The AEW Conspiracy Theory

Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. There are entire television series based on the supposedly unexplained. Aliens, Big Foot, and MK Ultra shows can be seen on the History Channel on a regular basis. What exactly is going on at Area 51? Is there really any gold in Fort Knox?

These topics of “debate” have longevity because regardless of if you put any stock into any of them, there’s entertainment value in the content. If the Yeti is walking around the Pacific Northwest after he assaulted Hulk Hogan on Nitro at least provides a compelling possibility.

For nearly 60 years, there were books, documentaries, and movies about if there was someone on the grassy knoll.

However, if a conspiracy theory goes too far then you’re the lunatic wearing the tin foil hat yelling at people on the street about the reptilians that live in the sewers while twelve members of the Illuminati control the entire world.

Tony Khan was trending on social media, and when I saw this, I assumed it was to announce another upcoming surprise for All Elite television, despite the fact that announcing a surprise actually eliminates the element of surprise. Instead, it was from tweets that he posted, claiming that an “independent study” found that the anti-AEW social media content isn’t posted by wrestling fans, but rather by a staff hired to push negative All Elite propaganda online and Twitter bots to distribute the messages.

Collusion? No Collusion?

Aside from this being a rather odd and random message to post publicly, it’s just a bad look for Tony Khan because at the very least, it makes it look like he’s under pressure from what was a very successful Wrestlemania weekend. Sure, there weren’t actually 70,000 paid fans each night, but a full stadium provides great optics for the stock price after the next conference call. Khan went on to ask, “who would pay for such a wildly expensive thing?” as a way to reference WWE. At worst, this makes Tony Khan looks like an insecure businessman that is looking for any excuse to attempt to justify any uncertainty that remains about the public perception of AEW. It’s not that the booker of the year scripted a flat segment, it’s the WWE social staff that is generating false feedback. Considering the current climate of society, do you really want to be the guy that calls for fake news?

Obviously, the idea that Vince McMahon has a staff of social media bots is ridiculous. First and most importantly, the WWE doesn’t care enough about AEW’s online presence to hire a team. Vince said himself during the Pat McAfee show that he doesn’t care about the internet, and truthfully, he shouldn’t anyway. WWE is the Walmart of wrestling, it’s a harsh reality, but the company targets the most casual fans possible, not the demographic that is diehard enough to tweet about the nuances of the sport. Along with that, attempting to influence the online perspective of All Elite would be pointless anyway because the nature of pro wrestling social media is a niche. Furthermore, there will always be varying opinions on any pro wrestling product so to assume that negativity is suddenly because of Twitter bots is almost bizarre.

The bottom line is, the WWE is a publicly traded corporation that is worth over a billion dollars and will tout record-setting profits for at least the next few years because of their major TV deals, as well as the Peacock deal so to attempt to cater to niche social media fans would be irrelevant.

The bigger story is that this all goes along with the the narrative that Tony Khan is more concerned with playing wrestling promoter than actually being one. Some of the flak Tony received previously was for some of the ways he over hyped or overstated AEW’s status. Some of that can be forgiven because hyping the product is literally his job as the president of the company, but at the same time, Khan has to be careful not to jump the shark because there’s a fine line between good will with the wrestling public for being enthusiastic about the industry and looking like you’re on an ego trip.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Tony Khan has undoubtedly made the industry better and without his fandom to fund the spark of the business, much of the compelling action that fans can enjoy today wouldn’t be possible. AEW isn’t perfect and it doesn’t have to be. AEW isn’t going to eclipse WWE to and it doesn’t have to either. As I’ve said many times before, profitability is the true measure of success in any business venture, and AEW is profitably because of its TNT deal.

That’s why this entire situation seems so random, especially because it wasn’t as though there was any more negativity about All Elite or any other pro wrestling company than usual. I’m not sure what Tony Khan’s motivation was, and I don’t think any “independent study” would prove anything to the wrestling public or sway opinions anyway. The whole thing makes Tony Khan look very insecure about his own product, and it’s difficult for a billionaire to portray themselves as the underdog against even the WWE.

There might’ve been someone on the grassy knoll, but Tony Khan isn’t a patsy.

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