AEW is new to the wrestling scene but is already being compared to larger and more established wrestling promotions across the board. With under 2 years passed since the company formed, AEW has provided some wonderful wrestling but also has some growing pains to work through. The internet wrestling community has certainly been vocal about the shortfalls so below I will explain five of the most talked-about current issues with AEW across many social media platforms.
Officiating (or lack thereof)
It’s no secret that one glaring problem with matches in AEW is the ref problem.
While AEW has built a brand on becoming an “alternative” product, it’s still a professional wrestling show. Professional wrestling shows feature one main concept- professional wrestling matches. Wild concept, I know. But one major problem being brought up week after week is one main component of those matches-
the referees are not enforcing the rules.
AEW often features tag team and hardcore style matches. Of course, these types of matchups are generally relaxed when it comes to following basic match rules. However, the problem plaguing the show is that relaxed rules have become almost the norm. Referees are essentially a non-factor in most AEW matches, which creates confusion for anyone watching that's not just a casual channel-flipper. It’s confusing to watch and understand who the active man is in a tag match or just how long competitors are allowed to brawl outside of the ring.
Take a look at AEW champ Jon Moxley for example. Typically title match rules indicate that any competitor caught outside the ring for more than the ref’s 10-count is disqualified. Moxley fights all over the arena as if he is allergic to the ring- and has never been counted out in a match.
I'm all for suspension of disbelief and allowing talents to script their bouts the way they want- but to a certain extent. You still need a framework to work within during a wrestling match. The counterargument is that referees aren’t supposed to be the center of attention and I can certainly agree with that. However, when almost every match seems like a parking lot brawl, the general audience can get lost.
I'd love to see Aubrey Edwards and crew make a stand and start laying down the law where applicable. It could clean up the AEW in-ring product in a big way.
How great is it to hear Good Ol’ JR call wrestling matches again, huh?
The commentary on AEW isn’t awful but there sure could be some readjustments made. Tony Schiavone provides great play-by-play at times and JR loves to pitch in with his anecdotes and classic phrases. The problem some folks have, though, is commentary seems to be a bit too relaxed. There have been only a handful of times in which the booth had added a big moment feel to the product. For a specific example, last week Matt Cardona debuted for AEW and instead of Jim Ross losing his mind (like he used to), all we heard at home while watching was in effect just “Why is that guy here? That's odd”.
Perhaps it’s a product of the current situation with live events not having many fans in the audience, but the commentary on the product largely just feels conversational and flat.
And then there is of course- the Excalibur issue. If you haven’t heard yet, a video recently resurfaced of Excalibur using a hard racial slur during a promo at a PWG show some 17 years ago. Even though it has been addressed by nearly every party involved, the comments made are certainly jarring and the video is sparking quite the emotion on social media.
Excalibur was absent from last week's Dynamite, a call he reportedly made himself. AEW has addressed comments like these publicly before; Hulk Hogan was banned from AEW production across the board, and most recently Sammy Guevara served a suspension and attended sensitivity training. Because of this, we should expect that Excalibur will receive similar treatment and be removed from the booth for some time. Side note: What a wonderful time for him to take his mask off upon his return -right?
That being said- Chris Jericho and Taz in the past have manned the booth here and there and received some pretty positive feedback, so perhaps one of them will step in for a boost of energy and color.
One final note regarding commentary- if you think the booth is hard to listen to during the live show, you should hear how they sound on the AEW DARK programming. Which brings me to the next gripe:
On the surface, AEW Dark should be something very exciting and needed for a new promotion. It’s a wrestling show with taped matches that are not aired on live tv. These matches are then put together in a show format but pushed to the AEW’s Youtube channel to boost views and content. Plus, it serves as additional ring time for those on the roster not always featured on live tv and allows them to try things in the ring.
It sounds like a great concept- and it is. However, that's just the concept.
The actual AEW Dark programming that has been pushed to youtube recently certainly leaves much to be desired. It seems that many matches are booked so unevenly that viewers know the winner before the match begins. Add to that, with the understanding the company is working through a pandemic, the crowd for AEW Dark is much thinner even than the already thin talent-only crowd during live programming. Finally, the commentary on AEW is even more lackluster. Sometimes the booth spends more time laughing and chatting about other things than whats going on in the ring.
For all of the reasons mentioned above, the whole thing just feels unimportant.
Yes- it is an avenue for new or “green” talent to get their reps in and work on their craft. But at what cost? These could easily take place without the need to tape and release to the general public.
