Hello, everyone, and welcome to what could be the first of many articles I write for Love Wrestling! My name is Alex, I am the producer/video editor for Between Two Beards every Thursday night at 8 pm EST. I am also the host of Blowing Off Stream (almost) every Saturday night at 10 pm EST. Today, I am beginning a new venture in article writing for the brand and this is my Commentary Table.
I felt it was important in this article to discuss the love and hate relationship that many of us may have for what can be considered the two top internationally televised brands of wrestling in the world today. Of course, I’m talking about All Elite Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment. I call these the two top brands because they have become household names, one becoming more spoken about at the dinner table in more recent days than the other. The question is why are they talked about, and why in some cases among wrestling enthusiasts is there a split. Does one present itself in a better way? Does one have more meaningful content? Or does one have more star power to draw you to its programming? Whatever the case may be, I am here to discuss my point of view on the matter of AEW vs WWE.
In order for me to discuss this, I feel it is only right that I give a little background on myself. Like many others, I have watched WWE since the day I was old enough to have cognitive thought. I vividly remember watching Bash at the Beach 1996 and seeing the biggest star at the time in all of Sports Entertainment turn his back on his fans. I was 8 years old at the time. Of course, I experienced the Monday Night Wars firsthand, flipping back forth between the NWO Era and the Attitude Era.
I continued to watch WWE all the way until 2005 when I decided to step into a ring for my first time and train to become a Professional Wrestler. Once I stepped into the ring, it was as if I stepped into a whole new world, because at that point I discovered new and different products than what had been presented to me in the form of WWE. I learned about the existence of Total Nonstop Action, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Chikara, Ring of Honor, and a LOT of small-time independent promotions in my area. This list is only a few of the promotions that were out there at the time. I was flooded with different styles and ideas and takes on what Professional Wrestling could be.
Flash forward to today and back to the topic at hand. Now, I can’t speak for the discussions on the forum boards out there on the internet, but I can speak for myself and my own personal experiences as a talent on the Independent Circuit here in Northern Indiana and as a fan of wrestling. There are more than a few differences between All Elite and WWE, but what I think it all comes down to is this.
With the introduction of AEW into the world came with it some of pro wrestling’s more seasoned veterans in the on-screen and backstage roles. Since its inception, the likes of Matt Hardy, Christian, Jon Moxley, CM Punk, and Bryan Danielson (just to name a few) have all been brought in and have all in some fashion helped mold and mentor the younger talent AEW has to offer. Do the names I listed still get their fair share of the spotlight? Yes, but they do it in a way that is not only beneficial to themselves but to the opponent that they stand across the ring from.
The biggest example of this is the recent bout of Danielson vs Daniel Garcia on the 2/23/22 episode of Dynamite in the main event. Danielson could have easily gone into the ring and dominated this kid, who at this point I had been lukewarm about. He’s had many high-caliber matches but I haven’t been able to watch. When I watched their match this past Wednesday, I was drawn in, not only because the technical style wrestling is one of my favorites, but both of these men were having outstanding showings. We all know what Bryan Danielson is capable of, but seeing Garcia go hold for hold with him, for me, was something I needed. Danielson was giving just as much as he was getting. It truly showcased who Daniel Garcia is to me
On the other side of the table is WWE. Now we are all familiar with the practices of the company itself, for better or worse. They are a company that touts they make stars but yet they have to rely on names coming in or returning. Multimillion-dollar contracts are drawn up for star power names such as Brock Lesnar or Rhonda Rousey as they are thrust into the title picture, but they refuse to capitalize on the momentum someone like a Liv Morgan has made for herself. Not only that, but who do they really help in developing or bettering on screen. No one. These situations only help out two parties, the ‘Name’ and the executives as they pad their pockets. Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that if you are not trying to make money, you are not doing business right.
In my time as a performer, I never had anyone really help me develop. I was thrown in with other performers who had their own agendas of getting themselves over. Now, I’m not so naïve that I don’t know that’s the goal, putting yourself over is one of the things necessary to be noticed in a pool full of a million fish, but when you can achieve that and still help elevate the person you are working with, that makes you an even better wrestler. That was my goal after I knew my time was coming to an end as an in-ring performer. I wanted to take the knowledge I had from my experiences and help those who came next, who wanted to pursue their dream just as much as I did.
I feel that is why I tend to gravitate towards AEW over WWE because it isn’t about one person’s agenda. Every week on their shows, I see the guys who have the experience helping to elevate and working with the younger talent. I still do watch WWE, but I just don’t get the same enjoyment out of it.
In the end, it’s about you, the viewer, and what you get out of what’s being presented on a weekly basis. I just hope this article has been at least thought-provoking, the thought being ‘Why do you truly love or hate what you do and what makes you do it?’ Love what you want to love and hate what you want to hate, but make sure you, as always, love wrestling.