10 Obstacles AEW Must Overcome to Succeed


Hi everyone. This is a list of 10 obstacles the recently announced promotion AEW Wrestling may look to overcome, to be successful in the long term.

The fans are buying in to the hype surrounding AEW, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t be excited. It’s invigorating hearing about a new promotion opening its doors, and I’m sure Double Or Nothing can do one better than last years All In. However, there are obstacles which can make or break AEW flourishing against its established alternatives.

It’s too early for me, so I remain skeptical in its potential. We all want to see something fresh, and for years WWE’s dominance has made many fans dream of a revolution. They want competition. We should take a step back and look at what the future holds for AEW. There’s work to do, and hopefully there will be more announcements soon to answer some of our questions.

So what are the biggest obstacles Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, Chris Jericho, and the rest of AEW face? And what can they do to overcome them? Let’s get started.

#1. Exposure

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was wrestling. It was around in the old days, but was more of a circus attraction. Eventually, wrestling grew in to territories holding regular events. Rules were established so promotions could prosper without crossing on other’s turf. Vince McMahon Jr. tore down the established order, going against the wishes of his own Father to establish the WWF as the dominant force over all. With superstars like Hulk Hogan, André The Giant, and “Macho Man” Randy Savage, the WWF flourished.

At the same time, the NWA/Jim Crockett Promotions were lucky to be bought out by Ted Turner’s TBS in 1988, giving birth to a new promotion called World Championship Wrestling. It took a few years, but with Ted’s money and TV deal, WCW became direct competition to the WWF by the mid-90s. What helped WCW was carrying on the legacy of JCP (had ran events since the 1930’s), and having the NWA World Heavyweight Championship with its rich history. A title they would gain valuable exposure with. Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, and Sting were major draws as their World Champions.

What does this little history lesson have to do with AEW? Well, they’re not piggybacking on the history of those who came before. It’s a clean slate, but never before has a new promotion immediately rocketed in to the stratosphere. Social media makes it’s easier to advertize and gain vast amounts of exposure, compared to when “word of mouth” was all there was .. but I doubt AEW can use it better than WWE. It’s an uphill struggle as it starts from zero, in every aspect of global exposure.

High exposure isn’t something you gain immediately. The Roman Empire took hundreds of years to form. Not just to build the empire, but to become feared as the dominant force over the world took longer. AEW is just a small tribe, going up against the immensely powerful WWE empire. So far, I think they’ve done a good job of getting the world buzzing. Can they keep the buzz going?

#2. It’s All In The Name

As much as  “Don’t judge a book by its cover” has been used, human nature often goes against this advice. Sometimes a title, or even the picture placed on the front .. is enough to make someone decide. And it’s the same for most things in life. If a product has a dumb name, consumers will avoid the dumb product.

Is “AEW” a solid name? It will become synonymous with professional wrestling? The best names are simple. They accurately explain what they are. But was it the only name? Did they not hold a fan vote? Throw suggestions in to a hat and let them vote? For now, it’s simply playing off of “The Elite” stables name. Is it a placeholder? What do you think? Like anything, it can take time to accept a name.

If they are thinking about changing it at any point .. do it before the first show. Don’t wait to change it, if there’s any doubts at all. Don’t be (TNA) Impact. I guess this isn’t an obstacle, as much as it is ensuring the future doesn’t drop any unexpected news on their doorstep.

#3. Deep Pockets

Much of the excitement surrounding AEW stems from billionaire Shahid Khan & son Tony Kahn deep pocket investing. While having such incredible backing is an advantage, history is rife with examples of projects failing to sustain themselves. Couple of examples from the wrestling world include: Vince McMahon’s first attempt at an American Football league, and Ted Turner’s lack of control over WCW’s expenditure.

Having financial backing is one thing, but creating a business model capable of sustaining itself is another. TNA Wrestling’s former parent company Panda Energy had more money than Vince, yet Dixie Carter’s parents refused to increase her budget due to the lack of positive turnover. No matter how promising a project is, an investor would be ignorant to pump money in to a failing product. It took WWE decades to build itself from the ground up. They made smart decisions, while shying away from chance. Calculated risk, as Vince has alluded to.

A business model is as good as the numbers. Throwing money at something doesn’t produce a promising result. It’ll be interesting to see how AEW’s corporate structure evolves around talent like Cody, Brandi, and The Young Bucks; who are signed in executive roles. You need someone who can lead corporate, and in the beginning it will be Tony Kahn. He’s already serving in Vice Chairman roles for the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham FC, so how much time is he going to dedicate as it’s Chairman? Is it a side project to him? Or will Tony decide he needs to hand his other duties over so he can be what the company needs to prosper? All this hangs on how good Tony Kahn is with what comes next. The model needs to be self-sustaining.

#4. Leadership

Speaking of leadership, Tony Khan is inexperienced considering he has less than seven years experience in a top managerial position. Having passion is great, but turning it into good business practice? How’s his other projects doing? Let’s take a look at the Jacksonville Jaguar’s record.

Before Shahid took it over, the Jaguars (over 7 years) averaged 8 losses a season. After he took it over, the following 7 years netted them 11 losses a season on average; including them winning the league in 2017. They brought extra money, but it harmed their win/loss record outside the one exception. A downward trend.

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