Celebrating the Positives of AEW 5 years on – By Wrestle G

Hello one and all and welcome back here to NoDQ. First of all, I want to give a back thank you to the response to my debut column, and a huge thank you to Aaron Rift for allowing me a voice here. I’ve long harboured a desire to start a wrestling column and what better place than NoDQ were Wrestling Column royalty resides.

I’m really excited to share my opinions with all of you and get some discussion going. So, let’s get right into todays, shall we?

This weekend saw a feast of Wrestling and I will be writing some thoughts on the summer direction of WWE in the coming weeks, but this weekend saw the 5-year anniversary of AEW’s Double or Nothing the event famous for Jon Moxley arriving on the AEW scene and shaking things up in the wrestling world. As the dust settled on what was an adrenaline pumping Pay Per View this past Sunday, I was left in a reflective mood.

Had 5 years really passed that quickly? Indeed, it has and when I really sat and thought about how we have been treated to a hugely noteworthy period of time in and outside of the ring. Love it or hate it I am going to spend the next few paragraphs outlining how I feel AEW has positively affected the wrestling industry. This isn’t to ignore their failings or their controversies but to celebrate the positive effects that my wrestling fandom has achieved from All Elite Wrestling having been created. So, let’s get started.

1) Wrestling is no longer a dirty word – If there is one thing, I think AEW has brought to the North American audience more than any other, it is that Bell to Bell matters hugely and can be the primary form of entertainment. It’s been nice to simply have a show where you say here are two guys who can go in the ring, and they are simply going to wrestle to see who is better. I think no better moment sums up what AEW achieved in this regard than at Arthur Ashe stadium where Kenny Omega stood across the ring from Bryan Danielson, they did nothing, but stare and the crowd came unglued because they knew the wrestling they were about to see. We’ve had character moments like this in the past with Rock vs Hogan being the pinnacle. But when that crowd gave that reaction to Omega and Bryan it solidified for me that wrestling in its purest form can be wonderful and significant without all of the bells and whistles.

2) Sting – This was going to be a broader point about wrestlers in general getting a second chance. But the more I kept coming back to the run of Sting in AEW the more I felt it deserved its own entry. The image of Sting struggling to compose himself after the buckle bomb by Seth Rollins will live with me for a long long time, it’s one of those moments in wrestling where you know someone is struggling and you just want them to get the match done and go and get some help. It always left a bitter taste that this image might be the last one we had of Sting in a wrestling ring and indeed after his retirement speech at the Hall of Fame it looked like that’s all we would have. But for all his faults as a booker Tony Khan didn’t let that happen, what we got was a Sting Renaissance complete with Tony Schivone soundtrack. Along for the ride was Darby Allin who never once seemed lost in the shadow of a legend. Indeed, the booking and the execution always felt like the two were a team and that Darby was almost protecting Sting in the new age ring and Sting was clearing house like only he could. Sting retired as a champion. A career fulfilled. AEW gave one of the greatest a chance to finish their career on a high.

3) Wrestlers deserve their freedom
– Jon Moxley is the current IWGP Heavyweight champion Roderick Strong just showed up in DWP wrestling. We have a brand-new phrase in wrestling ‘the Forbidden Door’ based on multiple companies and wrestlers passing through AEW. But it isn’t just about freedom to work at different organisations and countries around the world, there has been a shift in mindset for the wrestling business to recognise the human aspect of the job. Just this week we’ve had Mike Bennett confirm that he has been given time off for his daughter’s dance recitals. William Regal was allowed early exit to his contract as he wanted to leave for family reasons (the details of that story seem fascinating and I’m sure more will come out in the coming years), But Tony has offered wrestlers a place where family and work can live side by side. And I think we’ve seen the affect on this in WWE to a very tiny degree, HHH for the first time in a long while gave an extended Christmas break. Happy Wrestlers are motivated wrestlers and it’s been great to see personal welfare finally being acknowledged. And that’s before even touching on Tony’s handing of the Brodie Lee situation and Martha Hart being able to come back to wrestling to get Owen Recognition.

4) AEW Reinvigorated Pay Per Views – In 5 years I think I can genuinely count one AEW Pay Per View that I didn’t enjoy (Worlds end 2023 if your wondering!) other than that show every Pay Per View has delivered in some sense. It’s almost a guarantee that when AEW puts on a PPV you’re going to get something, be it a new debut, be it a fantastic match, or a crazy moment. In some cases, you get all of those things in one show. But it feels like it used to when Wrestlers brought their A game for PPV. For the longest time before AEW it felt like PPV’s were going through the motions, events had stipulations that needed matches rather than matches that needed those stipulations. I have got my ticket for All in at Wembley again this year and I just know I’m going to come away from it with my moneys worth.

5) Workers finally being given their time in the spotlight – Eddie Kingston is someone who I criminally had not seen before AEW arrived. From being exposed to his work I found one of the most genuine professional wrestlers I have ever had the joy of seeing. Watching and more importantly listening to Eddie Kingston has been a joy for me, especially when he was so brutally honest about his journey and about his mental health issues which really resonated with me. Without AEW Eddie Kingston does not get on national TV. That would have been a travesty and I am glad we don’t live in a world where it never happened. Darby Allin is someone else who does not get to express himself as he does (although someone should advise him to tone it down at times) the list goes on. But without AEW there is so much talent that does not get their chance to shine.

I could go on, but 5 points for 5 years seems quite succinct for now. Let me know in the comments below what positives AEW has brought you these last 5 years (and yes, no doubt plenty of people will be telling me what negatives they brought as well!)

Also Check out my Twitter over on @Wrestle_G for more of my immediate opinions on wrestling. Would love to have you drop me a follow if you would like. As for Columns I am looking shortly to having a look at how WWE and AEW are shaping up going into the summer. WWE have SummerSlam and the Bash at Berlin and AEW have their second monster All in event closely followed by All Out. So, I will be diving into how both companies are navigating their builds.

But until then thanks for reading and I will see you all soon.