10 Reasons Why WWE and AEW Fans Should Be Hyped for 2021
The past few years haven't been kind to professional wrestling, but 2020 was especially rough.
Even the trusted traditions such as huge numbers of fans attending the WrestleMania weekend were cast aside as the coronavirus pandemic put an unprecedented strain on top of the usual creative issues.
Both WWE and All Elite Wrestling were hit by a variety of issues such as travel, a lack of fans and plans changing at the last minute.
However, while the calendar turning to a new year doesn't magically fix things, it does represent hope for improvement and promises of change. As bleak as things may be, there is always something to look forward to.
With that in mind, let's break down what fans have to be excited about for WWE and AEW in 2021.
Fans Returning to Live Events
While the ongoing pandemic seems never-ending, things should get better at some point in the future.
And WWE will be itching to get fans back inside arenas once clearance is granted.
Not only will this be better for the enjoyment of those in attendance, but it will also be better for those at home who struggle to watch the empty arena shows with piped-in fake crowd noise.
It will also give WWE a better idea of which Superstars and storylines are working well, since there has been no live feedback for the creative team.
Based on what has happened in 2020, that feedback is something the company desperately needs.
Expanding the Rosters
Even if fans are not allowed to attend shows, WWE may want to bring more Superstars into the fold to make up for the ones lost in 2020.
The company released several Superstars and other employees last year to offset the losses the pandemic would create. However, after revealing record profits in the subsequent quarterly reports, there isn't as much of an excuse to keep that up.
If WWE has the money to go around, it should bring more talent in to fresh things up.
One way to do that would be the Mae Young Classic, which Triple H told Inside the Ropes in April that the company was hoping to do in 2020 (h/t Fightful's Robert DeFelice).
This could also be the year the new NXT India takes off, while NXT Japan has been also been mooted.
Even without those, though, WWE could go on a hiring spree to snatch up talent that has yet to join the AEW roster in an attempt to prevent the competition from becoming an even bigger threat.
Since AEW has done cross-promotion with NWA, Impact Wrestling, AAA and other federations, WWE could also view that as a weak point and look to establish a relationship with other promotions.
Likewise, AEW may find itself able to add wrestlers who are waiting for travel restrictions to ease up or are on the back burner while the company seeks to earn more revenue from streams that will pick up in 2021.
Injured and Inactive Wrestlers Returning to Action
Whether or not more stars are hired, at least fans can count on the return of those who are on the shelf for one reason or another.
Once traveling becomes easier, more wrestlers who live outside America will be able to work shows once more, which prevented stars such as PAC from appearing on Dynamite for months.
Injuries will also have healed, allowing Edge, Ridge Holland, Tegan Nox, Jinder Mahal, Mickie James, Chelsea Green, Kris Statlander and plenty others to step back in the ring.
Sonya Deville has already been reinstated on SmackDown as of Friday's episode, and it will be good to see her back in action soon.
Last, but certainly not least, we've missed Becky Lynch for most of 2020. Now that she's given birth to her daughter, Roux, the clock is ticking for when The Man takes back her Raw Women's Championship.
AEW Trios Championship Titles
Tony Khan has previously mentioned the possibility of introducing a Trios Tag Team Championship to AEW.
After being teased during Chris Jericho's Rock 'n' Wrestling Rager at Sea, it seems the company keeps going back to discussing when to debut such titles, with a possible time being 2021 after Beach Break and Revolution.
Too many belts can be a bad thing and it could overcrowd the tag team division, but if AEW has enough factions to go around, this could put a spotlight on squads who otherwise wouldn't win its tag team titles.
As it stands, there are plenty of trios teams: Dark Order, Jurassic Express, Private Party with Matt Hardy, Death Triangle, The Gunn Club, Best Friends with Orange Cassidy, SCU, Team Taz and more.
Introducing a new championship is always interesting, and it would be fun to see who and how AEW would crown the inaugural titleholders.
The Royal Rumble Matches
The Royal Rumble doesn't always work out well in hindsight, but the build to it never fails to get fans excited.
There is so much potential and promise for changing things up and setting a tone for what's to come with these matches, which are always some of the most interesting contests of the year.
In 2020, Charlotte Flair's win in the women's match turned out to be a dud that did nothing but derail Rhea Ripley's push. However, Drew McIntyre stepped up in the men's contest, took out Brock Lesnar, captured the WWE Championship and became a main event star.
