AEW has been struggling over the last few months.
They have lost their way with multiple elements of what made the company great at its inception. From long-term storytelling in the ring to great matches just because they could, AEW was the viable alternative many of us had begged for since the closure of WCW in 2001.
The last few months have veered from that path, as many elements have become a WWE-style presentation. That has started to run off many of the original fans. I wrote about Tony Khan lost the plot two weeks ago after his scathing line in the press scrum from Full Gear.
“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.”
The criticism was heard by many, but an immediate change didn’t come on the ensuing episode of AEW Dynamite. You could blame it on being short notice or a holiday episode that historically doesn’t draw well, as it’s the biggest drinking day of the year.
While attending last night’s AEW Dynamite live at the Target Center, it became evident what the saving grace for AEW will be.
Every so often, an enigma unleashes itself on the world of pro wrestling. Over the last four years, Moxley has been that and then some.
Moxley isn’t just a good worker and a great talker; everything about him screams authenticity. When he takes the mic, you believe him. Everything he says feels real because Jon Moxley isn’t a character. Jonathan Good really is Jon Moxley.
After his match in the Continental Classic against Jay Lethal, Moxley cut a promo talking about where he is at and his struggles. That turned into something beautiful.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) November 30, 2023
“So I’m going to do the only thing I know how to do the only thing I’ve ever been good at wrestling my way out of it was fight my way out. Put every ounce every drop of sweat and effort and will I have in winning this continental classic tournament. This kind of thing. This is what AEW was built on man. Two guys in the ring, the best wrestlers in the world. They’re all feeling that feeling when you’ve given every ounce yourself in the ring and pushing the limits and pushing the boundaries and making the people stand up and go oh my god. What did I just see? Feeling that connection with the audience that loves wrestling as much as we do. That’s what AEW is about.”
Moxley is right. This is AEW. This is what it’s supposed to be about.
It’s not Brochacos, doing a Marilyn Monroe cosplay, or figuring out the devil’s identity. It’s two wrestlers going at with stakes and delivering a great match. It’s telling stories within the four-sided ring, like Hangman Adam Page’s journey to winning the AEW World Heavyweight Championship. It’s settling grudges in a Texas Deathmatch or Dog Collar Match. It’s rooting things in reality and not being overly cartoonish.
It might have taken the debut of CM Punk at WWE Survivor Series 2023 to change things for the better, but leaning into guys like Moxley and authenticity is the key to moving things forward. After a great episode of Dynamite, the mantra “restore the feeling” seems like it could be achieved, but we need more than one week to get there.
“Somebody’s got to step up and win this term and show the world exactly what AEW is exactly what All Elite Wrestling can be. That’s just gonna have to be me. Because anybody can say whatever they want, but I’m the ace of the world bitch and that’s just the way it is.”
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