Professional wrestling may be staged, but that has not stopped the industry from becoming a global phenomenon, and for the most part, the WWE is responsible for wrestling's popularity. The WWE has been around for more than 50 years, and in order for a promotion to grow and last that long, it needs to showcase great matches performed by skilled and charismatic superstars. Like any other business, the WWE has had to deal with competition, like WCW, ECW, and TNA, and so far, they have managed to defeat all who have opposed them.
There is a new competitor on the field though, and it is known as AEW, a promotion funded by a fellow billionaire, and which is primarily managed by former WWE employees and talent who were not thrilled with how they were treated and booked. AEW has been up and running for a few months now, and even though they are new, they have already accomplished some things that the WWE cannot help but feel jealous about; and this article will focus on 20 of those things.
20 A Female Referee Calling The Main Event
WWE does have its own female referee, but they have kept her down at NXT, which means that she has had minimal exposure to most of the WWE Universe. The WWE has praised itself for its women's evolution, but it was AEW that had Aubrey Edwards call two men's main event championship matches, while WWE's female referee has mostly been hidden away.
19 Kenny Omega Picking them
Kenny Omega is regarded as the best wrestler on the planet, which would explain why the WWE tried signing him this year when his New Japan contract was up. Kenny had worked for WWE in the past, and they released him, so it makes sense that he declined their offer and signed with AEW, who essentially gave him full control over his character.
18 Dean Ambrose Jumping Ship For Them
Months before his contract was up, Dean Ambrose, now known as Jon Moxley, made it clear that he was leaving the WWE, and since leaving, he has made his frustrations with the company very clear. Many wrestling fans expected him to end up in AEW, and that is exactly what happened, and he has shined since being given creative freedom.
17 Their Diverse Women's Division
WWE's women's division has improved mightily over the past five years, and they have Triple H and NXT to thank for that, but the company has spent most of the last year promoting just 3 women. AEW on the other hand has given the spotlight to several women all at once, with Riho, Nyla Rose, Emi Sakura, Britt Baker, Brandi Rhodes, and Awesome Kong.
16 Not Having To Rely Solely On Ex-WWE Talent
It is true that AEW has signed several former WWE superstars, all of whom are putting on great matches, but they have not relied entirely on their competitor's former employees. So far, Adam Page, Sammy Guevara, MJF, Riho, Joey Janella, the Lucha Brothers, and Darby Allen, have all shown that you do not need to have wrestled in the WWE to be good.
15 Its Appeal To Hardcore Fans
In order to steal viewers from the WWE, AEW has put focus on the likes of Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Cody, and Pac, but in order to further grow their audience, they have also focused on catering to the more hardcore wrestling fans. They have done this by promoting talent from Japan and ROH, which is something that WWE has failed to do for the most part.
14 Their Themed Set Designs
The WWE has over a dozen pay-per-views a year, and each one comes with its own unique set, but for the most part, these sets have been pretty dull lately. AEW has had a handful of PPVs, and each one has had a set that either represents the event's name or location, like All Out with its slot machine theme, and the beach theme for Fyter Fest.
13 The 20-Count
The WWE is one of the only promotions to fully utilize the 10-count, and they use it in order to build tension and keep the audience engaged in matches. AEW decided to take a different route, as they utilize the 20-count, which gives their wrestlers extra time to recover, and it also gives these matches more of a sports feel.
12 Dynamite's Ratings
There are those who believe that WWE is not afraid of AEW, but if that were the case, they would have not placed NXT in the same time slot as their weekly show, Dynamite. Thanks to NXT's popularity, WWE believed that they would get the better of their competitor, but according to Forbes, AEW has so far produced better ratings than NXT every week.
11 The Time Limits
WWE makes it a habit of not announcing time limits for their matches, and they do this because they want the audience to know that someone is going to win. AEW on the other hand, places a time limit on every single match, so draws are possible, and they actually help to elevate new talent without making people like Cody having to take a loss.
10 The Popularity Of Cody
Considering Cody's in-ring ability, the Stardust gimmick was an absolute insult, and it was ultimately this sort of utilization that caused him to leave the WWE in 2016. It is clear that the WWE did not believe that Cody could be the face of their company, but since leaving the WWE, he has gone on to become one the most popular and respected wrestlers in the world.
9 Its Hardcore Style
One of the things that made the WWE so popular in the 90s and early 2000s, was the hardcore nature of some of their segments and matches, but they have significantly dialed back the hardcore aspects since going PG-13. AEW has decided to embrace the hardcore mentality however, as evidenced by Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega, who recently produced one of the best wrestling matches in recent memory.
8 The Unscripted Promos
Cutting a promo is essential in wrestling, and WWE insists on providing its superstars with written promos that they believe will work, and sometimes they do, but a lot of the time, they just fall flat. AEW has gone the unscripted route, which is why we have already seen several great promos, as the wrestlers are able to speak from the heart and the fans appreciate it.
7 How They Use Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes is a great technical wrestler, but just like his brother Cody, he was never properly utilized in the WWE. Dustin will forever be known as Goldust, a character who was more or less a joke in the final days of his WWE run, but he has since joined AEW, and they have allowed him to reinvent his character and ACTUALLY wrestle.
6 How They Manage Surprises
Wrestling fans love surprises, but when it comes to the WWE, they tend to unload all of their surprise debuts all at once, which can be overwhelming at times. With AEW, their surprises have spanned months, first with the signing of Chris Jericho, then the appearance of Jon Moxley, Brett Hart, and the unexpected arrival of Jake Hager, and doing it this way leaves fans legitimately thrilled.
5 How They Book For The Long Run
If you want to tell a good story in wrestling, you need time for the wrestlers to build their feud, and WWE has had a long term booking issue for some time now. AEW prefers long-term booking, as Chris Jericho and Adam Paige had their championship match built up for months, and it did not disappoint; and neither did the match between Moxley and Omega.
4 Their Online Building
It is true that WWE uses their YouTube channel as much as possible, but they tend to upload videos of matches and segments that have already aired. With AEW, they had to use the internet to build their brand while waiting for their TV debut, but they have continued with their online format by producing AEW Dark, a YouTube series that features pre-recorded dark matches.
3 Bret Hart's Cameo
Bret Hart is a legend in the wrestling business, and he has had his ups and downs with the WWE, but it was believed that he was now on good terms with the company. That is why the WWE, and wrestling fans from around the world, were stunned to see him at AEW's Double or Nothing PPV, where he unveiled the company's championship title.
2 Wins & Losses Matter
In wrestling, winning gold matters, but wins are supposed to matter in general, because if you do not win, you are likely going to be stuck as a jobber. The problem though, is that losses also matter in wrestling, as other people need to get pushed, and Tony Khan has said that wins and losses will matter in AEW, and they have, as evidenced by Cody's most recent loss.
1 Their Tag Team Division
WWE's tag team division has become a joke, with several unqualified teams getting title reigns, and good teams getting stripped of their belts way too early. AEW though, has put a lot of thought into their tag team division, as it includes big names and lesser known teams who are given equal opportunities to get over, and they include multiple tag matches on their shows.
Sources: forbes.com, sportskeeda.com, whatculture.com