Grading All Elite Wrestling before the Wednesday night wars begin
Coke and Pepsi. Marvel and DC. Republicans and Democrats. Good and Evil. It seems as if modern society loves its binary systems. The 'either-or' situation many of these companies and political parties actually help maintain their industry dominance by snuffing out the voices of lesser-known competitors.
It's been true of wrestling in the past, as well, particularly after Vince McMahon threw a wrench in the old territorial system. In the 1980s, it was often the NWA vs. the then-WWF. Fans on both sides of the fence would list numerous reasons their brand was the best brand of sports entertainment, but for the most part wrestling fans watched both promotions whenever possible.
But the rivalry intensified when Ted Turner bought JC Productions, which owned most of the major NWA stars' contracts, and wound up pitting their Monday Nitro broadcast vs. WWE's Monday Night Raw. Despite the heightened intensity in the competition, fans and critics alike believe that the two promotions benefited from it.
The WWE came out on top in the so-called Monday Night Wars, by purchasing their flagging rival. For the past two decades, WWE has been without serious competition.
But now, All Elite Wrestling has arrived on the scene. Set to debut on Wednesday nights on WCW's old network, TNT, the upstart promotion promises to be a serious contender for WWE. And WWE has definitely taken notice because they are counter-programming AEW with NXT.
So a new wrestling war is on the horizon, and in many ways, the first skirmishes have already happened. But how ready is AEW to take on the global juggernaut that is WWE? We will grade All Elite Wrestling on the following criteria.
Star Power: Pro Wrestling thrives upon its performers, first and foremost. Does AEW have the necessary star power going into the new wrestling war?
Production Value: What is production value? The difference between a cheaply filmed reality show and grand visions like Game of Thrones are illustrated variations on production value.
Storytelling: How well does the AEW spin a story, and do the fans get emotionally invested in it?
Wrestling quality: Simply put, is the in-ring action good?
Audience: What demographic is the show designed to appeal to, and how successful is that appeal being made?
Industry Buzz: How invested is the internet wrestling community and the industry as a whole in the workings of the AEW?
Let's start the grading now:
#1 Star power
Any wrestling company thrives upon its stars. Would WWE have been able to dominate the 1980s had it not been for Hulk Hogan? Would they have won the Monday Night War without Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mick Foley? The answer is murky at best.
AEW has put together its roster piece by piece. The upstart promotion is certainly not lacking in star power. Chris Jericho has been wrestling on television for as long as many wrestling fans have been alive. His mere presence lends prestige to AEW. Factor in other respected veterans like Christopher Daniels and Frank Kazarian and the prestige rises even higher.
Jon Moxley, AKA Dean Ambrose is also an instantly recognizable face. But everyone knows that one man is responsible for truly making AEW's roster stand out. That man is the 'best bout machine' Kenny Omega.
AEW has plenty of star power to begin the Wednesday Night War.