AEW Will Always Be #2 In Wrestling, Unless...

Amidst WWE breaking more records, what, if anything, could AEW to make the next giant leap forward?

tony khan hug mystery

WWE is Number One!

You'd be fooled for thinking otherwise if a) you logged on following Elimination Chamber 2023 and saw the divisive response to the Roman Reigns/Sami Zayn match or b) you watched the show regularly between 2002-2022, but conversation's worst enemy, data, has come through yet again to fly the flag for Stamford.

Between Triple H reporting that Elimination Chamber 2023 drew WWE's biggest ever gate in Montreal, Google trends positioning engagement in Saturday's Premium Live Event as that of a traditional Big Four, and the unrelentingly high SmackDown ratings over the last few months, it's easy to see why those within WWE will be feeling extremely positive on the closing stretch towards WrestleMania.

A WrestleMania that - if the company is to be believed - is already also the highest-grossing ever. Using Royal Rumble Peacock viewing figures as a guide, it'll likely have a confirmed viewer base of over two million viewers too. Honestly, it's not even that tricky to find and gather this data to form an argument. Attendance figures and the like have always been massaged and that shows no sign of changing, but some of the shoot ones are good enough to report as is. And going back to TV numbers, Brandon Thurston's excellent tweets usually find WWE to be in good health and even confirm that circus-like developmental NXT actually made (small) gains last year.

But to stop short of this reading like an Ariel Helwani press release, all this information matters most if a company's financials dictate the quality of the product. In WWE, it categorically doesn't, and while the fiscals can be a measure of how much the product is connecting, the brand still has a long way to go before it recovers longstanding wrestling fans deadened by Vince McMahon's wretched monopoly-era complacency.

It doesn't take mining through facts and figures to know there are lots of them out there. The mere existence of AEW is the single piece of data that confirms this to be true.


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Michael is a writer, editor, podcaster and presenter for WhatCulture Wrestling, and has been with the organisation over 7 years. He primarily produces written, audio and video content on WWE and AEW, but also provides knowledge and insights on all aspects of the wrestling industry thanks to a passion for it dating back over 30 years. As one third of "The Dadley Boyz", Michael has contributed to the huge rise in popularity of the WhatCulture Wrestling Podcast, earning it top spot in the UK's wrestling podcast charts with well over 50,000,000 total downloads. He has been featured as a wrestling analyst for the Tampa Bay Times and Sports Guys Talking Wrestling, and has covered milestone events in New York, Dallas, Las Vegas, London and Cardiff. Michael's background in media stretches beyond wrestling coverage, with a degree in Journalism from the University Of Sunderland (2:1) and a series of published articles in sports, music and culture magazines The Crack, A Love Supreme and Pilot. When not offering his voice up for daily wrestling podcasts, he can be found losing it singing far too loud watching his favourite bands play live. Follow him on X/Twitter - @MichaelHamflett