After the well written article by Mr. Tito regarding the Disco Inferno-Tony Khan feud as well as well as more Tony/Twitter antics, I figured I might as well do it. For all those smart marks, AEW Stans, wrestling fans and other who keep saying “If you know so much, how would you do it?” here it is.
AEW needs a hard reset from top to bottom and I am offering a well thought out brand idea outlook. Changes from top to bottom and how to fix the roster and make it fresh, upbeat and a real alternative to WWE. And I don’t mean just make some new matches but literally go to the very bone of what is rotting the company.
So, without further ado, here is what I would do if I were Tony and decided to fix AEW.
1) Hire a booking team and let them run things
Tony should have known this right off the bat as his father has done this with the Jacksonville Jaguars. They become good when they hired Doug Pederson, empowered Trent Baalke to run the draft board/free agency and listen to their scouts. Do this with AEW; Put Jim Ross in charge of identifying and deciding who to hire (his resume is bar none) and take advantage of his knowledge. I wouldn’t put too much on his plate as he is old, and the Head of Talent Relations duties at WWE took YEARS off him. Let him be sort of a CEO type that figures out who to keep, who to let go and then delegate to people like Arn Anderson how to run the locker room.
Far as booking my dream trio would be a combination of Mick Foley, Al Snow and Konnan to handle this. All three carry a gravitas that the Elite don’t, they have been on the big stage as well as the indies and they truly love wrestling. Plus, they can look anyone in the roster in the eye and give them tough love with understanding. Whether its Chris Jericho, Adam Copeland, Hook or even Brit Baker, these three men can relate and identify how wrestlers live and feel and understand how to motivate and use them. All three are also considered by their peers and fans as guys who are creative and understand story telling.
2) Time to Kill Ring of Honor
At this point Ring of Honor is the albatross around AEW’s neck that has brought them down. I get it; it was an impulse buy for Tony in the same way men by athletic apparel and women buy shoes. There is always a purchase that we regret and say to ourselves we were foolish and shouldn’t have spent the money.
Ring of Honor has no TV deal, no streaming deal and is nothing more than a memory of a promotion that lost its lust nearly a decade ago. Worse is you have had to hire performers or move performers there who otherwise are taking up space. Kill the brand, use the library and intellectual properties to make money in anyway possible and move on. The more time you waste booking a show that nobody watches or really cares about, the worse everything else suffers.
I know its terrible and it was a great idea in theory but time to just cut the cord.
3) Cull the Roster and identify the top people
All Elite Wrestling currently have ONE HUNDRED SIXTY wrestlers on the roster according to Wikipedia. You want to talk about over saturation that means that they have enough to field two full college football programs with a full roster.
That does not include the future additions of Mustafa Ali, Dolph Ziggler and any other WWE Free Agent that Tony is about to add. Considering that AEW has 3 shows worth total of Four Hours (More like 3 and a half when you take out intros, commercials and AEW announcements) and it’s impossible to fit them all into the company.
AEW has basically become a Pokémon collection of wrestlers in that Tony signs anything that catches his eye.
Keep the roster at 90 wrestling personnel and figure out who belongs on the roster and who is not ready or past the expiration date. If that means you end up losing AR Fox or Penta El Zero to TNA or MLW, that is fine.
The more disgruntled wrestlers on the roster, the worse morale and business is. You are literally spending money for some of these people to be in catering.
Tony crows about how he doesn’t fire people like WWE but instead he is holding them hostage. You don’t have any plans for Keith Lee then release him then and let him flourish in GCW, TNA or MLW.
Figure out who the main event stars are and push them such as MJF, Wardlow, Miro and Britt Baker. The more you bring in people who aren’t ready or stuck in catering the more you cool the popularity of other wrestlers because they can’t appear on TV.
It’s bad business and only drags the company down.
4) Get away from NJPW and focus on more storylines
Wrestling Nerds/Hardcore geeks/AEW-NJPW stans love to tell you how great NJPW is but the reality is that the golden era is dead. This isn’t the WCW version where guys like Great Muta, Masahiro Chono and Jushin Liger captivated worldwide fans. Most of them don’t have the personality, aren’t overly big and fail to capture fans’ imaginations.
Add in the whole culture difference between Japanese wrestling and North America wrestling and its light comparing apples to potatoes.
For better or worse American wrestling fans want a reason to care about a wrestler besides “5 Star matches” given by so called wrestling journalists. They want to connect with the person in the ring besides their wrestling ability.
