9 Ups & 9 Downs For AEW In 2022

All Elite Wrestling's year in review: they didn't always click into Full Gear...

Tony Khan

AEW faces several challenges in 2023.

New World champion MJF is playing a heel, but fans are desperate to cheer him; at this point, even a time traveller capable of drawing earnest heat is too charismatic, entertaining and respected for them to hate. He has conquered pro wrestling with a genius character arc that fans have invested in deeply.

The first phase might go very well, since it's very astute; Ricky Starks is a hugely talented and popular babyface, he came of age on the Texas indie circuit, and Winter Is Coming emanates from Garland. Beyond that, you'd expect fans to get behind Bryan Danielson, Hangman Page and Eddie Kingston as PPV-level challengers, but at the mere presence of MJF doing nothing in the stands, fans booed the promo of Page's life not too long ago. Jon Moxley was booed at Full Gear.

This might not work in the traditional way, and AEW badly needs a year in which fans and office are simpatico. The unified feel-good atmosphere of old has ebbed away in 2022, which was grim; the platonic ideal of AEW is of a promotion delivering endless fan service to a generation that received scant little of it throughout much of the 21st century.

The lessons of a wildly uneven 2022 must be learnt...

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Writer, podcaster and editor. Deft Punk. Author of Becoming All Elite: The Rise of AEW, which is available to purchase at the following link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-All-Elite-powerful-Wrestling/dp/B09MYSNT71