Do you ever wake up as a wrestling fan and long for the days of the Monday Night Wars? Alright, stupid question, because I think all wrestling fans do. That isn’t news to anyone. And with AEW on the horizon and NXT getting a well-deserved push you can’t help but wonder and almost salivate at the possibilities. Will AEW be able to compete with WWE on the biggest scales? Will NXT move the needle enough for their talent to get noticed? If you are waiting for me to answer those questions then I hate to disappoint you. I don’t have a crystal ball and I have terrible luck at guessing. I’m an Atlanta Falcons fan so that should tell you exactly where my judgment lies. What I do know is that a lot of people are comparing AEW to WCW and I just see it a different way. Let me break it down for you.
Now, obviously with AEW comes the WCW comparisons. And frankly, it isn’t too far fetched. Just hear me out for a second, though. What if in some kind of twisted dimension that NXT would be more like WCW in this scenario and AEW is just like ECW.
I know, I know. I am so full of it that you need fishing waiters. Cody Rhodes is the face of AEW and we have been back and forth over his lineage for as long as he has gotten into the business. So the natural inclination would be to compare AEW to WCW. But for some reason, I can’t wrap my mind around that. AEW, in the few shows that they have had, almost have a cult-like following with more sports-based wrestling and more high-risk angles. That sounds pretty ECW to me. I understand it’s WAY too early to tell and AEW hasn’t really shown us what they are all about yet, so take this with a grain of salt. From what I have been seeing through this is precisely where they are heading. Hopefully for wrestling fans though, with a better outcome.
AEW has a lot going for them from being on TNT, to just being an alternative product. A lot of people loved that ECW was an alternative product as well. We know AEW is going to have WAY more production value than ECW could ever dream of. AEW is run by a billionaire (the Khan family) and ECW was run by a dude who wanted to be a billionaire. That comes with its perks up to and including your boss not asking you to go through flaming tables and damn near killing yourself and then bouncing your checks afterward. I mean Joey Janela might, but I digress. Maybe I am seeing this all wrong. Maybe Tony Kahn will pump so much money into this that it one day overtakes the WWE and becomes the number one wrestling show in America. I can’t see it, though.
Full disclosure, I love AEW. I have seen every show they have done and have dealt with the good and the bad of it. I just think AEW needs to understand their spot in the pecking order. I am sure they do, well hopefully anyway. They seem so committed to giving WWE free advertisement. Here’s to hoping, though.
Which brings us to NXT.
NXT feels more like the competition to the big shows, RAW and Smackdown, rather than being part of the same WWE team. From the way it’s shot to the overall wrestling, it just feels different. And maybe the WWE wants to keep it that way. Guys like Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole don’t feel like RAW and Smackdown guys. They feel like NXT guys, which used to have a negative connotation to it, but doesn’t so much anymore in part thanks to them.
They can build a brand that feels separate from WWE, but also presents something that is familiar to the non-hardcore wrestling fan. That sounds an awful lot like WCW to me. Now, I understand that NXT is under the umbrella and with it moving to USA this week things could change, but it feels like they are creating competition for themselves which isn’t a bad thing at all. I just hope NXT doesn’t lose its vibe, presentation, or that guy with the green smiley face shirt that’s seemingly at EVERY. SINGLE. SHOW. He’s at the big shows too he’s just more noticeable when there are no lights on the crowd at all. It probably will, and the matches will suffer and the brand as a whole will suffer. Damn, I guess I’m kind of being a pessimist. I think I am entitled to be one because of some of the stuff I have sat through over the years of being a fan. They do have the War Games, however, which don’t get me started on how the WWE dropped the ball with that concept. NXT to the naked eye has so much going for it separate of the main roster that I think it can stand on its own as a separate brand.
All I know is that wrestling has me excited again, which is saying a lot since I have been a fan for 25 years. We can only sit back and watch as they inevitably screw this up like it always seems like wrestling does…but it sure feels good to have so many options right now.
I guess I am going to formally introduce myself after this column that I have poured over again and again wondering if the content was good. Spoiler alert, it’s average. With that being said, I am Lance Augustine and you should always temper your expectations with me. I am definitely a middle of the road achiever with the highest of aspirations. I went to broadcasting school and finished first in my class, which I guess is a plus. I am a natural pessimist and I like to refer to myself as a real-life heel. The first PPV I ever witnessed was Summerslam 1996 and when I marked out over a Shawn Michaels title defense, my dad told me to shut up. My wrestling fandom promptly started there.