This week, professional wrestling discourse was worse than usual on Twitter, primarily due to a debate revolving around El Hijo del Vikingo’s upcoming AEW debut on Dynamite.  Tony Khan announced on Twitter this past Friday that Vikingo would be wrestling Kenny Omega in a match that has been postponed since 2021.  Some people were alarmed by this announcement.

You’ll notice that the match graphic has “Dream Match” written at the top.  Twitter was flush with variants of the following argument: How can the casual fan who only watches AEW and/or WWE consider this a dream match when they have never seen Vikingo before, and AEW has done nothing to build him up?

Everyone who I saw make the above argument was aware of Vikingo or had seen clips of him wrestle.  Those alarmed by this match announcement argued on behalf of the casual fan’s best interests.  Frankly, this seems like an odd thing to spend time doing.  I’m inclined to use a whopper of a phrase I don’t throw out lightly.  Perhaps these folks were arguing in BAD FAITH.  Let’s be clear—the match announcement was generally very well-received.  Most people are extremely excited to see Vikingo in America on a large stage.  Some people who favor WWE over AEW find this kind of excitement to be generated too easily.  Instead of considering why something like this would never happen in WWE (Vikingo will not be showing up on a random RAW to face Seth Rollins), they have to assume booking malpractice.

Let’s assume those people are arguing in good faith.

Let’s bracket the fact that AEW Rampage this past week did have a very brief video package about the match. Let’s also bracket the fact that we do not know how quickly this Vikingo appearance had to come together.  I still believe that there does not need to be any build for this match aside from announcing that the match is happening.

Kota Ibushi debuted his Ring of Honor on four shows across two double-shot weekends in April 2008.  Davey Richards, Claudio Castagnoli, the Briscoes, and El Generico were his opponents.  I think we can all agree that those matches were pretty safe bets.  While watching the DVDs of those shows, what struck me the most was that each crowd lost their minds at Ibushi running through his offense.  They lost their minds in a way that could only happen if they were largely unfamiliar with Ibushi beforehand.  It was magical.  I urge you to watch these matches if you have access to Honor Club, particularly the Claudio and Generico ones.

Furthermore, here was the paragraph from ROH’s newswire regarding Kota Ibushi in anticipation of his debut:

“Kota Ibushi will land in New Jersey today and have a good night’s sleep before embarking on what is considered a very important weekend in Japan. The entire DDT promotion has sent Ibushi to make them proud. Ibushi has two goals. First, he wants to bring respect to DDT by scoring wins. Second, he wants to make his reputation in the United States. Ibushi will pull out all the stops as he tries to steal the show and win. This weekend will be your only chance to see Ibushi live on the East Coast.”

That was the extent of Ring of Honor’s “build” for Ibushi, and I promise you everything turned out okay.

Even the “casual fans” were thrilled with the matches. Coincidentally, the video package on AEW Rampage explained that Vikingo wants to prove himself on the world stage.  History has shown that you truly do not need anything more than that when dealing with a wrestler with one of the most fluid and visually stunning offenses in the world.

There is plenty of discussions to be had about pro wrestling’s ability to capture and maintain viewership from casual fans in 2023.

Vikingo’s AEW debut against Kenny Omega has no bearing on that discussion. People are excited about the match despite the lack of build. Trying to pour cold water on that by pretending to care about the casual fan is silly.

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