Over the last few weeks, so much of the wrestling discussion has been about NXT moving over to the USA Network and how big of a deal it is. That certainly is the case and another example of how much bigger WWE is at the moment, but I think people are kind of forgetting about AEW. I certainly did until someone suggested that I do a column on the other side of the move, which is what we’ll be doing here, or at least a broader look at where AEW currently stands.

We currently sit less than a week away from All Out….and does it really matter? Yeah the first World Champion is going to be crowned on the show, but at the same time, how many champions are going to be crowned and then defending their titles in the first few weeks on TNT? The weekly show is going to be what really matters as soon as it starts and that cannot be understated. All Out is going to be a big, entertaining show that will set the stage for the TNT show, but make no mistake about it: the weekly show is all that matters once it gets going.

The big thing for AEW continues to be just how fast things are going. The company has only been around just over three months (remember: Double Or Nothing was May 25) and they are only coming up on their fourth show. To go from that to hours a week on television is about as big of a jump as you can get and I’m not sure how ready they are for such a move.

I’m not saying that the show is going to be bad by any means, but there are going to be some growing pains. What matters is how they respond to those problems, which they haven’t faced yet. So far, AEW has had nothing but good news and positive vibes, but that is going to change at some point. What happens when they produce a bad show? Or when the fans just aren’t buying what they’re presenting? It happens to everyone at one point or another and the more material the company has, the more likely it is for something like that to take place.

This is how it gets started:

Another interesting point is WWE taking their shot at AEW. Until now, AEW has been the company that gets to come in, do their fun show, and then leave without much of a problem while soaking in the cheers. Now though, they might not even be the most popular show on the same night. Making this even worse is the fact that WWE has very little to lose. If AEW wins, they beat the minor league show and WWE still gets paid. If NXT wins, WWE’s minor league show crushed the upstart AEW without even having to bust out the Monday Night Raw and SmackDown Live guns. That would be quite the way to cut AEW’s legs off at the start.

So where is AEW as the war is about to really get going? Honestly, it’s pretty hard to say. They are doing some very good things, but there is a chance that it is going to be too much, too fast. Right now they are going from a few rehearsals, most of which are about three to four weeks apart, to going every single week. The pressure is going to be on in a hurry because it stops being the fun promotion and is suddenly the competition. As in the other big money company instead of being a bunch of wrestlers who love the sport and trying to have a good time.

The other problem that they are going to be having is having to deal with is finding their audience. There is a core group of fans that are going to watch AEW no matter what and that can keep them around for a long time. However, they have to expand if they are going to be the big national (if not international) company and that is where things get confusing. How do you balance out stuff like the Young Bucks flying all over the place with the emotionally heavy stuff like the Rhodes Brothers and then add in stuff like Orange Cassidy and A Boy And His Dinosaur?

That’s a big area where things are going to get a little bit interesting for them and I’m not sure how well it is going to work. Every company from WWE to Impact Wrestling to Ring of Honor has had trouble figuring out what kind of promotion they want to be at times and it can become a problem for anyone. That being said, it is far from impossible to pull off and if AEW can find the right formula for everything involved, they could be off to another great start. As long as the World Title match doesn’t put someone to sleep with a wrestler then stealing his shoe, I think they’ll manage.

Yeah they don’t have something like this (It’s worse than you remember):

Little Peoples Court continues

Then there are the good things, which certainly do exist. First and foremost, they don’t have to worry about finding their television home. Again, look back at Impact Wrestling and how big of a mess that whole thing was. How many channels and networks have they been on over the years and in how many time slots? To be able to start on a major network (which they have to maintain) is one of the biggest breathers they can have.

In the same vein, AEW also doesn’t come into this run with a bunch of bad history. There is no horrible run of shows where they pushed Hulk Hogan’s friends or the Reign of Terror to deal with in their past. The company may not have much history, but that means it doesn’t have the bad stuff to go with it. There hasn’t been the big match or moment that turned a lot of people off from the show. That is going to allow them to try something fresh and new, which might be just what the wrestling world is needing at the moment.

Finally, and this might sound very simple, but AEW is something new. We’ve lived in a wrestling world completely controlled by WWE for a very long time now and that had to change at some point, either for the good or the bad. Maybe the change that needed to take place was giving them another show on the national stage (or at least a stage where most people could see it) or maybe it was just a fresh cast of characters, but we are finally getting something new. If that is what it takes to make wrestling better then so be it, but it is certainly not a guarantee.

If this has sounded like I’ve been rambling quite a bit, it’s because we’re in uncharted territory here. There have been programming battles before, but never in a world where WWE was the only company of note for so long. Impact Wrestling tried and might have made some small dents with their time on Spike, but this is a good bit bigger than anything they ever did. Just going at WWE with a fresh cast and the billionaire wrestling freak could make for some very interesting times, but there is no way of knowing how this whole thing is going to work.

New names, new faces, new talent:

At the same time though, keep in mind that AEW is starting from scratch and is still MILES behind WWE. Yeah AEW announced the weekly show on TNT back in May in a huge cable deal. In the last fourteen months, WWE has gotten THREE huge television deals, two of which were on cable and one of which was on a broadcast network.

What AEW has done is downright impressive, but they’re light years away from being on equal footing with WWE. Selling some shows out and drawing a rating/audience for a few weeks is cool. Monday Nitro did that too and that show didn’t even last six years. We’re entering into a new era here and it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next.

Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.

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