SRS: AEW Competition Can't Come Soon Enough For WWE

Vince McMahon would love his biggest competition to be between Raw and Smackdown, but it's clear that doesn't motivate him enough. Real competition does.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend like the duration of WWE content every Monday or Tuesday is drivel. There's some good stuff. Kofi Kingston's build and big success as champion has been a joy to watch. Lacey Evans and Lars Sullivan have been well built -- since WrestleMania at least. Firefly Funhouse seems like a neat, out of the box idea. However, continuity and simple logistic issues plague the program.

Vince McMahon and company botched a batch of call-ups last year. Sanity, for the most part, is still doing nothing, and have all been sent packing to different brands. The December call-ups didn't fare much better, at least for several months. This was followed by another round ahead of WrestleMania that were brought up with no real plans, either. In total, something like 3 dozen names crossed WWE's mythical brand split between December and April.

For months, we were told the NXT callups had the unique ability to cross brands. This was after we were also told Survivor Series was the one night of the year that Raw and Smackdown Superstars cross pollenated or shook hands or whatever it was they were using at the tagline. I get it.

I kept waiting for reset points. WrestleMania? That's usually a good opportunity. The Superstar Shakeup was the one I kept being told by people within the company would straighten things out. Fox wanted stars on their Smackdown launch in October, and wanted a different show than USA Network. Unfortunately for all involved, WWE isn't that interested in developing a number or stars.

So the Superstar Shakeup happened. It wasn't much clearer. Due to a disconnect between superstars, the company and broadcasts networks, many wrestlers went right back to where they came from, with "I wanted to" as the on-screen explanation -- so not much of an explanation at all. Other tee-ball easy storylines and possible feuds were thrown away by ill-advised roster moves that have no extended meaning. Quite frankly, a number of the moves will be quickly forgotten.

So that was it. Andrade moved from Smackdown to Raw, then Raw to Smackdown "because he wanted to." I'm not sure how that promotes corporate stability or authority within the brand, but that's that. A few weeks later a Wild Card was instituted with rules that anyone pretending to be clear on are outright lying. This all after WWE was seen publicly making efforts to hire a storyline continuity employee to monitor such things.

Can WWE make sense? That seems a pretty menial task, and a low bar to clear, but not one that at least the man at the top seems keen on caring about. People within the company will accuse you of hating everything WWE if you dare speak up about it, then others will spout that wins and losses don't matter, only to leave their positions when that same guy at the top makes constant last second changes that unwind whatever creative tools they think DO matter.

All Elite Wrestling, for whatever it may be in the future, is the kick in the ass WWE needs. I think Ring of Honor maybe could have been had they retained the key talent that left for AEW, but it became pretty clear that their way of doing things wasn't going to change, and they like their comfort zones in which have led to their successes. Impact does have a stigma associated with it despite the quality of the show, and has had opportunities in the past. New Japan is overcoming killing the town in California and struggling to increase their footprint for the same reasons ROH is in 2019. Lucha Underground is a dead brand. MLW looks impressive and promotes a consistently good program, but is struggling to gain a buzz on the level of competition with WWE.

Competition brought the best out of Vince McMahon when WWE went national, and when they went head-to-head with WCW. Whatever TNA was to Vince McMahon, it wasn't something that led to him caring much, because 2004-2009 were often some of the most creatively dark times in wrestling. However, he also wasn't doubling downside guarantee offers to midcarders not on TV, and 40+ year old veterans who barely wrestle, either. This is already a categorically different situation, if for no other reason than how Vince McMahon as a businessman is making changes.

The question lies in All Elite Wrestling's approach. Will it force WWE, specifically McMahon, to alter the way that he does things? Will he care more about the quality of the show and the intelligence of his viewers? Spew what you want about WWE being a show for six year olds, that's a great demo to have, and also not primarily the one they have. Even then, I don't get the feeling kids watching the show would hate it if things made sense on a week-to-week basis, either. If anything, it makes the program easier to follow when things are explained.

We're not asking for high art, here, though wrestling can be that. When the point of continuity and competition are brought up, so many apologists pretend like someone who wants the program to improve are asking for Game of Thrones type storytelling. That's just not it, my friends. We saw a storyline that culminated in inflatable penis druids tell a more connected, long-term story on a web series over the course of months then most anything in WWE during the time.

This isn't something I'm going in to blind. I've done my best to talk to people within the company about the issues. WWE has hired several bright minds that will hopefully be of influence in the coming years. I don't doubt that some of the same people that defend WWE's methods to me within the company also strive to make it better and make it more sensible. So far, we don't have an All Elite Wrestling product to actually compare it to. Until then, WWE has consistently lowered the bar of what can be conceived as "better."

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