Instead of a million flips and dives, maybe AEW just needs to get back to basics?
Now don’t get me wrong. I think lucha libre, athletic moves or a gymnastics-type display all has a place in pro wrestling. High-flying and high-risk maneuvers have all existed for a long time. The big difference is that it used to feel more special. It didn’t happen on nearly every match on every show over and over again. AEW is especially guilty of this and they need to get back to the basics of pro wrestling.
The main concern for the wrestlers should be safety. When did most wrestlers decide to just abandon their own well-being for the mere chance of hearing a ”this is awesome” or ”holy shit” chant from the crowd? There’s a point where it just isn’t worth it. A point where we’ve seen enough injuries now where there should be a recalibration of priorities from the wrestlers. Yet it all continues and becomes less and less special and more and more expected.
The picture above is of Rey Fenix hurting his arm during a botched table spot where Luchasaurus actually made the mistake that resulted in the injury. It wasn’t even really that complicated of a move being performed. Regardless, it hurt Rey and could have been much, much worse. All Elite Wrestling isn’t the only guilty party, just the most guilty and (out of the mainstream companies) the most habitual offender.
Big E in the WWE recently broke his neck during a botched suplex on the floor outside the ring. This happened on a random Smackdown segment. On a meaningless show, they have a dangerous suplex spot like that? I don’t understand the logic of doing such reckless bumps of that magnitude when you don’t have to. Saving it for a special event or a Pay-Per-View would be more logical and would be more acceptable.
Those are both examples of injuries that happened while doing moves that aren’t nearly as risky as many stunts that a majority of AEW wrestlers perform on nearly every show. There are also WAY TOO MANY gimmick matches on AEW programming. Too many ladder matches and Texas Death Matches and Street Fights and table matches and hardcore matches, etc., etc. etc.
I like those types of fights in moderation but, similar to the high-spot bumps, it can be overdone to the point of being completely watered down. Then things have to get more and more dangerous with more and more blood to the point where it’s not effective anymore. The risk Vs reward ratio doesn’t work in the long term when you constantly show the audience that the wrestlers’ health is secondary.
The Four Pillars of AEW
When you talk about ”The Four Pillars of AEW”, there’s an interesting mix in styles. With Sammy Guevara and Darby Allin you have two young daredevil types that pride themselves on taking massive bumps in almost every single match. They brag about being crazy and dangerous. It will be impossible to do that many extreme high-risk moves without repeated injuries over time. I’m concerned about the longevity of their careers to be honest.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is MJF who, instead, takes wise and calculated risks. He rarely performs high flying maneuvers and when he bleeds it is meaningful. MJF is the most over heel in AEW and arguably all of pro wrestling. Jungle Boy is somewhere in the middle with taking huge bumps and doing crazy moves. So it can be done to get over without completely risking life and limp constantly.
A lot of the endless expectations of super risky moves stems from current day video games. I don’t fault anyone for being a gamer. However, when it comes to pro wrestling games and other fight simulation games, so much of it is entirely unrealistic. The no-selling of big moves, even when they should legit hurt you or cause you to stay down for a while, is really a bad trend. It makes it all feel more contrived and silly.
All of this over the top stuff has been done so much that a double plancha 450 splash with a twist is about as common as a headlock or a dropkick nowadays. That is a problem and it’s a big problem for AEW specifically. Does AEW thoroughly research the newer talent that they bring in from the indys to make sure that they know the basic holds and moves?
I blame the EVP Young Bucks because they love the ridiculousness of this unsustainable trend in wrestling. This whole thing reeks of their influence backstage.
There have been so many botches since the beginning of All Elite Wrestling. Shout out to AEW Botches on Twitter for the entertaining video clips when these botches inevitably happen… and they do occur often. Some of it is due to inexperience and some is just poorly planned and badly executed moves.
Sting has botched a few times and takes unnecessary bumps, especially for his age. Jeff Hardy has messed up quite a bit in the short time that he has been in AEW and has looked sloppy. Jericho has screwed up things several times in the ring. It’s like a contagious disease that mainly happens when the wrestler tries to do too much and goes out of their comfort zone. For some of these older performers it just comes across as sad.
It’s not an old-school Vs new-school argument. There are popular wrestlers on AEW’s roster that take less risks and yet make things very interesting. It can be done without so many flips and dives and stunts and weapons and hardcore.
Again, I’ll refer to MJF here. He is the best talker in AEW but he’s also good in the ring, especially the basics. He does it with precision and executing all the little things the right way.
FTR is the best tag team in AEW in my opinion (and many others) and they do things the correct way and so smoothly. They don’t saturate their matches with unnecessary and senseless flippy bullshit.
CM Punk is the biggest star in AEW and he doesn’t do insane bumps that put him at risk for injury. He’s super over without all the gaga. He is still effective because he does all the basics with a certain fluidity in the ring.
Hook is one of the most popular young talents in the business. He doesn’t do any of the arial attack moves. He’s a rookie with lots of potential and he is also good at the basics. It can be done.
In closing, this is not a negative hate piece about AEW. These are my honest thoughts about how the company can easily improve the in-ring product and, in turn, avoid having as many injuries. It’s a simple call for AEW to go back to basics. It can make a world of difference when things are crisp and don’t look so phony and choreographed. Save the tumbling routines for the cheerleaders and get back to pro wrestling.
AEW fans are welcome to join in on our General Discussion here.