On a recent episode of the Busted Open Podcast featuring Bully Ray and Dave LaGreca’s recap of NXT and AEW, Bully Ray went in depth on the glaring issues he sees in AEW that he doesn’t see in NXT. Ray mentioned the physicality and work in the ring being solid in NXT and that not being the case all the time in AEW.
“A lot of times you watch AEW and guys and gals are missing stuff,” Ray said (h/t to SEScoops for the transcription). “It can get indie-rific at times and the NXT product is a lot more polished and the work rate is extremely tight.”
In response to Bully Ray’s comments, Booker T spoke on The Hall of Fame Podcast about his comments. Booker said it’s hard to question AEW because they’re trying their best with what they have to present wrestling in a different way than what we’ve seen for years.
“Wrestling is so many different things,” Booker T said. “Wrestling is not MMA, it’s not boxing. Professional wrestling has always been entertainment based. One thing you can rest assured on with AEW is not every match is going to look the same because those guys are a fluctuation of Indy guys and more experienced guys like [Jon] Moxley going to look totally different than some of the other guys. Wrestling is what I always say, to be able to do the same thing everyone else is doing a little different.”
Booker continued to talk about TNA and how it differentiated from WWE and WCW. He said he could see TNA being huge in wrestling today if they stuck with their different aspects of wrestling including the six sided ring.
“The six sided ring was different,” Booker T continued to say. “That’s what attracted you to TNA wrestling back in the day plus the young guys AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. Those guys brought something to the table. AEW, they’re doing the same thing everyone else is doing but they’re trying to make it look a little bit different. With the nucleus of wrestling we have right now, that’s very very important for what you’re trying to create and build. If TNA would’ve stuck to the six sided ring and gave those young guys the ball and let them run, TNA could be huge right now. Back then they were doing 1.3, 1.4, 1.5 [million viewers] in the ratings.
“I agree with [Bully Ray] in a lot of aspects, but in this business you’ve got to be able to figure out how to do the same thing everyone else is doing a little bit different, and I think that’s what AEW is doing.”
Booker’s co-host Brad Gilmore suggested that maybe Bully was talking about the difference between the top of the card and the bottom of the card in AEW. Booker mentioned ECW and how they didn’t have the greatest wrestlers but still found a way to present a great product and show for the wrestling audience.
“Can you go back and think about how crappy those wrestlers were in ECW and how popular that show was?” Booker T said. “Those guys weren’t the greatest wrestlers in the world. I mean, c’mon and they put on a great great show. That’s my point right there where I totally disagree with Bubba coming from a place like ECW where I thought Mike Awesome could actually work until I got in the ring with him. Paul Heyman made those guys look like they knew what they were doing.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit SEScoops and The Hall of Fame Podcast with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.