Many of WWE’s recent competitors like Impact Wrestling have felt and looked like a lite version of WWE. AEW is the latest on the scene and some are wondering if it will also look like WWE with just a different coat of paint.
Veteran wrestling journalist Bill Apter was asked that question when he spoke to Wrestling Inc. on our WINCLY podcast.
“Vince McMahon and WWE started the whole thing with the pyro, titan trons, music and entrances. They were the first national company to make that really look like something,” stated Apter. “AEW, I haven’t seen the product but I’m sure there’s gonna be entrance music and pyro and special effects.”
Apter then talked about how back in the day Bruno Sammartino would come to the ring without any music or pyro, just fans chanting his name. Apter wonders if you can go back to something like that.
“How can you differentiate and make the product look different aesthetically? I don’t know how to do that. And will the fan want to see that,” asked Apter.
AEW made some waves by saying they won’t hire any writers and the wrestlers will book their own characters. Apter revealed why he is favor of that approach.
“I like that because my favorite days in the business were in the dressing rooms and hearing the wrestlers creating, along with Vince Sr and Jr, and coming up with this, ‘Hey why don’t we do this? One of you talk about this in the interview and then do 2-3 minutes of this.’ They were creating it and they had a lot of fun doing it,” said Apter.
“The guys in the business were always more creative than the people brought in from the outside.”
He then teased that there will eventually be a head of the AEW booking committee and of the current roster Chris Jericho makes the best choice.
“Jericho has re-invented not just himself but angles in the wrestling business in this country and Japan as well. He would be able to take an idea, fine tune it and turn it around or make it better,” Apter said before adding that he’s not sure Jericho would even want that role.
Much speculation has been made with the 48-year-old Jericho being AEW’s inaugural world champion. Jim Ross defended the move because Jericho has name value and Apter weighed in on Y2J being the first champ.
“It surprised a lot of people. They thought they were gonna put the new guy [Adam Page] out of the gate as champion. I think it’s a great idea because of the infectious Jericho fans from WWE who wanna see everything he does. They were infected by Y2J-ism. They will follow anything he does; it doesn’t matter what company,” Apter said before adding that he nearly parodied Jericho losing the title but he didn’t have time before it was recovered.
With AEW now on the scene and WWE still the top dog, other wrestling promotions could get lost in the shuffle. Apter was asked how companies like Impact and MLW will fare in this landscape.
“Most wrestling fans that I talk too, Impact has fallen off their radar because they’re on TV but they’re not on TV,” revealed Apter. “[AXS TV] will hopefully raise their profile greatly.
“MLW I don’t get on anything here in terms of cable. I have to watch their shows online and I wish I could tune in and watch it on TV.”
He then talked about how there are still a lot of WWE fans who don’t know what NXT is. With that lack of national recognition, Apter was asked if it would be smart for Impact to go up against NXT.
“I think it would be deadly. I think Impact needs to recoup their TV audience and do it on a night when there’s no other wrestling going on,” said Apter who then brought up the old days when networks would air back-to-back-to-back programs from different wrestling promotions.
“I wish they would have a six-hour block on [AXS TV] starting with Impact Wrestling going to the Women of Wrestling going to New Japan and maybe some other companies. It’s a concentrated wrestling block on a Friday night or Saturday night.”
Even though Triple H said he won’t put too much stock on NXT’s initial ratings on USA, everyone else can’t wait to see the numbers of NXT vs. AEW. Apter was asked who will pull a better rating when they go head to head on October 2.
“That’s a question a lot of people have asked me and there are two ways to look at it: 1) the excitement of AEW is gonna draw great and they are the new kids on the block. 2) With NXT, the only negative there is that a day or two later you can watch it on the Network. While not everybody has the Network, but then again there are diehard WWE fans and whatever brand they put out there, they are gonna be loyal to it,” said Apter.
He then noted that the first AEW promo ends with them saying “A-E-Dub” and that fans have already adopted the chant.
Apter’s book “Is Wrestling Fixed? I Didn’t Know It Was Broken!” is now available to purchase on-line and at all major booksellers. It can be found here at Amazon.com. His full interview with Wrestling Inc aired as part of a recent episode of our WINCLY podcast. It can be heard via the embedded audio player at the bottom of this post. In it Apter discusses the onset of the Wednesday Wrestling War, if Vince McMahon will trust Triple H with NXT, who he would like to see head AEW’s booking committee, Chris Jericho as AEW World Champion, if Andy Kaufman would support AEW or NXT and more.