ROOM IN WRESTLING FOR A NEW IDENTITY
For me there is room in wrestling for a promotion to stand out with a distinct identity to that which is on offer now. That identity to me is presenting wrestling as athletic competition. When All Elite Wrestling (AEW) first started I thought that that this would be it. In the early weeks they mentioned win-loss records, they had Jim Ross as the lead play-by-play announcer on their flagship show and some of their early matches seemed to be presented in a serious athletic manner. This idea was quickly abandoned.
I have covered my thoughts on where AEW is going wrong as a wrestling promotion so there is no need for me to rehash here but instead to put forward, what to me is the vision for what I think wrestling should be. As I said earlier, this should start with presenting wrestling as athletic competition. The win-loss record graphic could be used by the bookers of the promotion to subtly position wrestlers for title runs and pushes with appropriate emphasis given by the announcers according to what their current angles could be. A card on a show should be appropriately positioned according to the importance of the talent e.g., a wrestler who is being used at the lower level or the midcard should not be looking overly competitive against the world champion. You have to make them somewhat competitive but presenting them in a match as on an equal level with your champion makes your champion look bad and your titles meaningless. The champion should generally comfortably win such encounters. Wrestlers should not be performing overly dangerous moves where they may hurt themselves or each other. Yes, I know that can happen every time a wrestler steps in the ring but spectacular moves with huge potential should be ruled out unless the wrestler knows how to perform the move and the other wrestler involved knows how to take it and even then such moves should only be used sparingly for high-profile matches. With regards to this, don’t do moves that you don’t know how to do. Hurting each other is the opposite of what wrestling is supposed to be about. There are other things that also could be done to further enhance things along these lines.
Referees shouldn’t be made to look stupid by longstanding rules of wrestling being ignored because the spot looks cool and they might get a good reaction for that spot. One example of this is in tag matches where all four wrestlers brawl in the ring and the referee has to stand there doing nothing and wait until they’ve finished because they take that long doing their spots a five count would be pointless. Wrestlers brawling all around ringside regardless of the importance of the match is another thing that should stop. The referee has to stop counting visibly to give them time to do whatever they want to do out there otherwise they would be counted out. The brawling around ringside like that should only be used sparingly for feuds that have clearly captured the public’s imagination. If it’s a hot feud then the referee has a reason for letting stuff slide because there’s a logical reason for it happening.
Gimmick matches shouldn’t be happening a lot and as I’ve stated more than once here should only be used sparingly. In years gone by, gimmick matches weren’t used constantly or for wrestlers who were in the opening match but main event talent with a viable angle and a reason for fighting at stake. Comedy should be strictly limited. It doesn’t generally work that well in wrestling and if it is used appropriately, it shouldn’t be used for wrestlers in a main event slot on the card. Comedy wrestlers definitely should not be holding championships in a professional wrestling promotion. If they do as happens in some promotions then the promotion and the wrestler can’t be taken seriously.
Big level production values are a must to make this work. Putting money into the production values and taking it seriously can make it like a big money sporting event. This with the announcers taking it seriously, win-loss records or rankings being made to seem like a viable prize, gimmick matches and huge moves being used sparingly are to me what is needed by a big promotion to stand out and compete.