Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING that is only here to cover the spiraling wrestling world that is out of control. All Elite Wrestling (AEW) is a hot mess right now and I really don’t know how you can fix it with a weak and childish owner, like Tony Khan, who has to simultaneously ride with the EVPs he promoted (Young Bucks, Kenny Omega) while catering to his most paid and possibly highest drawing star in CM Punk. What he has to deal with is an angry top star in Punk who has publicly trashed his company during the All Out media scrum and on top of that, deal with the liability of his own elected EVPs possibly forcing their way into a locker room with a fight as a gang (Bucks, Omega, Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa).
If only, there were people with 40 or maybe 50 years of experience that Tony Khan could utilize for advice… Or hell, just listen to their podcasts for FREE to obtain FREE advice.
It’s time for All Elite Wrestling EVPs, wrestlers, marks, and owners to fully admit that Jim Cornette was right about their AEW product.
And this goes back to warnings he provided Tony and AEW dating back to early 2019, or before that with Jim’s criticisms of the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega…
Cornette had past dealings with and assessments of the wrestling abilities of the Young Bucks (Nick & Matt Jackson) and Kenny Omega. Each of those 3 wrestlers are self-taught and they openly boast it. While several wrestlers have come that route and have been successful in the wrestling business (Hardy Boys, for example), there is a chance that Omega and the Bucks missed out on things learned from veterans such as in-ring psychology and how to improvise based on crowd reactions. Instead, the Bucks and Omega are heavily reliant on choreographed matches that are heavily scripted well before the wrestlers are at the Gorilla Position to start their match. By relying totally on a scripted match, they won’t listen to the crowd and allow the momentum of their feelings or angst to take the match to different heights.
Furthermore with the Bucks, Omega, and many others who have populated California Indy promotions and other places with wrestlers similar to the Bucks and Omega… They grew up in an era that had WWE’s “Crash TV” Attitude Era storylines, the hot garbage storylines of the year 2000 for WCW, and Extreme Championship Wrestling. When you’re self-taught as a wrestler, you’ll add television viewership to your “experience” and “education” on what a wrestler should be. Therefore, you didn’t listen to any veterans as part of your training BUT you also saw a very different era of Pro Wrestling that did things to pop a rating in the Short-Run while damaging themselves in the Long-Run. ECW died in 2001, WCW died a faster death subscribing to Crash TV in 2001 too, while WWE kept losing viewership throughout the early 2000s by continuing the Crash TV style of the Attitude Era and hotshotting matches.
Just look up any goofy matches that the Bucks and Kenny Omega have had over the years… The match that Kenny had with a blow-up doll actually exists and is readily available to watch. The evidence is out there for all to see…
Therefore, the “education” on what the Bucks, Omega, and all of their close friends have received were from self-training and watching late 1990s programming with violent matches or Jerry Springer type storylines was quite flawed… Yet, here we are in 2022 and wrestlers of that ilk are the ones with Executive Vice President as their title and are managing a multi-million dollar company with a Prime Time television slot.
Yes, Jim Cornette has butted heads with many members of management for any place he’s worked, but look who he dealt with at each stop. Jim Herd at WCW was a complete bumbling idiot who had ZERO wrestling experience and was foolishly installed by Ted Turner to operate his newly bought wrestling company. Jim Cornette lasted a good while in WWE, to be honest, and left after 12 years due to dealings with John Laurinaitis during 2004-2005 when John became head of Talent Relations. Do I even need to discuss John Laurinaitis? Guy lost his job in 2012 due to sexual allegations and then terminated in 2022 for more sexual allegations. Yeah, TNA had Corny and Russo butting heads, but do we even need to debate the spineless culture that Dixie Carter created? Many others abruptly left TNA, too… With Ring of Honor, there were MANY who disliked the management there and left abruptly because of it. I disagree on the NWA situation, as cancel culture went after Corny for an outdated joke based on today’s thin skinned standards.
That’s what AEW propaganda ministers like Dave Meltzer and the Observer Boys will point out… “look at how Corny’s tenures in WCW, WWE/OVW, TNA, Ring of Honor, and NWA ended” YET they don’t see the pure incompetence in place at each situation. Sure, Cornette could use some Anger Management, but why should he be in a workplace that purposely agitates him, overworks him, or actually harasses him? Again, who hasn’t had problems with Jim Herd, John Laurinaitis, Dixie Carter, or the failing Ring of Honor staff?
