A pair of well-known professional wrestling insiders recently claimed the version of AEW that many disenfranchised fans fell in love with four years ago no longer exists.
When AEW made its national television debut in October 2019, it finally created something the industry had lacked for years. A high-level alternative wrestling product that offered something far different than WWE and showed a greater appreciation for the rich history of professional wrestling.
However, when co-founder Cody Rhodes departed the company to return to WWE last year, it seemingly set off a chain of events that would change the company forever. Since then quite a few key members of the staff that helped to start the promotion have departed, including QT Marshall, Kevin Sullivan, and Matt Jackson’s wife Dana Massie.
While some of those who have left had roles that dealt with logistics, it is hard not to notice how different the product on TV is compared to what it once was. There are fewer long-term stories, some characters get a copious amount of TV time then disappear, and more time is dedicated to matches instead of storytelling.
The internal shift is something industry insiders Dave Meltzer and Bryan Alvarez spoke about during a recent edition of Wrestling Observer Radio, and the duo admitted the company that fans used to know is forever gone.
AEW insiders explain how the original version of the company is long gone
“Four of the founding members of the company are all gone by 2024,” said Alvarez.
“Because it’s so many in a short period, I’m getting people going ‘oh my god, the company is sinking.” Meltzer claimed.
“The company is not sinking, but it is absolutely changing. … It’s never going to be that company again,” Alvarez added.
Meltzer claims that despite the founder’s inexperience in running a major wrestling promotion, in their early days that adventurous bravado seemed to work for the roster and united their locker room. That sort of unique camaraderie, he says, has disappeared following the departures of the last year.
“One of the things that was an ironically out out touch knock on the company was that veterans who came in had never seen a dressing room like that. There was inexperience as far as management with so many people who had never worked in a management capacity in wrestling. So many new people, you’re going to make mistakes based on that, but the harmony in the dressing room was incredible.
“People were calling it All Friends Wrestling, but what built the company was that exact fact. That wasn’t going to last forever. When that harmony was gone, that’s when you started having problems. Before, everyone had a common goal, even if they didn’t all agree on how to reach that goal. Everyone had a different idea on how to do what’s going to engage the most fans and how you combat being in a fight with WWE, how do you react to that. For a while it was a very harmonious thing, then in changed and it wasn’t for the better.”– Dave Meltzer