AEW began as a promotion by implementing a rankings system.
Eventually, three sets of rankings based on win-loss records were released weekly, usually before each episode of AEW Dynamite. On the first episode of AEW Dynamite, Cody Rhodes wrestled Sammy Guevara before challenging Chris Jericho for the AEW World Title at Full Gear.
In anticipation of his Dynamite match, Cody came out and said he would lose his title shot if Sammy beat him.
There was optimism that rankings and records would matter.
Fast forward to September 2022.
FTR had been #1 in the rankings since April but had yet to receive a title shot. The rankings had very little, if any, impact on AEW storylines. AEW’s website discontinued updates to the rankings.
Then, Tony Khan said the following in an interview with Comicbook.com:
“I haven’t updated [the rankings] lately because I think so much has been fluid, coming out of the Grand Slam Tournament of Champions in particular. It’s a fluid situation coming out of Grand Slam and I think now I’m reevaluating it and quite possibly could bring them back soon, but certainly made a lot of changes for the better that led to our best ratings of the year in many ways because we really zoned in and have had, I think, a lot of our best shows in recent months.”
As of today, the rankings on AEW’s website end on August 31, 2022. I do not want to conduct a deep dive into why the ranking system did not work for AEW. Rather, I want to provide an alternative suggestion for any promotion interested in making wins and losses matter. Enter the CHIKARA points system.
In CHIKARA, wrestlers earned title shots by accumulating three points. You earned a point each time you won a match or secured a fall in an elimination match.
If you lost a match, any accumulated points were lost and you went back to zero.
Once you obtained three points, you could challenge for a title.
It’s an incredibly simple system on paper, though there were some nuances. For instance, if wrestler X earned their third point but wrestler Y already cashed in their points and was waiting for a title shot, wrestler X would have to avoid losing until they could receive their title shot.
Frankly, the simplicity of this method is a huge advantage.
A wrestler or tag team needs to win three matches (or falls) in a row. Seemingly random exhibition matches now matter in an identifiable way. The points system also forces the booking to have discipline. You might be surprised to learn that Preston Vance has an AEW career record of 79-27 but has only received three total title shots. The mentality of padding win-loss records with squash matches would have to be erased under this system and I believe that would be for the best.
Additionally, this method does not necessarily require someone to wrestle three matches in order to earn a title shot. If the booking plans involve wrestler X receiving a title shot next week and they have no points, they can wrestle in a four-way elimination match this week and pick up every fall. Multi-wrestler elimination matches were common in CHIKARA due to how well they played around with the concept of the points system.
AEW came out of the gate stressing that wins and losses would matter. It made strategic sense to do so given how little wins and losses matter in WWE.
The points system was one of the best aspects of CHIKARA.
For a weekly television promotion, a simplistic, concrete process for determining title challengers that does not paint your booking into a corner would be a true asset.
Bring back the CHIKARA points system.
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