All Elite Wrestling has held three shows to date, and as we approach their next pay-per-view event, All Out, I have to say that my excitement for the upstart promotion has dwindled from show to show thus far.
It was hard not to be excited when AEW was announced. I mean, finally someone with some money and the willingness to spend it entered into the industry to give WWE some much needed competition.
Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Chris Jericho, So-Cal Uncensored, PAC, rumors at the time of a TV deal with TNT… how could you not be excited for the potential of a real, viable competitive alternative to a very stale WWE?
Double or Nothing was a very good show, though it certainly didn’t start out that way. I thought the Casino Battle Royale was a complete joke with an overly predictable ending. It wasn’t exactly starting with a bang, but it was “just the pre-show.” From there, I though the Sabian/Guevara match was good, but none of the early matches were compelling to me.
The show picked up with the six-woman tag team match, which I enjoyed tremendously and instantly became a big fan of Hikaru Shida who I think should be the star of the division. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen her yet.
The big three final matches of course were all excellent to great, with Cody/Dustin being the match of the night and a high MOTY contender to date. Then the show ended with the big Jon Moxely surprise debut, and it seemed AEW was off to the races.
My initial thoughts on Double or Nothing, from start to finish, was “yikes, this is WWE-lite” to “wow, WWE has some real competition here.”
Then we got Fyter Fest as a free show, and God was the pre-show absolutely dreadful.
The show had some good action, and was decently paced, but I thought it was a big step back from Double or Nothing. The six-man tag match was enjoyable, but the show-closing unsanctioned match between Moxley and Joey Janela, was a pretty tame hardcore match. Nothing that we wouldn’t have seen in WWE a decade or so ago. Certainly far from the deathmatch they were eluding to. Of course, I’m also not a fan of garbage wrestling, so a waste of Moxley if you ask me.
Cody vs. Darby was a solid match, and I get that a lot folks enjoyed it, but I didn’t like it ending in a time limit draw. The draw didn’t exactly elevate Darby Allin, as Shawn Spears attacked Cody with that chair shot and people forgot about Darby for a bit there. Meanwhile, Cody had just came off a grueling win against his brother the month before.
I like time limits, but every match doesn’t need to come close to going the distance. I’ll talk more about that later.
We’re a couple of weeks removed from Fight For The Fallen, and I came away from it thinking it was AEW’s worse show to date.
Fight For The Fallen, like Fyter Fest, was a free show streamed live on B/R Live. The event from the start of the pre-show (which featured two matches) until the end of the show lasted over four hours.
That’s just too long. I have the same problem with WWE events these days, and they typically have 12 or more matches.
Every match at Fight For The Fallen lasted over 11 minutes, with the exception of the opening pre-show joke between Sonny Kiss and Peter Avalon which went on for five minutes.
It’s becoming painfully obvious that The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega at least are firmly in the “longer is better” camp when it comes to wrestling matches and shows.
They have Brandi Rhodes and Alli 11 minutes for crying out loud and that match was terrible.
At Fyter Fest, we saw Cody wrestle little Darby Allin to a 20 minute draw to then be rended an afterthought. At this event, Darby takes the fall in a pointless six-man tag match in a little over 13 minutes. So he can go 20 minutes and not get beat by Cody, but when has two other partners absording damage he gets beat. He’s not on Cody’s level, presenting him as Cody’s equal by having that draw was just a match that lasted too long. It wasn’t a star making thing.
That brings us to Adam Page, the guy who at All Out will be in the main event wrestling Chris Jericho for the first ever AEW World Championship. It took him over 19 minutes, 55 seconds short of a draw, to finish off Kip Sabian who the last time we saw was on the pre-show beating Sammy Guevara in a decent 12 minute match.
Adam Page is seemingly suppose to be on of the top stars in the company, though you certainly can’t tell that based on the reaction he’s getting. Why is wrestling Kip Sabian, a cruiserweight at best, to almost a time limit draw a month before he challenges for the AEW Championship?
