Before diving in, it’s crucial to clarify that my thoughts do not revolve around CM Punk, despite his past influence on AEW Collision’s direction. What appealed to some viewers might not resonate with those who prefer Dynamite. Additionally, it’s important to acknowledge that CM Punk wasn’t solely responsible for shaping Collision’s creative path, leaving some of its distinct elements intact.
While watching AEW Collision on Saturday night, I noticed a shift in its tone. It struck me as resembling Dynamite during its peak moments and, on occasion, adopting characteristics of Rampage during its less captivating. I feel justified in my critique of Rampage, as I covered it for over a year until we determined it was no longer worth the effort to provide live coverage.
So, what’s the issue with Rampage? Well, it boasts quality wrestling, but little else. There’s a reason why fans lost interest in programs like WWF Heat in the past, and why AEW no longer produces YouTube shows like Dark or Dark: Elevation. Rarely do wrestling matches stand alone as compelling content. Regardless of the medium, be it television or fiction, character development and coherent storytelling consistently take precedence over action. Viewers need to form an emotional connection with the performers, which can’t be achieved through matches alone.
Preferences in wrestling vary; some prefer quirky gimmicks while others lean toward a more serious product. To me, Dynamite feels like an all-encompassing, somewhat unfocused, family-friendly show, appealing to a wide range of tastes. It incorporates humor, making it more enjoyable for younger viewers. In contrast, Collision seemed to intentionally differ from the standard AEW format. It deliberately slowed the pace, emphasizing wrestlers’ commitment to selling their actions. More importantly, it placed a significant emphasis on storytelling, which was a refreshing departure for longtime wrestling fans.
The soft roster split played a valuable role. If you wanted to see performers like Miro or Andrade, Collision was the destination, while fans of The Elite or The Hardys could tune in to Dynamite. This limited crossover helped maintain a sense of novelty for both shows. You knew what to expect from each show, and for a while, it appeared to work well.
WWE encountered challenges with a similar concept for years. During the early days of the brand draft, Raw and SmackDown had distinct vibes. Raw embraced sports entertainment, while SmackDown focused on intense competition and memorable matches. Their differences complemented each other, at least until they eventually became almost identical. Today, Raw and SmackDown are nearly indistinguishable, aside from their rosters.
It appears that Collision might be heading in a similar direction. While suggesting it could become another Rampage might be an exaggeration, it’s clear that AEW is making a considerable effort. However, I recall the initial hype surrounding Rampage and its current status, which is far from exceptional. Collision could follow a similar path without careful nurturing and without the chance to establish its unique identity distinct from Dynamite. To maintain long-term success, AEW should continue introducing fresh storylines, as it has after All In & All Out, to cultivate new stars capable of carrying the promotion over the next two decades.
In conclusion, the evolving landscape of AEW Collision warrants careful consideration. While the show has displayed promising shifts in its approach and the soft roster split has shown potential, there’s a need for continued nurturing to carve out its unique identity. Avoiding a path akin to Rampage’s and focusing on storytelling and talent development are pivotal for AEW’s sustained success in the years to come.