Was thinking about this recently. When people look back fondly at the late 90s/early 2000s and wrestling being hot, they refer to two things: TV ratings and PPV buy rates.
In 2023, TV ratings will NEVER be what they used to be (for wrestling or anything else) and the largest wrestling company in the world doesn’t really have PPV buy rates. And for that matter, I don’t think anybody really cares about who’s hosting SNL or appearing on the late night talk shows, at least not to the level of 25 years ago.
So, when people talk about if wrestling will ever be “hot” again, what do they mean?
I think it means the product is good which as we can see from this forum we can’t all agree on.
In my opinion AEW is the hotter brand right now but others think WWE is head and shoulders ahead.
I think that’s all it is.
When I was a kid WWE “was hot” to me and some mates and it had nothing to do with buy rates or PPV sales. It was all to do with wanting to see Brett beat Yokozuna and The Rockers split up. That’s all that matters IMO
There is a different between being “hot” and being “better”
Hot isn’t really subjective - the hotter company is the one that has stats backing it up
-ratings going up, not down
-attendance going up, not down
-crowd being engaged
-house shows selling out
-PPV buys (if applicable)
By those metrics WWE is hotter. There really isn’t a debate. AEW is going the wrong way - ratings and attendance are not growing and actually dropping. The general buzz is less etc. WWE is all up in these areas. Just look at the Montreal crowds this weekend.
AEW needs to have a more compelling storyline and a hot baby face. The same MJF makes people jump through hoops isn’t going to work.
AEW was hotter when Punk and Coke and BD came in. It’s not the same now.
In terms of what’s “better” that’s really more subjective. If you like in ring wrestling and flips and stuff AEW is better. The shows move fast and are easy to watch.
WWE is more about the characters and storylines and not as great in ring.
Peak NXT was hotter then WWE at the time but wasn’t winning on any of your metrics I’m sure.
impact could have its “hottest” period and we could all miss it coz we’re not watching.
I therefore think it’s more of an opinion. And depends on other things such as having someone to watch with, talk about the product with etc.
In sports someone can have their “hottest” period and finish 5th but for their fans they’ll never forget that season and the product they watch is awesome. I don’t think it’s just about being number 1…especially in wrestling where no one can compete with WWE
I don’t think it’s about being number one at all. Even at the time when I’m saying AEW was hotter, WWE still was number one.
It’s just that by their own metrics, judged against themselves only, AEW is not as popular as it used to be. The ratings are down, their attendance is down, the general interest in the product seems to be down. So in a bubble even compared against themselves, they’re not doing as well as they used to
You cant honestly believe that besides bloodline and cody segments that WWE crowds are more engaged than AEW. Theres no comparing a raw to a dynamite in terms of crowd reaction.
And crowd reaction is what really measures hot. Attendance and ratings and merch sales may show a stronger company overall in terms of metrics and money but a crowd that is loud and vocal on most or all segments/matches on a show is what matters in this scenario.
That’s not entirely fair though – you have to look at crowd size.
Back in the wrestling wars the hottest company in terms of crowds was ECW. However, they only had like 500 people at the shows but those people really love the product and we’re passionate so it came across as being really hot. That’s not the same though as having a 50,000 person arena where not everyone is into screaming their heads off.
Yes, AEW has a passionate Fanbase, but they used to be able to draw bigger crowds with the same people and others would sample the product. Right now you’re kind of dwindling that if you look at the ratings and the shows to more and more of a hard-core audience which in turn does make the audience reaction louder.
But AEW is going to struggle to do what WWE did – they’re not gonna sell 20,000 tickets and create Montreal atmosphere where you have 20,000 people going crazy. It’ll never happen. It might’ve happened in Chicago or Toronto but they dropped the ball in Toronto. Unless they go to London that’s not happening. Yes they can pack 3000-8000 people in and they will be really loud, and it probably louder than most RAW.
However, if you go back a year ago was entirely possible, they could’ve sold out maybe 30,000 tickets in Toronto and created something like that. They wouldn’t be able to do that right now. That’s what I mean by it’s not as hot.
Here’s what I will say – if you go back about a year or 18 months ago, more people were engaged in the product more people were talking about it, more people were invested in the storylines and the characters and all of the cool stuff with new people coming in. Right now what do you really have?
