5 Smart Things AEW Can Do Between Now and Its Television DebutJune 14, 2019
Of all the exciting aspects of AEW, one that really has wrestling fans talking is the announced television deal with WarnerMedia and TNT slated to begin later this year.
For the first time since 2001, a wrestling promotion other than WWE will feature a weekly show on a major television network.
Until then, AEW will feature its product through pay-per-views and additional events on B/R Live every few weeks leading up to the TV debut.
Considering the promotion only has a few hours over an extended period of time, it's tough to flesh out the character of every member of the roster and give them a proper storyline before the weekly show starts. However, there are certain things AEW should work on before that much anticipated day.
1. Establish roles of top-tier talent (and some mid-carders, too)
The biggest benefit of hosting shows before the debut of the television deal is pushing the most well-known talent AEW has and building the credibility of lesser-known wrestlers who made a name for themselves on the independent circuit.
Now that the seeds have been planted after Double or Nothing and fans have a better idea of who to look out for, it's time to start establishing the storylines for Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega, as well as up-and-comers MJF, Jimmy Havoc and Britt Baker.
Although the athletic ability and workmanship of the roster will likely always be there and AEW is still fresh, fans will eventually expect more substance in the form of in-ring and out-of-ring storytelling they can become emotionally invested in.
2. Introduce the chase for additional titles
Bret Hart unveiled the AEW World Championship at Double or Nothing, with the announcement coming a few days later that Adam Page would face Chris Jericho at August's All Out event for the right to be crowned the inaugural champion.
Now that the piece de resistance is established, naturally we should see the women's championship and titles for a loaded tag-team division make their way into the company soon.
The titleholders don't necessarily have to be in place once the weekly show begins, but the general title picture shouldn't be an unknown. Belts on the line is an obvious reason for fans to feel more invested in the storylines, or to root for their favorite wrestlers, and it also provides a framework of where the talent, titleholders or not, stand at that moment. This helps give AEW a sense of direction and establishes clear, more intriguing storylines.
Also, could you imagine a hardcore title for wrestlers like Jimmy Havoc, Darby Allin and Joey Janela to fight over? Deathmatch after deathmatch.
3. Make the belts mean something
While we're discussing titles, we'd love to see AEW make its belts the most important in the wrestling business. These are more than just props, and a huge part of getting them over is everyone treating them like they are a huge prize.
The promotion started down this path well with Bret Hart introducing the AEW World Championship at Double or Nothing.
It's not often a champion in WWE is crowned and the fanbase feels the belt adds to the legacy of the wrestler rather than the other way around.
Making the importance of titles clear from the jump also adds to AEW's goal to be a sports league rather than just entertainment, and this can be achieved with the expected emphasis on win-loss records, too.
4. Be an alternative to WWE
"Wrestling fans have wanted—and needed—something different, authentic and better for far too long. AEW is answering the call."
That's big (and welcome) talk from AEW president and CEO Tony Khan.
We've heard the word "alternative" thrown out a lot to describe AEW's place in the wrestling world alongside WWE, but it's important to showcase what exactly makes it different and authentic.
It could be better in-ring psychology, cursing, blood, using more hardcore talent than WWE or unscripted promos. All could be used in the next few months to really draw the line between AEW and WWE.
Another important aspect to differentiating itself is establishing the sports league concept, which according to the TV deal press release will "raise the stakes for its matches and deepen fan engagement by tracking each competitor's wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analyzing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks."
It's difficult to do that at an inaugural event like Double or Nothing, where there are no AEW-specific stats to go off of. But these numbers will become more available and fans will expect to see them incorporated as promised. In the wise words of Dave Wills, "it's still real to me, dammit!"
One of the most important aspects AEW has going for it right now is the freshness of it all and the curiosity of a rabid fanbase eager for something different. Show them what they can expect and do it consistently.
5. Go all out for "All Out"
All Out, scheduled for August 31 at Sears Centre Arena in Chicago, is expected to be AEW's next high-profile event similar to Double or Nothing, and it could well be the last before the weekly show begins.
It's already announced that Adam Page will take on Chris Jericho to become the inaugural AEW World Champion, but expect other top stars to be featured throughout the night and more surprises.
It's a landmark event for AEW as it pays tribute to All In, the independent event promoted by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks last September, which was also at Sears Centre Arena and became the inspiration for the trio to launch their own promotion just a few months later.
Expect AEW to try to put on an unforgettable show that garners the wrestling world's interest and gives it a sturdy bridge between All Out and the weekly show.