In contrast, let’s look at the POSITIVE contributions of Mr. Cornette… Midnight Express was an unlikely tag team that DREW MONEY anywhere they went. Period, and there are lots of gate receipts and television ratings to prove that and Cornette was their manager and heat seeker. Smokey Mountain Wrestling was a success in that it operated during a lower point in WWE/WCW’s histories where they were struggling as promotions and SMW actually held shows in rural parts of America with lower incomes and other economic struggles. If you look at SMW, it broke many wrestlers into the business and/or put them on a path to success (Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, Kane, to name a few). Cornette was a GREAT manager in the WWE for many years, but you can see his booking contributions in practice when he joined the Creative Team in 1996. Go watch Badd Blood 1997, as the entire “Hell in a Cell” idea was his concept along with Kane’s debut on ripping the door off its hinges. He helped changed the tone of how WWE was booked following a terrible 1995 year. Any debates on Ohio Valley Wrestling as a developmental territory? It just groomed guys like Batista, John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Shelton Benjamin, and many others whom Stephanie McMahon’s Creative Team mowed over. For Ring of Honor, ask them WHO kept that promotion alive by brokering a deal with Sinclair to purchase them. For NWA, Cornette gave them a presence of legitimacy by participating on their programs and their YouTube viewership tanked when he left.
Maybe Jim wouldn’t get so heated if ya actually LISTENED to him?
With Jim, you’re always going to get tight and logical storylines, wrestlers with personalities amplified, great promos, logical finishes, and sometimes pushing the envelop to generate interest (the Gangstas). Many will be critical of him for loving Southern wrestling too much, but they never fully realize that Cornette operated wrestling territories with a shoestring budget in Kentucky or Tennessee markets with SMW and OVW. It’s TOUGH to operate wrestling territories in those economically deprived parts of the country, yet Corny did it with moderate success, paid his wrestlers on time, and didn’t have any major debt coming out of it.
Before All Elite Wrestling (AEW) started, Tony Khan did meet with Jim Cornette on possibly joining the company or at least hearing ideas. When Tony revealed who he was working with and was going to promote as Executive Vice Presidents (Cody Rhodes, Bucks, Omega), Cornette simply said “no thanks” and then proceeded to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) to protect against their internal conversations. While it was good on Tony to reach out to Jim Cornette, it was fatal that he didn’t listen to his advice in dealing with the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega.
Sure, the 2018 show All In was a financial success, but it came at a time when everyone was tired of the WWE and was hoping to see a show that showcased wrestlers whom the WWE didn’t want. While the show did that, it also featured a match with Adam “Hangman” Page against Joey Ryan. THAT should have told everyone that what they’d witness for the next 3 years with AEW would be troubling. While Tony had the foresight to NOT hire Joey Ryan if he was going to continue these kind of antics, he still hired the ENABLERS of that segment and the other in-ring participant of that match in Adam Page. I kept telling people “I don’t know” about making Page your AEW based on poor judgement from that 2018 All In night with Ryan, and none of you listened… Then, of course, Page went off script in a promo against CM Punk before the “Double or Nothing” Pay Per View.
During August 2021, we were SO EXCITED to finally have CM Punk back and that was in addition to seeing Daniel Bryan and Adam Cole joining AEW as well. While most of us were tiring of seeing the Bucks dominating the Tag Division and Omega’s extensive and exhausting AEW Title reign, having these 3 new former WWE talents injected into the promotion was felt to be a great thing. At the very least, they could now create match-ups to pit fanbases against each other for some well heated matches. Yet, those ex-WWE signings didn’t amount to much… Each of those 3 wrestled match-ups that were probably beneath them in terms of their popularity, while Daniel Bryan became injured again. Adam Cole morphed into one of the AEW guys, as it appears that WWE got the best out of him with their resources. With CM Punk, it’s two fold… He was 7+ years older and no longer wanting to take any BS if it was thrust upon him. Punk probably saw the inner workings of the EVPs and witnessed Cody leaving the company due to frustrations working with those guys.
Problem with the EVPs (Bucks, Omega) is that they are drama queens and utilize their trusted relationship with New Japan and California Indy fanboy Dave Meltzer to their advantage. They hold up those Star Ratings to fool people like Tony Khan that they are the real superstars of the industry while funneling Dave gossip to purposely sabotage any wrestlers who could challenge them. It’s very likely that in order to obtain CM Punk, Tony Khan had to pay him more than the EVPs. It is also very likely that CM Punk probably bypasses the EVPs for any advice or creative, as Punk probably goes directly to Tony for that. REMEMBER, too, that the Bucks/Omega/Cody tried to get Punk for the 2018 “All In” but also for various 2019 AEW Pay Per Views. Punk was reportedly put off by these requests being sent via Text Messages instead of having a formal phone call or meetings. CM Punk saw through their crap and the Adam Page unscripted stuff ignited the explosion. That was the tipping point and Punk has been punching back ever since.
