I asked anyone that currently dislike AEW to list as many reasons as to why, that they could, being as detailed as possible, but not requiring “paragraphs.” A social media friend was kind enough to engage me on this. In this article I will respond at length to these “issues.” My aim here is not to make my friend look bad, but to try and make a point that when it comes to professional wrestling, many need to learn the hard lesson that I learned. Wrestling and wrestling fandom is best served when we as fans, find what we like, and dedicate our time to that. When we simply ignore, and walk away from any and everything we dislike. If you dislike everything, then wrestling just isn’t for you anymore. I couldn’t accept that for myself, so I found the company I like best, the company I could accept the most, and that’s AEW. WWE, and other companies are not for me, at all, but I will not spend my time online criticizing them, or celebrating their failures, botches, ratings, etc. I will be too busy promoting, and talking positively about what I love, and the IWC will be a better place because of it. I ask you all to join me in this venture! Now, here are my friends “issues” with AEW, and my response to each of them.
Long term booking:
MJF’s rise to the world title has been a long term story, and it’s the best story going right now in AEW. MJF is the best heel in all of wrestling, even using William Regal to get the top, then turning on him, holding a grudge since his WWE tryouts, years ago!
Darby Allin’s rise, with Sting by his side, is long term story telling. Sting even said he returned to wrestling because of Darby!
Samoa Joe’s arrival and tear through the company has been happening since he arrived. Yes, the turn on Wardlow was sudden, but he’s a mean MF’er who snaps easily.
Orange Cassidy has gone from a goofy “mascot” to a legit contender, and champion, in a very slow build.
Jungle Boy Jack Perry’s rise as an under sized baby face has been long term storytelling, his best friend turning on him, twice, is something he had to overcome, inside a cage match, where the long term story ended!
Jamie Hayter arrives in AEW, has been a lifelong friend to Toni Storm, but she joins Britt Baker because she wants the World title, and chooses that over friendship!
Wardlow was sidetracked, I will admit that. But his story isn’t over. Honestly, I think he got so big, so fast, Tony and company didn’t know what to do, because they weren’t ready to put the world title on him yet. I think you have to pivot in wrestling at times, based on people’s reaction, and AEW does have to learn to do that more, for sure! However; this is not as bad as Vince McMahon purposefully killing people’s pushes and spots, just because he wanted to, or he didn’t like them. Tony makes mistakes, he doesn’t look to crush wrestlers who have worked hard.
Powerhouse Hobbs story is still being told. He’s going places, and he will arrive as his story is told. Could it be better? I suppose it could, but it’s there and I predict it’s going to be good in the end!
Storylines that make sense
I don’t understand this complaint at all. There are a ton of “stories” in wrestling that don’t make sense to me, but people seem to like. Sami Zayn with the Uso’s.” I don’t find that interesting, or funny. I find it dumb. But that’s me. To others it makes sense and is good, and funny. What in AEW doesn’t make sense specifically? I think this is just the person not liking some stuff in AEW and as such, saying it “doesn’t make sense.”
Stop the rinse and repeat elite crap they have the same match every time.
To be fair, I don’t care for The Elite at all either. I agree their matches are almost all exactly the same, but again, this is a preference issue, not a “legitimate” issue with the company. I can’t stand hardcore matches, but some love them. I can’t stand comedy stuff (worse case example is Micro Man in MLW) but for some reason, some people love it. Since 1977 (when I started watching) wrestling has always had wrestlers, stories, angles, gimmicks, that I personally hated with a passion. Again, this is a preference issue, and not a legit “problem” with the company.
Improve the horrible women's division
This has to be a complaint from someone that hasn’t been watching. The women’s division was hideous with Nyla Rose, Riho, and Emi Sakura dominating it. Recently we’ve had Toni Storm, Jade Cargill (Green, but passionate and learning), Jamie Hayter, Willow Nightingale, Athena, and other top talents on top. It’s clearly improved, and still improving.
Stop mentioning WWE every single week
Rival companies have been doing this since WWE took over the industry. The NWA did it a lot, Jim Crockett promotion promo’s frequently contained veiled shots at Vince, or WWE. Impact wrestling has done it, and my God, Eric Bischoff challenged Vince McMahon to a damn fight! Like it or not, this has been happening and likely will keep happening, as long as the WWE is in control of the industry.
