This is the entity with which AEW is in competition. Increasingly, the old WWE no longer exists. It’s little use clinging on to projected concepts of bringing back prestige to the Intercontinental Title, or of believing in WWE’s latest acknowledgement of the dire state of things. Kevin Owens detonated a Pipebomb on last week’s SmackDown, echoing the burial Seth Rollins laid at the feet of Constable Corbin late last year. Corbin, who “sucked”, went on to headline Fastlane, retire Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 35, and then headline four consecutive pay-per-views: Money In The Bank, Super ShowDown, Stomping Grounds and Extreme Rules.
On that basis, we can expect Shane to headline SummerSlam, Clash of Champions, the upcoming, unnamed Saudi Arabia show (WWE Consulate Carnage?) and Survivor Series, following which he can harangue Mike Rome into referring him as the ‘Sole Survivor’ for months on end.
That is a facetious, obviously, but that is the mentality WWE has conditioned within the fanbase: distrust, or outright gallows humour. This is the entity with which AEW is in competition.
WWE wins the war of reach by default. It is safeguarded financially for the next five years—but customer money is more essential long-term than even the most exorbitant of rights fees, and they are locked in competition with AEW for that most valued commodity.
But AEW isn’t quite the utopia it has framed itself as…