Welcome back for some more Collective Thoughts. With CM Punk’s comeback on an August 20 edition of AEW Rampage and so many other talents in flux, it is truly a great time to be a wrestling fan. Punk, in particular, returning was something a lot of us thought we would never see again and the reaction he received is something we won’t soon forget. It was a moment that reminded us why we watch wrestling in the first place and will be in our minds as one of the most monumental moments in the history of Pro Wrestling. To make things even better, it seems like there will be more signings on the horizon that will make for a better overall product. Rumored stars like Bryan Danielson, Bray Wyatt, and Adam Cole, have been all the talk of the wrestling world on where their next destinations will be. This isn’t a bad thing, but it does raise some questions on if there is enough TV exposure to go around.
Now, as far as Danielson goes, all signs point to him joining AEW perhaps as soon as next Sunday at All Out. If you don’t believe me, just watch CM Punk’s promo from Dynamite where he pretty much confirmed it, but said fans will have to “be patient”. This is exciting news if you are an overall wrestling fan. Danielson has been a star in the WWE for a lot of years and is widely regarded as one of the best technical wrestlers ever. His knowledge and talent will go a long way in helping to develop the younger AEW talent. Not to mention, he could feud with any on the card and make them look like a million bucks.
Adam Cole is someone who had a fantastic run in Ring of Honor, and then dominated NXT, and it seems like he has a big choice to make between making the leap to Raw or Smackdown and staying with WWE, or joining AEW and reuniting with his former stablemates in The Bullet Club. Cole is probably my favorite wrestler overall right now, so I would personally want to see him go wherever is going to use him correctly. Bray Wyatt is probably the hardest one to predict out of the three. After his shocking release from WWE, one of the most creative minds in wrestling now finds himself as a free agent (after his no-compete clause runs out, of course). I don’t think you can go wrong with bringing these guys into the fold. Even if AEW gets two of the three to jump ship, you are bringing in talent that has been at that top of the wrestling heap for a number of years and stuff like that you just can’t teach. Laying out all of the possibilities is awesome and is something I am really looking forward to seeing as time unfolds throughout the rest of the year.
As great as it is for AEW to bring in all these marquee names, though, I don’t think it can be overstated that there is a real lack of TV time for all of these guys to get what they want, and deserve, without sacrificing other members of the talent roster. Young guys like MJF, Sammy Guevara, Jungle Boy, and Darby Allin all lack name recognition with the mainstream wrestling audience, but have proven to be hot commodities within the industry. You have to put these mainstream stars with these guys to give them the rub and eventually pass the torch to them down the line. That does take time away from other guys they have recently brought in like Christian Cage and Malaki Black, though. They have three hours of TV time currently, and it’s going to get harder and harder to make sure the guys that need the time truly get it.
The same can’t be said for the WWE at the moment. They have done everything that they can to cut talent, even main event guys, and are looking to put themselves in the best position possible financially. That’s great if you are Vince McMahon or Nick Khan, but the product has suffered as a result. The bottom line is that McMahon and Khan have positioned themselves to sell the company if needed and it has been at the expense of their talent roster and wrestling in general.
It was a mistake to not try and make amends with Punk, not re-signing Danielson, and potentially letting Adam Cole slip through their fingers. Don’t even get me started on the handling, or lack thereof, of Bray Wyatt. I find it hard to believe that they couldn’t come up with any creative ideas for these guys. It seems like McMahon is slipping back into the 1990’s tropes of getting talent that looks good, but can’t work a lick. I would take a Danielson vs. Cole match over almost anything else in the industry right now. It makes the product a little less watchable knowing that we are going to get guys that we don’t believe in, but are getting guys that they believe in. Even with the recent talks of the NXT revamp, we are already seeing McMahon’s vision coming to life which is a shame because NXT was a brand we all became very fond of and it had a reputation for putting out quality shows every time out.
Much like AEW, it seems like WWE is focusing on bringing some stars back on TV. At Summerslam, we saw the return of both Becky Lynch and Brock Lesnar. Those were probably the two biggest stars they could have countered with from the Punk return, but time will tell how both of them will be used. It seems like Lynch is set up for a heel run while Lesnar is set up as a babyface, which are very different dynamics than what we are used to with these two in particular. This will do some good for them because both of them are box office, but besides Reigns, who is Lesnar really going to feud with? There is a list of guys, but would Lesnar want to do business with a roster that seems less than at the moment. Both returns were definitely left in the dust when it comes to the sheer magnitude of Punk, which is both fair and unfair to compare it to.
So, where do both companies go from here?
AEW has a ton of momentum right now and that doesn’t seem to be slipping away anytime soon. They have the resources and now the talent to really put out a quality product. The lack of TV time is definitely something they are going to have to contend with, but hey, if Tony Khan thinks he can pull it off then more power to him. This is shaping up to be a very interesting time and this seems more than a flash in the pan like TNA once ways. For once, it seems like everything is lining up to have a real chance of being an alternative wrestling product. I have been critical of AEW in the past, but that’s because I want them to put their best foot forward and create an environment that brings all fans, old and new, back into the mix.
WWE on the other hand seems to be trending in a different direction. It doesn’t even seem like the same company that once upon a time had stars all over the place and created an era of wrestling that we all fell in love with. They are more worried about the overall dollar amount the company is worth than the product they have been putting on TV as of late. It makes sense for a company to want to make as much money as possible, but it seems like they are being very counteractive with pushing fans to the other TV show. I want to think that if they put their focus back on the product in the ring, they are going to be better off in the long run.
This is truly a tale of two wrestling companies going in separate directions.
What do you think? Will the trends of the two companies continue this way? Let me know your thoughts over @collectiveheel on Twitter. I will be back next week with another WCW review which will be known as one of the more memorable shows in company history, Halloween Havoc 1998. I hope you join me and the rest of the team of TJRwrestling. We are all fans of this crazy business together. Take care of yourselves, and each other. See you on the flip side.