*Deep breath. Do not let the marks get to you. They don’t know any better…*
As someone who peruses through vast amounts of internet comments, I want to be blunt: There are a lot of incredibly stupid things said by wresting fans on the internet. Most of which are either pure conjecture, or simply untrue.
Now it’s one thing to simply not like All Elite Wrestling. We all have tastes, and if AEW isn’t your jam, then that’s all fine by me. You do you. However, a large chunk of the vocal anti-AEW fanbase likes to talk shit — and most of them are dead wrong.
So I have compiled this handy guide to quickly debunk and correct a lot of the crap spewed by anti-AEW, mostly pro-WWE fans out there. Because if nobody does it, then the record continues distorted and may even lead some neutral and innocent fans into false beliefs.
That being said, LFG.
#1 – AEW is Full of WWE “Rejects” – FALSE
Math is fun, right? Let’ do some math.
Out of about 100 wrestlers in AEW, the number of “ex-WWE” talent comes in at a whopping 27. There are some talents I am not counting that found success before WWE (Sting, as an example), but even then, the percentage is extremely low. That’s only around 26%.
Mind you, for nearly two decades, the only place a wrestler could work and make a good living was WWE, as Vince had a monopoly over the industry. If you want to get technical, it was Ring of Honor that crafted the future stars of WWE in Bryan Danielson, C.M. Punk, Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles, Adam Cole, Seth Rollins, and a plethora of others.
But we don’t even need to address that. Fact is that by percentage, the majority of the AEW roster are made up of homegrown and/or independent talents.
Lastly, stop using the term “rejects”. They’re men and women that need to make a living to support their family and/or do what’s best for their creative direction. Working for one company, be it the wrestling industry or other, doesn’t brand you for life as a worker for that one company.
Free agents exist in sports for a reason…
If you’re still making this argument, you may not have made it past ninth grade (yet). Simple math and common sense easily debunk this.
#2 – AEW Only Features Ex-WWE Talents – FALSE
Do me a favor. Head over to the AEW Roster page on their website and take a look at their current champions:
Not a single one could be considered an ‘ex-WWE’ talent.
In their brief history, sprawled across four divisions, AEW has had 21 title holders (tag teams counted as one reign). Out of those, only six could be considered an ‘ex-WWE’ talent. You can almost count them on one hand. In fact, one such title-holder is now back in WWE in Cody Rhodes. Does that make him an AEW-Reject now?
Let’s put this one to bed. Not only is this narrative false, but new stars are being created every month. Hook, Wardlow, Sammy Guevara, Powerhouse Hobbs, Dante Martin, and the most protected man in the industry; Maxwell Jacob Friedman, are all potential future/current main eventers.
And don’t sleep on a still very young women’s division with stars such as Britt Baker, Jamie Hayter, Jade Cargill, Hikaru Shida, Abadon, and Anna Jay.
It’s just an incorrect argument, and it needs to die.
#3 – AEW is Just like TNA – FALSE
I’ve heard this one before, and this is one of the more blatantly stupid falsehoods.
TNA Impact never had a major cable network deal and very rarely toured outside of Universal Studios. When Hogan and Bischoff were brought into the fold (starting the beginning of the end of TNA’s glory days) they made incredibly stupid moves such as temporarily moving to Monday nights and going to a 4-sided ring from the six-sided ring; something which made TNA stand out.
The promotion was also poorly booked, favoring stars well past their prime over up and coming talents. Dixie Carter involved herself in storylines much too often, and they often came off as just another “sports-entertainment” like product. At one time TNA did favor a focus on pure wrestling and new talent, but that didn’t last long at all.
By comparison, AEW has a major cable network deal, two weekly shows, weekly touring, and a noticeable focus on highlighting their younger stars. Again, check their current and past title holders.
Any fan who tries to make this argument doesn’t actually watch AEW, or is simply too lazy to check the hard facts before making asinine comments on social media.
#4 – Tony Khan isn’t a Legitimate Booker – FALSE
I hear this a lot for some reason. Fans assume that Tony Khan is a spoiled rich kid who happens to be a wrestling fan. Do you know who else was a wrestling fan that simply started a wrestling promotion with little other experience?
