All Elite Wrestling wants its identity again. That’s not a deep analysis of what the last months of AEW programming have been but something any functional human being could see from a mile away. After a forgettable year or so, the company founded by Tony Khan and The Elite is looking to be elite like they once were. The wrestling show is slowly focusing more on wrestling and telling stories in the ring. They’re leaving long segments behind and are thriving in their in-ring storytelling that many fans fail to catch but yearn so much. It’s a quest to restore the feeling, as many AEW stars have been saying for quite some time but none have been able to express it like that of Daniel Garcia, the wrestler who brought that term to AEW programming. The mere idea of restoring the feeling expresses a necessity of going back to the values that made AEW what it is today, therefore it would make sense that they’re looking to appeal to more of the fans that have stuck with them through Max Caster segments and anything involving Don Callis. And how do you start restoring the feeling? Well, that’s an easy question I’m sure, no pun intended, Khan can answer.

By stealing a term from the wrestling community. 

It’s no secret some wrestling fans are mad that AEW has stolen the term “sicko” and has used it to market their product to a more hardcore audience, and it’s also no secret that they’re failing to catch the attention of the so-called “sickos” they swear to represent. The thing is that marketing your company towards “sickos” immediately shall be somewhat of a red alert because the mere idea of the “sicko” term being used by AEW fans has been moderately controversial in the deep circles where that word began being thrown around. To be honest, “sicko” is just a meme that in no way, shape, or form shall be used by a brand because we all know what happens when brands start using memes: for short, they die. 

The term “sicko” is not an exception to the rule, due to it feeling empty once you know a millionaire is using it to make people buy t-shirts and merch more so if the original meaning of “sicko” in the wrestling community was pandered to a more hardcore audience or an audience that just yearns for the sport to be more appealing of their taste.

Because let’s be honest, if you call yourself a “sicko” for watching Will Ospreay matches, then you have failed to understand the meaning of “sicko” in its entirety and which part of the community has been using it. The “sicko” is an entity that does not conform to what you could do or what you HAVE to do, but expects what you didn’t know you could do. For example, the last show that has pandered to the real “sickos” was Josh Barnett’s Bloodsport Bushido, because you had names there that connected with the original idea of what a sicko was. El Desperado’s Invitacional was also an example of that because marketing your shows to “sickos” implies giving “sickos” what they want: and no, sickos don’t want Ospreay matches, they want to see something out of the ordinary. Sickos want to see something like Hikaru Sato vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

It’s risky to imply it like that because you WILL sound like the most annoying human being in the world, but I guess people can be mad about a wrestling company using a term that they used to identify not only their tastes in wrestling but people who they could share that taste with. This analysis of what AEW has done with the term “sicko” does not only stick to wrestling but any other aspect of life in which a brand has used something to appeal to a certain type of audience they want to be part of it. 

It’s somewhat familiar to the capitalist mindset in which everything has to be something you can make money with, or something that can be used as an “accessory” more so than something that is used to feel identified. And to be honest, AEW could have used different terms and marketed them, and it wouldn’t have felt weird or something that they’re doing to appeal to a certain demographic that will not tune in to watch their shows, I mean, WWE did that a couple of times and nobody jumped to criticize them because at least it was somewhat original. I’m not against something like “restore the feeling” to name an example.

I yearn for the company to “restore the feeling” because I didn’t watch any of AEW’s programming for six months thanks to it losing its identity in 2023. I’ve been watching AEW since its inception and I have witnessed the peak of the original vision, this being Full Gear 2021. I can say that I know what its true identity is. I have seen it with my own two eyes. The issue lies when you practically steal something that is for the people, and make it for your benefit.

That’s why AEW is not for the sickos, because if AEW were for the sickos, you wouldn’t have MJF against Hechicero at Forbidden Door, you would have Daniel Garcia vs. Hechicero. You wouldn’t have Hook, Samoa Joe, and Katsuyori Shibata in a faction, you would have Hook vs Katsuyori Shibata in an Americanized version of Shibata vs Fujita Jr. Hayato back in 2005’s Michinoku Pro

I’m not saying those three aren’t being one of the best things 2024 AEW has to offer, but I’m expressing the difference between booking for AEW fans, and the “sickos” you pander to.

That’s the reason why even in the quest for its identity, AEW has failed to find its core audience yet because, at the end of the day, it’s still a millionaire company, and millionaire companies always try to make everything about money and how much you can sell a premise with a term you stolen from the deepest circles of wrestling discourse which you once frequented. Said circles that are now stating you have killed “sickos” for good, and to be honest, you did the second you started selling merch with the word in it. Because it’s not a word anymore. The universal weapon people have is words. You use words to express your ideas, and your thoughts, to live the life you want to live, to digress with something, and to write an article about how words are becoming accessories in modern society. Words have meanings, and you can’t change them for anything that it’s worth. Words shall never be something worth $20, because you would be a sick man if you want them to have a price.

So yeah, AEW is not for the sickos, and it’s okay to say it.

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