WCW was a great wrestling promotion in a lot of ways. Eric Bischoff did so many things right that he does not get credit for. So much of how we see Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live on Fridays produced is largely in part because of what Bischoff constructed with Monday Night Nitro. Even though its frowned upon by many, one of the great things he did was sign a lot of former then WWF talent at the time in order to get more eyes on his product. Sure, he signed Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman, but those guys were all in their prime. I’m talking about the elder statsment like Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart, Randy Savage, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, John Tenta (Earthquake), Roddy Piper, Curt Henig, etc. At that point in time, it made sense, and it worked.
I’m worried that AEW is about to do the same thing, but not in a good way. The wrestling landscape in 2021 is vastly different from 1995, and I don’t think this is a good path for AEW to walk down. In the past month, AEW has signed both Paul Wight and Christian Cage, two former WWE talents that are well past their prime. Sure, they can still put on matches but their best days are clearly behind them.
I’m worried that Tony Khan is too nice of a guy to say no to the talents he grew up watching and that some of these elder statesmen will take advantage of his generosity.
Look what happened to TNA. For those of you unaware, TNA was an incredible start up wrestling company that highlighted a ton of young talent. The next thing you know, egos walked in the door. From Ric Flair to Mick Foley, Hulk Hogan, Sting, Kevin Nash…you name it. TNA and Dixie Carter tried to mimic WCW by highlighting former past their prime WWE Talent. The elder statesmen knew what they were doing. They knew a paycheck was there to be made, and they took it. By the time TNA was able to turn things around and rid themselves of a lot of the toxic elderly talent, most of their audience had left them.
I’m not saying there isn’t a place for mature talent in AEW. In fact, I think someone like Christian will probably but on some very entertaining matches in the near future. Not only that, some of the veteran players can probably pass on great knowledge to these up and comers. It’s just that a pattern is beginning to form, and I worry it’s going to get out of control with them signing guys for not only shock value but in hopes of growing their audience. It might even work temporarily. I just hope that Tony Khan does not lose his original vision of providing a different type of product than that of WWE. It’s hard to claim you are an alternative to WWE when a large chunk of your roster is made up of former WWE talent.
Pac, FTR, Miro, Cody Rhodes, Chris Jericho, Shawn Spears, Jake Hager, Matt Hardy, Christian Cage, Paul Wight, John Moxley, Billy Gunn, Jake Roberts, Dustin Rhodes, Brodie Lee and Sting.
I don’t know about you, but this sounds like a WWE card to me. I hope Tony is keeping his pulse on things when it comes to being different. Because so far, I haven’t seen too much of a difference and I’m worried we’re going to see even more of the same in the future.