Tony Khan, at the AEW All Out press scrum, was asked about PPV builds, since more than one in recent memory has fallen well short of expectations and the all-important sense of anticipation. He talked about the need for "maintenance" shows and the basic, solid requirement of building stars through wins and not burning through hot angles and fiery go-home promos.
He had a point. Developments must escalate slowly to reach an earned crescendo at the right moment. Sometimes, episodic wrestling must be predictable or even a bit boring.
This Wednesday was not the time for that.
AEW produces 260 hours of major cable television every week. The new company line - "You complained about the build, but the PPV was great, stupid!" - is not good enough. AEW has proven itself capable of telling some of the best long-term, emotionally resonant stories in modern wrestling history. Some of the best promos of their generation and of all time are on that roster, and they spend more time brawling with two stables at once than articulating a believable, intense grudge.
AEW got a second chance at All Out '23. A seminal pay-per-view, coupled with the closure of CM Punk's final exit, convinced fans that they can once again invest in the fiction with no shadow looming over it.
Was the fiction good enough last night?