For the primary time this previous weekend, and deliberately it doesn’t matter what they could say, WWE and AEW ran PPVs/PLEs on the identical weekend, maybe being in direct competitors with one another for the primary time since NXT was backed off Wednesday nights. Seems like nearly as good of a time as any to see the place the businesses are individually and in relation to one another with large adjustments, large tales, and the longer term as thrilling and intriguing because it’s ever been. Right this moment, we do our greatest to get a deal with on simply what’s occurring with AEW.
Whether or not Tony Khan really is aggrieved or secretly loves that WWE got here for him on Labor Day weekend, we’ll by no means know. He claimed in his pre-show media name that one of many issues which have upset him about the best way WWE has “handled” him was the scheduling of Conflict At The Fortress the day earlier than All Out, as AEW’s largest PPV has been on Labor Day weekend for all 4 of its installments. It has been, and relying in your views until is, AEW’s weekend. However deep down, you get the sensation that Khan relishes getting to place his product on in such shut proximity to New York’s.
What precisely Khan thinks is the AEW product and all that comes with it’s one other query.
Earlier than diving into the nuts and bolts of AEW’s “Tough Evening” weekend, it’s not possible to overlook that AEW had all these mishegas to the purpose the place nobody within the trade is speaking about Conflict At The Fortress now (although there weren’t a variety of speaking factors popping out of that present, which we’ll get to in our subsequent installment). It’s just a bit good, no? Perhaps I’m studying an excessive amount of into it, however the entire level of wrestling is making an attempt to determine what’s actual and what isn’t and what’s story and what isn’t, and that all the things is up for that precise debate.
Nonetheless, AEW has been bonkers for weeks now, and one wonders if it’s a part of the plan. Khan has been out entrance to say it’s an excellent factor to have intrigue and rumors and unrest backstage as a result of it might enhance the product in entrance of it. However a few of these claims have an actual “Baghdad Bob” really feel to them, as Khan tries to inform us there’s nothing to see right here. We all know Khan hasn’t handled battle or criticism properly previously (Huge Swole would love a phrase), and there’s a feeling that fairly merely he doesn’t know what to do when issues don’t go in line with his plan. The extra you scream, “That is wonderful! That is wonderful!” the extra the home burns across the coffee-sipping canine, as anybody on the web is aware of.
It’s a horribly dated reference, and I’m a horribly dated guy, but the whole thing has felt like Guns N’ Roses in the Use Your Illusion era. If you weren’t around, or don’t remember, GNR was the biggest band in the world in a way that few have approached since. But their world tour to support the Use Your Illusion albums was a complete circus. Yes, most of the shows were great, but the stories off-stage swallowed up as much as the shows did. It was constantly something, as Axl started two riots, Slash died for eight minutes, Duff McKagan’s pancreas exploded a year later, Izzy quit, shows were canceled as Axl dodged the cops over said riots, or some of the shows were awful, as everyone was too fucked up to play. It was very rock n’ roll, but of course, the band was done as soon as it was over.
That’s not to say that AEW will end because of all this, or anything close. And a fair number of fans, maybe even most AEW fans, love the turmoil. Or they’re just drinking the Kool-Aid. And fuck, Dynamite on Wednesday is going to be must-see. Anything could happen! They’ll all be so until Grand Slam in two weeks when it’s likely MJF faces CM Punk, and Queens is technically part of Long Island, so the math is there. But there are definitely fans who don’t really need the stories of backstage politics and straight-up fights, and indeed others who don’t like hearing that AEW has been an unpleasant place to work for some for a while now, with a couple of beloved stars reportedly aching to get out. And there’s a symmetry to those that declare they’re lapping up the controversies now are the identical ones who mocked WWE underneath Vince McMahon and all of the distress he was inflicting backstage in WWE.
Whereas there’s a variety of leeway, what followers need probably the most is just a few small stage of stability, of figuring out that the corporate A) will make it long-term and B) can put out the identical stage of exhibits it has been. When you’ve tales of wrestlers threatening to stroll, or really strolling at occasions, these fears develop. And there’s a shelf lifetime of simply how lengthy you possibly can maintain issues going when you’re a whole circus backstage. One thing main will go incorrect that AEW can’t simply “nice match and present” over.
On the flip aspect, most however not all of AEW’s “issues” proper now are centered round one thin-skinned CM Punk. What the reality is with Punk, what he did or didn’t do to Colt Cabana’s standing, what he cleared for promos and what he didn’t, we might by no means know for certain till somebody writes the tell-all guide in 10 years. And none of this needed to be a factor, as a result of no matter remark Hangman Web page made was no totally different than what Eddie Kingston or MJF had stated of their promos for his or her matches with Punk, and nobody else thought something of. Punk simply sat on it whereas injured and stewed, after which introduced it again up just so he might get the final phrase in after which introduced this all on himself. No matter it was, it was petty.
No matter you consider Punk, and it ranges the spectrum, you’d be hard-pressed to seek out anybody contained in the trade or exterior that may have a foul phrase to say about Colt Cabana, considered one of many larger sweethearts within the enterprise. In the meantime, throw a rock and also you’ll in all probability hit somebody who can let you know for certain that Punk is an authorized asshole. As a detailed good friend of mine has stated, you possibly can’t discover somebody so proudly and outwardly straight-edge who isn’t an authorized asshole.
With all the things that spilled out from backstage and the post-All Out press convention, it was clear that Khan didn’t actually have any management. Perhaps he desires it to look that approach, and it’s all a grand story, or they’ll get it there, however the feeling was that this was all taking place to Khan as an alternative of at his course. Which gave it an actual WCW really feel, and we all know how that ended. However then there’s the MJF arc, which appeared like one other factor that spun out of Khan’s management, or made to appear to be it had, and ended with MJF proper the place he’s all the time been, besides perhaps simply greater on the cardboard and with a much bigger examine.
It’s clearly extra than simply Punk. There’s no matter is happening with Thunder Rosa, Miro’s reported agitation, or probably what’s occurring with Malakai Black (could possibly be private points and having nothing to do with Khan), or one or two different tales. It appears like Khan is making an attempt to corral a thunderstorm and get it to the subsequent city, although that’s a lot within the custom of wrestling’s carny roots. Whereas AEW’s devoted fanbase will all the time give it a number of roads and supply it with a base in attendance and rankings, a part of the allure of AEW in its first three years was that it was began by a gaggle of pals who wished to run an organization the best way they thought it ought to, and everybody was blissful attending to do the matches and tales they wished to. That is clearly fairly totally different now.
AEW goes to burn actually brightly over the subsequent few weeks and months from the fallout from all this. However there’s a concern that if you happen to burn that brightly you’re going to burn out, which is what AEW followers have all the time feared.