Right before the first AEW show, Double or Nothing in 2019, Tony Khan did a media tour to promote the show and this quote stood out.
“Wrestling fans have wanted – and needed – something different, authentic and better for far too long. AEW is answering the call. AEW is about more than wrestling. It’s about a movement fueled by wrestling fans who have been underserved and perhaps even disappointed by what the industry has produced in recent years.”
Sounds familiar, right?
For the first few years of the promotion, Khan held true to his vision. We saw a multitude of great long-term pro wrestling stories play out. Adam Page went from losing his first world title challenge at the first All Out to winning the title at AEW Full Gear in 2021. Throughout that 2.5-year stretch, it was a great story talking about how Page overcame his own thoughts and issues to win the belt over his former Elite stablemate and tag team partner Kenny Omega.
You also had Wardlow finally snap and beat MJF three years to the day after the company and storyline started in a squash match. It was perfectly done, and you felt like a star was born with Wardlow. Long-term stories with the biggest stars in the company are what AEW was built upon
Over the last eight months, the promotion has changed. Out has gone the great long-term stories and in its place is something that we ran to AEW to avoid—over-the-top cartoon characters and stories that have massive logic gaps.
At AEW Full Gear 2023, MJF was injured in the tag team title match, and Adam Cole was set to replace him in the main event against Jay White. This in itself had numerous gaps of logic.
- In a company with interim titles having been the established route, why was Cole allowed to step in and defend the tile for MJF?
- If Cole wasn’t healthy enough for the tag team match, why was he allowed to wrestle in the main event?
- There were 10-15 people trying to stop MJF from coming out to defend the title after the goofy ambulance spot, but not a soul tried to stop Adam Cole?
These are just a few of the many gaps from Sunday night, and that is just from this match. We could talk for hours about the “Timeless” Toni Storm gimmick and how atrocious the finish with the metal plate blatantly sticking out of her butt and making Aubrey Edwards and the fan base look like idiots.
After the show, Tony Khan essentially attacked the fans who criticized the promotion with a scathing quote.
“If people want to see a sports-based presentation in every match, there’s 33 matches in the Continental Classic, so get ready. Strap in every Wednesday and Saturday. The same people who don’t want to see any outside interference, I’m not bullshitting I’m dead serious, if you don’t want to see any outside interference, if you want to see straight wrestling at its very best in a great field, then put your money where your fucking mouth is.”
Excuse me? Do you realize that you are talking both down and disrespectful to the people who literally helped build this company by being loyal fans and putting our money where our mouths are for four years? The same group of fans that sold out the first Double or Nothing in minutes because we believed this product would be different? The same fans that didn’t hesitate to buy 81k tickets to All In without an announced match because you presented pro wrestling and not a minor league version of WWE? The same fans that traveled for pay-per-views for years because they loved the promotion?
The reason why your numbers have been down isn’t our fault, it’s yours for providing an inferior product. AEW Dynamites have been subpar for the better part of two months due to the focus on WWE-style storylines and making the wrestling feel less important every week. We started watching this company and fell in love with it because of the wrestling and how everything meant something. The rankings made every win and loss matter and had title challenges feeling important.
“Hangman” Adam Page and Swerve Strickland in the Texas Deathmatch at Full Gear was the epitome of why we, the fans who want to be presented with professional wrestling, fell in love with this company. Everything about it was brilliant, from Page skipping his entrance to get at Strickland to the staple gun and everything in between. That was a top-five match I’ve ever seen, and it was exactly why those of us who want professional wrestling have stayed around for as long as we have.
Having MJF do a spoof of what can be described as a poor Hulk Hogan cosplay with the ambulance and taping his quad when his ankle and knee were attacked is just insulting to your fanbase.
This was our chance to truly have an American-based professional wrestling company with the wrestling being taken seriously and placed front and center. That’s slowly being taken away from us with this awful shift to doing second-rate WWE “stories.” It’s evident that others agree with me, as ratings and attendance for the television shows have been on the decline. Pair that with MJF/Jay White being rated a 3.81 on Cagematch when you said that fans were on “the edge of their seats” shows why the criticism is both fair and warranted.
I don’t know what happened.
Did you bring in the wrong people to the room in terms of booking? Was this your vision of pro wrestling all along, and we just got duped for years? You called this an alternative Tony, but how can it be an alternative by doing the same things WWE has done for years? You lied to us and then had the balls to call us out for your product running us away.
We will be putting our money where our mouths are, Tony Khan, but it’s not in your wallet. Great pay per views aren’t enough anymore. You’ve lost the plot, and I’m afraid you may never get it back.
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