Could Bianca Belair and Keith Lee be the next Superstars on the rise who win in 2021? Will any legends return for a surprise appearance?
It's unlikely it will feel the same without fans in attendance, but if there's one pay-per-view that can still get the WWE Universe to tune in regardless, it's the Royal Rumble.
The Potential of WrestleMania 37
There is little chance WrestleMania 37 will go down without WWE trying hard to compensate for last year's chaos of changing matches on the fly, having an empty Performance Center and not delivering well enough on elements such as Rob Gronkowski's guest appearance.
How the company approaches this could be two-fold.
One idea could be to redo as much of the 2020 card as possible and show fans how WrestleMania 36 really would have been. For instance, Roman Reigns against Goldberg, rather than Braun Strowman filling in for The Big Dog at the eleventh hour.
The other philosophy could be to move on past that and book the best card imaginable as a thank you for everyone sticking through a rough year.
WWE management will know when a show is disappointing and no effort has been into it. The trouble comes when the powers-that-be don't care and give fans little more than the bare minimum.
After such a difficult year, though, The Show of Shows may be the time to celebrate getting through it and reward the most loyal members of the WWE Universe with something spectacular.
WrestleMania 37 has immense potential to be so good that we forget about last year's debacle.
The Implosion of The Inner Circle
Before MJF was even a member of The Inner Circle, tension had started bubbling, with the faction nearing closer to certain doom every week.
MJF clearly weaseled his way into the group with ulterior motives in mind and he's managed to sow enough seeds of dissension in the ranks to lead to numerous ultimatum scenarios from Chris Jericho just to keep things loosely together.
At this rate, the faction isn't lasting throughout 2021. It may not even make it until the summer.
Watching this implosion go down will be very interesting for all the possibilities it can bring about, though.
What type of character could Sammy Guevara be on his own? Will MJF lead the group after booting Jericho out? Will that lead to Le Champion becoming a babyface for the first time in AEW? Who will finally win the staring contest and eventual matches between Wardlow and Jake Hager?
A Better Crack at Money in the Bank
Money in the Bank 2020 has turned out to be mostly a bust. It's sad and a bit confusing, as it's one of WWE's most interesting concepts that shouldn't be difficult to get right, but the company managed to mess up rather badly this past year.
The matches themselves were slapstick nonsense, and Asuka immediately traded the women's briefcase for Becky Lynch's vacated Raw women's title the next night.
That was a necessity due to Lynch's pregnancy, but booking Otis to win the men's briefcase by just catching it and then do nothing with it before dropping it to The Miz several months later was terrible.
Clearly, WWE thought it would be funny to go in that direction but lost interest in doing something with Otis and then gave up—one of the "we'll figure it out" ideas the company never follows through on.
Unfortunately, The Miz has had similar bad luck after failing with his cash-in at TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December, although that has since been ruled invalid.
Perhaps after seeing how badly Money in the Bank has been handled, WWE will put in some effort in planning what to do with the briefcases and how to use them better to get Superstars over.
When done right, this is one of the most interesting things that can go down in the year as it acts as a perpetual tease for a new champion who could emerge at any moment.
AEW Blood & Guts
AEW was unable to do its scheduled Blood & Guts match between The Inner Circle and The Elite due to the pandemic forcing the closure of arenas to fans.
In 2021, though, there's a good chance the idea will be resurrected in 2021.
Perhaps it will involve some new incarnation of The Four Horsemen with FTR, Shawn Spears and someone like Cody Rhodes against Sting, Darby Allin and two others? Maybe it will revolve around Team Taz or The Dark Order?
At this point, it could even be Team AEW against Team Impact or Team NWA if the working partnerships between the promotions continue.
Given how brutal some of AEW's hardcore matches have been in the past, Blood & Guts will almost certainly deliver and become a major talking point for the year.
On November 10, AEW announced three projects as part of the AEW Games branch that would be rolling out seemingly in 2021.
One mobile game will satisfy gamblers with AEW Casino: Double or Nothing. AEW Elite GM will come after that for those who want to tackle more of the creative process.
But the big one to look forward to is the console game, which has yet to receive a release date. However, if all things go according to logic, it should be out in time for the 2021 holiday season to capitalize on Black Friday and Christmas sales.
Even if delays push it into 2022, fans will be able to find out more information about the game throughout 2021 as more footage is shown, the roster is announced and all the other hype during the build to launch day.
Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.