Maybe I’m old, out of touch and just don’t get it.
Maybe wrestling is now booked for internet buzz and nothing else.
But I don’t understand what happened on AEW Dynamite last night.
It was compelling. I enjoyed watching. But…cui bono?
AEW had its biggest match ever on free TV: Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose in WWE) defended the AEW heavyweight title against Kenny Omega, the ex-New Japan Pro Wrestling big-bout machine whom AEW has largely presented as a discount version thereof.
Don Callis, creative director of Impact Wrestling on AXS TV, sat in on color commentary because of his connection to Omega. Both hail from Winnipeg, as does AEW flagship Chris Jericho. Callis had previously guested at AEW’s broadcast table because of that.
Omega appeared to be hurt. Callis left the broadcast table, apparently because of concern. Then Callis slipped Omega a microphone, which Omega used to bop Moxley on the head. Moxley bled. Omega took over. 1-2-3, AEW has a new heavyweight champ.
Omega and Callis immediately fled the building with the belt. Just before jumping into a car, Callis told viewers to tune into Impact Wrestling on AXS TV Tuesday to find out what happened. So Callis and Omega are taking the AEW world championship to another promotion.
That’s how the biggest match in AEW TV’s brief history ended: With viewers told to watch another promotion’s TV show. AEW steered its big-show, big-match audience elsewhere.
AXS isn’t on a lot of cable systems. (It’s not on mine. I watch Impact via streaming.) Impact’s program is seen by about 150,000 viewers.
AEW’s TV is on TNT, one of cable’s biggest networks. It’s seen by over 700,000 viewers.
I like Impact. Callis and his co-booker, Scott D’Amore, are two brilliant guys. (Callis proved that last night.) Impact has a few big-time talents. It’s a good tag-team promotion, with the Good Brothers, The North and the Motor City Machine Guns. I’m a big Ace Austin fan, too.
But it doesn’t compare to AEW. Not in terms of audience, perception, or talent.
The windshield doesn’t have a rivalry with the bug. But last night on TNT, the windshield put the bug over.
Some of AEW’s roster started tweeting about potential matches vs. Impact foes. Dax Harwood of tag-team champs FTR immediately referenced The North.
But lots of AEW talent hasn’t got consistent exposure on AEW’s TV. Santana and Ortiz are one of the industry’s best tag teams. But their high-profile matches with AEW have been few. They’re mostly extras and backdrop for the Inner Circle storyline. Jungle Boy isn’t featured enough. Shawn Spears, too. Is AEW really going to give TV time to wrestlers from another promotion when there’s not enough to go around for its contracted performers?
Then, again, if AEW doesn’t, last night’s events make even less sense.
It’s not like this can be used to sell tickets. AEW doesn’t run live events besides TV (which has very limited attendance) because of covid. (This angle wouldn’t sell tickets, anyway.)
I’m just a washed-up announcer, perhaps the genre’s worst ever. But I worked at WCW for eight years. I understand what goes on in wrestling, especially backstage.
When Vince McMahon “helped” ECW and Smoky Mountain Wrestling in the ‘90s, he did so to dilute and absorb. When WWE performers showed up in those promotions, they were the real stars. When they weren’t there, the shows were perceived as lesser.But I don’t sense that dynamic here.
Maybe this gets AEW owner Tony Khan on TV. That’s certainly been a long time coming.
This won’t sabotage AEW. Their audience is their audience and doesn’t figure to grow much. Everybody watching Impact is already watching AEW. This will benefit Impact.
Perhaps political intrigue is a dead concept in wrestling.
But, in Khan’s shoes, McMahon or former WCW boss Eric Bischoff wouldn’t have ended last night’s show like that. ECW impresario Paul Heyman might have, but he’d be in total control. Who was in control at the end of last night’s Dynamite?
Hey, who cares? STING IS BACK! Tony Schiavone seemed excited.
You can get Kenny Omega championship gear atAllEliteWrestling.com. Sting merchandise, too. Christmas is just three weeks away! Merch sales are the foundation of today’s wrestling. Less people than ever watch, but they spend more than ever.