Chris Jericho will battle Hangman Page to determine the inaugural AEW World Champion. Elsewhere, PAC will go one-on-one with Kenny Omega after Jon Moxley was pulled due to injury, and the Young Bucks will take on the Lucha Bros. in a ladder match.
There is plenty to look forward to in AEW. But we’re going to look at potential issues for the company.
Weekly television will represent a new challenge for the company, as opposed to the shows they have presented thus far. They will need to hit the ground running if they are to succeed.
Especially considering the recent announcement of NXT going live on Wednesday nights. WWE starting a ‘Wednesday Night War’ with AEW could be a problem within itself.
But, let’s look internally at five problems AEW could face when they start weekly TV.
5. Establishing New Stars
Don’t get me wrong, AEW is in a very healthy position when it comes to current top stars.
The likes of Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley are proven commodities and will bring eyes to the product. There is also a substantial amount of crowd support for the members of the Elite.
But when the brand gets established, it will need to add fresh faces to the main event scene.
There is obviously a lot of potential in the likes of MJF and Jungle Boy. But how many stars could step up to be a future face of the company?
Hangman Page has been immediately pushed into the title picture and AEW is clearly behind him. However, for me, his push towards this main event match at All Out has left a lot to be desired.
There is no doubt that Hangman Page can be a future star, but is he a current top star? Perhaps a slower build up to the main event would have been more effective.
AEW has a young, exciting roster. Although it remains to be seen whether or not they can fulfill their mainstream potential.
4. Translating ‘Being The Elite’ Humour To TV
It’s crazy to think that a wrestling company was largely built off the back of a YouTube channel.
But that’s exactly what has happened. The success of ‘Being The Elite’ made the Young Bucks, Kenny Omega and the rest of the cast into stars.
They became the biggest wrestling draws outside of WWE and had their own merchandise on sale in Hot Topic.
But will the humour of ‘Being The Elite’ translate onto mainstream television?
It’s been hit and miss so far. While SCU have been able to get their gimmick over in front of a live crowd, others have struggled. Most notably the widely-panned ‘Librarian’ characters.
Leva Bates and Peter Avalon are both experienced performers that know how to get over. Just look at Leva Bates’ ‘Blue Pants’ gimmick from her brief stint in NXT.
However, the comedic ‘Librarian’ gimmick they have been given in AEW simply isn’t funny. This could be a case of one idea not working or could represent a bigger potential issue.
Perhaps the wacky humour of ‘Being The Elite’ will not connect with a larger television audience.
3. Finding Their Own Niche
Nobody can deny that AEW have found an audience. Seemingly every show they do sells out almost instantly.
They have captured the imagination of die-hard fans and have grabbed the attention of lapsed wrestling fans too.
But what is AEW’s defining quality? AEW President, Tony Khan, has already said that we won’t be seeing hardcore “blood and guts” wrestling on TV. So what can we expect to see when they debut on TNT on October 2nd?
It’s been suggested that they will present a more sports-orientated product. But New Japan already do that, how will AEW differ and how will a ‘Luchasaurus’ fit into that philosophy?
The good will of the fans will be enough to carry them through the early months. But sooner or later AEW will need to figure out exactly what product they are presenting.
They will not be able to compete against Raw and SmackDown if they are putting out a WWE-lite product. Just ask Impact Wrestling!
I am confident that Tony Khan and the executives know what they are doing. But they will need to establish exactly what AEW is to secure a loyal, long-term audience.
2. Commentary Issues
One area where AEW has room for improvement is at the commentary booth. While Excalibur has been a solid choice, the others have left much to be desired.
Alex Marvez is new to wrestling after having spent most of his career covering the NFL. He has been brought in to give the product more of a legitimate sports feel. However, his work with AEW has been fairly awkward thus far.
Elsewhere, the legendary Jim Ross is a familiar voice but might not be the right choice long term. J.R. still has something to offer as shown by his work on the Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes match. But he is clearly unfamiliar with some of the younger wrestlers on the roster.
The commentators should be there to enhance the product and help acquaint the audience with the performers. But at times, it feels as though the fans know more about the wrestlers than either Marvez or J.R.
AEW are clearly looking to improve this department. The promotion has reportedly signed Alex ‘Goldenboy’ Mendez to a permanent deal after his work with the company at Fyter Fest. In addition to this, the familiar voice of former WCW commentator Tony Schiavone has also been added to the team
WWE has coasted along with sub-par commentators for years now. But it shouldn’t be forgotten just how much a strong commentary team can add to a wrestling product.
1. Top Female Stars
After the invention of women’s wrestling by Stephanie McMahon a few years ago, other companies have jumped on the bandwagon.
AEW has confirmed that they have big plans for their women’s division. In fact, Brandi Rhodes recently revealed that the inaugural AEW Women’s Champion will be crowned on their first television show.
But if there is one thing that their women’s division is lacking, it’s a female mega star. Britt Baker and Kylie Rae are popular performers, but neither stand out as obvious choices to carry the division. They certainly aren’t on the level of the likes of Kenny Omega or Jon Moxley.
It took a long time for WWE to build up its women’s division to a main event level. Even then it took someone with mainstream appeal in Ronda Rousey to elevate it to that level. It could even be argued that WWE’s ‘Women’s Revolution’ has regressed since Rousey’s hiatus from the company.
With all due respect, nobody in AEW is even close to having the drawing power of Rousey.
But it’s very early days in AEW and I truly hope they will find a breakout female star.