Jess McMahon was a sports promoter through the 1910s-1940s. His son, Vincent J. McMahon, would get himself into the world of promoting professional wrestling. He started the Capitol Wrestling Corporation, now known as WWE. His son Vincent K. McMahon then stayed in the family business and is now (at 76-years-old)) taking stunners from one of the biggest stars of the 90s.
Neither three were wrestlers. Just fans who saw the money in promoting professional wresting.
Tony Khan is not much different. While not coming from the “family” business, he’s just a nerdy wrestling fan who has the money to become a successful wrestling promoter. Like Vincent K., Khan has a Bachelor’s Degree in the business field, specifically in Finance. Also as the Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner, he knows how to run a business.
Many CEOs and Presidents in the music/movie/TV industry didn’t start out as actors or musicians. They simply had a passion for said industry, and worked their way up in one way or another.
There’s a lot of wresting promoters in the industry that have no formal education, or even experience as a wrestler. You don’t need a formal training or college-level education to be able to book a wrestling show. However, AEW has seen some incredible feuds in their short existence; including Omega/Page, MJF/Punk, MJF/Jericho, Baker/Rosa, and many more.
So why is Tony Khan treated any different? Because he’s a little goofy and makes the occasional dumb Twitter comment? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Vince McMahon has: covered up a murder for one his own wrestlers, turned a blind eye to obvious and rampant steroid abuse, a sexual assault allegation, a history of body-shaming, indirectly causing the death of Owen Hart, and booking gross misogyny and awful stereotypes throughout the 90s. And this is honestly a short list of his indiscretions.
Give me the goofy, nerdy wrestling fan any day.
#5 – AEW Isn’t Growing – FALSE
This comment is often brought up:
“You can’t grow the causal fan base by appealing only to hardcore fans.”
I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on that.
In the 3+ years of AEW’s existence, they have expanded and improved their roster, added a second weekly show, and continue to bring in solid buy-rates for a somewhat post-PPV era. They have a video game set to be released in Fall of 2022, have literally purchased Ring of Honor, and rumors of a likely streaming deal with HBO Max continue.
You can even find their DVDs and wrestling figures at your local Walmart and Target.
Upon tonight’s announcement, they may even have a Supercard announced for a cross-promoted New Japan/AEW event, which is pretty huge unless you live only inside the WWE bubble.
Would these things indicate that AEW might actually be growing? They’re definitely not regressing, and with all of these new deals and revenue streams, they certainly aren’t dormant.
This company is still growing, even in spite of the hardcore WWE fanbase trying to tell others they aren’t. Just use some common sense.
#6 – AEW’s Ratings Are Poor – FALSE
Ratings in 2022 simply do not mean the same as they do 20 years ago. Advertisers have vastly different options than they did in 2002. With multiple social media platforms, YouTube, Streaming Apps, Podcast/Music Apps, and even Radio — a plethora of options exist for advertisers aside from cable television.
As the number of cable viewers dwindle year-by-year, ratings simply do not mean as much as they used to. But that doesn’t mean AEW’s are dropping. In fact, when you examine their ratings since 2019, they have trended upward overall (minus small swings here and there). Dynamite hasn’t even dropped below 800,000 viewers since October of 2021, and this was mostly due to the NBA Playoffs and World Series.
WarnerMedia is happy with the ratings as well. When you have a show that consistently ranks in the top 5 of all cable programming for that night, why wouldn’t the network be happy?
The 18-49 demos still look good as well, as this is what advertisers (and the networks) want. If you’re product is failing to hit those demographics, it means your audience might be aging out. Head-to-head competition just isn’t necessary anymore, and the days of the Monday Night Wars are long past. I don’t know why some fans call for this. Just let both companies exist in peace, ay?
Sans a complete shift in programming direction with former Discovery Chief Lifestyle Brands Officer Kathleen Finch, who will be overseeing TBS programming post Discovery/WarnerMedia merger, AEW isn’t going anywhere. Aside from the NBA, they continue to be the highest rated show on TBS/TNT.
The ratings are just fine, even if they may not fit the narrative of some avid anti-AEW fans.
#7 – AEW’s Announcements Are too Much – FALSE
On the Wrestling Outsiders Facebook page, a series of parodies photos were made regarding yet another “huge” announcement by Tony Khan on Wednesday’s Dynamite.
