Alright, so saying that AEW’s weekly show is too stacked with top matches may sound like a false negative. It’s a bit like answering: “I’m a perfectionist,” when asked what your weaknesses are in a job interview. The thing is, regularly loaded shows on weekly TV devalues pay-per-views and TV specials. This was very evident on the recent episode of AEW Dynamite -May 12th, 2021.
It may seem silly to criticize something for being too good, but, honestly, it’ll make sense soon. So let’s break it down bit by bit and explain how it can be the case -and hopefully shake off the idea that we’ve gone completely mad for suggesting such a notion in the process.
#AEWDynamite is LIVE TONIGHT at 8pm on TNT— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) May 12, 2021
-TNT Title @DarbyAllin v. @ToBeMiro
-IWGP US Title @JonMoxley v. @nagata769
-AEW World Tag Titles @youngbucks v. SCU – If SCU loses they will no longer be a team
-World Title Eliminator PAC v. @orangecassidy
-Coronation of #thePinnacle pic.twitter.com/P0mKxpopt2
The Show In Question
On the recent episode of AEW Dynamite there was:
Jon Moxley vs Yuji Nagata for the IWGP United States Championship. An NJPW icon appears for the first time in AEW in a remarkable piece of cross-promotion.
Orange Cassidy vs Pac to determine the next contender for the AEW World Championship.
Darby Allin vs Miro for the TNT Championship.
That, right there, is a stacked card.
It should also be mentioned that the week before was the TV special edition of Dynamite, Blood & Guts. While that show was still on weekly TV, it was a special and should’ve been bigger than the usual episodes of Dynamite. The problem was, it wasn’t.
Blood & Guts was a good enough show. Though if you take away the main event, the rest of the card was arguably weaker than any episode of Dynamite has been for months. This problem of overstacking is likely going to continue to the next pay-per-view too.
Double or Nothing is set for the end of the month and, as it stands, this recent episode of Dynamite may be more stacked than that show. Of course, there’ll be more matches announced, but unless there’s a properly huge announcement, it seems unlikely that the card will be more impressive.
So, tell me, if the weekly TV show is as good as, if not better than the pay-per-view, what justifies paying out a decent chunk of money for it? What makes the pay-per-view worth it? What makes the TV specials so special?
While you could argue the opposite, that a good show leading to a pay-per-view will make people want to buy said pay-per-view, surely that means the pay-per-view has to be even better to justify it. Anything less than perfect will be disappointing. The recent controversy surrounding the end of AEW Blood & Guts is a perfect example of this. The show itself was good and the main event was stellar, but because one tiny thing was less than ideal, people were unhappy.
To compare it with WWE, even if RAW and SmackDown are a bit naff in the weeks leading up to a pay-per-view, you’ll want to watch the eventual show because it’s what it’s all been leading to. After all, it’s got to have been worth it, right? AEW haven’t given any reason for why we should be buying the pay-per-view as they are giving away their biggest matches on Dynamite.
What Could Happen
AEW have to be careful with their TV specials too. The fact that Blood & Guts was, in essence, a one-match show could be a telling tale for things to come. If the Blood & Guts match ends up being a regular, possibly annual event where we have this one gimmick match repeated then it’s no better than WWE’s yearly Hell in a Cell or TLC -and nobody wants that.
Gimmick pay-per-views are the worst. They’re predictable, completely devalue the stipulation, and are basically a way of booking yourself into a corner. That’s the thing that AEW needs to avoid. It could happen too. If they keep giving the biggest matches away on Dynamite then they’re going to have to do something to justify the pay-per-views and TV specials existing -a gimmick match may be just that.
The splitting up of SCU could’ve been the main event of a pay-per-view. So could have Moxley vs Nagata. So could have Cassidy vs Pac. As great of a show as it was, did they really need to do it all at once? Filler matches and never-ending feuds aren’t exactly fun, but sometimes they’re a necessity. You don’t have to do everything at once. At some point, you’re going to run out of fresh match-ups. As much as WWE gets criticized, there’s a reason that they’ve been going since 1953 -pacing. Well, that and lots and lots of money. Though the Khans have that too so maybe they’ll be just fine. Jaded, but fine.