If AEW spent more time on Dark to promote new talent, workout feuds, and give us more relevant content we can’t see live every week, it would be a wonderful addition to their programming. Perhaps I’m unfairly comparing this to the main show too much but in my opinion, AEW Dark has a long way to go before I would consider it meaningful or must-see.
We have seen and loved a fair share of chaotic good, and chaotic evil, factions in professional wrestling.
The Dark Order is just…chaos.
Even if you are unaware of the full history of the faction, you have certainly seen them literally just standing around on television during matches. Seriously- They just stand there.
The Dark Order debuted at Double Or Nothing in May 2019. Since then, a few other masked henchmen have been “recruited” as members of the group. The faction mainly communicated through cryptic messages and vignettes on AEW programming until the debut episode of Dynamite where it was revealed that they are being ordered around by a mysterious leader. That identity was not revealed until March of this year when Brodie Lee was announced as the true Exalted One.
The main gripe with the Dark Order is the lack of logical storytelling. Understanding that they are supposed to be chaotic and unpredictable, the gimmick has gone on far too long without any sense of direction. I’m not sure anybody knows what they are supposed to be, or where any of this storyline is headed. I will say that the reveal of Brodie Lee as the Exalted One has added some sense of leadership to the group. However, even since then, the Dark Order has attacked seemingly randomly and for no reason. Hell, even Brodie spends more time chastising his own followers these days.
I guess my point is….what is the point?
I asked WNW’s own Teddy Ricketson about his main complaint of AEW and he stated the Dark Order was at the top of his list. He shared the following thoughts:
The dark order. Where to begin. I feel like this is presented they don’t have an idea yet of exactly where they want it to go so they make it up along the way. When this group debuted it was entertaining, intriguing, and surprising. Over the weeks and with frequent losses, the allure of this faction has long since peaked. I think it’s too big of a group. They had all the momentum in the world when Brodie Lee debuted, but it’s weird that random members are called by numbers, and if it’s a faction this large, they should be dominant. At least someone should be. They need to stop trying to expand and need to re-focus on their faction and get into the win column or just taking wrestlers out.
I want to be very clear here because I am uninterested in disrespecting the wonderful female talent that AEW has signed. However, saying the Women’s Division is highly talked about as a complaint and disappointment would be a disservice to this piece.
AEW as of late hasn’t featured much in the way of compelling storylines involving women. We have seen Nyla Rose have a nice title run that just didn’t deliver much spark. Britt Baker is featured nearly every week, but in general, she just delivers a heel promo, mentions she is a Dentist, and then she is gone again. We have seen flashes of intrigue including other talents like Big Swole, Penelope Ford, and Riho, but no storyline has really stuck around. Hikaru Shida is the current champion, and while she is fantastic to watch, no remarkable feud or storyline has evolved with her as of yet either.
The latest eyebrow-raising issue with the Women’s Division came when the company announced the Women’s Tag Team Cup Tournament. You can find this tournament on AEW’s Youtube channel.
But that's just the thing. Many folks are left wondering why AEW wouldn’t feature this on live television. It raises a few questions, namely: Does AEW not trust their women to deliver TV-quality matches? Was the tournament jumbled together at the last minute? Why wouldn’t they pump this tournament into live tv to give the division more screen-time?
AEW has a long way to go before they are considered true innovators in Women’s Wrestling, but that's not to say the journey is over. I am excited to see the company build the division, and in doing so, the brand overall.
While these are the main problems I see talked about online today, there are certainly others. When asked, WNW’s own DROD provided his comments on the product:
They say they are the alternative to AEW but have shown so far in my opinion that they are the same thing. All Elite Wrestling is All Elite Entertainment. If you are going to use the name wrestling in your company name then do it. Not spot shows every week. If they would give some of the actual talents the main spotlights I think they could break away, the likes of Archer, Cage, Guevarra, Starks, Pillman Jr, and MJF. A WWE alternative also builds new stars and does not bring their fired wrestlers over to their show. We have already seen Moxley as a champ in WWE, what's the big deal now? Also, I know there should be some fun in wrestling but AEW sometimes takes it way to far and goes into the cheesy bad section that comes from a B movie in the '80s.
My Final Thoughts:
If you have made it this far you probably are thinking “how can anyone stand this show?” But- AEW is not terrible. Let’s keep things in perspective: the company itself has been alive for under 2 calendar years and their live television program has been on tv just 10 months total. AEW has a long way to go and in doing so, the aforementioned complaints will surely be addressed. The gripes of today's social media should only stand to motivate and help improve the product overall- something we should all be very excited for.
What is your biggest complaint with AEW? Like and share with your thoughts!
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