Last week we talked about what AEW is doing wrong, but even in that article, I said that Wednesday nights are my favorite night for wrestling for a reason. This week is all about what NXT and AEW are doing right. There are many reasons to tune in to either AEW or NXT each week, and we're going to be looking at the top five for both promotions.
We're looking now to AEW, the hottest new thing in wrestling currently. AEW appeals to mainstream wrestling fans and the hardcore nerd in a way that no other big-time American promotion has been able to in a long time. Maybe it is owner Tony Khan's ability to capitalize on a gap in the market. Maybe they just lucked out with talent. Regardless AEW already has a dedicated and growing fanbase. And people are fans for a reason, so let's talk about the five big things that AEW is doing right.
5. Good Use of New Talent
Now, last week I complained about how crowded the AEW roster is getting, and I still agree with that. However, that doesn't mean that AEW is unwilling to make stars out of relative newcomers. Recent examples of this include Griff Garrison and Brian Pillman Jr., who have both been making regular appearances on Dynamite. Guys like John Silver, Ricky Starks, and Ana Jay had almost zero exposure to mainstream audiences prior to stepping into the AEW ring.
Even looking back to the early days of AEW, huge names like MJF and Orange Cassidy weren't particularly well known by the demographic that AEW was going after. But, AEW saw the potential in these people and has turned them into regular figures on a weekly primetime wrestling show. So sure, the AEW roster is crowded, but if you're able to break out, AEW will use you to the best of their ability.
4. Good Variety of Matches
Yes, sometimes AEW over relies on massive tag-team matches, but Dynamite does offer a wide variety of matches that help keep their shows feeling like must-watch events. In the last few months, we have seen battle royals, a dog collar match, a bunkhouse tag match, an elite deletion, and yes, a whole bunch of multi-man tag matches. Not all of these matches always land, but you can't expect that to happen even with regular singles bouts. These matches may not be "pure wrestling," but at least in my opinion, that's part of the fun of a wrestling show.
These matches don't happen every week, but they do happen often enough that they don't feel out of place or unwelcome when they do happen.
3. Compelling Weekly Shows
This one is super subjective (and probably deserves its own article), but before I get a bunch of people on my Twitter telling me that they can't stand watching Dynamite, this is what I mean by compelling.
AEW fans (myself included) are compelled to watch Dynamite each week. The show consistently features solid matches with fantastic talented wrestlers. The show has decent storytelling and entertaining segments. Yes, there are segments that aren't funny or are hard to watch. Sure, some matches have botches, and not all of the talent is used to performing live for a camera. But the same can be said for almost every other promotion.
I'm not even the biggest AEW, and I still make sure that I catch Dynamite every week (even if that means DVRing it and watching NXT live). The show is good and worth checking out every week.
2. Good Long-Term Booking
I don't want to be one of those guys that calls every callback that AEW makes "long-term booking" because that's not what it is, but AEW is pretty great at making you wait for things to happen. FTR shows up on Dynamite for the first time, and AEW made us wait until the time was right to see them face The Young Bucks. We all knew that Kenny and Hangman's tag-team partnership was going to blow up in their faces, but AEW made us wait for it. Hell, I predicted the end of the Inner Circle way back in September, but I would've never predicted how long it would take them to get to where they are now.
This doesn't excuse the promotion from their tendency to sit and spin wheels while they figure out exactly what they want to do, but their long-term booking game is some of the best in the business right now, and that isn't always easy to do when you have to put out a show every week.
1. Special Event Episodes That Feel Special
Last year AEW ran four pay-per-views, and while that is a lot for a new company, they needed something to blow off short-term feuds, hype up debuts, and get people to tune in. So out of necessity, the Dynamite special episodes were created, and boy, these were a great idea. About once a month or so, AEW pulls out all the stops and puts together a card that is made to get people talking about it. Episodes like Fyter Fest, New Years Smash, and the infamous Winter Is Coming. have all featured some of AEW's most important matches of 2020.
This is an idea that AEW's Wednesday night competition has also picked up, which has forced both promotions to step up their game when it comes to these special events. The winner here, regardless of which promotion you prefer, is the viewer.
So there you have it, the 5 things that I think AEW is doing right. If you think that I've been too easy on TK and co, please feel free to let me know by tweeting at me @robbydeshazer.
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