You have the same MJF character doing the same story lines, and the same hurdles. You have Wardlow basically not as over. You have the Elite doing God knows what because there really aren’t any programs being built for them. You have Moxley and Hangman doing an endless series of matches. You don’t have Adam Cole really doing anything. And pick up the women’s division is an absolute goddamn mess right now because nobody has any idea what is going on. There literally is not a single match they can make on that side right now that was as engaging as it was when thunder Rosa and Britt we’re going at each other.
The Acclaimed are wrestling the ass boy’s - does this sound like FTR Vs Bucks to you?
Like nothing as hot as punk versus MJF, punk versus Kingston, Kenny versus Moxley, Jericho vs Cody. Like they just don’t have that must see hot storyline.
Like the product isn’t generating the same interest. And if you feel for yourself that it is, that’s great – but it’s certainly not capturing people to the same degree as it was on a global scale
I think crowd reaction measures passion level of fans. No doubt AEW fans are louder then the average WWE crowd, but you’re also talking a mostly 20/30 something crowd vs a crowd that’s largely filled with families. The big WWE shows that have less of that family feel can get quite loid, just look at this past weekend (granted that’s a big of an outlier).
I listed to the first few min, I don’t people who try to make these types of points. 99% of what I read about AEW is over the top positive reviews. Look at this board for example, every feedback thread is saying “one of the best shows of the year” etc etc. very rare to find a negative thing said.
Maybe if you’re really going down the toxic Twitter rabbit hole you will find negativity, but almost all of the online wrestling media and smart fans seem to be doing the polar opposite IMO. I also do not go down the toxic Twitter rabbit hole. I do some times on tik tok, but that’s mostly anti wwe from what I see. But maybe that’s eve cause of my interests, I don’t know.
A rabbit hole? No… If you look at nearly any AEW tweet or FB post, there is an overwhelming number of troll responses.
The fact Tony Khan got attacked following a super innocent post of himself and Dave Brown at Jerry Jarrett’s funeral - I think is overwhelming evidence of that.
You don’t have to dig or look for it. If you go on Facebook, and see any story Post puts up about AEW - the first and top comments are always several of the same people, attacking the company and giving the same tired Cornette and Bischoff talking points.
Righteous Reg (from Grapsody, Fightful, guest on Nubian Wrestling Advocates as well) summed up my feelings really well with this statement:
That’s a really good point. Based on what I’ve gathered is the average age of the posters here, those of us who look at ratings and the business side in 2023 probably weren’t doing that in 1998, at least not in any serious way. I remember seeing the Raw/Nitro viewership (and total viewers was the “public” metric back then) every week. But I was also a teenager, so I don’t think I cared that much.
And for the people who actually make money off of this, WWE is hotter than ever because it’s more profitable than ever. And the fact that AEW reportedly makes a profit at all at this stage is probably a small miracle.
So, I’d like to think we’ll notice if/when we have the next Hogan/Austin/Rock in our midst. But maybe the answer to my original question is that the term doesn’t mean anything.
Just for fun, I’m coming at this from a more personal/subjective approach here, but here are some ways that I feel wrestling (overall not a specific company) is “hot” right now:
People from different communities I am involved in, who were lapsed fans are jumping back in. For some people that is weekly WWE or AEW, and for some that is attending monthly local Freelance or Warrior wrestling shows here in Chicago.
I can go to 1-3 local indy shows a month, they will always be sold out or close with enthusiastic crowds, and have some quality (again subjective) performers and matches. I’m thinking about when I was younger, this was less common.
Wrestling seems to be showing up more and more in pop culture; Marc Maron’s podcast, NBA all-star weekend, Super Bowl, MFJ in an upcoming A24 indy film, just to name a few recent examples. I’m sure you could argue this has always been a thing, but again showing up in my interest more…
I think if we attempt to come at this from an “unbiased” perspective, we just look at quantifiable trends of the specific companies over the past few months or years (attendance numbers, merchandise sales, ratings, etc), but once we get into comparing companies, as we all know, it can be a slippery slope.
I like this question a lot, @RocketKing, and the discussion that is stemming from it. A big part of it becomes about semantics and personal experience, and also, MAYBE now more than ever, there are many options of decent-high quality wrestling (depending on your cup of tea) that can be consumed regularly, and that’s pretty damn exciting to me.