Rob steps out of his comfort zone to defend AEW–something you don’t want to miss!
OK I’m about to do something out of character here – I’m going to defend AEW. Anybody who follows me on Twitter or has read any of my previous stuff here knows that I’m not a big fan of the upstart company. The short version is that I’m not a fan or just not as enamored with some of their top guys, particularly the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, and I’m not big on how Cody has gone about taking shots at WWE while trying to say ‘no, we’re not starting any beefs here’. I also am not big on how the wrestling media covers them because I think they’re ignoring a lot of the things they’re doing that would get all caps rants if WWE was doing it. So for me to defend something they did is totally off brand for me.
So just what am I sticking up for here? Namely, the goofy skits they did on their Fyter Fest preshow and the goofy elements of some of the preshow matches. Now I did not see any of it but I saw that they were panned by just about everyone who cared to comment, with some even going so far as to say that if they were on a WWE show that Vince would get killed for it. So while I won’t comment one way or the other on how good or bad the set pieces were I will wholeheartedly defend doing them on the show. Why? Because that’s wrestling. Goofy characters, goofy skits, and goofy matches are as much a part of professional wrestling as blood feuds, workrate matches, and so on. The execution matters but the existence of them has been voted on by the fans a long time ago.
Don’t believe me? Look at the viewing numbers for all the 24/7 Championship stuff. Look at the views for the arm wrestling match between Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley (11 million and counting). Look what the highest rated segment in the history of Monday Night Raw is…..not any match or even an Austin vs McMahon segment, but the ‘This is Your Life’ segment with the Rock and Mick Foley. Or even look at the things that aren’t silly but aren’t matches, either – backstage brawls, ringside fights, etc. – those routinely get more views and draw more interest than the actual televised matches. You might think that’s a shame but it’s reality. No matter what anyone else tells you it’s a TV show that includes wrestling and not a wrestling show that’s on TV.
You want the hard truth? When it comes to pro wrestling on TV in the US, there really aren’t that many people who are going to watch two or three hours of nothing but matches no matter how good those matches are. The other stuff has always been the difference maker. And yes, a lot of that stuff is silly. You know what? It’s fine!! Don’t let these guys that go on and on about how they’d be ashamed to show some segment to someone who doesn’t watch wrestling get the better of you. Pro wrestling in the United States is silly, simple, lowbrow, least common denominator kind of entertainment. Even the parts that are serious border on self parody if you examine them too closely. (After all, who in their right mind would settle a beef with a co-worker by fighting them inside a cage?) And there’s nothing wrong with that. You watch it because you like it; ALL OF IT, not just the parts that could pass for a legit sports competition.
At the end of the day if AEW is going to have any kind of long term shelf life they are going to have to master doing all the other stuff that goes on before and in between matches, and that’s going to be trial and error. You write five bad comedy segments and then you get two that hit. They’re going to need to find those two that hit, and that means ignoring all the people on the internet that are screaming ‘don’t be like the WWE!’ because quite frankly those people either don’t know what they’re talking about or are those people who I think are honestly embarrassed that they are wrestling fans and want it to change to something that they don’t feel ashamed to love. Hey AEW, do yourself a favor and don’t listen to those guys. Embrace your wacky side and find your way to some stuff that works.