Push deserving talent stop signing wrestler's as your roster is over crowded
Who determines who is “deserving?” Is MJF not deserving of the World title? Jamie Hayter? Is Samoa Joe not deserving of holding both the AEW and ROH TV titles? How about The Acclaimed? Not deserving of the tag titles? I suppose enough people hate Orange Cassidy to say he isn’t deserving, but again, based on your dislike isn’t enough to really warrant saying he’s not deserving. The roster is not over crowded, it is however not fully used. Tony Kahn simply spreads himself too thin. I don’t care how rich, powerful and intelligent Kahn is, you can’t book as much wrestling as he does, and not miss guys, opportunities, etc. Tony needs to delegate some of his booking to others he trusts. Then we will see their amazing roster used better, and more fully.
Look, I could name a dozen things that I think suck about WWE and many other wrestling promotion’s. But the idea of “fans” going on social media, spouting their opinions as facts, and saying these supposed “facts” prove that AEW sucks is embarrassingly stupid. If you enjoy WWE, go watch that, and ignore AEW. I ignore WWE, MLW, Impact, and several other companies. I absolutely loathe “DDT” wrestling out of Japan, so I don’t watch it, nor do I pay it any mind. I suppose all the crying and complaining is based on the idea that those doing it WANT to like and enjoy AEW, but can’t, because it’s not what they want it to be. I’m sorry for you, I really am, because I once lived in that head space too. Maybe after reading this, instead of getting angrier, you’ll do what I did. You’ll make up your mind to try and just watch what you enjoy, and talk pleasantly about that! What a better place the wrestling community would be if that were to happen!
For years I followed, loved, and supported the modern style, “indie” wrestling product. I had a podcast (From the Top Turnbuckle) and covered promotions around the world, most passionately though, my local promotions (UWE, LCW, Legacy, etc.). This lead to me working for those promotions as a commentator and interviewer, later also working for several other promotions, most notably MCW Pro Wrestling, based in Joppa Maryland. I had an absolute blast during those years!
What made me fall out of love with the modern, indie style, was the arrival of guys like Joey Ryan and Dick Justice, as well as the promotion of undertrained guys, often to the very top of indie promotions, simply based on their friendship with the promoters, or their willingness to keep paying for training, no matter how much that training wasn’t helping. Things like “dance offs” in the middle of matches, and top indie guys wrestling “invisible men” also chased me away. I found all of these things not only embarrassing, but an insult to professional wrestling as a whole. This drove me to branding myself as “The Wrestling Snob” on the hunt for only the best professional wrestling.
When AEW first began I was excited! Finally a real alternative to the WWE. Sadly though, AEW featured and used a fair amount of talents that embraced the foolishness I hated. Sure, they had some good, solid, matches, but to me, they were often ruined by the weirdos and goofballs out there doing their shtick on the same cards. However; if you’ve noticed, most of those “wrestlers” are gone, or demoted to the YouTube shows now, simply because they aren’t a real draw. Being on top of small indie card is one thing, but being on National TV is another. Selling 300 tickets is different than selling 5,000 or more.
Finally, after three years, AEW has settled into being a solid company. Yes, Tony Kahn and company cater to the “smarks.” AEW doesn’t seem desperate to draw in the casual fans. Maybe that’s a mistake, but being that I can’t stand casual wrestling fans, I’m okay with it. As of late, AEW really reminds me of the indie wrestling company I worked for, that I loved most, and that was Legacy Wrestling. This is the main reason that I find it appealing right now. That said though, there are some rules, or line items, that you need to not only accept, but embrace, if you’re an old school guys like me, wanting to follow a modern day, American, wrestling product. Here are those rules/line items.
1. You must accept that today’s wrestling is a completely different product that it was in the 80’s and 90’s (or even earlier). Yes, it has some elements that are the same, some concepts that are the same, but overall it’s wildly different.
2. You must accept that the modern fan is as different as the product is today. The vast majority of modern fans are attention deficit. They can’t follow long angles (story lines) or intelligent gimmicks. They will turn the channel the second something bores them, or makes them think too much. This is why many old school guys won’t book an old school style. They understand their audience and sadly, what that means.
