Why is AEW ‘cold’ ?

I must admit, I made a serious loss to explain why the product isn’t hotter in terms of audience engagement.

I’ve been very critical of them at times, and in fact, I was completely turned off their product a couple of years ago for almost a year. However, I feel like recently they have done everything right, but things are not going in the right direction.

They have a hot baby face champion that fans were clamouring to turn face. They have an incredibly hot women’s champion. They have numerous title challengers, and they’re running an absolute incredible tournament. They also came off an amazing pay-per-view.

Their in ring product has never been better. They just signed one of the hottest free agents in will osprey and landed edge. Yet it seems like people don’t care.

WWE seems really cold to me as a viewer. It’s nothing but Roman reigns, not showing up, Judgement Day versus the same cast of characters and Stuff. Admittedly, with CM punk coming in that might change, but even their NXT show yesterday didn’t have good in ring work. They had that moron the Miz even challenging for a title if you can believe it. I don’t understand, I’m just not engaged in the WWE product right now other than seeing what happens with punk and AEW seems like must watch TV.

However, the numbers don’t reflect that.

If you look at the Monday night wars, even though WCW had the bigger cast WWE had the hottest baby faces, and that turned it around.

AEW has the hottest baby face in wrestling in MJF (maybe Punk but that’s likely short lived) who is involved in multiple angles, including the one with Adam Cole that is probably the angle of the year. They have a hottest women’s wrestler in the world in Timless Toni storm.

Yeah, it seems like this isn’t turning their fortunes around. Is it just a case of we need to give it more time or is there some serious issues that fans have ever since punk left that they don’t care about the product anymore and are unwilling to give it a chance?

There was some recent data that AEW fans are smarter and more educated, and I wonder whether because of that some of these backstage politics have turned them off more than for instance, Vince being a rapist, did with “simpler” WWE fans

I really can’t explain it. I was stunned that people were not more invested in edge and Christian.

Horrible booking.

Literally what else could it be? They obviously have more than enough roster talent. Too much, even. The booker is the problem.


Is it not that nothing wrong but we’re judging a product on 1990s standards (terrestrial tv views) and people are struggling to afford to go to live events.

Ice cube and Cypress Hill was half empty the other night when I went in Manchester. People are saving their money for Xmas.

I don’t watch AEW on terrestrial. Only my dad still has terrestrial telly any more out of my whole family. We al watch through either Apple TV, Playstation, Freeview or Amazon Fire. Therefore we watch things when we want. Not at a set time on a Wednesday evening.

If you enjoy the product and enjoy the wrestling as you seem to than what’s the problem. I’m sure the internets full of negativity but when isn’t it. It doesn’t mean anything. If you and your mates enjoy it though, and enough people are going live so it’s viable for TK to keep doing them what’s the problem.

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Haters are always going to hate aren’t they. Does it matter if somethings perceived as “cold” if you enjoy it.

For the record, I don’t think AEW is “bad” right now, however it definitely does not feel like it felt in late 2021. Ill say why I think if its the case, sorry if this makes me “a hater”.

I dont think there is one reason for this, I think its likely a number of reasons. If I had to guess, here is what I would say:

  1. CM Punk/Elite fallout. It was ugly, it got tribal, and people “chose sides”, and while a lot of the AEW fanbase took the side of the Elite, I do believe that many fans chose the side of Punk and walked away from AEW.

  2. Improvement in the WWE product. I’m not saying WWE is perfect right now, however there is definitely an improvement with Hunter booking compared to when Vince was booking. WWE can still be hard to ingest at times, however when Vince was solely booking, it was the Brock Lesnar/Ronda Rousey/Roman show and guys like Owens, Zayn etc. were treated like shit. Fans are finally able to see the people they want pushed being pushed. Again, its not perfect. I’m just saying its much better then what it used to be.

  3. Booking/Burnout of Tony: Like @McGuire72 said, there some bad book compared to a few years ago. I loved it when AEW was 2 hours, Tony could put 100% of his time into Dynamite and a PPV every 4 months, the guy was on fire. Now you throw 5 hours of TV a week, and like WWE the product is going to feel overexposed and less special. I will make more money, WWE has proved that, but it is going to hurt the “buzz” a little bit and there is no way Tony can make 5 hours a week as must see as 2, its just not going to happen and I dont care who you are.

