Cody Rhodes cut one of the most intense, most heartfelt promos in his career on the November 6 edition of AEW Dynamite. The company founder stood in the middle of the ring and spoke about his upcoming World Championship match against Chris Jericho at Full Gear on November 9 and Rhodes did not hold back.
Once again, The American Nightmare riveted the audience and completely turned the program upside down. Among the laughter and lighthearted moments that often occur on Dynamite, Cody’s spots continue to be the most dramatic of the night. But as good as he is, the fact is that Dynamite simply does not have enough of these spots. Maybe the time has come for the company to address the issue.
AEW was supposed to be different. Tony Khan and company promised pro wrestling fans that All Elite Wreslting was going to be a much different viewing experience than what they were used to, especially when compared to WWE. Vince McMahon’s company is all melodrama at times, with unrealistic situations and silly spots that simply defy explanation.
WWE fans have grown accustomed to this and for the most part, they take it in stride. Getting the chance to see AJ Styles, Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins is enough to keep many of those fans onboard, even if it means having to endure the nonsense that often gets in the way. Of course NXT is a great motivation for the WWE faithful to tune in, especially with that brand’s focus being squarely on the in-ring product.
Watch Cody’s promo on Dynamite!
But for years, fans have wanted WWE to take its own product more seriously. The desire to see that notion become a reality has increased to an all-time high in 2019, thanks to the company’s massive collection of talent. Some of the world’s best pro wrestlers currently call WWE home and fans have been treated to some of the most exciting matches in company history.
However, WWE has always been obsessed with presenting goofiness at every turn. It’s all done in the name of providing entertainment for the masses, as there’s always something for everyone. After all, the diehard full-time fans don’t represent the entire audience, so WWE believes that catering to every taste is important.
But the casual fans that once comprised a large segment of WWE’s audience, have decreased in size. The problem is that as the fans cry out for more realistic booking with an Attitude Era style flair, WWE continues to give them comedy with a tabloid headline approach. So while WWE attempts to pacify the diehards with NXT, the fact is that the rest of the product is still laboring under the weight of the lunacy.
This is surely not what AEW wants for its brand. The desire to give the audience some old school flavor with a modern sensibility, seemed to be the company’s mission statement in the beginning. While AEW has stuck to its guns in many cases, there does seem to be a separation on TV.
Watch the conclusion of Dynamite!
On one side are the main event heavyweights who can tell a story in the ring and bring the house down with one promo on the mic. Cody, Jon Moxley, Dustin Rhodes, Britt Baker, Hangman Page, SoCal Uncensored and PAC all fit into this category. Each man is fully capable of delivering on a realistic level, while also being very entertaining at the same time.
Just on the bubble, but just as important, are Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, MJF, Private Party, Sammy Guevara and The Young Bucks. Each talent gives the fans everything they want in the ring, that much is certain. But each one also brings a level of showtime to the product that many fans definitely appreciate. The line between both groups is often blurred and stars typically crossover from one side to the other quite often.
But then there’s the other segment of AEW, in which comedy and nonsensical characters are king. Orange Cassidy, Best Friends, Michael Nakazawa, The Jurassic Express, The Librarians, Joey Janela and Jimmy Havoc comprise this group. It’s difficult for any serious pro wrestling fan to accept any of them as legitimate stars, while many other fans love this side of the company.
Watch Jon Moxley’s promo on Kenny Omega!
At first glance, it does indeed appear that AEW is the Ellis Island of pro wrestling, just as Cody Rhodes suggested. It can even be said that AEW is doing exactly what WWE does everyday in terms of offering a little something for everyone. But the main issue with AEW is that while the main event draws are getting over and giving credibility to the company, the same is perhaps not true of everyone else.
The problem is that while AEW is indeed an assortment of different talents from different backgrounds, who came together for a common purpose, fans want something more than what they’re getting. The serious tone that AEW takes on any given night, as was the case with Cody’s promo, is just not happening enough for many critics to give them a chance. Some will dismiss that notion as haters hating, which is what they do, but perhaps that dismissal is shortsighted at best.
The bulk of the AEW roster is not over and it’s showing. That’s not necessarily an indictment on the company as a whole, or a statement against the talents’ dedication to the company. But it is a symptom of a problem that AEW does not seem to be addressing. AEW is a work in progress obviously and as every longtime pro wrestling fan knows, it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
But at some point, fans will expect AEW to become a more well rounded company with a fully fleshed out roster. Stars must be stars and they must be important, as well as compelling, for anyone to care about them past just a few laughs on a random show. AEW needs a locker room full of talents that the majority of fans simply cannot wait to see. The company has found the right recipe for half of the roster. But until the other half catches up, AEW may not achieve the level of success that its followers and the industry itself, wants and believes that the company deserves.
Tom Clark can regularly be seen on Wrestling Rumors. His podcast, Tom Clark’s Main Event, is available on iTunes,YouTube, iHeart Radio, boinkstudios.com and live every Friday at 12pm EST on Wrestling Rumors Facebook Live