3. You must accept that you will be miserable if you watch today’s wrestling with an old school mindset. I don’t mean just in regard to the style of the in ring performers, but the booking, the story telling, the “sensibility” that the old school stuff often had is now dead. Today’s product is shot gun style, full of car crash matches. I too wish this were not the case, but I love wrestling so much that I find a way to adapt to today’s style, and presentation. If you can’t do that, don’t even bother watching.
4. Selling is dead. While it happens on a small level, today’s product is about moves. The matches are so fast that there isn’t time to sell much. The idea is that today’s wrestlers have “fighting spirit” that keeps them going, almost like a magic fairy dust. It’s a concept that was born in Japan, and adopted by today’s wrestlers. Yes, I am hurt, but “fighting spirit” allows me to kick out of monstrous moves and keep going. The winner of today’s matches is the wrestler with the most “fighting spirit.” This concept applies the same way to giant wrestler vs little wrestler match ups.
I used to do a podcast where the theme was a modern promoter, and fan of the old school debating me in regard to those ideas and the new school ideas and approaches. We did that weekly show for over a year, but the problem was, there was no argument to be made. I knew I was losing nearly every argument because it cannot be denied that the old ways, the old traditions, are much better and more intelligent that the modern ways and traditions. The best things about the modern style are the few old ways and traditions that are still kept! Please understand, that because old school wrestling was so good, it simply can’t be placed up against today’s product. The old school wins easily, every time. My argument now isn’t new school vs old school. My argument is that an old school fan, if choosing to, can adapt to the new school product and enjoy it, possibly even love it! That is what I now seek to show you all here at WrestlingDoneRight.com. I hope that I can be successful in doing so, because this is the wrestling we have today, and if you’re like me, you just love professional wrestling!
I love wrestling. I have loved wrestling since I was eight years old. I love old school wrestling most of all, and yes, I realize that is mostly because I am soon going to be 53 years old. I also realize that old school wrestling is pretty much dead, gone, and buried.
Pro Wrestling Noah has a much slower paced (mostly) harder hitting, better selling, style than any other wrestling company on Earth. I will always be a fan of Noah, a respecter of it without doubt. The problem though is that it's not American style wrestling. They don't do in ring, or at a podium promos/interviews. They don't do any real angles, not as I know angles to be in America. They have few real "big" personalities. Their reason for fighting is simply for the competition. I crave more than that. I also miss English commentary on EVERY show. Most of all I miss having people to interact with about what I am watching. People to agree with and even people to disagree with. Watching Japanese wrestling is pretty lonely.
Stardom is the best "modern day" wrestling there is. However it suffers from lack of everything I mentioned about Pro Wrestling Noah. The in ring stuff is great as well, but it's also a lonely place to be a fan, as an English speaking American. They also do too much comedy for my tastes. Not enough to make me say it's not any good, but still too much imo.
I had found my place in indy wrestling for a number of years. I LOVED IT!!!! What made me start to not love it, but to actually hate it, was dick boy Joey Ryan, finger gun idiot Dick Justice, and other clowns like that. Dance competitions, blow up doll matches, and invisible men, made me loathe the indy scene with a passion. Yes, I was never fond of the lack of selling, or insane bumps that not only didn't end a match, but the wrestler on the receiving end of said insane bumps, often coming back to WIN the damn match, made me flee the indie scene, insulting everything about it on the way.
MLW gave me joy for a few years, but now they've sold out to some of, if not the worst comedy bullshit I've seen in years, if ever. Micro man is bad, so insulting, that I am almost hurt to see it happening in a company that I put over so strongly. It breaks my heart watching that go on in that company. Mean while, I can't recall the last Von Erich match I've seen there.
The NWA had such potential, but The Question Mark bull shit is just cringe, and shits on everything they do in that company, or did. Now the Nick Aldis stuff seals their fate imo. They had magic in a bottle and not only spilled it, but smashed the bottle all over the sidewalk.
I have wanted to love and support AEW simply because someone, ANYONE, finally took on Vince McMahon again. I've always liked and respected Eric Bischoff for the same reason. AEW did some hideous shit for a long time (so did WCW). Stuff that angered me, and made me want to scream, and I often did scream about it, anywhere I could. Currently AEW reminds of the one company that I worked for, that I loved, and that's Legacy Wrestling. They have decent enough angles (stories) at the moment, and lots of solid matches, in the modern style, that pales in comparison to my beloved JCP style, but I love wrestling....and I don't want to...hell I can't forsake it. I have tried, and tried, and tried, to walk away from wrestling, and I am just unable to. It's my favorite entertainment medium by far. Nothing else is even close.
