Looking through my queue of random notes of things I wanted to write some words down about, I realized that there was the opportunity to occasionally consolidate some things into singular posts, to both artificially suppress my imaginary queue of important things to post about, as well as not to bore my zero readers with too much rambling about specific topics that really I’m the only one who cares too much about.
Naturally, my brog wouldn’t be the brog without there being random observations about professional wrestling, and although I’m having a tremendously difficult time keeping up with the business these days on account of having, no time at all, I sometimes try to keep up by either watching the top 10 clips that show up on YouTube, or by watching episodes of WWE or AEW, by fast forwarding through most of it.
Seriously, when I do that, I don’t even watch the wrestling itself; I usually fast forward until when I think the match could be potentially come to an end, and just try to watch the endings to the matches, just so I can see what post-match interactions there are. Also, promos, because I like to see the progressions of stories and not the actual wrestling product itself, in comparison.
Watching one of the more recent episodes of NXT two-point-oh, it’s evident of what the directive of the product is, and I kind of do really understand that Triple H’s NXT was still anchored by a bunch of older performers, when NXT really was designed to be a training ground of young, up-and-coming talent, and not a place for outside stars to assimilate into the WWE machine. I can’t say that I’m at all that impressed with the transition, nor its obnoxious ADD color schema, but I do understand the end game with the repackaging of NXT.
But there was an ending to the show where women’s champion Raquel Gonzalez was jumped by a new stable of women, and I couldn’t help but get flashbacks to Takeover: Brooklyn III, where Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly jumped Drew McIntyre after he won the NXT championship, only to be joined by a debuting Adam Cole, and the three of them stood over the champion, signaling the arrival of a new faction.
When Gigi Dolin and Jayce Jane jumped Gonzalez and then were joined by a repackaged Mandy Rose, with the three of them standing over her prone body afterward, it basically felt precisely like the debut of the Undisputed Era, all the way to Rose grandstanding with the championship. I mean, with the Era all but dead now, with two of them in AEW, why shouldn’t NXT just swap the genders and try the whole idea all over again?
Sure, Mandy Rose was never a stalwart in the ring, Jane is as green as ten Lex Lugers, and Priscilla Kelly Gigi Dolin will probably never let her whole arsenal be used, so I can’t help but bet that they’ll never reach the heights of the UE, but at least they had a cool debut and looked good in the process.
Moving onto the other company, I feel like I had a home run of an analogy of how the world of professional wrestling fandom kind of feels like these days:
AEW is basically like Sega, while the WWE is unmistakably Nintendo.
From their obnoxious, tribalistic, all-or-nothing fans to the general marketing and their inability to, as the kids say it, to not have the WWE living rent-free in their heads, AEW harkens back to the late 80s and early 90s of the rise and emergence of Sega, namely the Genesis, creating the console wars against Nintendo and others.
I know I give off the impression that I might not be a fan of AEW, based on how critical I am of their product, but that couldn’t be any more incorrect. I think they’re important to the business, providing a sorely needed alternative missing for decades, and as convoluted as things get, the simple fact that they are routinely collaborating and cross-promoting with other companies is a massive, massive accomplishment that guarantees the ability to remain fresh and imaginative.
The thing is, in spite of the fact that I like some things AEW does, it doesn’t mean that I’m not allowed to like things that the big bad oppressive WWE does either, which is seemingly counter culture to the way professional wrestling fandom is shaping these days. AEW’s fans are fiercely loyal and dedicated to their product, and everything the WWE does is shit. And then there are camps of die-hard lifer WWE fans who don’t like the noise and change that AEW is making, and everything they do is shit.
Unfortunately, their battle ground is the internet, and I’m taken back to 1999 and 2000 all over again when legions of wrestling websites saturated the intertubes with all sorts of clickbait journalism, tons of bullshit over nothing, and a whole lot of obnoxious noise, and I can’t help but feel resentment towards professional wrestling fandom that it it’s all happening again right now, with seemingly unavoidable sponsored posts and recommended reading showing up all over the place, schilling all sorts of overly pro-AEW and anti-WWE rhetoric.
Back then, it was easier to avoid, because I just didn’t go to any of the websites anymore, but in the age of social media, the bullshit is fed to you, and it’s way harder to avoid. And since nobody on the internet can shut the fuck up, it’s practically impossible to avoid any spoilers, because some site on some platform will blurt it out within minutes of anything happening, complete with a screen grab of some critical moment.
However, the fact of the matter is that as a whole, it feels like the console wars, and in spite of the ratings, the supposed ticket sales and the merchandising revenues, AEW is doing great right now, but if they’re the Sega in this comparison, they’ve still got a finite amount of time in their lives, as opposed to their timeless, ageless competition, no matter how insufferable their product might be right now.
As I reminded some friends recently, AEW is still a Turner property, and if the oft-compared WCW wasn’t a historical reminder, as a former Turner contractor and Atlanta resident, Turner Broadcasting is always 2-3 years away from massive corporate restructuring and changes, usually in correlation with some rumor that the company is going to sell to someone bigger, like FOX or Disney, or I guess now just Disney, now that they own FOX. And when the rumor mill starts churning, employees start getting slashed, properties start getting rejiggered, and IPs like AEW with their occasional death matches and Japanese explosion matches, and guys like Dustin Rhodes or Matt Hardy bleeding all over the place, suddenly lose their luster and become expendable.
Plus we all know what happened to Sega in the console wars; I guess the question in the future really is going to be, which wrestler(s) is/are going to be the 32X that breaks the company’s back?