10 Most Desperate Ways AEW Got You To Watch

Jon Moxley Vs. Jake Hager on AEW Dynamite: *******1/4.

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Every wrestling promoter is full of sh*t.

It is literally in their job description to promote, to hype up their product as something more than it is. They're not going to turn around and say something to the effect of "Well, this year's Full Gear isn't looking quite as great as last year's, the build has only really clicked for a few matches and this is generally the accepted consensus online, but still, it should be really good on the night!"

They're going to promise a great night of action well worth a not inconsiderable sum of money. Honesty has very little place in wrestling, but that isn't exactly ideal in the case of All Elite Wrestling, a promotion that portrayed itself not so much as the alternative to WWE but rather the anti-WWE league.

All the bullsh*t you've endured this century, the first press release effectively said, isn't happening here.

Fans were encouraged to apply this logic to every facet of AEW, and while that probably wasn't fair, various people within the company did encourage it. WWE lies to you fairly often. They pull matches. They refuse to honour match stipulations. They say insane sh*t like "You are going to watch what is guaranteed to be the best wrestling match ever tonight!"

AEW was meant to be above this - the mostly seminal outfit often is - but not always...

10. Tony Khan Promises Best Genre Match Ever

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This was all very strange, very alienating and yes, very desperate.

The idea of actively promoting an Empty Arena match felt rather redundant in the raw, bleak early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Really, it almost scanned as a cruel joke; every match held in April was either an Empty Arena match or a match in QT Marshall's gym with Britt Baker and Orange Cassidy standing behind a guardrail. This wasn't Lance Russell candidly sparking a cigarette and wondering whether the fight between Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler was even going to happen, before the palpable intensity swarmed across every empty seat and Funk almost lost his eye.

This was Jon Moxley and Jake Hager working a very long match with no people in the building because they weren't allowed in it. This wasn't the ultimate impromptu match, one so full of loathing that neither man could wait for it to be promoted or even scheduled. This was just a very long wrestling match, but Khan, anxious about falling ratings and drab, untenable circumstances, hyped it as something he "believed would be the best empty arena match ever".

It wasn't.

Ironically, had Khan not tweeted this, people might have put it over as a decent and intricate grapplef*ck outing removed stylistically from Hager's WWE impulses.

Instead, it has entered wrestling legend as the first time Khan put himself forward for a ribbing.

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Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and surefire Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!