and on. It’s not just big business for people in the wrestling space to debate those acronyms; it’s also big business for the people associated with those acronyms to fan the flames of those debates. To pretend like it’s all the fans’ fault is somewhat egomaniacal and grossly disingenuous. The same goes for the members of the wrestling media who start ridiculing the behavior of some of the fans as a result of the – T-Word alert! – tribalism. Don’t start facing off in social media debates with fans if you’re behind a website that consistently publishes stories with headlines like, “Seth Rollins says AEW is the ‘drizzling shits.'” (Yes, that is a fake headline, but you get it).

Does this mean fans should have the freedom to be vile and hurtful and obnoxious and threatening because of their allegiances? Of course not. But it does mean that if wrestlers and wrestling media alike don’t believe fans should take their company rivalries so seriously, maybe they could help rectify that by not acting like television ratings are the only metric by which pro wrestling should ever be measured, and maybe WWE people could keep negative AEW comments out their mouths while AEW people could keep negative WWE comments out their mouths.

Thinking this is all just some made up nonsense that purely gets the fans off – but also acknowledging that a rivalry is kind of/sort of/maybe/yeah, OK, it’s there – takes the piss out of the fun the AEW vs. WWE rivalry could provide. Yes, that fun is abused by fans out there who are outright mean, but I refuse to think all pro wrestling fans are narrow-minded sheep who pledge allegiance to only one thing while lobbing hateful grenades toward the opposite side just for the sake of lobbing hateful grenades to the opposite side. We reserve the right to prefer one company over the other in moderation. We also reserve the right to have those opinions change over time.

What we, as fans, shouldn’t be accused of in a vacuum is the notion that we’re just stupid, little minions who come up with these preferences and/or opinions without the aid of wrestlers and important people in the wrestling landscape playing into those preferences and/or opinions. You want fans to stop being so passionate about a “made-up war,” Triple H, Tony Khan and, well, (I guess) Adam Copeland? Come together once a year for a co-branded Super Bowl of wrestling. Crown one unified world’s champion, not unlike the NWA days. Encourage fans to root for everyone and not just acronyms. Encourage unity, not division. Practice what you pretend to preach.

That will never happen, of course. Or, well, at least not any time in even the remote near future. But if that’s the reality of the pro wrestling business, the people in the pro wrestling business need to understand that if they want to quell the dastardly feuds that have developed between company fan bases, they carry the key to that power chest, and they have more influence on those perceptions than anyone else involved.

Until they want to use that key to unlock the good in the equation, they need to keep their stones to themselves as they sit in their majestic houses of glass.


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