I like a competitive match, and I’m not saying it wasn’t a good match. But not ever match needs to go so long. This match lasted about a solid nine minutes too long. The next night, at Extreme Rules, Cesaro and Aleister Black had a better match, and a competitive one, and it lasted less than 10 minutes. Not every match needs to go 15+ minutes.
You can actually hurt match quality, and lose audience interest, by dragging the match on. And that’s what happened during Page/Sabian, for me. It didn’t make me think super highly of Sabian, who is a talented guy, but as a casual viewer here it did make me think less of Adam Page heading into his match with Jericho.
Lucha Brothers/SCU was good, yet another 15 minute match and basically the same stuff we’ve seen from the Lucha Bros. at every event so far but at least they got a win.
Kenny Omega/Cima was good, but it too went longer than it need at over 22 minutes.
The main event tag match was classic Young Bucks, over 30 minutes of basically the same stuff. A good match, sure, but it didn’t need to be 30 minutes when the show had already overstayed its welcome. By the time the match started, I was already ready for the event to be over with.
AEW has a solid roster. All Out is shaping up nicely. But for my liking, they have too many cruiserweights that are really small. Like so small they make Drew Gulak look like Bret Hart.
The problem with the flippy spotfests guys, and the over abundance of garbage wrestlers like Havoc and Janela, is that the routine gets old. They don’t sell worth a crap and there’s no psychology whatsoever. It’s just moves that used to be impressive but have become so overused that it’s hard to care. It’s even harder to care when half the time the moves being done seemingly carry no impact because there’s very little selling before going on to the next spot. These matches always feel overly choreographed and like they’re operating off a checklist.
WWE is no different here with so many matches feeling the same. These companies need to realize that all wrestlers involved don’t need to get in all of their spots in every single match.
WWE has a problem of 50/50 booking, and I fear AEW will fall into that trap as well once they get on TV considering they’re already booking pointless time limit draws and making guys appear as equals when they shouldn’t. Darby isn’t main event caliber at the moment like Cody is. Kip Sabian isn’t either. Nor is Joey Janela. But in between comedy battle royals and random, pointless multi-man matches, they’re being booked as equals to guys like Cody, Adam Page, and Jon Moxely.
I’m not looking for a pecking order of this guy can never beat that guy, so give me a squash match. But if you’re going to go that route, at least be somewhat consistent. You can have a good, competitive match where the finish while seemingly a foregone conclusion is questioned throughout, but they don’t have to be 20 minutes and then followed up with the guy going back to something meaningless the next time around.
So far, the AEW shows aren’t blowing me away. Cody keeps taking shots at WWE and making the claim that you can’t counter-program AEW and their revolution, but as it stands right now, if you put AEW up against an NXT show there’s no chance I watch AEW live. I’ll take NXT any day of the week, and none of the AEW shows thus far hold a candle to a TakeOver event as far as start-to-finish goes.
NXT shows are tight and laser focused, and they don’t overstay their welcome. They’re a breeze to sit through and a joy to watch from beginning to end. Two of the three AEW shows have been overly bloated and half filled with crap, not unlike a WWE show. In fact, comparing WWE to AEW, I enjoyed Extreme Rules way more than I did Fight For The Fallen despite WWE’s poor booking going into the event. My only complaint with Extreme Rules is that it too lasted way longer than it needed too, but then WWE had 12 matches on the show (13 if you count Lesnar’s cash-in).
AEW can always win me over when they get their weekly TV program up and running, but right now these shows they’ve put out have been pretty meaningless and random. There’s been some great stuff for sure, but there’s also been some very meh to complete garbage as well. I could stomach mediocrity a lot more if it wasn’t four hours long.
As it stands right now, I’d rather watch WWE PPV’s, any NXT or NXT UK show, NJPW, Impact, and MLW (which is fantastic) over AEW.