They say that the wrestling era you grow up with is your “Golden Era”. Whether it’s the days of immortal Hulk Hogan, the Monday night wars that made the Attitude Era so memorable or the Ruthless Aggression Era that began with a slap on the face in the WWE. Well the AEW is here!
It’s no secret that the appreciation for sports entertainment hasn’t been that mainstream these days. Lately, wrestling’s fanbase consists mostly of die-hards who love the WWE.
But wrestling as we know it is shifting its landscape once more. This is your captain speaking, strap in for some turbulence as we take a dive into the seamlessly mysterious squared circle.
WWE has had countless “face-lifts” over the years, arguably the most notable ones started when the WWWF became WWF in 1979.
This marked a new age where regional promotions quickly faded away. Vince McMahon, Sr. may have started this business but the diabolical mind that is Vince McMahon, Jr. took tradition away from it.
No longer was there a wrestling promotion in your town/city, instead, the prodigal son exchanged all that for the circus. Just like any other carney show, the attractions gear up and perform from one town to the next. But were they alone?
WCW was a prominent face in the wrestling scene, opposing the WWE (then WWF), and sparking the ratings’ war in the 90s. Ah, the Monday Night Wars, those were the golden days of wrestling… At least for this “high” flyer.
WCW had the crow iteration of Sting, WWE had the undead wizard, the Undertaker. WCW took over television with the NWO, the most notorious group the industry had ever seen. WWE retaliated with Degeneration X, but with star power like Diesel, Razor Ramon, and Evil Hogan-WCW overcame their opposing mid-card “B+ players”.
Hate me all you want, but DX was just not the same without HBK Shawn Michaels. But alas, all good things do come to an end.
People like to credit Vince’s purchase of WCW as the reason why WWE won the battle, but on a creative level, the real threat was the juggernaut Stone Cold Steve Austin.
It didn’t matter where he was from, he stuck it to the McMan (see what I did there).
The simple archetype of an undeniable man who’s defiance to the boss created so much relatability, that people from everywhere tuned in. And gone was the cookie-cutter ways of wrestling.
With the competition gone, the avalanche, that was the attitude era, came to an end. But being the only dominant force in the industry meant living up to some standards. From blood, sweat and racy content we were directed towards a family-friendly WWE.
A “something for everyone” WWE. Ratings plummeted and the OG fans began to flee. Was is a bad move? Well, does the title of “longest-running weekly episodic television program” mean anything to you?
With WCW gone, Impact Wrestling (TNA Impact at the time) stepped up to provide alternate content, well at least that’s what it looked like at first.
Soon they became a shell of their former selves and got rid of everything that made them unique, the indie wrestler focus, home-grown talents, 6 sided ring, etc.
Yeah, they also phenomenally missed the ball with AJ Styles. And though regional promotions exist (AAA, NJPW, etc.), none of them had the “oomph” that WCW once did. Simply put, no one could challenge the big leagues.
Why is this competition necessary you ask? To answer that, I say look at the ratings, popularity, and content of the WWE. Max Landis said when wrestling is “good, it’s f*cking great!”.
But why is it that we have to sit through the parts that suck? Why are there talents with potential that go unnoticed or “buried” in WWE’s grand narrative?
It’s because they don’t have a reason to step-up their game anymore. Well, that all changed January 1st, 2019.
Fans were begging for WWE to have an alternate take on their content, and Tony Khan answered. Khan, a notable American football owner, backs up All Elite Wrestling (AEW). A true alternative to WWE programming in over two decades.
Who makes their show-card? The Young Bucks noted for their unorthodox ways of making it in the wrestling industry.
Whether it is their distinguished style of selling merchandise or their weekly narrative onto Youtube, these boys are giving others like them, a shot to be creative and tell stories on the road.
These Bucks went from being jobbers at TNA Impact and other indie promotions to being arguably the best tag team on the planet! Their success is a story for a future article.
Their weekly Youtube show is called Being the Elite, and the Elite isn’t complete without their other OG member: Sports Illustrated’s 2017 Wrestler of the Year, Kenny Omega. Those who don’t know of him, watch his matches at NJPW against Okada; these are essential learnings children.
The best bout machine arguably put NJPW on the map and made for a high calibre main event talent for AEW’s arsenal. Later they added other indie pros to their promotions like SCU, Luchasaurus, actor Stephen Amell and more.
Were they serious in taking on the behemoth that is WWE? They were Chris Jericho serious!
The hottest act in WWE last 10 years was arguably the rebirth of Chris Jericho, an attitude era veteran, with unbelievable charisma.
He now sits atop of AEW as their first coveted World Champion. Yet another accomplishment on Y2J’s annoyingly long list.
Read about the traditional form of wrestling from the subcontinent: Kushti
But what is the anchor for this promotion-nay, movement, you ask?
Just as Stone Cold Steve Austin once changed the wrestling landscape by having all eyes on him, this tale similarly is not about the old guard, it’s about an undeniable new breed.
I’ve used that word enough in this article for you to realize who I’m talking about.
Cody Rhodes, son of the late great “American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, helms this alternate era.
He started his career in the WWE and was shoved gimmick after gimmick. But when life gives you shitty gimmicks, you make them work! And that’s exactly what this talented son of a gun did.
Together with the pool of tremendously overlooked industry pros, AEW challenges the ratings and brings an alternate dish to the bland menu of wrestling.
Last Saturday on AEW Full Gear, we saw Cody face Chris Jericho for the AEW World Title.
In a scene reminiscent of Austin vs. Hart, Jericho had his signature move, the Walls of Jericho locked in on Cody, who refused to give up but the match was forced to be stopped.
If you haven’t noticed yet, this isn’t wrestling, this isn’t drama, this is poetry. Wrestling is being transformed changed once again, with the moment that pays patronage to my-THE golden era.
Don’t be fooled by the suit and tie that is worn by Mr Rhodes, he’s the spirit of wrestling incarnate.
Still, having doubts about the former WWE Intercontinental Champion?
This man has made a statement in one of the PPV Double or Nothing of AEW by taking a sledgehammer and destroying a throne similar to one Triple H (COO of the WWE, 13-time World Champion) rocks in his entrances.
If that’s not a declaration of war, I don’t know what is.
Now is a better time than any to be a wrestling fan. Because wrestling is exciting again.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official views of Sportageous or its founders. Assumptions made within the article are not reflective of the position of Sportageous as an organisation and its founders.