  4. The incorporation of ROH. More burnout, more titles, and focus on something that really doesn’t mean anything in 2023. I just think the handling of ROH has been a mistake, and its just hurt things.

  5. Tony’s drop in popularity online. When I first started posting here, Tony was loved by pretty much all. I remember I said something negative about him and a lot of people didnt like my comments. Now, I think Tony has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and outside of maybe 2 posters, there aren’t many that defend him anymore. Like Vince and WWE, when people are turned off by the face of the company, I think some will be turned off by the product. And before someone brings up Vince/.WWE comparisons, yes Vince is 100x worse of a person then Tony is, fair or not fair, I am just saying why I think some fans have dropped off. This also ties back to my first reason as the tribalism in wrestling can be brutal, and the Punk/Elite/Tony drama did the company a lot of harm.

  6. Wrestling has always gotten a boost when a major performer jumps. Nash/Hall in 1996, Cole/Punk/DB in 2021, Cody in 2022 etc. I thought Edge would create a similar buzz as I love Edge, I think more then most here, but I think I was wrong about the popularity he had with the IWC, maybe because he’s been in WWE for so long he’s not as popular with the IWC as guys like Punk and BD are. I don’t think , I’m pretty shocked at the lack of buzz over his jump, but it definitely doesn’t feel like when Punk/DB/Cole jumped, not even close.

With all this said, AEW is still a good product. Their PPV’s are always amazing, and there is almost always good stuff on their weekly TV. I don’t think they are “cold” as much as WWE is “hot” and when you are the number #2 company in the world (financially speaking), your buzz and popularity is going to be heavily based on the popularity at the moment of the #1 company. One thing I will agree with @jamead about, is if you like AEW, who gives a shit if its “hot” or “cold”, just enjoy what you enjoy. When I was a wrestling fan in the early 90’s and nobody at school gave a shit about wrestling as Warrior, Hogan, Savage had all left, I didn’t enjoy it any less.


AEW had a very tumultuous year without a doubt, however going into the end of the year with the Continental Classic, I’m very satisfied with how its turning out at the moment and to me, really came at the right time. Going back to the basics of showing off what they’re best at which is in-ring action which I know can be polarizing, but the matches with little interference and sticking with the rules, I’m happy as a viewer right now.


Honestly Alex, I just think that a lot of what you are saying doesn’t align with majority of wrestling fans. Just a few points that stick out…you called the Miz a moron and you have brought up many times that he shouldn’t be challenging Gunther. Most fans are into that feud. Its getting reactions in the arena, fans online are into it, even John and Wai very much enjoyed their SS match.

Talking about how no WWE stars are “hot”. I totally understand you are not into the product, and I agree with your point about Judgement day vs the same cast of character getting stale, but watch WWE show and you see the fans going nuts for guys like Cody, Sami, Jey Uso, Orton etc. Orton has been red hot since returning. I assume you’re not really into it personally, but crowds are going nuts. I never in a million years thought that Orton’s return to WWE would get louder ovations and online buzz then Edge jumping to AEW.

I do agree AEW fans on average are smart then the average WWE fan, and I do agree that it takes a lot more to turn off a WWE fan compared to an AEW fan. Not to say all WWE fans are stupid and all AEW fans are geniuses, but I do agree that factors in when it comes to fans getting turned off. Fans are to a degree desensitized to Vince, they all know what he is have known for a long time to a degree.

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I’ve learned not to speak too much on AEW, as it seems to annoy people.

It simply comes down to WWE feeling hot and currently being in the midst of their best business in 20 years. A combination of Network TV exposure, and a for the first time in ages, multiple over acts at once.

WWE being hot does not take away from AEW. They had a tough 18 months (basically DON 2022 through to All In 2023) and the last few weeks have seen a ton of course correction - and a back to basics approach to what made them successful.

To me Punk’s exit is similar to Bret’s in 97. A lot of people thought it would cripple WWF at the time, to lose him. Instead it gave room for other stars to rise up. I believe that with someone like Swerve at the forefront, 2024 is going to be a big year of regrowth and building momentum.


That would be lovely to see. I don’t think anyone would disagree with Swerve leading the company right now.

It’s a real shame every opponent MJF was meant to have got injured along the way and the story has just become a mess.

Theres loads wrong with the product right now but I think a lot of that is co we have such high standards as fans and always think we could book better.