As Cornette says, CM Punk has “nothing to lose” as he doesn’t need to wrestle and can make money elsewhere as needed. Other wrestlers who had bad experiences with the AEW EVPs don’t have that kind of leverage or need the work because WWE won’t sign them.
The issue remains that Tony Khan listened to the WRONG people about his AEW start-up company. Yes, it has had some success, but with the Television and Online infrastructure in place, it’s kind of hard to mess up… As bad as WWE is creatively right now, they are financially set because DESPERATE Cable and Network TV companies are overpaying for Live Sports content right now. How else would a National Hockey League that draws LESS than 1 million viewers be earning over $450 million per year on their new deal? Come on… With Social Media, it’s FREE marketing for companies to use instead of spending top dollar on TV ads, radio ads, online ads, or billboards. You may freely upload content onto YouTube and they’ll pay you. International markets are now open and they are paying decent money for content, as they are having the same desperation on their TV channels too on obtaining viewers.
But AEW is only drawing 1 million on a prime time slot for TBS, which has about 85 million households as a reach. That’s bloody terrible and everyone used to bash TNA wrestling for scoring 1.5 million on a weaker SpikeTV network that the WWE even ran away from during the 2000s.
The FACT is that with the right minds in place to help Tony Khan, we would be consistently drawing over 1 million viewers, if not higher. He should have kept a good working relationship with Jim Cornette or at least utilize him as a consultant. Jim Ross is on your programs as an announcer and was supposed to be an “advisor”, yet the EVPs want nothing to do with ol’ JR. AEW has had a host of wrestling veterans backstage, such as Diamond Dallas Page, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, and Billy Gunn yet AEW talent feels that they don’t need to seek their advice. Just listen to Adam Page’s quote about that… If Page thinks that way, just think about how the Young Bucks and Omega think about them. As self-taught wrestlers, they should be seeking such veteran advice.
If I were in Tony Khan‘s position, I’d immediately inquire about holding a meeting with Jim Cornette AND Jim Ross at the same time. And LISTEN… They’ll help you.
And for the LOVE OF GOD, can someone help the AEW talents? If I have to watch one more “botch” video where people are landing on their heads, I’m going to throw up. THAT is where listening to self-taught mark wrestlers will get you… The BLIND will lead the BLIND. Just look at the talent acquisitions for the Women’s Division (Omega) and the Tag Team division (Bucks), along with their other friends brought into the company. On your Organizational Chart, if you have weakness below in your management team, that will push down to all of the staff members. You lead by example and if your examples are guys choreographing matches without a care about psychology, personality, or getting vibes from the crowd, other wrestlers will emulate that to impress their bosses.
Right now, Tony is in a situation where the EVPs are spreading gossip about other wrestlers not just to the AEW talents, but the dirtsheets as well. Leaking company secrets is a bad thing and at the media scrum, Tony admitted that Nick Jackson was involved. Them spreading gossip that CM Punk somehow got Colt Cabana “fired” caused Adam Page to go into business for himself. Then, the EVPs pushed more Cabana stuff and “backstage morale” stuff to the Observer boys when CM Punk had enough and cut that recent Dynamite promo on Page upon Punk’s return from injury. Then, Punk WENT OFF during the All Out media scrum where presented all of the backstage problems for the public to see.
Bucks and Omega have done nothing to help AEW, as the Tag Team situation is inconsistent (sometimes good, sometimes awful) while the Women’s division has always been a hot mess under Omega. Omega was an awful AEW champion and the Impact incorporation stuff was a failure. Bucks have overpushed themselves as a Tag Team and ruined teams like FTR. They leak constantly to the dirtsheets, especially their boy Meltzer, for favorable and biased coverage while hiding the issues they present AEW. And now, they used Adam Page as a pawn to attack CM Punk on television and when CM Punk hits back, they lead an army into his locker room after the All Out media scrum for a confrontation. As EVPs, this shows terrible judgment because they present major liability to the AEW company.
