In the AEW Full Gear 2023 presser, once again, we had MJF talking about how AEW brings a ton of diverse pro wrestling styles to the fans. This reminded me of his words in the Wrestle Dream presser, where he talked about pro wrestling being an ice cream shop that sells all kinds of flavors to explain why his stuff is so vastly different from other things in the company.
I can do metaphors, too, so let’s talk about this ice cream shop.
Back in 2019, we just had one big ice cream shop that everyone ate at since the other options were artisanal ice cream that wasn’t that accessible or just shitty ice cream that was sold in stores. The ice cream in this big company never changed, and in fact, the quality was not there, so much that it drove fans away, and some simply started eating Japanese ice cream. Fans were in want of an alternative that would be easy to access and for it to offer quality ice cream.
Then came Tony Khan and announced that he would open his own ice cream shop, a big one, that would be in malls and in both major and minor cities. But they weren’t going to be selling what the big one does. He would sell some of the artisanal ones alongside the classics, those that we ice cream freaks love to eat. The store would have all kinds of flavors, but different from the other one in taste and quality.
A lot of us ice cream freaks loved what we got. It felt great to have quality ice cream readily available, and we showed our love for it by eating there every week. Not all of the flavors were great, but most of them were. They even got a Chicago-based ice cream and a Portland-based one that made the stores even fuller.
Hardcore ice cream fans were loving it, and new fans we’re coming in. Even the new flavors were getting a lot of love, from the orange ice cream to one with a cowboy on the branding.
This store was getting criticized by fans of the big one, though. They were saying that this company did not know how to make ice cream, that it was too rich, too much sugar, too expensive, that they did not even know how to display it behind the glass. The other fans said that for this ice cream to be even more successful, it needed to taste and be displayed like the market leader. But this alternative kept chugging along, being successful, and slowly growing its audience with quality ice cream that was completely different from the other place.
The criticism online was so bad that eventually, it got to the owner. He decided that the ice cream needed a change.
One day, four years later, fans started noticing something: this alternative ice cream was starting to taste like the big company one. Hell, even worse, this was a bad imitation of the big one. The artisanal and interesting tastes were getting smaller, while chocolate and vanilla that tasted just like the one from the big company, but in a Great Value way, increased. This was especially apparent when this alternative ice cream started hiring people who used to work for the big company.
Eventually, these hardcore ice cream fans stopped going because the alternative initially changed what it promised and brought along. It’s not that the alternative stopped giving them ice cream, but it was not the ice cream that they signed up for in the first place. Fans were promised something different and eventually got a generic brand, which made people slowly stop going. The owner is blaming the original ice cream fans for not supporting his new vision.
Tony says he's not bullshitting, there will be no outside interference in the C2. Seems to be pointedly saying this is for critical fans who want more "pure sports" style presentation. Says those fans need to "Put their money where their fucking mouth is" and tune in for it.
— Trevor Dame (@TrevorDame) November 19, 2023
That is what happened with AEW.
They changed their core and are now wondering why fans complain and leave. Because for them, it’s not their fault. It’s us.
The MJF-verse and “Timeless” Toni are examples of cartoons that would not have existed in the original vision of AEW. The MJF show long thread in Full Gear 2023 and his skits and promos in the style of 2005 WWE that started in March and keeps going up to the time of this writing aren’t things that would have fit AEW a year ago. Hell, would not have fit in the vision of AEW in January 2023.
Going back to the ice cream shop, why is this metaphor only used for pro wrestling? We don’t talk about movies, TV shows, and things of that nature needing to be an ice cream shop. An example of a show being an ice cream shop is Saturday Night Live. It has different sketches, and not all of them land with everyone. Yet, it never loses its essence: it is a comedy show. You won’t see a sketch followed by a dramatic scene from Henrik Ibsen followed by Weekend Update, followed by the latest update on the elections in Brazil.
An ice cream shop needs consistency and to try to keep those fans that made it a success in the first place. Some of the big ice cream company fans might jump over, but eventually, you’ll create new fans for your shop. Fans that weren’t part of the big one since you offer an alternative, something that if you don’t like the other one, at least there’s this.
I’m sad that my favorite U.S. ice cream shop is now selling generic brands. At least it still has my favorite artisanal Rocky Road in a corner, but I’m afraid it will eventually become a generic brand, too.
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