Dave Meltzer has discussed the problems facing AEW now that Triple H is running WWE and says that AEW is now further away from catching WWE.
The wrestling world changed forever on the 22nd of July when Vince McMahon announced his retirement from WWE with Triple H becoming the man in charge of the company’s creative direction going forward.
While McMahon had been the man in charge of WWE for many years, some fans had grown tired of McMahon’s direction and had looked elsewhere for their wrestling fix, something that helped grow the swell in popularity that led to AEW.
Speaking on Wrestling Observer Radio, Dave Meltzer has explained why the change in the top at WWE could mean trouble ahead for AEW and company CEO, Tony Khan:
“In a historical wrestling war, being number two is tough. What Tony [Khan] had – number one was Tony was the growing company since he started, with momentum, a very hot fanbase, better television – at least Wednesday was better television – and it was growing and the other guys were falling.”
“The gap was getting closer and as long as the gap stayed the same or got closer he’s doing really, really well. Well now – it’s too early – but Paul [Levesque]’s getting kinda like the beginner’s luck and new enthusiasm but Tony’s struggling. I mean, he’s first on Wednesday but he’s further away from WWE than he was months ago and a year ago.”
“It’s not like this Wednesday Tony’s got this great show […] and it’s not like I’m sitting here going ‘I’m wondering if they can beat them with men [in the ratings]’ because they’ve done that many times in the past. I’m saying this week I don’t think they will, I don’t think it’ll be close. The gap is different and in wrestling wars when you fall behind there’s a weird momentum.”
“It’s a different business now and there’s so many differences to it and Tony’s ability as far as the money that he has and the money this thing generates, it’s not the same but he’s not closing in on number one which he had been doing almost from day one.”
Meltzer also harkens back to a previous wrestling war and wonders if Tony Khan can avoid the pitfalls of former WCW boss Eric Bischoff:
“Now he’s not closing in one number one so it’s changed things. Does he do what happened to Eric Bischoff in 1998 where you kinda mentally self-destruct because everything that you thought you had they turned it on you and you’re losing again? Eric totally self-destructed and we saw at the end of 1998 and 1999 and know what happens from there.”
Dave Meltzer finishes by discussing the struggles ahead for Khan of facing a rival who has a closer creative vision for his company to Khan’s own and says Tony Khan will have to be as aggressive as WWE in recruiting talent:
“Tony’s super passionate and it’s up to him to go through that period and keep this thing strong and build this thing back up when the guys get healthy and get that new [TV] deal wherever it’s from but it’s a completely different challenge for him now than it was. Fighting Vince McMahon is one thing, fighting someone that is closer to your vision who’s gonna try to match you for match quality – whether he can or he can’t but he’s gonna try – and in many people’s eyes he does so it’s gonna change a lot.”
“[…] We’ll see who wants to go where when contracts are up, there’s a lot of guys thinking different things and [Tony’s] gotta be very aggressive on the other side in that there will be people who go from AEW to WWE when their contracts are up and he has to make sure there are people that also go from WWE to AEW when their contracts are up that are valuable to him. It can’t be leftovers.”
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