6 Changes AEW and WWE Must Make in 2023 to Stay Competitive
2022 was the first full year with fans back in attendance after the COVID-19 pandemic, so both major North American promotions tried their hardest to make sure people had reasons to buy tickets again.
WWE's ThunderDome is a distant memory, and Daily's Place is no longer where every AEW show takes place. With almost uninhibited international travel available once again, we have also seen an influx in visiting talent from around the globe.
However, viewership for both companies could be better. Thanks to the internet, DVRs and waning popularity, pro wrestling is no longer the ratings magnet it once was.
AEW and WWE are not just competing with each other for viewers, but they are also competing with everything else consumers can watch from the comfort of their couch.
Staying competitive won't be easy for either company, but WWE and AEW can do a few things to improve their products. This list will be split up into sections. We will look at changes both companies can make to their women's divisions, developmental brands and men's divisions.
AEW: Better Use of Its Women's Division
Throughout 2022, one of the biggest complaints fans have had about AEW is how its women's division has been used.
We've seen many instances of the women only having one match on a show or not being featured in any kind of in-ring action, and when they are, it is often the shortest bout on the card.
The roster in AEW is full of awesome talents who can put on fun contests and entertain the fans, and thankfully, we have begun to see a shift in the right direction during the back half of this year.
With signings like Willow Nightingale and Toni Storm, AEW has continued to expand its women's roster. There is no reason we can't see two women's matches on the same episode of Dynamite more often.
Dark and Elevation offer a lot more action from the division, so fans are encouraged to check out AEW's YouTube channel if they want to see more, but let's hope 2023 brings more opportunities for everyone on television.
WWE: More Emphasis on Women's Tag Titles
The WWE Women's Tag Team Championships have never felt like they had much effort behind them, even when big stars were holding the belts.
These belts have never felt as important to fans as they may to the talents because WWE hasn't put much effort into building a division to support them.
The only time they feel important is when somebody holds the tag titles and one of the Women's Championships from Raw or SmackDown, but even that makes them seem like an accessory to a bigger story instead of having their own value.
Out of 17 title reigns, 13 different teams have held the titles. Only four duos have ever held them more than once, and four women have held them three times with multiple partners.
Right now, Damage CTRL feels like the only team on the roster, and everyone else is randomly thrown together to challenge them on occasion. We need more consistency.
What WWE may want to consider is having every woman find a partner. Then those women can sometimes pursue individual titles while going after the tag belts other times. It might not be elegant, but having those established connections will give the division some stability.
AEW: Feature Less ROH
When Tony Khan purchased Ring of Honor, it seemed like the saving grace the company needed. We will have weekly TV on Honor Club in 2023, so hopefully that alleviates another issue that has plagued AEW this year.
Having the Ring of Honor titles featured on AEW television has helped keep the brand alive in one way, but it has also crowded the belts that belong to the champions of All Elite Wrestling.
When you consider that we have also seen titles from NJPW and a few other brands on AEW this year, it feels like the company needs to go back to basics and focus on its own belts next year.
With the addition of the Trios Championships, TBS title and All-Atlantic Championship, AEW has more than enough titles to keep its three hours of weekly television entertaining.
The occasional crossover is fine, but it shouldn't be nearly as common as it is now once a weekly show is being produced for ROH again.
WWE: Make NXT Good Again
Ever since it was rebranded into NXT 2.0, WWE's developmental brand hasn't been the same.
WWE dropped the 2.0 and reverted some of the color scheme to gold from the brightly colored setting we had seen most of this year, but the in-ring product and characters being developed haven't changed.
For every standout future star like Carmelo Hayes or Bron Breakker, a character like Kiana James or Von Wagner feels like it was pulled right from the '90s. They are defined by a single trait or occupation.
There is nothing wrong with having a gimmick, but the way people in NXT are written is cringeworthy sometimes.
It's fine that we are seeing people learn the ropes because this is supposed to be a developmental brand, but having some of them put in more time at the Performance Center before being brought to TV might be necessary.
Triple H made NXT into one of WWE's most beloved brands for a handful of years. Now that he is running the entire creative team, he should do his best to bring it back to its former glory.
AEW: Capitalize on More Momentum
With only three hours of weekly TV, AEW has an uphill battle when it comes to building up an entire roster of stars that the crowd will recognize.
Unfortunately, this means people tend to be cycled in and out of rotation so more people get those same opportunities, but that has also led AEW to miss the boat a few times.
Sometimes, a star will get over organically and gain a lot of momentum, and then they will disappear for weeks on end. Hook has only had three matches in the last 90 days, Nyla Rose was pushed aside as soon as her feud with Jade Cargill was over, and Private Party has been on the cusp of breaking through to the next level for the past few years.
AEW needs to employ more of a "strike while the iron is hot" approach to booking and keep people who are moving the needle on TV until they cool off or need a break.
It's understandable that management wants to make as many stars as possible, but taking the slow approach will not win this race.
WWE: Either Split the Titles or Unify Them for Good
For most of 2022, the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship have been collectively known as the Undisputed Universal Championship, but Roman Reigns still carries around both belts.
The same thing is going on with the Raw and SmackDown titles being held by The Usos and defended as one championship. It feels like WWE doesn't know if it wants these titles to remain unified or not, and that needs to change.
The visual of having two titles instead of one is cool, but it makes no sense if they aren't individual prizes being defended separately.
If WWE wants to split them up again, it should happen before or at WrestleMania. If it doesn't want to do that, then introducing newly redesigned looks for the world and tag belts would be the best thing for everyone.
It's time to ditch the world titles with giant logos in the middle and the tag belts that look like a quarter set between four dimes on a piece of Fruit Roll-Up.
AEW and WWE both had their ups and downs in 2022, but these few changes could help make 2023 much better. What do you think both companies can do to make their products more enjoyable in the coming year?