The 5 Things I Really Want to See in WWE and AEW in 2021
Saying 2020 was a difficult year would be a huge understatement. For the world of pro wrestling, it was one of the strangest 12 months in history.
We witnessed the birth of shows without fans, saw several big returns, watched as All Elite Wrestling established itself as the show to watch on Wednesday and saw WWE embrace cinematic matches.
Many Superstars have found ways to thrive under their new conditions, but just about everybody is looking forward to the day when they can safely pack an arena full of fans again.
As we look forward at 2021, it's easy to think of what we would like to see change in WWE and AEW because there are so many things that could be improved.
This article will look at five things I want to see change in the new year. This will be about broad topics, not the booking of most individual Superstars.
AEW: Better Booking for Its Women's Division
All Elite Wrestling is still less than two years old. In that time, the company has managed to feature a handful of former WWE Superstars in high-profile spots while also building up new faces from the indie scene into household names.
One area where it has fallen short, though, is the women's division. Other than Britt Baker and Brandi Rhodes, most of the roster struggles to be featured regularly.
Thunder Rosa, who began with AEW solely as the NWA women's champion, has been used more on television in recent months than some of the company's homegrown talent. Even Hikaru Shida isn't featured as often as she should be.
Penelope Ford, Nyla Rose, Allie and Big Swole should be in matches on Dynamite almost every week but some of them go weeks at a time without even being mentioned outside of AEW Dark.
The AEW women's roster is stacked with enough talent to rival WWE's division. It just needs to use them more often and give them satisfying storylines to get the fans' attention.
WWE: Better Storylines
Everyone has had to adjust to doing things differently over the past year. WWE employees have had to change a lot of things, but one area that shouldn't have been affected that much is the creative team.
The storylines in 2020 were mediocre at best and downright bad at worst. Retribution's debut and initial push were botched, the women's division is a mess compared to where it was a year ago, and most of the champions have been facing the same people over and over.
A few bright spots like Roman Reigns' rise as a heel have been fun to watch, but that isn't enough to keep us tuning in every week for several hours.
WWE needs to work on providing more interesting feuds, which is not an easy task when the fanbase thinks it has seen everything.
The Hurt Business, The Fiend and the Reigns family drama have been examples of how to tell stories the right way. If more people get similar meaningful storylines, the ratings might move in the right direction for once.
AEW: More Working Relationships
AEW has brought over a couple of stars from the NWA, formed a kind of talent exchange with Impact Wrestling and allowed stars to work for other companies when traveling is safe.
This is good for the wrestling industry and the kind of thing we need to see happen more often in 2020, specifically when it relates to AEW.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling is the big promotion a lot of people want to see work with AEW, but there is also Ring of Honor, AAA, CMLL and other indies stateside the company could work with.
The more exposure everybody gets, the more people will follow stars from one company to the other. If you like Kenny Omega, for example, you probably watched his appearances on Impact.
Most of these companies are not in direct competition with each other when it comes to TV schedules, so it would benefit everyone if they can create some buzz for each other.
Of course, the big dream is for some kind of multi-promotion supershow to take place. AEW, Impact and NJPW combining forces for one night would be guaranteed to get a lot of pay-per-view buys.
WWE: 1 Less Hour of Raw
On July 23, 2012, WWE celebrated the 1,000th episode of Raw. To commemorate the occasion, the company extended the show to three hours from its original two-hour format. It has been that way ever since.
When Raw debuted on January 11, 1993, it was an hour-long program; on February 3, 1997, Vince McMahon made the call to extend the show to two hours.
For 15 years, WWE used three-hour episodes of Raw as a special attraction. They usually featured a few PPV-quality matches and some big surprises. They were something we looked forward to.
Nowadays, it feels like a chore viewing the show from start to finish, especially if you watch it live and can't skip commercial breaks or bad segments.
SmackDown has remained two hours and been consistently better than Raw for the past few years. WWE needs to learn that fans don't want to sit through three hours of wrestling on Mondays anymore.
Taking away an hour from Raw would force the red brand to tighten up the product and only feature the best Superstars and storylines. There wouldn't be time for pointless filler such as backstage legend segments.
Both: Fewer Dirty Finishes
WWE and AEW may both present the same type of product, but they have different approaches to almost every aspect of the business. One thing they do have in common, though, is booking too many dirty finishes.
If more than one match on a show ends with a disqualification, interference or a count-out, it begins to feel lazy and repetitive.
Part of the reason this happens so much is due to 50-50 booking. WWE and AEW both tend to book feuds so neither Superstar involved suffers too much, but that also means neither wrestler gets over.
Clean wins are what will make a champion look strong or a challenger appear worthy. If somebody retains a title due to shenanigans at ringside, did they really win at all?
If WWE and AEW back off on the number of dirty finishes, it will make them more valuable for storytelling purposes. This year is a chance to start fresh.
Let's hope both companies have a plan to make the new year better than 2020.