So I am going to see how much I can enjoy AEW for now by not acting like an insider. I will cheer for who I like, and boo who I hate. I will root for "my guys" to win, and those I can't stand to lose. Just like I did as a kid, and later a teenager, back in the day. Yes, I now know who deserves pushes and who doesn't, depending on a lot of different merits. I understand who can work, and who can't. I will forever be disgusted by those who refuse to sell as much as they should, but I got over that as a long time Ring of Honor fan, a while ago.
AEW may again go down a road that disgusts and infuriates me, we shall see. But for now, I need a non WWE, American company, that I can find people to engage with about. A company with more than a small YouTube or FITE TV audience. A company that's easily accessible, because that is the ONLY way you can ever find an engaged audience, and a company that in the very least, has some guys I consider friends and acquaintances that I worked with, on their way up. So excuse me for just wanting to TRY to enjoy American wrestling again. Yes, that means compromises, and no, I don't like compromises, at all, but I've learned it's either that, or just being a bored, lonely, Japanese wrestling fan that misses so many elements of what I think Pro Wrestling is.
Beginning Saturday, November, 19, 2022, I (Adam Leavelle) will begin breaking down every AEW Show, and PPV, in this "open letter" style. I will offer praise, but also constructive criticism. While loving Pro Wrestling Noah's in ring style, and work, I greatly miss American style wrestling, and will contribute what I can to AEW, in hopes of something, anything, getting through to someone. If nothing I say accomplishes anything, I will at least enjoy attempting to make a difference, for at least as long as I can! A small link titled "Open Letter To AEW" can be found at the top of the home page, beside "Adam's Bio."
-The Wrestling Snob
When they were on Vice TV, MLW Fusion drew their largest audience on beIn Sports TV at around 10k viewers. Before, and after that, they draw around 4k to 7k views per show. On YouTube the shows get 60k to 110k views on average. To be more than fair, let’s say with everywhere they can be seen, they draw 200-250k views per episode. My question is, who are they trying to reach with their current presentation, with the Lucha Underground, and midget comedy stuff? Is there an honest belief that those things will draw larger numbers than they typically get? Would it honestly be "riskier" to present MORE of the style that they presented pre-pandemic? Or, could there be more lapsed fans out there looking for that, the old school, pre-pandemic style, than there are looking for Lucha Underground, and midget comedy wrestling? I'm being straight up here, calm, cool, collected, wondering these things. Look at how excited so many are for the changes they HOPE are coming to WWE. More wrestling, less Sports Entertainment. Guys getting their full names back. John Laurinaitis leaving. Bruce Prichard losing control. Kevin Dunn possibly being done, etc. Doesn't this tell you that people want more legitimate WRESTLING? AEW cannot grow in audience/ratings at all. Not even with Punk, Danielson, Regal, etc. They can’t at all. Why is that? In my opinion, it’s because they are NOT the sports based wrestling they promised. They book “indie style” with little to no sense to most of it, just presenting matches for matches’ sake. There are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of fans out there craving GOOD pro wrestling. WWE is going to get most of those, if Triple H makes the changes he’s promising, but if a guy like Court Bauer, and MLW, would see what's happening, and jump on it NOW, they could syphon some of those fans to them and MLW. But will they instead keep insisting that a failed Lucha show, and overly scripted interactions, from it’s former “match maker” in his dimly lit office, as well as a 3’ midget wrestler being pushed like Roman Reigns once was, as the answer to drawing in more fans?
