Will the AEW Be Legitimate Competition? Submitted by Going Broadway on 01/03/2019 at 04:43 PM
With the announcement of All Elite Wrestling, and the promise of an exciting new wrestling promotion, the question at the forefront of everyone's minds is simply this:
Will this be the re-birth of the Monday Night Wars?
Before we answer this question, we must first dive into what created the Monday Night Wars in the first place -- an era muddled with an acceptance of any and all taboos the likes of which the wrestling industry has never seen before.
In other words, the 90s.
Many look fondly upon this era, though purely out of nostalgia. Aside from ECW, the quality of wrestling in the WWF and WCW was average at best. When we look back at the Attitude Era, we think of Austin filling McMahon's car with cement, The Undertaker kidnapping and crucifying Stephanie McMahon, Mick Foley's insane fall off of the cell, or just about anything Degeneration-X did -- not so much the quality of the wrestling.
Over in World Championship Wrestling, a lot of veterans spray-painted letters on people and titles, egos ran amok, contracts were inflated, and we were blessed with matches such as the infamous "fingerpoke of doom" match. All of this while the Cruiserweights, and other future legends in the business were largely hidden from sight.
This is an era where racism, homophobia, bigotry, sexism, and extreme violence were exploited for ratings. When fans look to that era to feel good, it's to recapture those old feelings of excitement as an adolescent.
However, times have changed.
Rightfully so, women finally have a respected place on the rosters, and aside from a rise in White Nationalism due to unmentionable political blunders, racism, bigotry, bullying, and over-the-top violence are no longer tolerated in today's product.
...that is, unless you don't count piss jokes, transphobia, racism against Asians, and the confusing bullying/anti-bullying inconsistencies in characters like Nia Jax, Stephanie McMahon, and Sasha Banks...
While the above may have been met with laughter by a 90s crowd, it's frowned upon in today's wrestling climate. Fans have evolved, and no longer want to see explicit material on the USA Network when they can simply go to Pornhub if they absolutely must. As fans, we have largely grown up, and just want to see good wrestling and good storytelling.
When you take the 90s edge out of the successful equation of the Monday Night Wars, you are left with two factors:
With money as a give-in, WCW and the WWF had both of these at their disposal, with McMahon having USA and UPN, while Ted Turner had TNT and TBS. While McMahon still has USA and soon he will have Fox as wrestling mediums, for any legitimate competition, All Elite Wrestling must also have these in place.
We now know that Tony Khan, son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, will front millions for the promotion. So this takes care of the financial side -- we know Khan has deep pockets for future talents, and there are many likely unhappy WWE wrestlers who would sign a lucrative deal if it means less dates and more money. We also know that rumors have Khan's eye on Bill Goldberg, and while he will deny it until he is blue in the face -- with the right price and backstage environment, C.M. Punk will make a return. Chris Jericho is also likely for AEW.
So what about Network? This is where it becomes tricky. Quite frankly, a network like TBS and TNT would garner not only the credibility for the show, but the exposure of it. A lesser network like Paramount or Pop would serve AEW very little in this case.
The USA Network sits at #6 in the primetime slot, with ESPN and TBS at #2 and #3. TNT sits at #10. Unless ESPN is willing to jump back to the days of the AWA, I don't see them having any interest in an upstart wrestling promotion, which leaves TBS/TNT.
Coleman Breland is the President of Turner Broadcasting Systems and is responsible for all of the network's content. Ted Turner hasn't been involved in over a decade. For AEW to make the necessary move to a major network, they would need to guarantee success over other established or newer shows.
If we take TBS for an example, shows like American Dad, (which airs Monday nights at 10/EST) and Tuesday night shows, including The Last OG and The Detour (both airing Tuesday nights) would have to be seen as gaining considerably less ratings than a new wrestling show.
In comparison, The Last OG, TBS's top ranked show, gains just over 1 million viewers. Monday Night Raw has barely been able to stay above 2 million over this year. Can Tony Khan and a band of mostly unknown wrestlers find a network deal in a prime spot that would rival even a million viewers?
This is the major question which is needed to answer whether or not AEW will ultimately be competition or not. Quite frankly, if Rhodes and the Bucks didn't care about competing at some level, they wouldn't have partnered with a billionaire. I would assume that they have some tricks up their sleeve, and talents ready to jump ship.
Without knowing the details of current WWE wrestlers, it's hard to say exactly who is primed to do so, and whether or not a big name would come with it. We know the contracts of A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura are set to expire in 2019, but we also know that Vince will do just about anything possible from keeping these talents away from a rival promotion.
The eyes of the wrestling world will firmly be glued to the next moves of Tony Khan and Cody Rhodes, and we can only hope that a large network deal, and a few huge signings are in order that shake things up dramatically. Until then, patience will be a virtue.