How to Save the Elite/AEW Feud (and Pop Ratings!)

The ongoing Elite/AEW power struggle has been…well…mostly underwhelming, let’s face it. Sans a few heated moments, the story has been hit and miss at best; which can be difficult for an AEW fan like myself who wants the best for this company.

But regardless of personal opinions, you can’t go back now. This thing has been building for months, and now something big needs to come out of it. Something beyond just a simple winner and loser. In fact, the culmination of this story should change the landscape of AEW as we know it to some extent.

How is this accomplished? By making a few much needed adjustments that I think we all want (AEW fans included), but aren’t sure how to say it.

For starters, a slow build towards July 24th’s Blood & Guts that will introduce new main event talent into the match and (with any luck) gather a large amount of interest from both internet and casual fans alike. But that won’t do it alone, and there are a few major keys needed to unlock the true potential and success of this story.

So with that, let’s dive into a few major ways Tony Khan can make this feud successfully work moving forward.

The Blood & Guts Match Should End the Feud & Start New Ones


Simply put, you don’t want the AEW/Elite storyline, which was birthed out of conflict with  a former roster member, to culminate on the 1-year show anniversary of “that” backstage incident that spiraled everything out of control. This Elite/AEW feud should not end, nor even run through AEW’s August premier event.

AEW All In should be a signal for things to come for late 2024 into 2025. Reminding the crowd of what happened last year, in any way, is not advantageous to the brand.

This AEW/Elite feud needs to end at Blood & Guts on July 24th.

If there is anything to take from this article, it’s that. Because even though I enjoy his current gimmick, we cannot have 50,000 fans at Wembley chanting “C.M. Punk” anytime Jack Perry is in the ring. That’s not good for optics, and it’s not good for wrestling.

This ends in Nashville. It should be that simple.

There Needs to Be Stakes


What is actually on the line here beyond a proxy war between the Bucks and Tony Khan? At the moment, there isn’t much. We do need some stakes for this ongoing feud. Otherwise, why is the viewer tuning in to see a bloody steel cage match?

We need stakes. In this case, the removal of the Young Bucks as EVPs on the line vs. the removal of Tony Khan as CEO. But let’s add a layer to this and up the ante:

If The Elite win: Tony Khan is “removed” as head of operations/booking and replaced with Don Callis in an on-screen authority figure role. The Bucks will remain as acting EVPs.

If Team AEW win: The Bucks are “stripped” of their EVP titles. AEW’s new authority figure to replace them? STIIIIIING! (If he’s actually available and willing) Otherwise, Dustin Rhodes could be a worthy backup here.

Now we have stakes. An AEW run by the Young Bucks and Don Callis, or an AEW without douchebag EVPs, run by a legend in Sting or Dustin Rhodes. The future needs to feel like it’s on the line, and let’s be honest, getting the Bucks off of TV for a while might win some goodwill back for some lapsed fans.

Take the Bucks Out of Blood & Guts


This is the crucial part of this as well. It’s not that I’m not a Young Bucks fan. Generally, I enjoy their work, and think they’ve been playing their roles as douche EVPs quite well. They aren’t my favorite tag team, but I respect their work and what they’ve done for the business.

That being said, they can’t be in this match. Even if it doesn’t make sense in story, the bottom line is this: most casual fans don’t like the Young Bucks. The numbers just don’t lie here.

While I enjoy the fact that TK books for the “sickos” (me being one of them), you do have to keep in mind your casual audience as well. This is why Tony Khan, in his “booking power”, books the Young Bucks in a Tag Team Championship match against The Acclaimed (who will win tonight’s eliminator match) for the July 24th Blood & Guts show, which takes them out of the cage match entirely.

With a catch. The winning team that night, will not only win the AEW Tag Team Championships (or retain), but give that side a 2-on-1 advantage to start to the Blood & Guts match. In this case, I would book The Acclaimed to go over, win the AEW Tag Team Championships, and give Team AEW the 2-on-1 advantage to start out the match.

Why am I doing this? Well…

Who is Replacing the Bucks for Blood & Guts?


In short, we need to make sure the build for this match has STARPOWER.  As much as I like the Bucks, and as much as I enjoy Perry’s character shift — a match of this magnitude simply doesn’t need them; especially not the Bucks. This is a purely optical sentiment and not a personal one.

