I asked GoogleAI how to make a Successful Wrestling promotion. The first suggestion says:
1. Have a clear vision for your promotion. What kind of wrestling do you want to promote? What kind of audience are you targeting? Once you know what you want your promotion to be, you can start to develop a plan to make it happen.
When the fans, not the trolls, look at All Elite Wrestling, can we explain the vision to others?
AEW recently began the Continental Classic, which mirrors the NJPW G1 Climax. A round-robin tournament where wrestlers must win to score more points than the other wrestlers in their division. The winners of the two divisions will face each other to win the tournament. AEW has added a twist to this format by putting 3 championships on the line to the winner.
Eddie Kingston vacated his NJPW Strong and ROH World Championships to make this tournament more prestigious. Unfortunately, no ROH or NJPW wrestlers are participating in this tournament.
This tournament on its face does not present a problem. However, AEW has held many, many tournaments this year. Not including the Continental Classic, 2023 has seen:
AEW Blind Tag Team Title Eliminator Tournament
Owen Hart Men's Tournament
Owen Hart Women's Tournament
Women's Wembley ALL IN Title Match Qualifier Tournament
World Title Eliminator Tournament
GRANDSLAM TOURNAMENT OF CHAMPIONS 2023
The Four Pillars Tournament
8 Tournaments, and AEW held 9 Battle Royals to boot.
Who is really getting over in these situations?
AEW needs to reset from the Booking on Easy Mode and look to develop their talent. Here is a step in the right direction.
Youth are the Future:
AEW has 3 Top Champions under the age of 30.
- AEW World Champion MJF (27)
- AEW Women’s Champion “Timeless” Toni Storm (28)
- AEW TBS Champion Julia Hart (22)
Each of these champions have fervent fanbases, and fans tune in to see them. Each of these wrestlers have developed their characters significantly over their tenure in AEW.
MJF went from worst human being on Earth to friendly neighborhood Scumbag, Toni Storm from Directionless to Timeless, and Julia Hart from cheerleader of jobbers to the most popular member of a dark group that includes Malakai Black.
AEW needs to heavily focus on the future to remain relevant.
The under 30 crowd in AEW has proven themselves extremely popular engaging the crowd and working excellent demo and social media numbers. Names like Daniel Garcia (23), Skye Blue (24), Willow (29) are heavy fan favorites.
Lee Moriarty has given a number of crowd pleasing performances during his tenure. Nick Wayne (18) and Billie Starkz (18) earned AEW contracts before they even graduated high school.
Kyle Fletcher, Jamie Hayter, Kris Statlander, and Hook have already held championships (yes the FTW Championship counts).
This list is far from complete and I have yet to name a dud yet.
Utilize the Veterans in Supporting Roles:
To guarantee Thor’s Success, Marvel surrounded rising stars Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston with Veteran actors Rene Russo, Idris Elba, and the incomparable Anthony Hopkins in supporting roles.
Which wrestler is the biggest draw in AEW over the age of 48? Chris Jericho? Sting? Adam Copeland? “Daddy Ass” Billy Gunn?
Consistently, on both Collision and Dynamite, Christian Cage has created the best segments and drawn the biggest crowd responses and the viewership numbers back up this claim.
Christian has consistently surrounded himself with young talent since he joined AEW and has done wonders for their exposure and improvement. Christian wrestles sparingly, as he should, because he keeps the focus on his young talent, and talks the group up.
Further proof that the older generation works better in supporting roles, the AEW crowd hates Don Callis and the Don Callis Family, but they do not change the channel.
These individuals know that apathy kills careers and they know how to avoid it. The crowd responds to these stars in a way that the majority of the roster dreams of. The younger stars need to learn this.
Stick to the Needle Movers:
Fans in professional wrestling tell you who they want to see. Hangman Page won the AEW World Championship at Full Gear. Four days later, while the crowd cheered for Hangman, shouting “You Deserve It”, Hangman sneered at them “No I EFFing Earned it.” Immediately, Hangman lost the crowd, and his subsequent dealings with the Dark Order did him no favors.
Hangman’s opponent carried his entire AEW Championship Run. Bryan Danielson, Lance Archer, Adam Cole, and CM Punk drew the attention and the money during Hangman’s run. Hangman’s persona became bitter and possibly even allowed his real life feelings to come out through the character.
Hangman Page stagnated for the next 2 years, and finally became relevant through the Swerve Strickland feud because he has put over Swerve.
Swerve excites the crowd, has military service, and performs at an extremely high level. He checks the boxes as a needle mover.
Orange Cassidy, Adam Cole, The Acclaimed, and Prince Nana all consistently move merchandise and pull in huge viewership numbers. Between these aforementioned individuals and the stars under 30, AEW has excellent drawing power.
Tournaments and Battle Royals are not a Substitute for Compelling Storylines.
Both compelling stories and tournaments/battle royals have their place in professional wrestling and can be engaging for audiences, but they serve different purposes and appeal to fans in distinct ways. Compelling stories often take precedence or are perceived as more significant in wrestling because good stories build emotional connections between wrestlers and the audience. They create personal narratives, rivalries, and character development that fans can invest in. When fans connect with a wrestler's story or motivation, it generates a deeper level of engagement and loyalty.
Stories unfold over time, allowing for ongoing drama and character development. This extended storytelling keeps fans invested and eager to see the next chapter or twist, leading to sustained interest and viewership. They provide a platform for wrestlers to showcase their personalities, motivations, and conflicts. Character development is crucial in wrestling as it helps fans connect with the performers beyond just their in-ring abilities. Compelling stories often culminate in high-stakes matches or showdowns. The buildup to these matches generates anticipation and excitement among fans, making the eventual payoff more impactful. Instead of the one-off effects of Battle Royals.
While tournaments and battle royals offer exciting in-ring action and unpredictability, compelling stories add depth and variety to wrestling programming. They cater to different tastes and preferences within the fanbase. Stories provide AEW with angles and narratives that can be marketed effectively. They create buzz, generate media coverage, and allow for promotional activities beyond just the in-ring action.
Iconic moments and legendary rivalries often stem from compelling stories. These moments become part of wrestling history, leaving a lasting impact on both the performers and the audience. While tournaments and battle royals offer thrilling action and the element of unpredictability, they are typically more focused on the in-ring competition itself rather than the narrative or character development. However, when utilized effectively, tournaments and battle royals can still contribute to storytelling by advancing ongoing feuds, determining championship contenders, or creating memorable moments within the overarching narrative.
The wrestling world may focus on CM Punk and the WWE right now, but executing a solid vision focused on narrative development of younger stars will carry AEW to sustained success in the future. It will also make AEW the destination for young, breakout talent in the industry.
Written by Byron Hinton