The Gorilla Position: The Hottest Takes on the AEW
This past week, AEW shocked the world of Pro Wrestling yet again, this time, with New Japan Pro Wrestling's own KENTA showing up.
This storyline is basically John Moxley, former AEW world champion, and current NJPW US Champion, who has been ducking Kenta, and now that Kenta was finally allowed back into the US, he's coming after Moxley. This may also have something to do with Moxley showing up at a recent NJPW show and stirring up some noise, taking Kenta out l first.
Kenta showing up on AEW programming signifies a larger working agreement in place, as prior, Moxley had a clause in his contract that allowed him to wrestle for NJPW but the opposite was not the case.
AEW having working agreements with Impact Wrestling and now NJPW, and while it will create fun matches, the agreement shows a lack of confidence in the company's own talent to push the business to the next level alone. AEW is showing they don't have enough faith in their own talent to take over the wrestling world, that they have to play nice with the other "indie" promotions to get the job done.
Am I going to enjoy "Moxley vs. Kenta?" Absolutely, both guys are talented and it really is a good match on paper, but shouldn't AEW try to show they have the best roster themselves, having great matches with the Shawn Spears and Chuck Taylors of the world? Apparently not.
This is very similar to when WWE was losing the rating war with WCW in the '90s, and WWE pulled out the stops by inviting ECW wrestlers into town. It was observable that Vince didn't want them, they rarely if ever won on his programming, yet it struck up a partnership that allowed McMahon to buy ECW outright but had Paul Heyman in his pocket long before they signed on the dotted line.
This isn't a dig at AEW for wanting to provide great wrestling. It's a dig on them for not thinking they can do it with their contractually obligated roster. Wrestling fans had already seen it with their women's division, having to bring in NWA Women's Champion Serena Deeb, former NWA Women's Champion Thunderosa, and others. They knew their roster suffered, and recently they've even had NWA women's championship matches, when their own champion, Riho, has sat at home.
Are they starving so much for the top-tier talent that they are now allowing wrestlers from other promotions to get their main event time in the men's division? Apparently, they seem to think so.
Fans get mad at WWE for bringing in part-time talent like Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, The Rock, John Cena, et cetera, but the one big thing that can be argued is at least they are contractually obligated to WWE and no one else when they do. Kenta doesn't get paid by AEW, and yet they closed their show with him this week. Does it help AEW? It might initially, but when the agreement ends, NJPW, a product with limited visibility in the US, gains so much more from it.
I look forward to the comments to this post here at Mainframe, as this one is sure to ruffle some feathers. Again, the matches will be fun and get some eyeballs, but in the long run, it is going to upset the wrestlers you have on your roster that you've decided to push down for another company's folks, and that can never be good for long-term morale.