All Elite Wrestling, upon announcing its weekly U.S. TV deal with TNT, issued a press release in which the upstart entity essentially framed itself as WWE’s antithesis.
“AEW offers less scripted, soapy drama”; “Wrestlers will also be given more freedom to explore their characters and highlight their athletic abilities”; “Introducing statistics for the first time ever, AEW will raise the stakes for its matches and deepen fan engagement by tracking each competitor’s wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analysing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks”.
Translated: AEW is doing away with lame scripted promos; the road agents won’t regurgitate the same formulaic matches week on week; wins and losses will matter.
The complexion of the talent roster, however, is as much TNA’s antithesis as it is WWE’s. A more respectable promotion now, LOLImpact Wrestling remains a thing—video library deletions, airing the wrong programme on TV—but vintage LOLTNA definitively destroyed itself as WWE’s competition by pathetically aspiring to it.
LOLTNA grabbed WWE castoffs and repackaged them as second comings, inviting utter derision. This recruitment drive eventually stripped TNA of its fledgling identity as WWE’s workrate-driven counterpart, as the Impact Zone became a glorified social club populated by ersatz versions of the midcard stars that once displayed such promise.
AEW’s talent roster is as notable for the performers that don’t comprise it as it is for those that do. The company resisted the temptation to recruit, for example, Austin Aries and TJP. Those superb technicians carry a certain, behavioural baggage that AEW has apparently deemed not worth the hassle. Dave Meltzer has also implied, on Wrestling Observer Radio, that many of the unhappy WWE acts making less-than-tacit overtures on social media are doing so in vain. A perceived bad attitude is not the sole factor in determining whether or not to sign a talent associated with WWE.