There is an incredibly basic babyface versus heel psychology to this "war" that does, in fact, make one show harder to enjoy than in years previous. WWE counter-programmed an AEW charity show well before NXT even made the move to Wednesday nights, for f*ck's sake. You're meant to cheer the babyfaces and boo the heels. Just because WWE warped that dynamic forever many years ago, doesn't mean it no longer applies.
Parallels are understandably drawn to the fabled Monday Night Wars. Both sides played dirty. The WWF buried WCW's roster as dinosaurs in defensive skits; WCW gave away the results of the taped Monday Night RAW. Triple H referred to AEW as a pissant company decades later; Cody broke his throne in response. The year 1997 is often cited as something incredible that would have been even more so, in retrospect, had tribalism not lessened what was a thrilling experience across both channels. Surely, the lessons imparted by WWE's subsequent monopoly inform the perspective we should all bring to this new war.
WCW lost the old war because it was multifariously, institutionally, and comically inept. The creative tipping point, however, arrived in 1999, at which point the company, bereft entirely of ideas, let go of its identity and attempted to react almost entirely to what the competition was doing.
Does this feel familiar?
CONT'D...(2 of 6)