I used to be a big “Walking Dead” fan. The main reason that I stopped enjoying the show was that I found the Whisper’s way too over the top. Yes, I understand that the story is in a make believe “universe.” I understand that there’s nothing similar in real life to compare it to. I even understand that you have to completely suspend all disbelief in order to enjoy the show at all. You see, I’ve always had a vivid imagination. As a child I played with action figures from numerous fantasy worlds. Star Wars, Star Trek, Clash of the Titans, and countless Superhero’s from the Marvel and DC Worlds. So watching a zombie apocalypse television series was right up my alley. Yet still, I want my fantasy to be as “realistic” as possible. Maybe a better way to explain what I mean is that I want the characters in it, to act, and behave, in a manner that I can accept, and believe, that they might actually do, if they were really in that environment. The creators, writers, show runners, of “The Walking Dead,” asking me to believe that people would skin zombies (walkers) and wear said skin as a mask, and walk among the dead, just go to be too much for me to accept. To believe people that were willing to do this were also intelligent, cunning, wise, and able, made it even worse. If this situation were “real,” anyone that would chose to behave this way, would have to be mentally unstable, and not very bright. To believe these people were so “together” in their mental faculties, that they posed a serious risk to anyone “normal,” was too much for me to not laugh at. To believe that dozens, or even hundreds of people would make the decision to be a “Whisperer,” was eye-rolling stupid to me, so I stopped watching.
Professional Wrestling, while “scripted,” and the matches/fights being “cooperative,” is similar to a written television show. However; I would argue that wrestling isn’t “fantasy” programming. I think this is where so many wrestling companies get it wrong, because they too often present their product as if it is. Too many present wrestling as if it’s science fiction, or horror, or fantasy. Too often today in wrestling, “anything goes!” because it’s “fake” anyways, so who cares? Just because wrestling is “scripted,” and “cooperative,” doesn’t mean it has to be silly, stupid, or accepting of almost anything within its story telling, and presentation. Professional wrestling is based on “fighting,” and is presented as a sporting event (or should be). You have to suspend some disbelief to enjoy wrestling, but not 100% of it, not if it’s “done right.” The biggest moves in wrestling should be presented (SOLD) as if they actually hurt. The problems began in wrestling when the moves got bigger, and wilder, but the presentation of them doing any real damage (SELLING) went away. Professional wrestling matches became all about ohhhhs and ahhhhs, rather than about making the audience believe two men were actually fighting. Professional wrestling then transitioned into over the top silliness, mostly in part thanks to the industry leader, World Wrestling Entertainment.
Much like what the “Walking Dead” did to me, wrestling has done to the vast majority of its fans. Wrestling has ran off millions, embracing the small, niche, audience that remains, that wants silliness, and car crash style matches, where no one gets hurt. Wrestlers that bounce around like crash test dummies, incapable of being injured. Worst of all though, wrestling has opened its doors to all types of “gimmicks,” meaning any way a wrestler wishes to portray his or herself is more often than not accepted with open arms. So on a show where you will have two men face off in a match that looks like a legitimate fight, a real athletic competition, you’ll also have a man powered by car batteries facing off against a man that looks like he’s cosplaying a character from Phantom of the Opera, and talks like a character from Lord of the Rings. If you complain about this, you’re called names by other fans, and often times, even by the professional wrestlers themselves. If you try to explain your feelings with logic, your again scoffed at, and told “logic isn’t needed in wrestling!” For most of today’s fans, and sadly, even to most in the business of professional wrestling, it doesn’t matter if the silliness, and over the top unbelievability, takes away from the realistically presented characters (gimmicks, in the world of wrestling) and matches (fights) because “wrestling is for everyone,” and all styles, and presentations, are not only welcome, but needed, in order to draw in the small audience professional wrestling gets these days. I started this article talking about how much I hate the Whisperer’s on “The Walking Dead.” To say what wrestling is doing to fans like myself is like that, isn’t fair, because what wrestling is doing to fans like myself is even worse. Imagine if you were a fan of “The Walking Dead,” and one day you tuned in for the next episode, and the crew entered a new town, and discovered all the zombies in this town rose at midnight each night, and did the Micheal Jackson Thriller Dance. If you were bitten by one of these walkers, you joined their dance crew, it’s what you were destined to do, for all eternity, unless someone put you down. This didn’t seem so horrible to the crew, because they weren’t really a danger, these Walkers just wanted to dance! Maybe there were other Walkers out there that were similar, maybe they could create colonies where Walkers didn’t have to be put down because they just wanted to dance, or do something similar? Imagine the Walking Dead wanting to weave an idea like this into their story, and the writers/show runners insisting this wasn’t a bad idea, that it’s all fantasy anyways, and if you didn’t like it, don’t watch. If you complained, you’re out of touch, an old man yelling at clouds, and unwilling to accept the evolution of fantasy television! This is where professional wrestling is today.