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  1. #1

    (YLC - RD1) - One man can't fill a house

    There is a buzz in the wrestling world these days. Itís not that there is necessarily a sudden upsurge in wrestling quality, but at long last there is finally another game in town. Thatís what we have been missing; a number two.

    Now take that with a pinch of salt because the term ďnumber twoĒ, in some cultures, is used to describe a big steaming pile of shit. And, as of yet, we cannot rule the possibility that we may in fact be served said pile. But what AEW has shown us is that, even only two shows in, when another big player comes to the market, fans stand up and take notice.

    There have been plenty of skirmishes down through the years between various promotions but none more so than the Monday Night Wars. A flurry of defections, amidst rivalling TV time slots lead to WWE having to dig deep, re-design and re-ignite their fans passions as they found that blend of edgy product to suit the mid to late 90s rock and pop style culture that all media purveyors were trying to sell.

    The Attitude Era was upon us! WWE and WCW fought each other backwards and forwards, up and down, back stabbed, low-blowed, kicked, screamed, bit, scratched, poked eyes, pulled hair; whatever it took to win the fans. We were spoilt and didnít even know it. When it was all said and done, when WWE won the day, we could sit back and look forward to more. But then something unexpected happened. The magic seemed to die. There was no more competition per se. Austin had to retire. The Rock went to Hollywood. There was still lots of good wrestling on television but the larger than life feel that the WWE used to have seemed to fade. WWE no longer had a big competitor breathing down its neck.

    TNA came along and for a time was really good. A small company that built themselves in to a position of prominence from the ground up. WWE certainly took notice but were they ever worried? (I donít recall Snitsky getting suddenly pulled aside and offered a 5-year contract). TNA did enough to keep WWE on their toes and that was important. The defections didnít boast the same shock value but you still had the likes of Kurt Angle, Christian and Booker T jumping ship forcing WWE to keep developing talents like Cena, Orton, Batista and Edge.

    Whilst WWE still had competition, wrestling was still good!

    And just when TNAís popularity was peaking, right about 2009, they decided to bring in some big dogs to really challenge WWE. And I think we all remember how that went, brother! The TNA-WWE Monday night wars lasted approximately 10 weeks and, as history has come to show, marked the beginning of the end for TNA. But while they declined, they didnít go away and this was critical for the continued enjoyment of the common wrestling fan. As worried as WWE were not, they were still very much aware of TNAís efforts to compete. This, in my mind, kept WWE sharp in those years and the fruits of this sharpness was seen from 2010 to 2014 when we were served some terrific WWE TV. Nexus, Summer of Punk, Team Hell No, the Shield....

    But then it stopped. Punk left, Bryan got injured and Raw was turning in to a 3-hour chore. Meanwhile TNA was publicly floundering and Iím sure everyone remembers the car crash of news stories floating around with Dixie struggling to keep the reigns and TV deals going south.

    This is the significant break point in our story of duality. Because now, WWE had no competition. And the years would prove that even poor competition was better than no competition at all. WWE started their own network and became commercially bigger than ever. But while the money was rolling in, the fans were rolling the fuck out. Economic dominance became inversely correlated to declining popularity.

    WWE were basking in their Network but they did not have a number two to compete with and consequently, wrestling got worse.

    AEW have come along with bells and fucking whistles and made it very clear that they are here to play. Jim Ross. Chris Jericho. Itís a statement of intent when you bag those two boys on day one. Tony Khan isnít messing around. They have watched all the non-WWE wrestling out there over the last few years. The wrestling that has been, in many ways, so segmented in terms of the various promotions but AEW is now endeavouring to put them all under one roof and let them at it.

    Now here is the beautiful part. The emergence of AEW is a wonderful example of how perception truly is reality. Because look at what they have accomplished so far after only two shows. Fuck it, look at what they accomplished after merely announcing they were forming as a company. Fans are excited. Fans are standing up. Fans are getting giddy at the thought of watching these guys on TV every week even though they are NOT YET ON TV EVERY WEEK.

    Whatís even more beautiful is watching WWE squirm. Big contracts being handed out to stop talents leaving; bringing back the old guard in Prichard/Bischoff/Heyman; trying to pop ratings with ďinitiativesĒ like 2 out of 3 fall matches, non-sensical wild card conditions and the mostly internet based 24-7 title.

    And what might be most beautiful of all? AEW have a ready-made template of the kind of TV and PPVs they need to avoid producing if they want to attract fans; all they need to do is look at the last five fucking years of WWE.

    I donít think WWE have quite fathomed yet just how bad a situation they are in. Think about it. A bad Raw or PPV every now and again wasnít the end of the world. Par for the course. But 5 yearsí worth of them? You watched crappy Raws week after week. You watched bad PPVs month after month. How long did you keep watching before you finally gave up? How pissed off were you when you finally threw in the towel after hundreds and hundreds of hours of interminable shite.

