Why Do Some Fans Just Want AEW to Become WWE-Lite?

Why does this keep happening? Has internet discourse become this boring?

Tsumaranai! Orijinaru benron doko desu ka?

Through the years I have seen tons of arguments on what AEW “has” to do to increase ratings, strengthen alleged low morale, improve booking, cure cancer, and solve the climate change crisis.

A lot of it is done in bad faith by one or more of the following:

  1. Internet trolls who decide to spend their time making zero dollars on trying to prove that their entertainment company of choice is better than AEW.
  2. Those who truly think they know better and their own need for validation is better served in the “told you so!” death of AEW than by actually supporting the product.

Karera wa uzai desu!
かれら は うざい です!

And then you have people like me. A small minority of AEW fans who truly want the product to get better, and will still watch every week, order every PPV, collect merchandise, and will defend AEW against hair-brained and inaccurate takes when seen. But I will still call out the product when needed in good faith. 

Another example of this kind of fan is Tranquilo Club on YouTube. Great content creator. An honest AEW fan who will call it as he sees it.

But for those who aren’t like me, but still offer honest “good faith” critique, why is the bulk of their “solution” always in essence “BE MORE LIKE WWE?”


“hOw tO ImPRoVe aEw”


So let’s bullet-point these “good faith” arguments as how to improve AEW:

-“Khan needs to book to more casual fans.” (Be more like WWE)
-“AEW is too violent for families.” (Be more like WWE)
-“There needs to be a corporate structure.” (Be more like WWE)
-“I don’t want to Google new wrestlers. AEW needs to tell me who these new guys are.” (Be more like WWE)
-“Khan needs an official writing/booking team” (Be more like WWE)
-“Too many random matches.” (Be more like WWE)
-“Too much Indies wrestling!” (Be more like WWE)
-“Not enough stories and promos to build feuds.” (Be more like WWE)
-“The show is paced too quickly!” (Be more like WWE)
-“It’s too wrestling focused! (Be more like WWE)

Are you seeing a trend here?

Why are so many alleged criticisms laced in simply pointing out that AEW is not WWE? Look, if you enjoy WWE, then I applaud you. But why does a chunk of the IWC fan base want AEW to turn into just another version of WWE?

And if you might  “I just want AEW to succeed!”

Then watch and support the product. 


What Makes AEW Unique is Right in Front of Your Face


It’s been nearly 5 years. If you haven’t gathered that AEW is a PWG/New Japan inspired product with a western flare by now, I don’t know what to tell you. AEW has cemented itself as a successful #2 at this point. They have their own set of fans who prefer this style of wrestling and booking.

Yes, successful. It’s not even just breaking the all-time paid attendance record at Wembley for All In. AEW has consistently remained in the top 10 (TV ratings) for its flagship Dynamite show; even sometimes at #1 for the night. Smackdown doesn’t even top the TV ratings charts for its night, yet they also remain a success.

Much like WCW through the late 80s/early 90s, it is possible for a healthy #2 to exist as an alternative. Which is what AEW is: An alternative.

The “indyriffic” spots, smarter (and louder) audience, tongue-in-cheek promos, creative freedom, the tilt towards in-ring wrestling over “sports entertainment”, global partnerships with AAA and NJPW/Stardom, and the sometimes ultra violent nature of the product itself.

This is all what separates AEW from WWE. 

You don’t have to like AEW, but if you’re making any critiques about it — ask yourself — are you just mildly annoyed that it’s not what you’re used to with WWE? AEW is by far not a perfect product. Mistakes have been made by both talent and management; there have been booking mishaps, stalled pushes, and missed opportunities.

Guess what? You can say that for any wrestling company.

So basically, they’re imperfect. Yabai! I’m going to choose to focus on the positives, however. And I say this because…


Khan Isn’t Perfect, But Still Good


Tony Khan listens to his fans. It’s really as simple as that. No doubt inspired by Paul Heyman and Gedo, you get a weekly product reminiscent of ECW, WCW, PWG, and New Japan — all rolled into one.

Often, “random” matches are favored over in-ring segments. Dream matches (like Danielson/Sabre) can be built on name alone without a need for a deep story. Otherwise, Khan usually favors the “slow burn” type of storyline, at least until he gets bored with it.

If I had to critique his booking from an honest perspective, I think he protects his talent too much, afraid to give wrestlers clean losses at times. This can lead to an imbalance within the roster where you aren’t totally sure where some wrestlers’ spots on the card are. There are many marquee matchups like Malakai Black vs. Adam Page, Kris Statlander vs. Toni Storm, or Kenny Omega vs. MJF (as examples) that are still left on the table, and I hope to see them in the future. This is likely because he wants to protect both sides.

But this represents a small portion of the overall product. Currently…

The MJF/Adam Cole saga has been a wonderfully told story so far. And now that we have Neckbrace Roderick Strong and The Kingdom in the mix, this story will only continue to evolve.  Swerve/Page, Toni Storm’s evolution, Statlander/Cargill, Miro’s return, and the rise of Bullet Club Gold and Ricky Starks are all new and exciting feuds/stories from this product. But for some reason, they tend to be overlooked in favor of whatever may or may not be happening backstage. 

Tony Khan is far from a perfect booker. He has many blunders in his short time at the helm, and I’ll be the first to point that out. However, it would be disingenuous of me to ignore the positives he has brought to the company.


What DO you Want?


A participation trophy for internet opinions?

Here. Take it. Omedetou gozaimasu!


But in all seriousness, if any critiques many naysayers have for AEW can be summed up as “be more like WWE”, then why are they watching? This is like a Star Wars fan complaining that Star Trek is too philosophical, even if they know that Star Trek has always been this way (and I love the series for it).

I’ll be the first to admit that Tony Khan probably needs to have better control of his locker room if reports are true. But how does that affect you as a fan? Does this fact hurt my enjoyment of AEW television?

Not even the slightest.

If there are a few disgruntled employees “in the back” (like there would be for any large company), do I need to shift my focus on that instead of the wrestling itself? Do I need to take every piece of news out there about AEW and apply it to my personal enjoyment of the brand?

Who does that, seriously?

If you simply don’t like the wrestling offered on a weekly basis from AEW, then don’t watch. Why comment on social media, or offer up a half-assed ill-researched opinion as if you somehow know better than the person that is actually running the show?

So what, am I saying that if you don’t like or invest in the AEW product, you don’t get to have an opinion?

Yes. Yes I am.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