AEW: Why It Will/Won’t Succeed

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October 2nd, 2019 the wrestling landscape changes when All Elite Wrestling debuts its flagship show AEW Dynamite on TNT.  Much has been written and spoken about AEW before it’s debut and it’s time for us here at Last Word On Pro Wrestling to throw our hat into the ring and look at what we think could help AEW succeed and what could hurt them.

A Dedicated Fanbase

Photo: Being The Elite

When one watches Monday Night RAW or any big WWE event one thing is noticeable.  The crowd, for the most part, is very quiet.  One of the most important things in wrestling is crowd reaction it can be the difference between a match being just ok and a match being a 5-star epic, it can make or break moments and at the end of the day, big pops are as memorable as most big matches.  AEW’s fanbase is one of the most dedicated in the world who has so far been loud and really added to the AEW product.  With a crowd willing, the show to be good AEW has the chance to create memorable moments from day one.

Lack Of Definable Heels And Faces

Photo: AEW

As per Dave Meltzer, AEW isn’t going to use the traditional heel/babyface dynamic.  While some members of the roster like Shawn Spears, Brandi Rhodes, and The Dark Order are easily defined in their role as heels there are other parts of the roster where this is less definable.  Just look at the women’s title match – you have Riho, who acted heelish after her match at Fyter Fest, against Nyla Rose who has been presented as both the menacing monster of the division (traditionally a heel role) as well as someone that overcame adversity as part of the LGBTQ+ community.  It’s safe to say that match would be instantly improved if it was the typical David vs Goliath story that fans could grasp on to.


Photo: AEW

Something that could help AEW stand out is showcasing various different match types and wrestling styles.  This is something we have seen them excel at so far.  Double Or Nothing featured a showcase of Joshi with a great six-person tag match featuring Joshi icons like Emi Sakura and Aja Kong, All Out saw them go hardcore as Jimmy Havoc faced Darby Allin and Joey Janela in a violent triple threat match.  Add to that the old school influence of Cody, the modern style of Private Party and the Lucha Bros and Laredo Kid bringing in the lucha style and AEW has been a mixing pot of various different styles from all over the world and this has helped their in-ring product remain fresh.

Public Perception

Photo: ROH

This should’ve been easy.  AEW is the alternative to the WWE, a company running paid Propaganda for Saudi Arabia, is blamed for harming the European indie scene, and their perception among wrestling fans is at an all-time low.  AEW should’ve had a slam dunk in coming across as the “good guy” of mainstream wrestling.  Instead, AEW has quickly turned off many fence-sitters due to a combination of immaturity from its EVPs, jabs at the WWE that get more desperate as they become less clever, and Brandi Rhodes’ Twitter antics.  Now, more than ever, with the surplus of wrestling people aren’t going to support a brand that comes across as unprofessionally as AEW has so far.


Photo: Sportskeeda

Make no mistake about it the AEW roster is packed to the rafters with talent.  Women’s wrestlers like Hikaru Shida, Riho, Nyla Rose, and Awesome Kong are just a few of the top names in the loaded division.  The tag team scene is stacked with the former LAX, the Young BucksDark OrderPrivate Party and more making it one of the best tag team divisions in the world.  The men’s scene has names like PAC, Cody, Kenny Omega and others who can put on classic matches and are great at storytelling.  With a roster like this AEW gives itself the best chance of success.

Establishing The Unknowns

Photo: AEW

One big issue we’ve seen from AEW and one pointed out by Jim Cornette when talking about the battle royal at Double Or Nothing (writer’s note: I don’t normally agree with Jim but he makes good points here, Sonny Kiss comments aside) is that they have yet to really establish who some of their roster members are.  Take Britt Baker, for example, Baker is a dentist…and…really happy to be here and that’s pretty much it. Riho is a similar example – outside of being a Japanese girl who wrestles, well, who is Riho? And why should you care about her? Jimmy Havoc is another one – who is this angry goth? And why is he happy to take part in hardcore matches?  AEW has a lot of names that are unknown to the general wrestling fandom and they’ve done a really poor job of rolling these people out so far.  People like Sonny Kiss, Hikaru Shida, Stronghearts, Kip Sabian and more have nothing for fans to grab on to gimmick wise.

A Different Approach To Storytelling

Photo: AEW

When AEW want to they’ve been able to make some fantastic video promos for its roster that have either furthered storylines or established characters.  Take Darby Allin for example, AEW made a fantastic video that answered the question “who is Darby Allin”.  The realistic, gritty approach to his character was a refreshing change to what mainstream wrestling fans are used to. The Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes videos took a similar approach of using real-life animosity and a very cinematic approach to build to their match.  Seriously, go watch that Darby Allin promo and try to not come out of it rooting for that guy.  Using videos like that to establish characters and further feuds could really help AEW stand out.

“Failed” Pushes

Photo: AEW

It was clear from day one that Hangman Page was supposed to be “the guy”.  The Dark Order were meant to be major players in the tag team division and The Librarians was one of the first original gimmicks that AEW ran with.  To say those three acts didn’t work out as expected is an understatement.  The Librarians were universally panned, The Dark Order get zero reaction and Page felt completely unworthy of the main event spot at All Out.  So far the things AEW have got behind have yet to work out as they intended while things like Yuka Sakazakiand A Boy And His Dinosaur have gotten over on their own merit.  If AEW is to be successful they need to have a higher batting average of things getting over as intended.

At the end of the day, the story of AEW is only beginning but as writers, it’s our jobs to look at the sample size we’ve been provided and to work with that.  This analysis of AEW is as fair and factual as possible and is not intended to bury anyone but act as constructive criticism ahead of their battle with the mighty WWE.

Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world.  Be sure to subscribe to AEW plus on Fite TV to see AEW Dynamite once it airs.