The One Thing WWE & AEW MUST Learn From NJPW

"When you don't have talent, you don't have storylines."

Will Ospreay

Professional wrestling will never not be a star-driven business.

WWE have attempted to alter consensus by touting their brand as the draw, not the wrestlers, but keep going back on themselves. Vince McMahon blamed injuries to key performers for WWE's disappointing Q1 financials back in April. "When you don't have talent, you don't have storylines," he told the press, "and when you don't have storylines, you're not going to do that well in terms of live events and television ratings." Regardless of whether Vince's statement is right or wrong, it can be taken as an acknowledgement that stars do still matter to him.

McMahon's star-making procedures have come under intense scrutiny over the past few years. Every metric that matters shows his audience is shrinking. His performers aren't as over as they used to be either, and the WWE machine crafting another Rock or John Cena looks unlikely at the moment. Brock Lesnar is the rule-proving exception. The likes of Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns are big for this era, but not previous eras, and Ronda Rousey's drawing power was created in the UFC.

So if Vince's old methods are failing him, what about the competition?

It's too early to tell how AEW's star-creation efforts will go. The Young Bucks, Cody, Kenny Omega, and co. used graft and ingenuity to get themselves over with smaller crowds, though each is objectively less famous than WWE's headliners (owing, primarily, to their platform). It remains to be seen if these wrestlers can transcend their current level when Dynamite hits the airwaves, or how AEW will build new stars beneath them.

Both American promotions would do well to follow NJPW's example.



WhatCulture's Senior Wrestling Reporter, Presenter and Editor. Formerly Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @andyhmurray.