There are simply better people suited for this match to draw more eyes to it. Team AEW should consist of the following wrestlers:

Team AEW
-MJF (he’s doing this for Sting/Rhodes, not for TK)
-Swerve Strickland
-Darby Allin
-Jon Moxley
-Ricky Starks
-Will Ospreay (backup if Starks unavailable)

Note: We don’t know if Starks is truly waiting for a return, or if he’s already checked out and on his way to WWE. You can fill his spot with Ospreay or Cassidy, otherwise. 

Since the Bucks are out, they need to recruit those who are not fans of Tony Khan for one reason or another. Team Elite will now include:

Team Elite
-Kazuchika Okada
-“Hangman” Adam Page (heel version)
-Jay White
-Konosuke Takeshita (who has complained about his booking recently/also in the Callis family)
-Jack Perry (backup if Page unavailable)

How does this matchup look? Better than possibly having the Bucks and Perry in it, right? I would still book Perry in a match on July 24th, but possibly for the TNT Championship against the title holder in that moment (unless he wins the championship himself soon). I would actually prefer him to become TNT champion, only to drop it to an original like Orange Cassidy or even a worthy talent like Malakai Black.

So who wins?

Team AEW Has to Win and Leave the Past in the Past


This is where you build future feuds…

Ricky Starks is an interesting part of this (if available). I would actually have him turn heel on team AEW during the match and start a feud with Jon Moxley. If not Starks, Page could be the mole on Team AEW and turn heel to help The Elite in a losing effort. Both can work here.

Otherwise, Adam Page should eventually go after Swerve relentlessly, only for MJF to make an out-of-character save for Swerve, which branches off into an MJF/Adam Page feud.

Okada could be the one to go after Will Ospreay’s International Championship (double championship match) at All In if he still isn’t in a world title program with Swerve post-Forbidden Door, or if Kenny Omega isn’t healthy enough to take on Okada himself.

Swerve Strickland vs. Jay White would make for a 5-star main event for All In. Or if we’re just booking our two top megastars — save Jay White for a four-way match against Okada, Takeshita, and Ospreay and book MJF vs. Swerve for All In’s main event. Hell, save Page/MJF for the likes of Bryan Danielson. How cool would a Page/Danielson feud be right now? Or even Page vs. Darby Allin.

You can do this many different ways, and TK has tons to play with…

But however you book this, you can plant the seeds for the next 6 months of storylines in AEW going into the end of the year. And you do it in one match on one night. 

As for The Bucks…

They take a break. Get off TV for a while. Let Samoa Joe and HOOK take on the Gunn Club and The Acclaimed in a three-way tag team match at All In. Something, I don’t know. You fantasy book this one.

A New Era


I won’t go into how AEW will look in late 2024-25 in detail. But it needs to look like a fresh brand coming off a lucrative TV deal. It needs to feel like a big deal, and Blood & Guts could be the catalyst for all of that.

AEW has an RVD problem right now — which I will get into in another piece. But you know how RVD was booked in anything and everything in late 90s ECW and it somehow always worked? It didn’t matter the feud — it was Rob Van Dam, and his matches were a featured attraction of the show no matter what.

Yeah, that doesn’t work here, or anywhere. You need your top stars in feuds against each other on a consistent basis — something TK does struggle with a little. While it’s true AEW has a ludicrous amount of main event talent, you can’t be afraid to book them to lose to other top stars, and you need to book them in healthy ways against each other.

Example: I have nothing against Rush; he’s a great talent; but he’s just not main event caliber. Do we really need MJF feuding with Rush right now when he could be putting butts in seats up against other major top players in the company that we haven’t even seen yet?

MJF hasn’t been in a ring with “Hangman” Adam Page since 2020 — why is this not a featured feud already? 

2025 needs to be the year of the “big fight feel” matchups, and AEW has plenty of talent for this. But this possibly doesn’t happen if Blood & Guts isn’t the actual end to the AEW/Elite feud, and the final curtain on the blemished past stemming from last year’s All In. AEW needs to desperately exorcise the ghost that is C.M. Punk, and the longer this feud goes, the longer of a reminder we have of why it exists in the first place.

The AEW/Elite feud needs to end in Nashville for the sake of AEW’s future. And All In needs to be the fresh light reboot that a lot of AEW fans have been craving.