By Tony Donofrio, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@TonyDonofrio)
-In the latest edition of The Owner Who Cried Wolf, Tony Khan announced that tickets for All In ’24 will go on sale on December 1. There was no reason for this to be promoted as an “important announcement” or even promoted at all. Had Khan made the announcement on Dynamite this week with no buildup, I believe it would’ve been much better received. There must be a moratorium on these “important/huge/major announcements” on AEW TV and pay-per-view going forward unless they get move their pay-per-view events to the Max streaming service. When AEW gets its new TV deal, that shouldn’t be promoted ahead of time on AEW television either. There’s no problem with these type of announcements being on Dynamite, but they don’t need to be promoted ahead of time. You will never see WWE do something of this ilk. If a TV deal is signed and nights will be changing, then you absolutely need to make a big deal of it, but there’s no need to push this as a major doing ahead of time. There’s something to be said about going back to the well too many times, and this one has run dry for Tony Khan.
-On a much more positive note, Tony Khan has made some changes recently that are for the better and will help to improve the product if they continue to build on this. First, we have a basic outline of what Full Gear will look like a little over two weeks out and they’ve been building these stories and to the matches fairly well. We haven’t run into a situation where it’s “go home” week and we have only one match booked for the show. At this point we have a World Title match, an Women’s Title match, an International Title match, a grudge match, a fun six-man match, and (sigh) an ROH Tag Title match. Say what you will about the superfluous ROH match, but at least stories are being told and these matches are being built to in a meaningful matter weeks leading into the show.
A few months back, I noted that AEW is trending towards 10-12 PPVs per year. With this happening, building the stories and feuds this way is a must. You have to be encouraged with how AEW has built towards this show so far. A few other things that happened this week were the addition of the recap video package at the top of Dynamite, and the lack of Excalibur speed reading while promoting future matches at the end of Dynamite. The recap video was a great touch and should be used going forward.
-I have missed the old Saturday Night Main Event style interviews at the star of Collision. It gave the show a unique feel and start. I can forgive them on this if they add the recap to the top of Collision though.
-Let’s revisit something briefly that I touched on months back in my first Dot Net column. Do we still think Roman Reigns needed to win at WrestleMania to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship? Would any of these stories he’s been rolled into been any less meaningful without that title? Do you not think Cody Rhodes could’ve been booked similarly in feuds with Brock Lesnar and others since WrestleMania had he won the title? Would WWE have really needed to introduce a second world title had they put Rhodes over Reigns at WrestleMania?
If you can’t tell by my questioning, I continue to feel that the wrong decision was made at WrestleMania. The Roman Reigns record breaking run is as hollow as it gets. Reigns will be defending his title in a televised match for only the second time since WrestleMania this weekend at Crown Jewel (not counting the three random house shows he’s worked). That kind of defense schedule would make Brock Lesnar blush. I hate to even be thinking this, let alone typing it, but I hope this will lead towards another reunification in 2024.
One world title in WWE with strong mid-card titles worked well in 2022 and it felt like the best route. Since WWE has added a secondary world title, the U.S. and Intercontinental Titles don’t feel as prominent as they did at this time last year. Don’t get me wrong, Gunther has done a very good job as the Intercontinental Champion. He’s carrying that title with a lot of gravitas. I can’t say the same for the U.S. Title. It doesn’t feel nearly as important as it did when there was only one world title. Pro wrestling has too many titles as it is. AEW/ROH is the main perpetrator in this instance, but WWE can’t go unchecked when it comes to this as well.
-I’m surprised that we haven’t heard where Raw and NXT are going to land in the Fall of ’24 at this point. The silence on this is actually quite deafening. I have no knowledge of anything inside, but I’ll guess that Raw ends up somewhere else other than NBCU. That opens up the possibility that they end up with Disney (ESPN networks, ABC, FX), Amazon, Netflix, or even WBD (TBS, TNT, TruTV). I honestly don’t believe that Raw ends up at WBD. However, the Disney prospects are fun to think about. If that were to happen, I’d almost certainly bet that Raw moves to another night as to not consistently go up against Monday Night Football, regardless of the Disney network they end up on.
Disney bought out the rest of Hulu from NBCU/Comcast this week. It was reported by Brandon Thurston of Wrestlenomics.com that the expiration tags for all WWE properties that air on Hulu disappeared yesterday after the sale was announced. Take that for what it’s worth and make what you will of that. I’d have to imagine that WWE will want to keep Raw on “regular” TV and that Disney would be the front runner. I suppose CBS’s Paramount Network could also be an option. I still doubt that NBCU will retain the rights to Raw after grabbing Smackdown but anything is possible.
NXT is a bit more interesting. I could definitely see it going the way of the streaming despite that fact that they’ve really pushed the past 3-4 months to bolster their TV viewership. That could mean Amazon or Netflix. It could also mean it ends back up on the WWE Network with Peacock; only this time, they’d get a rights fee for it rather than just airing it on their own network.
These dominos waiting to fall would also affect AEW. If Raw (or even Smackdown for that matter) were to move to Wednesday next fall, I’d imagine AEW wouldn’t want to run head-to-head with either program. Tony Khan has said that he doesn’t wanna compete with the NFL. But a lot of wrestling fans are creatures of habit. Assuming AEW renews with WBD, they would be crazy not to take a hard look at Monday night if there’s an opening there. The night of the week that AEW airs its programming isn’t necessarily up to Khan. So, he might not have a choice.
The NBA rights deal is also coming up and where those fall could also directly affect where WWE and AEW air next fall. One year from now, the whole pro wrestling television landscape could be turned on its head completely. It’s exciting and I’m here for it.
-I know most have already gotten this out of their system, but I’m gonna echo it here. Who was calling for Impact Wrestling to go back to the TNA name? I just don’t get it. I, honestly, can say I’m not even anti-rebrand when it comes to this company, but why the dreaded TNA acronym? Nostalgia is one thing, this awful name for a company (any company that’d like this acronym) just makes no sense and I can’t see how it’s gonna make more money (see what I did there?). Impact/TNA’s parent company, Anthem, also owns the GFW name. I know it was very short lived but why not run that name back out?
Global Force Wrestling didn’t take the world by storm in the limited time that it was a thing, but it’s not an awful acronym and TNA doesn’t have nearly have the warm and fuzzy feelings that I believe Scott D’Amore thinks it does. All that aside, I think Impact/TNA has done a great job the past 18 months or so putting on solidly booked shows with good wrestling. I don’t know that they’ll ever break out as a promotion at this point regardless of what the company is called but it’s very solid product that’s easy to watch. Having said that, any other name is still better than talking to someone that doesn’t have a clue and saying “I’m gonna go home and watch some TNA.”