    WWE have no idea just how hard itís going to be to win those fans back after the sheer abuse it inflicted on them. These are the fans exemplified by the fact that Raw has gone from 4 million to 2 million weekly viewers in just 5 years.

    AEW is here. And itís not even fully here and the wrestling world is buzzing.

    Some say wrestling is cyclical, but I disagree. The beauty of wrestling is that every era is always the first of its kind. This is the beginning of a new era where we will see two companies go at it. Do AEW have what it takes? I donít know yet. But they have my attention, I am excited and looking forward to it.

    Because wrestling is better when WWE has a number two to compete with.

  2. #2
    Interesting take, but my favorite part was how well it was written.

    Is there a correlation in TNA's drop and WWE's decline...I dont think so.

    WWE has had good points in the last 20 yrs, but they didnt follow through. Nexus was promising but it quickly went down the tank. Punk had a summer but led to shannagins with del rio and Nash...HHH might have sneaked a duke in over him.

    I dont think tna ever had a chance bc of fans patience with WWE.



    Somehow AEW is getting a chance.

    But quality of any promotion is in the eye of the fan...The internet is overwhelmingly negative, so good luck with the buzz for AEW.

    I think you are right in that now fans are finally looking to go somewhere. This and that the Elite are hipper than the likes of Jarret and Carter make a difference.

    I personally am enjoying the all elite effort it comes down to my brand of taste....enjoyed the read...well written! Keep at it
    Last edited by Benjamin Button; 07-07-2019 at 11:59 PM.

  3. #3
    LOP's part time glass ceiling DynamiteBillington's Avatar
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    TNAs biggest mistake was trying to be competition.

    AEW have said that's not their aim, they simply want to be an alternative. That's is a far more realistic goal.

    Nice column, and I think this is the first time I've seen someone else acknowledge that AEW may turn out to be a pile of shit
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  4. #4
    Main Pager Maverick's Avatar
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    You've gone with the WWE vs "competitor" duality, and that was a nice way to go, if a little obvious. I liked the way that your opening and ending tied the whole thing together, but the middle part rushed through a lot of points very quickly, when you'd have been better off exploring one or two in detail- when you're on a word count, you can't talk about everything, so don't try to. I'm also not a fan of the swearing - what does that actually achieve? In conversation, or social media, profanity helps to emphasise a point, but in journalism, you should be a good enough writer to emphasise an idea without just reaching for the cuss words. I'm not saying this out of any kind of puritan standpoint, because in day to day life I swear all the time, but unless you're an incredibly skilled writer, swearing in columns just comes across as gauche and silly, and takes away from a professional presentation. Not sure on the caps either - again, there are better ways to emphasise your ideas than that. There's potential here, but a lot to work on too.

  5. #5
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    I couldn't agree more with my venerable friend, Maverick, on the point of swearing and use of caps, in everything he said - but also in the weird impact it had on your tone. For the first half it all read quite affable and enthused, an easy if simple overview of history. Then all of a sudden you're swearing and shouting and by the end of it I was left wondering whether you'd somehow manager to trigger yourself halfway through the writing the thing! Either of these two tones would've have been fine, but to suddenly move from one to the other so jarringly put me off a little bit.

    That's a shame really, because underneath that there's an absolutely fantastic column. While nothing you argue hasn't been said before, you argued it really well, writing really well in the process, above issues aside, and your intelligence was self-evident. Overall I'd struggle to call it outstanding, simply because it was a little too straightforward for me to feel warranted in doing so, but at the same time it was still very good, with very few issues to complain about; albeit, the one I have griped about did bother me quite a bit.

  6. #6
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    Competition is vital in wrestling. Without it wrestling becomes stagnant because if there is nobody giving you a run for your money you don't feel the need to innovate and that allows you to rest on your laurels. That's exactly what WWE have been doing these past few years. They have just been coasting and enjoying their profit at the expense of putting in a good show. Therefore, AEW got all the hype because even the hunt of serious competition for WWE had fans salivating. I really hope they will be able to five WWE a run for their money because that will make the wrestling industry as a whole better.

  7. #7
    Member #25 SirSam's Avatar
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    STRUCTURE
    This had quite a simple structure but very effective. You quickly introduced your tpic and everything flowed from that even when you went on tangents it still served the grander narrative. You also wrapped things up succinctly.

    Structure was a major strength of this piece and helped things flow really breezily. jsut goes to show structure doesn't have to be complicated and is often invisible when it is done best.

    CREATIVITY/STYLE
    Not a whole lot to say here, your style is straight forward. I felt like you were chatting to me about this topic which was fine. I could also feel your passion in this piece, you clearly care a lot about there being good competition to help make wreslting better in general.

    I don't mind the swear words as much as Plan or Mav but ask yourself whenever you use one if you could use a different word which would be more effective. I'm not saying that as a prude however I think swear words should be kept for utmost emphasis, if you never swear and then suddenly say something is "utter bullshit" for example, then people pay a lot more attention than if you use them all the time.

