AEW Rampage ratings have fallen fairly dramatically over the past few months and the show has been heavily criticized for lackluster booking. Specifically, its issues have been pointed to as a lack of star power on the show and matches lacking stakes. Another issue with AEW booking, in general, is that the result of TV matches is often easy to predict – in AEW, if a match doesn’t have special stakes, the bigger star will almost always win the match. With the seeming death of the weekly rankings, there is often no obvious meaning to a match’s result beyond general motivations of people wanting to win.
In 1990, WCW did a gimmick where wrestlers would have to “run the gauntlet.” Joe Lanza wrote about one of these matches in a recent Patreon Match of the Week. At the time, the promotion had three television shows on consecutive nights – Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
One wrestler would be chosen to run the gauntlet, where they had to beat three straight opponents – one on each show – to win a cash prize. If they failed, the cash prize would be split among the opponents.
Modifying this approach to apply only to AEW Rampage could help give the show some sorely needed meaning.
Have a challenger win have matches on three straight Rampages. If they win them all, they get a title shot – it might be better to have the shot be for the TNT Championship so the eventual title shot would have a more unpredictable end result than a World title match. This could be a way to feature an up-and-coming talent as a potential threat, either elevating them all the way to a title shot or else just teasing them nearly being there. An underused mid-carder could get featured for a couple weeks.
Dax Harwood’s Award-Hunting Singles Matches could play into something bigger than just the existence of good matches. You could eventually have someone win all three and demand a shot at the World Champion instead. New feuds can be created out of this, existing feuds can be built into it. You can have one gauntlet be a women’s single challenge and the next be a series of men’s trios matches.
This is an extremely simple idea that can fulfill so many storytelling needs and plays into what is a sometimes-inconsistent aspect of AEW and it matches the wrestling-primary format that AEW likes to implement.
You can follow Fred on Twitter at @flagrantrasslin. He hosts a podcast with Tyler Forness inspired by this article; the latest episode is available here.
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