All Elite Wrestling debuted with its first pay-per-view, Double or Nothing, on May 25 to great reviews from fans, but one successful event does not mean the company is going to knock WWE off of its pedestal as the top promotion in the world right away.
For almost 20 years, Vince McMahon and his company have been unchallenged in the wrestling world. Promotions like TNA have tried and failed to compete with WWE and it almost cost them everything.
Smaller companies like Ring of Honor have been able to succeed by not trying to compete directly with the biggest dog in the fight, but AEW seems like it’s out to be No. 1 even if nobody is saying that outright.
Cody Rhodes took a direct shot at his former employer when he destroyed a throne that looked like it belonged to Triple H during his Double or Nothing entrance.
Believe it or not, AEW being successful is not going to ruin WWE. If anything, McMahon and Co. need the new promotion to thrive for their own survival.
Competition Breeds Creativity
If you ask any WWE fan over the age of 30 when the product lost its appeal, they will almost certainly say it was after the company bought WCW.
For five glorious years, WWE and WCW engaged in a ratings war on Monday nights. Both promotions threw everything they had at fans in an attempt to steal a few away from the other company.
WCW won the battle for over 80 weeks until Mick Foley winning the WWE title caused thousands of people to switch to Raw to see his victory celebration.
WWE seems to have a loose policy that says not to mention other promotions on television, but that wasn’t the case during the Monday Night Wars.
McMahon poked fun at Ted Turner and Hulk Hogan with parody characters in pre-taped skits while Eric Bischoff challenged McMahon to come to Nitro for a fight.
WCW had Sting, The New World Order and the best cruiserweights on the planet, and WWE had D-Generation X, The Rock, Steve Austin and tag teams like The Hardy Boyz putting on classics against Edge and Christian on a regular basis.
Before DVRs became a thing, WWE and WCW were competing for the same fans every single week. This led to both companies taking risks with their storytelling we just don’t see anymore.
Bischoff and McMahon were desperate and that led to some of their best work. Once WCW was a thing of the past, the need for such an aggressive product was no longer necessary.
Unfortunately, WWE has become complacent. According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer, the June 10 episode of Raw has the lowest ratings for a non-holiday episode in WWE history.
If AEW is successful enough to make WWE sweat a little, the hope is that McMahon and his creative team will work harder to make every show must-see instead of feeding us the same thing every week.
An Alternative Product Keeps Fans Engaged
Other than Impact Wrestling, WWE has been the only major wrestling company with a television deal, but that will all change when AEW debuts its weekly show on TNT in October.
This will be the first time Turner Networks will feature pro wrestling since WCW closed down. The details have not been released yet, but it won’t air on Mondays to compete against Raw.
This is actually good news for WWE because it gives casual fans an alternative product they can watch on a major network instead of having to seek out smaller promotions online.
If someone who only watches WWE when its convenient gets sick of the product, they will just stop watching and possibly lose interest in the wrestling business altogether.
If a fan stops watching WWE but continues to watch AEW, they are far more likely to check out what WWE is doing again in the future than a lapsed fan who stopped watching completely.
A fan of the competition is easier to win than someone who is not a fan at all. WWE knows this and that is why it isn’t trying to sink AEW right away, even after Jon Moxley and others jumped ship.
AEW and WWE Can Live in Peace
When WWE and WCW were at war, fans had to choose which show to watch or try to flip between channels to see what was going on during both Raw and Nitro.
These days, people consume entertainment much differently. Digital video recorders have made it so people can watch one show live while another is being recorded at the same time, so even if AEW ends up on the same night as one of WWE’s shows, it doesn’t mean there will be another battle for ratings.
Both companies have their diehard fans who will only watch one promotion, but a lot of wrestling fans just want everyone to put on the best show they can.
All Elite Wrestling @AEWrestling
#AEW Star Jon Moxley Is Proving That There Is Life Outside Of WWE https://t.co/dW6tQpAn9F https://t.co/Gaprow9C9k
One promotion’s success does not have to come at the expense of another. WWE can be The New York Yankees of the wrestling world while AEW can be The Chicago Cubs.
They can compete with each other in terms of who has the best wrestling and storylines but there is no longer the need for fans to choose between one or the other.
WWE needs AEW to be successful because it’s good for the entire industry. Fans have more options to watch, wrestlers have more ways to make money and both companies will be driven to put on the best product possible.
WWE Needs a Reason to Try Again
With the exception of NXT TakeOver 25, all of WWE’s recent pay-per-views have been underwhelming to say the least.
WrestleMania 35 was forgettable, Money in the Bank was predictable and Super ShowDown was something most fans wish they could wipe from their minds.
The repetitiveness of storylines and WWE’s need to feature semi-retired and part-time wrestlers in main event spots when they can no longer perform at a high level are hurting the product.
The Undertaker vs. Goldberg was so bad that Goldberg felt the need to apologize for his performance on Twitter due to being knocked out when he busted his head open on a turnbuckle:
Bill Goldberg @Goldberg
Knocked myself out and thought I could finish…. love my fans…..but let u down. Everyone else that found “pleasure” ….. hope ur happy
WWE still has Superstars like Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins and AJ Styles who are producing great matches. They just aren’t being given good material to work with to make their feuds important.
The recent “Firefly Funhouse” segments with Bray Wyatt have been unique and intriguing, but if WWE doesn’t follow through with the gimmick, none of that matters.
Nobody is advocating for the company to bring back bra and panties matches or have its wrestlers start swearing, but we are looking for an edgier product.
If AEW is successful by presenting something a little more adult, WWE is going to attempt to do the same thing. If WWE keeps losing fans as it has been for the past several years, it will need to do what it can to maintain its profitability. If that means spicing up the product, then that is what will happen…hopefully.
Are you excited for AEW’s weekly show this fall? How do you think WWE will change its strategy in response?