    For example, why did you need to say it in "AEW have come along with bells and fucking whistles"? It simply doesn't need to be there even in your conversational style.

    This is a minor quibble simply because I think this piece was quite nice to read.

    CONTENT
    This is a nice take on duality, it is kind of crazy how even though it would seem like a dream, having everyone under the one brand actually makes wrestling worse.

    I do think you lapsed into what I would call a fairly uninspiring recount of wrestling foklore that in the early 90s wreslting was boring, THEN THE ATTITUDE ERA WAS AWESOME, then things got boring again. A good number of people do believe that but whenever I see it I feel it just lacks a whole lot of nuance and very much falls into the WWE's own propaganda about wrestling history. Competition for prime time ratings certainly did make the late 90s more exciting but it was far from the first boom period of competition, the 80s for example as Vince took over the territories and launched Wrestlemania as his ceompetitor to Starcade. I would also argue that the early 90s was a time when people were very excited for wrestling, it didn't infiltrate pop culture quite as much but look at any of those areans of screaming fans and tell me they were finding it boring.

    I digress though because I thought as a whole as a whole you are correct, you just hit one of my own pet peeves.

    I also really liked how you contrasted the perception AEW and WWE have generated with their fans and how they are reacting to this new competition.

    INTANGIBLES
    Nothing to add here.

    WHAT YOU CAN WORK ON
    I think this was a pretty good column.

    Beyond the style points I would just say watch you aren't lapsing into cliche around wrestling history. I know that the popular narrative says one thing but as we know it isn't always correct.

    Overall though great job, I'm not one of the judges but this is one of the better columns this round.

  8. #8
    You know who I am, but you don't know why I'm here
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    Not to beat a dead horse, but what's with the cursing? In that one line mid-way through, I thought it made it clear how excited you were about AEW's presence in the industry. From then on, it made the piece in its entirety almost like a tale of two columns, each with its own distinct tone.

    Admittedly, I saw your name on it and just assumed I was going to be pretty into it. Then, about halfway through, I just wasn't really into it (though I did really like your second to last paragraph). Outside of pointing out that WWE was good during a stretch that never really gets much love on the internet, I felt like you wrote something bland here. If I were having a conversation with someone about wrestling for the first time, this column felt like the kind of stuff we might talk about to establish that we each knew what we were talking about before getting to the really good stuff after that part was out of the way. Next time out, go straight to the good stuff!
    Author of The WrestleMania Era book series, author of The Doctor's Orders columns on LOP since 2010, LOP Columns Hall of Famer, former host of The Doc Says podcast on LOP Radio (2013-2018), former LOP Raw and WWE PPV Reviewer (2006-2007), and former LOP Smackdown Reviewer (2004-2006)

  9. #9
    Thanks lads for reading and for all the feedback, much appreciated! Some great stuff there. I had the topic in my head all week, sat down Friday evening and bashed it out. Definitely got bit "triggered" halfway through as Plan said. Had thought about the numerous "f*cks" but decided to stick with them and keep it honest. Certainly will take all the feedback on board though.

    Thanks again, great to see good feedback still alive and kicking in the CF. Roll on round 2!

  10. #10
    The Brain
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    Shee, your experience is showing!! Alright, perhaps there's a little rust here, but on the whole I thought this was a really strong return from a name I've missed dearly seeing around here. Can't say the swearing bothered me a bit, but seems like steering away from it with this panel of judges may be the way to go. Excited to have you back, and excited for this time in wrestling!

  11. #11
    Senior Member
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    Strictly writing-wise, this was excellent. Comfortably the best written of the first round, for my money. Your intro was neither superfluous nor abrupt, your conclusion had good pace to it and wrapped up with an impactful one-sentence paragraph, and your entire column had a nice blend of conversational tone and journalistic informant. Extremely well done on that entire front.

    In terms of content, I do have a few disagreements, and while most of them are basically differences in preference/opinion (i.e. nothing that would cause concern in the quality of a column), there were one or two instances in which I felt things actually hampered your argument. The biggest instance was the assessment of the 2010-2014 period versus the 2014-2019 period. There was a stark contrast in your assessment, but I vividly recall people shitting all over WWE circa 2010-2014 in the current day, similar to how they do today. I think simplifying the last five years into something that another company could glance at, book things opposite to that, and it would be great – to me, that’s a big generalization and oversimplification that harms your argument a little bit. The same rings true with your statements of “WWE can’t fathom…” or “WWE has no idea…”. I mean, going so far to say a company as financially successful as WWE “can’t fathom” something whereas fans have it all figured out…borders on ridiculous for me. I’m not saying anything should be immune to criticism, but perhaps going less extreme than saying “they have no idea” makes an argument more palatable.

    At the end of the day, though, this column is something that absolutely hooks me in and encourages a reader to search for more content from you. Great job.

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