Last weekend at AAA’s Rey De Reyes event that was streamed live on the Mexican promotion Twitch channel, The Young Bucks challenged and won the AAA tag team titles, defeating the Lucha Brothers in an impromptu main event. This was done as a way to further the angle that was set up at the All Elite Wrestling ticket event last month. Cody, one of the Vice Presidents of AEW, was also at the event, which solidified the group’s working agreement with All Elite.
This stop south of the boarder is just the most recent in a series of appearances from AEW management, as they have made surprise appearances at various independent shows since the announcement of All Elite in January. Granted, AAA had various peeks and valleys in its history, and the argument could be made that The Bucks’ unadvertised match does much more for them then AAA’s platform could do for the Bucks, but this could simply be apart of a more important process to the overall status of AEW.
Make no mistake, traditional television is still and will remain the standard for main stream distribution, mostly because it remains the easiest and a sufficient way to access content. From a technological stand point, TV and the physical cable lines that are used for installation provide more stability than the WiFi signal often used for streaming devices. There’s a reason that web-based services such as Netflix and Prime Video were integrated into some cable company platforms as additional options for customers, because the vast majority of the general public still uses traditional TV as the most direct way to access content.
While TV and more specifically what network signs AEW is a key to success for the new league, that doesn’t discount the power of the internet to create a buzz ahead of the launch of the project. Obviously, the Young Bucks and Cody used social media to build their “Elite brand” to get to this point. It goes without say that if The Bucks didn’t push themselves as over-the-top new age professional wrestlers through Twitter and their Youtube shows, AEW wouldn’t exists today. This speaks most importantly to the Bucks’ ability to market themselves with a persona that complimented their in-ring style and to extend their association with the Bullet Club beyond just an angle within a wrestling promotion. Matt and Nick Jackson are amazing aerial talents, but their ability to develop entertaining characters are what will ultimately allow them the possibility to reach a mainstream audience when All Elite debuts on TV in the United States. You also have to give props to Cody Rhodes, he bet on himself and he won. Cody knew the prime of his career was being floundered in the shuffle of WWE, and thought he could do better outside of the rigid structure of sports entertainment. He could’ve easily stayed under contract to the biggest promotion in the world and made big money to do it with the trade being his potential to reach a different level within the sport. He walked away from that to prove himself, and his passion for the industry is one of the reasons fans have embraced his new venture. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from all of this is that it’s definitely possible to become a legitimate star outside of the WWE, which wasn’t the case just ten years ago.
As mentioned, streaming is increasing in popularity, but cable remains the standard and “cord cutting” isn’t nearly as relevant as some might guess as far as content distribution. Part of the reason for that is simply that the concept of WiFi and streaming is still a relatively new concept. Keep in mind, two decades ago the internet was considered more of a novelty item and actual computers just began to be more of a household item. It depends on what poll you search for, but roughly 25% of the United States had internet access in 1998 and that number jumped to just 40% by 2000. So, the point is, those that want to discount traditional TV and the value of a strong TV deal for a promotion in favor of “cord cutting” should realize that the development of technology will still need time to evolve within that particular industry.
That being said, streaming does give niche products increased exposure and a bigger platform. For example, independent shows can be streamed live to a wider audience. Just 15 years ago, that level of indy show had to be ordered through the mail and fans would have to wait weeks after the event took place to watch it. For the Bucks, similar to how they used Twitter to build a foundation that they used to propel themselves to a bigger level, they can use the social media platform to build a buzz around the launch of AEW. In theory, they can market the start of the new promotion through the internet and then hopefully, that buzz can translate to a wider audience with the main stream distribution of the AEW television deal. Remember, every time the Bucks make a surprise appearance at an independent event and it trends on Twitter, that’s a chance for someone to discover why the names are trending and get information about All Elite. The bottom line is, getting the name All Elite Wrestling as much as exposure as possible ahead of the start of the promotion will increase its chances of success when a major network broadcast the show to the general public.
Obviously, it takes many pieces of the puzzle to fit into place for a pro wrestling project to find major success. Sometimes it can be a matter of timing so a lot will depend on if AEW management has the right place at the right time. Regardless of the results of AEW, you must give credit to those involved because they have put the money and the resources in place to take a chance at the biggest level possible in the business. That will ultimately give All Elite the best chance to get off the ground because management is willing to risk the money and in some ways, the status they’ve already achieved in the sport to potentially change the status of the industry. Does that mean that AEW will become bigger than WWE? No, the McMahon empire has decades of establishment behind it, but if All Elite gets off the ground, it could shift the paradigm of the business and force WWE to take a different path than the complacency that often develops for the publicly traded company. From a business prospective, the success for AEW won’t be based on if they garner Raw level ratings, but if they can generate revenue and a profit. If I had to guess, I’d say that AEW has the best chance of being an established national promotion within a few years that actually makes an impact in the industry since the existence of WCW. Furthermore the AEW project has provided the most intrigue for professional wrestling in the United States since that time and it will be extremely interesting to see the status of All Elite this year.
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Until next week
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