MR. TITO: Analyzing the Four Pillars of All Elite Wrestling (AEW)
For All Elite Wrestling (AEW), they’ve been hyping up the “4 Pillars” as 4 non-EVP talents who remain on the AEW roster since the company’s inception. They are, as follows:
– Sammy Guevara
– “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry
– Darby Allin
Yet, if I was in charge, my “4 Pillars” of focus and pushed wrestlers would be:
– Cody Rhodes
– Kenny Omega
– CM Punk
But as you may know, Cody Rhodes is now in the WWE and CM Punk was run off by the EVPs (possibly set to return soon). Kenny was one of the suspended EVPs.
As I look at who is considered the “4 Pillars”, besides MJF, I’m wondering why AEW doesn’t have a Cruiserweight or Lightweight division? While MJF is 5’11, the guy is jacked and makes up for it with in-ring talent and promo cutting ability that elevates him as a top guy.
The other 3, well… Darby Allin = 5’8″, 175lbs, Jack Perry = 5’10”, 170lbs soaking wet, and Sammy Guevara = 5’10” and 195lbs.
WWE used to have a show called “205 Live”, which was focused on the Cruiserweight Division. Each of these 3 guys may actually look small on that show, let alone on a show mixing up with valid heavyweight wrestlers.
I have NO IDEA why Tony Khan refuses, like Vince McMahon, to even try weight classes in professional wrestling. UFC and Boxing have them and they are THRIVING because of them. Why? Because bigger guys hit harder and have longer reach, along with strength and weight advantages. Guys like Conor McGregor can thrive and be talked about as a great fighter because the weight class protects them and gives them credibility. Sammy, Jack, and Darby need a smaller weight class to protect them, too.
“But but but but but Tito, weight classes were tried and have failed.” New Japan’s has always worked and made stars on the midcard. WCW’s Cruiserweight Division was perfect and made household names out of Rey, Dean, Jericho, Eddie, and even guys like Juventud and Psychosis. Yes, WWE’s has failed because Vince McMahon only knows how to push Heavyweight wrestlers. His Lightweight title failed and the recent Cruiserweight title failed because the division and characters weren’t pushed like a big deal. 205 Live was taped after Smackdown ran for 2 hours. Who can thrive in that environment?!?
Sorry, I am NOT buying Sammy, Jack, and Darby as contenders for the AEW Title. They are simply too small and all 3 wrestle a high risk style that exposes them to potential injury. Furthermore, they don’t do the high risk performances well, either. Remember what Sammy did to poor Matt Hardy? When they do wrestle larger wrestlers, how are we to expect the larger wrestlers to sell for them on their high risk moves? Just looks ridiculous as if the gravitational pull is off. Thus, Sammy/Jack/Darby should not even be mentioned as “pillars” unless the are 3 pillars of a brand new created Lightweight, Cruiserweight, or Junior Heavyweight division created in AEW. I’d buy that… But they are each too small and wrestle a high risk maneuver style that cannot draw.
“But but but but Tito, what about Rey Mysterio?” What about him? The part where it made him look weak in his career was when larger heavyweights had to sell for him. His best years were against Kurt, Edge, Benoit, and the Guerreros wrestling in tag matches and occasional singles matches. Furthermore, can you show me merchandise sales for Sammy, Jack, and Darby? I bet you the aren’t even close to the numbers of masks and other merch that Rey-Rey pushed. Guarantee it. I’d also like to suggest that Rey was FAR MORE TALENTED than Sammy, Jack, or Darby. Not even a debate.
But I’d like to focus on the 4th pillar, MJF… Again, I agree that he’s talented. Great talker, great in-ring worker, very charismatic, and he trains hard to physically look the part. He’s got it all and I really like that Ric Flair comparison…
HOWEVER, I cannot unsee two specific MJF events:
(1) Dancing with Chris Jericho
(2) The “shoot” promo on Tony Khan.
That dancing and singing routine with Chris Jericho was one of the worst things ever to grace television screens for pro wrestling. Yes, we all know that Pro Wrestling is scripted and outcomes are known in advance for matches. But we knew that during the 1990s yet guys like Steve Austin or members of the NWO looked authentic and were doing things that seemed legitimate. Getting into a dancing and singing routine with another wrestler is just absurd.
The second point, however, is the one that MJF cannot get over and maybe the EVP induced exit of CM Punk helped cause. If you’ll recall on Dynamite, MJF came out and cut a very vulgar promo on Tony Khan that was laced full of F-words and other swear words. Everyone praised it at the time but in hindsight, particularly with how MJF returned, it hasn’t really worked for his character. Granted, potential plans for this angle have changed because of Punk’s exit and MJF had to step in to fill an obvious void.
After this promo, though, MJF disappeared for months and then just reappears at All Out 2022 under a mask to win the Ladder Match. Thus, any “heat” he reportedly had about his contract seemed to disappear because he returned to AEW television and never followed up on that promo. To end All Out 2022, he stares down CM Punk after the main event but again, Punk does his media scrum and then gets into a fight with the EVPs. I understand that plans change, but the return was underwhelming and it makes his promo on Tony Khan look a bit more scripted than it originally was.
The AEW Dynamite viewership numbers have been tanking… Look, I’m not here to directly blame MJF as he has no control over CM Punk. Yet, as AEW Champion, on his watch, we’re just not seeing any excitement on that show. Viewership is now under 800,000 from last week and has been consistently under 900,000. Sure, it is beating re-runs of television shows but the re-run market died years ago thanks to streaming services. As hard as MJF tries to appear as a badass heel, I’m constantly reminded that his “shoot” promo on Tony Khan has meant absolutely nothing. It’s a credibility issue for his character and thus isn’t drawing like it should be.
Then, who can MJF wrestle at this point? Bryan Danielson isn’t what he used to be and AEW has already neutered his character several times. Kenny Omega just doesn’t seem to be interested in the on-screen AEW product. CM Punk, again, is on the outs and when he returns, he’s another year older. Jon Moxley is a blading machine and prefers to wrestle the hardcore style. AEW killed all momentum that MJF gave Wardlow. So I guess that is why AEW is trying to hype the “4 pillars” so much? MJF has at least 40 pounds or more of a weight advantage on those other 3 pillars.
I’m sure that the typical reply will be “look at the Wembley Stadium numbers” and you got me… My reply will be look at the 800,000 and under viewership for AEW Dynamite, the Friday show completely tanking, and most American arena shows struggling to sell 5,000. The novelty of a Pay Per View show in England and the hype of CM Punk returning is selling those Wembley tickets. CM Punk and the mystery of his return is the true draw of that show, not what the 4 Pillars have been up to lately.
Look, I want MJF to do well and I’d love to see the other 3 pillars thrive in a Lightweight division. But it’s NOT going to happen with mega-mark Tony Khan as the company president and creative lead. Now, we’re going to split the roster and that said roster isn’t ready to be split. Maybe that is how the other 3 pillars will get pushed? The split will thin out the roster so much that Sammy, Jack, and Darby will look like stars in comparison?
You can have the best talent in the world, but if your coach is a complete idiot, your team won’t win.
Create a Lightweight division, Tony… It will work, I guarantee it. Otherwise, the 3 pillars will crumble when being pushed to the top.
So just chill… till the next episode!