In less than three years, All Elite Wrestling has launched themselves into the mainstream wrestling vernacular. With Vince McMahon’s monopoly over the industry lasting two decades, there is finally an easily-accessible alternative to Stamford’s product.
While this is great for the sport of professional wrestling, AEW is often met with angry WWE fans finding ways to pick as many holes as they can in the product. Even younger fans now live vicariously through the words of Jim Cornette’s often outdated critique of AEW in efforts to repeat anti-AEW talking points on social media.
But there is something lost amongst some WWE fans about their own product, and about the competition (yes, they are competition) they so despise.
Much like conspiracy theorists think 9/11 was an inside job (it’s not, and it’s very easy to debunk), there are nutjobs who think things about AEW that simply aren’t true. These takes need to be corrected.
So with that, here are a few AEW Myths Debunked.
Myth #1 – AEW is Signing Too many ex-WWE stars
Again I need to put this in bold:
For 20 years, WWE was the only place a wrestler can work for major exposure.
Of course a lot of talented signed by AEW will have had stints in WWE. There’s not much else they can do. But keep in mind that names like A.J. Styles, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre (post-WWE), Kevin Owens, Matt Riddle, and a host of others made their names on the independent scene.
There’s a reason why WWE is shifting away from signing Indies wrestlers, but more on that in another article…
That being said, here are some down and dirty stats for anyone who thinks AEW is just becoming too crowded with “ex-WWE talent”:
Current Champions: Kenny Omega | Britt Baker | Miro | Lucha Bros.
Number of ex-WWE wrestlers: 1 out 4.
If you check AEW’s rankings, there are 25 wrestlers represented between all divisions.
Only 4 could be considered ex-WWE. In fact, around less than 20% of the entire roster could be considered “ex-WWE”.
This is simply an inaccurate take especially when you take into consideration that this week’s Dynamite featured a few fresh faces: Will Hobbs, Dante Martin, Brian Pillman Jr., and Jamie Hayter. They also featured a few AEW “homegrowns” such as the Dark Order, Anna Jay, and a New Japan export in Minoru Suzuki. And of course, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and The Elite per usual.
Simply having C.M. Punk and Bryan Danielson on your show doesn’t mean it’s a WWE-lite product. It’s a pretty stupid take…
Myth #2 – Ratings Are Everything
By 2022, over half of Americans are on pace to cut their cable. Subscriptions have been on a downward trend for half a decade now, and it’s only going to continue. Simply put, ratings aren’t what they used to be, even if AEW is constantly pulling in over a million every week and TNT/WarnerMedia is very happy with the current results.
Now for a show less than three years old to be able to pull over half the numbers as Raw (which has been around for over 20 years), on WEDNESDAY NIGHTS, is a feat of its own. But AEW is making their money in multiple places, including YouTube, merchandise, and in 2022, their highly anticipated video game debut.
AEW was profitable on the wrestling side of things — which is important to clarify. Tony Khan invested $20 million into Epic games, and any major debts come with the production of said game. Anyone who works in the video game industry knows that it’s quite common for AAA titles to frontload expenses and acquire debt, only for it to be paid off post-release with sales.
It’s not a stretch to believe that with over a million tuning in every week for Dynamite that the same set of fans will buy the AEW video game. Amassing over a million units sold for even AAA titles is pretty damn good.
They’re going to be fine, ratings or not.
Myth #3 – The EVPs’s Put Themselves Over
There is a difference between Triple H’s outright burial of names like Booker T and Rob Vam Dam when they were hot, and the Young Bucks dominating the tag division. But hold on…
-The Bucks are no longer tag team champions
-Cody Rhodes has been absent from AEW entirely
-Kenny Omega is on the tail end of a great championship run
Traditionally, heels hold belts longer. It’s wrestling 101. I’m pretty sure every fan at All Out knew the Lucha Bros. were going over because it’s a storyline in the making for two years that found a natural end. In the same light, we all knew Cage wasn’t going to beat Omega — that spot is saved for Adam Page, either in November of this year, or early 2022.
I don’t know what else needs to be said here. There’s a reason why Omega was offered 7 figures to jump ship to WWE after he left New Japan. He is one of the best wrestlers in the world today, and he deserves to be where he’s at. But that doesn’t mean he’s putting himself over other talents.
Who else would realistically hold his spot right now? Names like Allin, Jungle Boy, Brian Pillman Jr., and Cassidy just aren’t there yet, but are easily a part of the future main event picture in AEW.
This myth needs to be put to rest.
Myth #4 – Younger Talent is Being Kept Down
Another stupid take.
While WWE is featuring Goldberg in the main event of their major shows, AEW is using Sting to elevate Darby Allin. McMahon will trot out John Cena at Summerslam for a quick money grab and ratings pop, while Dustin Rhodes is getting his ass kicked by Malakai Black to put him over.
Matt Hardy is losing clean to Orange Cassidy, Chris Jericho likely just had one of his last matches in his illustrious career (and still made MJF look great in the process), and Shawn Spears recently lost clean to Sammy Guevara.
See the differences?
Again, I refer you to the rankings. I refer you to Jurassic Express forming an alliance with Bryan Danielson versus The Elite, and even the new alliance formed between Kris Statlander, Riho and Ruby Soho.
Where exactly are the AEW talent being held down by incoming WWE stars?
Myth #5 – AEW Fans Never Criticize AEW
Simply untrue. I was on their ass for a long time about building the women’s division. After what seems to be much too long, it FINALLY is starting to come into its own with Baker, Rosa, Hayter, Soho, and many, many, more…
There will always be critiques. Did Paul Wight need to face QT Marshall at All Out? Nope, but I get it. A bathroom break match between Punk/Allin and Omega/Cage was needed. Do I wish more women’s angles were booked? Hell yes.
From rushed segments, to promos that don’t land, there’s always something I could criticize AEW over on a weekly basis. But when 90% of the show is just plain really damn good, it’s easy to let these small things go.
Myth #6 – AEW is WCW 2.0
Yet another stupid take.
Nitro-era WCW was largely booked for entertainment with pure wrestling reduced to the mid-card (at best). They were headlined and led by mostly ex-WWF talent that were already household names.
With Bischoff swiping the nWo angle from New Japan, I question how successful WCW would have been with without the nWo. Otherwise, you had a aging babyfaces in Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, as well as a booking philosophy that would have never given guys like Chris Jericho or Eddie Guerrero the chance to shine.
AEW is a sports/wrestling driven product with elements of entertainment sprinkled in. WCW (and WWE) is an entertainment product with elements of wrestling sprinkled in. Just because it airs on the former home of WCW doesn’t make it WCW 2.0. It’s a vastly different product with a supporting cast that comes mostly from the Indies.
Stop repeating this tired, and quite inaccurate take.
Going Home – A shifting landscape
Professional wrestling is in the midst of a change in its landscape. A lot of mainstream fans are struggling to keep up, and I bet many WWE fans wish they could be proud of what’s happening on Raw and Smackdown in the same way AEW fans are proud of Dynamite and Rampage.
But they aren’t.
So instead they shit on the competition because they missed the first few buses to the AEW party. Either that, or they are simply fans of wrestling surrounded with entertainment, rather than entertainment surrounded with wrestling. Perhaps they haven’t come to terms with this, or simply never want to.
Part 2 of this will be titled differently, but explore what WWE is really doing with the many major changes and releases over the past year. Quite frankly, it’s a gamble that could pay off in the billions (or drive AEW to the very top of the ratings).
But until next time…be nice to others on social media — let people like things, and don’t be a dick.