“Tony Khan Will Make a Huge Sandwich” | “Tony Khan Will Make a Huge Pillow Fort” |
“Tony Khan Will Make a Huge Stack of Pancakes”
These are really damn funny.
But if I’m being serious, why does this irk so many fans? Yeah, he makes a lot of “huge” announcements, but many of these announcements deliver for the AEW fan base. Furthermore, as a business owner, wouldn’t you want to create hype and keep your fan base excited?
I can laugh at the parodies of the monthly “huge” announcements, but other than that, it’s just good business. There’s nothing wrong with hype, and the product is still hot. When I have to use a pre-sale code just to snag floor seats to Milwaukee’s Dynamite on June 22 because they’ll quickly sell out (and they have aside from 300 level tickets), clearly the hype is still working.
#8 – “Nobody Watches” AEW Dark – FALSE
If I had any complaints about Dark it’s that I wish Khan would do more with the timeslot. I understand the point of AEW dark, but I would love to see continuing storylines, and for it to be promoted on Dynamite and Rampage.
Or, just turn Dark or Dark: Elevation into an all-women’s show…
I say this because more fans watch AEW Dark than Impact Wrestling. On average, even for YouTube, Dark still rakes in between 200-300,000 viewers per episode. There are cable networks that wish they had a show that would do so well.
While it’s only a quarter of the Dynamite audience, and less than half of the average Rampage audience, bringing in 200-300k per episode is still pretty damn good. In fact, when you look up estimated income AEW receives from their YouTube channel alone, it hovers in the $2-3 Million mark per year.
People watch Dark. Just because you don’t doesn’t mean others don’t. Again, for those reading this with an anti-AEW bias — the wrestling world doesn’t revolve around WWE. Far from it…
#9 – Tony Khan Pays Off Journalists/Columnists – FALSE
I wish! Otherwise, I would be making bank right now.
But this is just universally stupid. It’s as if a chunk of the wrestling fan base can’t seem to grasp that AEW might be good? Perhaps this is why it’s highly revered by many journalists and industry influencers.
But think of how stupid that sounds. Billionaire Tony Khan is going to take time out of his day to contact Aaron Rift of NoDQ to track down my identity just to pay me to say good things about AEW.
…even though I constantly challenge him on the poor booking of the AEW women’s division and desperately want that to get better…
Again, common sense here, folks. Most wrestling journalists do not live strictly within the WWE bubble. WWE is not what wrestling is; as a plethora of great wrestling exists around the world. Don’t get mad at a journalist, columnist, or influencer, for simply saying good things about a good product.
#10 – AEW is Just Like WWE – FALSE
One of the weirder ones…
A commenter had brought up that TK is pulling too many “sports entertainment” like segments and gimmick matches. Hence, AEW is just trying to be like WWE.
Universally stupid take, man.
I’ve said this in the past, and it bears repeating: Each of the last 3 AEW Pay-Per-Views (each, not combined) had MORE bell-to-bell wrestling on the show than on BOTH nights of WrestleMania 38 COMBINED.
AEW is a professional wrestling company. They average around an hour of wrestling per show compared to Raw’s 50 minutes (for a three hour broadcast) and Smackdown’s 30 minutes.
You will see long-term storylines that are played out over months, sometimes years. You’ll even get matches booked for the sake of just having a really good match; with no story necessary.
All of these “sports entertainment” segments and matches are classic wresting tropes that have been around for decades through dozens of promotions. I think this is one of the lesser mentioned falsehoods, but I do see it here and there.
AEW is not perfect. However, it seems as if many fans truly want the company to fail. They are held to such higher standards, while WWE is constantly given a pass for their mediocre and often ridiculous product.
I get the impression that many WWE fans just want to live inside of their bubble without distraction, and anything that challenges their notion of what professional wrestling is supposed to be is to be dismissed in ignorance.
These often pro-WWE fans will come up with ludicrous narratives to demean the product that simply aren’t true. While it would be nice for all of us to get along, that simply isn’t possible — and that will be in next week’s article.
But if you’re going to criticize AEW, or any product, you better come correct. Most don’t have the mental capacity to do so, and it really shows in the comments, and (sometimes) other opinion pieces.
So please, use this guide next time a wrestling fan says something stupid about AEW. More than likely, it’s in here.
Until Part 2 of this guide eventually comes out, stay safe, and enjoy Dynamite tonight.