Is AEW Ready For Rampage?

All Elite Wrestling made headlines on social media earlier today when Tony Khan announced the long-rumored second AEW TV show to be officially set to launch in August, airing Fridays at 10 PM on TBS. Along with that, he confirmed that Dynamite will make the move to TBS, which would avoid any scheduling conflict with NBA games in the future.

I have to be honest, my initial thoughts on this are rather lukewarm and less enthusiastic than I would’ve originally pictured for a second All Elite television show. First, I’m a little concerned that the company might unintentionally fall into the pattern of producing more content based on the amount of footage WWE churns out on a weekly basis. A certain number of hours of programming a week might seem easier to consume for viewers compared to the WWE line-up, but most TV entities have a consumable schedule compared to the WWE umbrella so it’s not always an accurate measure. In short, Tony Khan needs to make sure he doesn’t over expose his product or overestimate the supply and demand of AEW programming.

I might be in the minority on this one, but I don’t think that more wrestling is automatically a better option. Keep in mind, one of the reasons that WWE has countless hours of programming is because they are in the position with their share of the market and the dynamics of the TV business to be able to profit from a level of content that is almost unrealistic for a viewer to completely keep track of during the course of the week. Does ANYONE watch Raw, Smackdown, NXT, Main Event, and 205 Live each week?

One of the many gripes about the WWE landscape is that there’s actually too much content, and as a result most of the product gets lost in the shuffle with very few aspects that stand out. All Elite, as much as the possibility for their own streaming network in the future might be an option, should avoid the pitfall that would ultimately dilute the quality of the product in exchange for more hours of content. The chance to produce as much content as WWE doesn’t put AEW on the same level, which is completely fine because All Elite is relatively new and can still be a major player in the industry without the type of numbers the WWE touts at conference calls. Again, I’m probably in the minority on this, but I don’t want to have to watch half a dozen hours of wrestling to follow what’s going on in a company. If anything, the two-hour format of Dynamite was refreshing because it was just enough time to allow for specific angles to develop throughout a show, and the two hours of television a week doesn’t have to be a chore to follow the storylines.

As far as Rampage itself, I’m not sure how much a one-hour show on Fridays will help progress AEW as a whole, simply because Friday night, despite WWE’s big investment in the blue brand on Fox for broadcast television, isn’t traditionally a major TV night, especially for the audience that All Elite draws with Dynamite. This brings up the question, with the addition of Rampage, what happens to AEW Dark and Elevation on Youtube? Again, too much content will just dilute the quality of the product. There are some episodes of Dark and Elevation that are almost two hours so that would be a total of six hours of All Elite content within a given week, who really has time to watch that much pro wrestling?

While the Youtube shows are basically enhancement matches, which is fine, the type of matches for Rampage will be a key piece of the puzzle to determine its impact on AEW. If it’s another show that books mostly enhancement matches, it doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but if it attempt to continue angles from Dynamite on Wednesday, there’s a risk that a portion of the Dynamite audience isn’t going to tune in on Fridays so it’s definitely a difficult balancing act. Furthermore, while it might be a lateral step in terms of television clearance, I think the move to TBS does take away from some of the shine of Dynamite because there was such a history of wrestling on TNT.

Yes, I know I’m being too pessimistic here, but considering that All Elite is the best shot the sports entertainment business had at legitimate competition in the past two decades, I’m always going to be cautious since the wrong move for an organization can often have a domino effect. Perhaps, I’m more concerned with the fact that Dynamite still has some fundamental flaws that should be fixed before Tony Khan attempts to book a second television show. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t meant as a jab against Tony Khan, the guy is from a billionaire family and could buy an island to sip lemonade on for the rest of his life. He doesn’t need pro wrestling, and clearly All Elite is a passion project for him. He put his money up and took the risk to attempt to make the sports entertainment business better in the process, which the group has done in many ways for both the wrestlers and the fans. That said, he’s also a guy that goes into the job of CEO and head booker of a company with no prior experience. Does that mean he can’t do a good job? No, but it does highlight that he might be prone to rookie booking mistakes, flaws that are made on the mainstream stage of national television, not an independent card in front of 100 fans.

As I’ve said many times, AEW isn’t perfect and nobody should expect it to be, but the addition of a second national TV show will be even more challenging than Dynamite, which might lead to some of those rookie mistakes being made again. The main example I will cite here is one of the major criticisms of Dynamite for the very repetitive segments and format of the broadcast. There definitely are too many factions that are there more to try to shoehorn as many performers on TNT as possible than anything else, and there are too way many run-ins after matches. Essentially, there’s too much being jammed into segments and it becomes an unorganized mess at certain points.

If Tony Khan is working with a limited playbook to begin with, another show on cable won’t help the problem. The more segments there are to book, the more of a possibility there is for repetitive formats to be more of a flaw for the company. So, I don’t think that Rampage will be ground-breaking or a game changer. Sure, there’s a chance for more performers to get television exposure, but the argument could be made there are too many athletes on the roster, even for an additional TV show. In the grand scheme of things, the objective for Khan will be the same, continue to improve Dynamite and fix the flaws there while trying to use the roster in a way that will continue to build the promotion. I hope I’m wrong, but Rampage might end up being cannon fodder in the big picture. If nothing else, it will be interesting to see if Rampage can generate numbers and if it will be effective in a few months.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta
E mail | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta