What changes anything in wrestling anymore? Ratings? Sponsors? A new mainstream alternative instigating a war?
On any recent edition of Monday Night Raw or SmackDown Live, the supposedly rigid rosters have been torn asunder by the Wild Card Rule. Alongside a new 24/7 Championship, WWE have attempted to use floating talent as a way to organically create chaos in a world too dead to spring back to life after WrestleMania. The Superstar Shake-up was a quick win eight days after the ‘Show Of Shows’, whilst Money In The Bank was moved to May rather than serving as the bridge to SummerSlam. But to what end?
Ratings crept up for the first weeks of the talent trades, but - like the concept itself - they’re unsustainable. The week-to-week booking pattern is. The entire philosophy is. This raft of aggressive alterations righted the right-now, but stood absolutely no chance of fixing the future.
All Elite Wrestling - via biggest star Chris Jericho - promised to “Change The Universe”, which was more than just a sideswipe at the opposition. Double Or Nothing surpassed even supreme expectations and teed up a thirsty audience for their impending weekly offering in October. Jon Moxley may speak of paradigm shifts, but what yet has actually changed? They promised to make wins and losses matter and having legitimate sporting contests instead of banter Sports Entertainment, then offered up a battle royal featuring assault on a paraplegic and runner-up MJF talking his way into a probable tussle with eventual headliner Hangman Page.
WWE and AEW both have the muscles to be agents of change in pro wrestling, but industry history offers endless evidence that very few walls were knocked down by the pushing of a creative envelope. Dollars, however, may as well be behind the wheel of bulldozers.
We Need To Talk About Kevin (Nash).
Michael can be found in articles or on podcasts extolling the virtues of New Generation WWF, New Japan Pro Wrestling or the new WWE angle they definitely definitely won’t ruin this time.