I’m just watching Collision with D.Bryan vs Kingston …. What more can fans ask for?!?

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I just can’t wait for the new AEW TV deal to be done - so it can put to rest all the doomsayers - and lock them in as the most financially successful non-WWE company ever.

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Collision this week was literally the answer to everyone being super critical of AEW allegedly “changing”.

It was a show filled with absurdly high quality in ring content. Bryan vs. Andrede, Claudio vs. Kingston, Kenny vs. Page, etc.


Yeah they really need some cash desperately…the lights have gone off about 4 times in this show and the devil hasn’t even appeared

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I’m a week behind ha ha. There’s been some trash in this episode but I don’t expect the whole show to be just made for me.

lol so two weeks ago @Alex_Patel made a thread about how hot AEW is. Does AEW finally seem hotter than WWE?

And now AEW is cold?

I know the wrestling landscape can change quickly. But this week-to-week back and forth only discourages the long term planning I think most fans want to see all pro-wrestling companies do. Instead of overreacting to one down show or week or month.

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This is a great take and thank you for this.

I do think Tony is tarnishing image a little bit coming across as an unhinged, almost delusional, supporter of his product, but I mean that’s who Dana White is too, so who knows.

I think on the whole I’m not complaining about the product I just don’t really understand why fans aren’t more invested in it given that he’s essentially giving you what you asked for in terms of better in ring style. I understand some of the questionable booking and the injuries, etc. and the drama with punk so maybe that’s it

Regarding the Miz, I think like most people the match was a little better than I thought, but I don’t think anyone with half a brain seriously thought the Miz was going to win the title. So if you just wanna watch a match, that is slightly better than you think that most people thought would suck, with an outcome that is an notni question- Sure, I guess that entertains you. But he’s a really bad in ring wrestler, who had no shot of winning and slightly exceeded that. Not sure that’s what we should be going for in 2023.

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AEW seems to have two realistic options to grow viewership… become more like WWE (which they don’t want to do) or turn complete “non-fans” into fans (which hasn’t happened en masse in wrestling in over 25 years).

All of the cool and different stuff they do is tailored for a fan base they largely already have. That’s not a knock from an “artistic“ standpoint, but it’s not going to add significant viewership.


Yeah, I guess that’s my point. It’s saying the same thing – to me the product feels hotter. It’s more interesting, more unpredictable, and more fun to watch. It feels like a hot show. Where as WWE feels like the same old stuff. Dynamite will Iikely win best show awards.

Yet and that’s why I put it in quotation marks, by conventional metrics such as audience engagement it’s not the hotter product. Even though if you watch the shows, you would probably think it is.

Swerve is a star for sure. I agree with you a lot of people don’t like it when anyone says something positive about AEW, which is weird. I do think once the TV deal is done, the company is confirmed as sticking around and being profitable that people will go back to enjoying it more.

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The booking and storylines are bad. Too many titles and tournaments that don’t lead to anything but more titles and tournaments.

The women are also not treated seriously at all. Another issue I have is people just disappearing for months or weeks at a time with zero or lame explanation.

A big problem is TK trying his best to stick to a storyline and not having the ability to pivot. All this stupid Adam Cole crap should have ended the moment he stupidly jumped off the ramp. Don’t use the guy until he is healthy. No point. But TK is unable to adjust.

The talent is great and is why I tune in. But this devil garbage is killing the company.

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You have to remember to, pre AEW if you took all the wrestling fans in North America, I’d argue 90% of them grew up on WWE. As a result, those 90% are conditioned to view wrestling through a “WWE lens”. Tony, kind of caters to that other 10% that enjoyed styles like NJPW better. That is fine to do, but it is going to limit AEW’s growth to a degree. In high school, I watched WCW, but not a single one of my friends did as they just didn’t care about in-ring the same way I did (I’m referencing the cruiserweights here, not the main event), they were more into the WWE soap opera style between Austin-McMahon, DX etc. Now I do think this is shifting with a new generation having a major promotion to watch that is more in-ring focused, but I think it’s going to take about 10 years or so until those fans really start to make an impact when it comes to numbers. The other issue and I think you have spoken about this before, but AEW doesn’t exactly have an atmosphere that lends its self to children. I would take my child to a WWE show, I wouldn’t take my child to an AEW show.