That said, CM Punk crapped all over the AEW company at the All Out media scrum and with his boss RIGHT THERE. He handled dirty laundry publicly, in a vulgar way, and we’re still not sure if he actually tried to hold discussions with Tony internally or not. Regardless, no employee should EVER publicly speak about the company who pays him while on the company’s watch. That sets terrible precedent and can also disrupt relations with AEW’s business partners such as TBS/TNT or any sponsors.
Because this situation was allowed to boil so much and Tony Khan either refused or was too weak to take charge, he’s now in a situation where “CLEANING HOUSE” might be the only option. The EVPs have been ineffective, careless with leaking information and lies for their own personal gain, and causing a liability incident by wanting to possibly attack CM Punk with at least 5 people walking in (if not more) while CM Punk completely trashed your company verbally for the world to see.
And that’s why you need to speak to professionals, Tony… You are not alone. There are many veterans out there who can help you. Hell, I’ll help you out if needed, as seen by my AEW Recommendations column (cheap plug!). Obviously by the way I struggle to remain “retired”, I have loved Pro Wrestling and would be willing to WORK FOR FREE to help it succeed again.
But, it’s time to admit that JIM CORNETTE WAS RIGHT ABOUT AEW, period, end of story.
AEW has 3 suspended Executive Vice Presidents right now… Any debate on that?
And the Bucks/Omega was whom Jim Cornette was warning EVERYBODY about as AEW was starting up in 2019, but he was also warning everyone about them as wrestlers BEFORE 2019. Lots of Podcasts out there to confirm it…
3 years later, what does AEW have to show for their Long-Term potential with Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks as your leaders? A complete disaster right now with this CM Punk situation. They messed with the WRONG GUY, just as they’ve tried to mess with the WRONG CRITIC of their work from their various attacks of Jim Cornette. Both Punk and Corny don’t give a damn, at all, and can make their own money outside of appearing in a ring. They cannot be cancelled…
Reportedly, the Young Bucks floated the idea of joining WWE to someone over there. If I were Tony Khan, just let them go… Let the Bucks join the WWE, be miserable by that corporate system, be upset if they are sent down to WWE Developmental to fine-tune their abilities, and then let the Bucks leak insider info on the WWE to Meltzer. Under the right settings, Kenny Omega could do well in the WWE, as proven by his New Japan success… He’d be more of a risk to let go and in my opinion, Omega still has value as an AEW talent if used properly. Punk vs. Omega would be interesting to see, in my opinion. Reportedly, Omega just kind of got attacked by Ace Steel during the situation and it is suggested that Kenny did speak with CM Punk later that evening in attempts to mend fences (didn’t happen, from what I understand). While Kenny is part of that “Elite” clique, he’s the most talented of the 3 and has a proven track record in New Japan. There’s a reason why WWE was seriously courting him during early 2019 before AEW made him an EVP.
The Bucks engaging in tampering with the WWE, while they are currently EVPs, just speaks volumes about them. That’s all you need to know.
Jim Cornette was RIGHT… He called out the Bucks/Omega for their antics for years and was heavily critical of them becoming EVPs of AEW. Fast forward to 2022, and AEW has a mess on their hands that threatens their locker room BUT also threatens TV companies or sponsors for working with them in the future. Then, you have Tony Khan cursing at the WWE for holding Pay Per Views on the same weekend as him. Huh?
There’s a LACK of maturity and wisdom in AEW… It’s time to listen to the wise old men of the Pro Wrestling industry to get some insight.
Otherwise, just wait for the next backstage blow-up and/or enjoy the mediocrity of barely hanging onto 1 million viewers. But don’t worry, your propaganda machine at the Observer will keep telling everyone how great 400,000 18-49 year olds are watching your shows.
Tony – Demote Bucks/Omega as EVPs, stop listening to their enabler Dave Meltzer for advice, and listen to actual veterans of the Pro Wrestling business who have BEEN THERE and DONE THAT. Jim Cornette started 2 promotions in tough economic regions of the company with profits made while Jim Ross literally saved the WWE during the mid to late 1990s with his Talent Relations abilities. Other guys, who are still alive, have had similar success stories.
LISTEN TO THEM… Stop listeng to self-taught indy marks or the newsletter writers who are in love with them.
Swallow your pride, Tony, and just admit that Jim Cornette was RIGHT all along. This goes for the wrestlers enabling the EVPs and the AEW marks who eat platefuls of crap, gladly, of what the EVPs have been feeding them.
“Everyone knows it’s Corny…”
So just chill… Till the next episode!