Its why MJF, Samoa Joe and Eddie Kingston are popular among fans. They connect with the audience and make you want to care about them rather than just do a bunch of choreographed moves.
Put realism and more common sense into storylines that work and draw people in. The MJF-Punk feud was money because of realism, the young lion vs. the Old King, the student vs the master. Instead at times AEW can’t help but use either family involved (which has a history of failing), stupid gags or comedy by performers/writers who aren’t comedy experienced experts.
Somebody like Mick Foley would help as his comedic timing was bar-none and he understood when to be funny, charming, and even sinister. Bring him in and let him explain and teach people how to do this so it comes across real.
Adam Copeland versus Christian Cage feud is bordering on silly now with adding in Nick Wayne’s mom. You know the same thing WCW did with Judy Bagwell that everyone ragged on or when Claire Lynch drama went down in TNA. Both were stupid and ruined things and that is what is going on with a 17-year old’s mom who clearly is not ready for being in show biz.
Meanwhile the company has trotted out Bryan Danielson as the “scapegoat” for CM Punk getting fired. Not the owner, Tony Khan who made the ultimate call, but a fellow wrestler who is younger than CM Punk. Imagine if they did that in the NFL and said that Patrick Mahomes was responsible for Tyreek Hill getting traded due to bad behavior.
The Kansas City Chiefs would have been labeled a clown show and rightfully so. But AEW fans still don’t want to admit that and AEW personnel don’t want to rock the boat and lose their jobs.
Right now, there must be a real leader running the operations for AEW who ACTUALLY knows wrestling. It’s not Tony Khan who is worse than Dixie Carter. At least Carter waited eight years before going on TV and becoming intolerable. Khan has been doing that for a while and often just doesn’t seem to understand how polarizing he is.
But overall get someone who understands the wrestling industry and can be the bad guy. The guy who basically polices the locker room and has an organized long game plan for the company. It can’t be any of the wrestlers as they just don’t have the clout or the selflessness to do so.
There isn’t anyone and it’s been showing more and more the amateur hour that is AEW. From the drinking blood angle, The Devil angle being overdone, bad comedy skits that aren’t funny, everything looks like a comedy show. The whole presentation at times looks like a bunch of fans put it together without much thought.
Reset the whole thing and bring someone in who understands how to write a TV show. Bring in someone to run the day-to-day operations and is the vice principal to Tony Khan’s principal.
5) Keep Tony off Twitter and TV
The Twitter thing has just been beaten to ad nauseum, but it goes without saying. Most sports owners stay off Twitter for a reason and it’s because they don’t want to get sucked into the negativity.
Tony can’t seem to help the fact that too often he comes across like an ass with his Twitter activity. From feuding with national sports reporters, insulting released talent, making outrageous statements, and doing special announcements… Tony Khan’s Twitter antics are tiresome.
Add to the fact at times when he is on TV, he often behaves like a crazy person. Fair or not, that reflects on the company, and you can’t help but view him as unstable.
Keep him off TV and off Twitter until someone can get through to him how to behave and act. For better or worse, sponsors and business moguls put a lot of stock into perception. How does it look when a professional wrestling owner (and NFL Executive/EPL executive) is dancing like a fool on stage or behaving like a crazed fan.
If he wants to be on TV and be involved with the product, hire an acting coach who can go over how to behave. Let the PR team handle the Twitter and social media platforms instead of you. Even Vince McMahon was smart enough to figure out how to avoid doing social media.
The “Special Announcements” have become the latest joke among wrestling fans and media. Every new match or mid-level signing is now a “Big News” to the point where it is getting mocked.
Take a break from being on TV and Twitter and do what most normal people would do and get out.
At this point AEW is becoming dangerously close to being not just irrelevant but looking for a new Television home. If reports are true and WWE ends up with WBD, it is more than likely AEW will be gone. Doesn’t matter what people think of AEW, the bottom line is that WBD has a budget and AEW is not a high priority for them. NBA and WWE are name brands and therefore to many … worth the money.
Meanwhile after several promising few years, All Elite Wrestling has become stagnant. Ratings have either gone down or even fallen off a cliff depending on the show. Ticket sales are at their lowest yet and the company feels like it’s regressing.
It’s time for Tony to rest the company and try to bring it back to what it was. Otherwise, at the end of 2024… All Elite Wrestling might just end up where TNA ended up… on a minor tier platform.
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