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Why AEW Needs To Cool It On The Signings

tony khan talks prospect

Last night Jeff Hardy joined his brother as a member of the AEW roster. The crowd went crazy as the Hardy Boyz reunited. And so AEW added ANOTHER guy fresh of WWE TV to their ever-expanding roster.

As AEW adds more (and more and more) ex-WWE stars to their roster, a lot of them are going to get lost in the shuffle. Here’s why AEW needs to cool it on the signings and focus on their talent.

There Are Too Many People On The Roster

The following wrestlers have debuted to big ovations in AEW Dynamite and Rampage in the last few months alone.

  • William Regal 
  • Shane Swerve Strikeland 
  • Keith Lee 
  • Paige Van Zant 
  • 3.0
  • Kyle O’Reilly
  • Bobby Fish
  • Adam Cole
  • Jay Lethal

And dozens of others debuting in matches on Dark and Elevation. This roster is bloated, and there’s no way you can fit so many people into the programming. Many of these wrestlers were touted as “big gets” and “megastars,” but they can’t ALL be megastars. There isn’t enough time to give all of these wrestlers the time fans think they deserve. 

You’re going to run into the same problem many have with WWE; an over-filled roster where very people are given a chance to get popular with the crowd. 

But it isn’t just the new stars creating a problem. AEW seems unable to capitalize on the emerging, homegrown talent they already have

Tony’s Constant Need For A Shiny New Toy

Funny enough, AEW fans regularly accuse WWE of doing gimmicks to juice ratings. But what is more of a trick than promoting a big announcement or debut every week? 

The problem is that these announcements and debuts aren’t “popping” the ratings. AEW has failed to grow its audience beyond its initial hype. 

Graph via RatinGraph.

AEW Ratings

screenshot, Ratingraph.com

 

The reality is that wrestling has a strong and relatively stable fanbase. Getting new people to watch wrestling is tough to do. At best, you will bring in lapsed fans and young kids. AEW is a decidedly adult product, so getting young kids and their parents is out. 

Even if you look at an AEW crowd, it is primarily white dudes in the 20s and 30s. Compare that to a WWE show, where I’ve always noticed a lot of diversity in ages and ethnicity in the stands. 

My Unsolicited Advice On How AEW Can Grow

If AEW wants to grow, it should build characters and compelling must-watch storylines. People will watch the debuts for sure, but you have to keep them around with compelling stories. This isn’t to say that AEW can’t tell a good story. They definitely can. I’d but the MJF/CM Punk feud as one of the better I’ve seen in the last few years in any promotion.

But MJF lost convincingly to Punk, and now he’s feuding with his bodyguard Wardlow. Why not use your established icons to put your younger guys over? 

Jericho, The Hardys, Punk, and the others have the clout you bring in fans and help create new stars. But if that were happening, you wouldn’t need to refresh the roster with new ex-WWE talent constantly. 

Build your homegrown stars, establish yourself as something other than a playground for ex-WWE wrestlers, and then you can find an opportunity to grow an audience. 

What do you think? Is AEW’s roster too big? Let us know in the comments below.

Hunter Patterson is a writer based in Los Angeles. He loves writing about pop culture, popcorn, and pro wrestling.... More about Hunter Patterson

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