Home AEW limping toward ‘Full Gear’: Hey, there’s nowhere to go but up from here

AEW limping toward ‘Full Gear’: Hey, there’s nowhere to go but up from here

Chris Graham
aew full gear
Graphic: All Elite Wrestling

AEW continues to limp toward the Nov. 18 “Full Gear” pay-per-view, with another lackluster showing in the TV numbers for this week’s “Dynamite” showing a continuation of a depressing recent trend for pro wrestling’s #2 company.

Wednesday’s “Dynamite” averaged 804,000 viewers, down from the 832,000 average for last week’s show, and down from the 833,000-viewer average over the last 10 weeks, per reporting on that from PWTorch.com.

The 10-week average for this time a year ago, from PWTorch.com, was 1.021 million, so, the viewer numbers are down 18.4 percent year-to-year.

Obviously, not good.

And: not by accident.

The best thing that can happen for the company is to just get to and through “Full Gear” without anybody else getting hurt, which isn’t a given, the way things have been going for the company of late.

The run-up to the “Full Gear” show has already seen AEW lose Bryan Danielson (broken orbital bone), Adam Cole (broken ankle) and Sammy Guevara (undisclosed) to the injured list, adding to the long-term injured list that includes top-of-the-card draws PAC (undisclosed) and Thunder Rosa (back).

The injuries have hemmed in AEW booker Tony Khan, who turned his top heel, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, the AEW world champ, face in a program to work a buddy angle with Cole, who is likely going to be out for an extended period after having to undergo surgery to repair his ankle, which was broken in three places.

It was a questionable move to turn MJF face even when Cole was healthy, but now Khan can’t seem to figure out how to get his champ back to where he needs him to be, which is absolutely not where he is now, doing dumb comedy with lower-card guys.

It’s been odd seeing MJF used to defend the secondary Ring of Honor tag titles that Khan, for some reason that made sense only to him, had MJF win with Cole.

And now, given the nature of Cole’s injury, it doesn’t make sense to see MJF continue working the program with Cole, who for his part has been saddled with an awful bad-comedy storyline involving Roderick Strong and The Kingdom that hasn’t gotten any involved over with fans, based on a look at the TV-viewer numbers for their weekly segments.

It makes even less sense that MJF has been involved in another storyline with The Acclaimed, which has been booked for months as a lower-mid-card six-man tag team.

MJF-Cole-Strong-The Kingdom is going nowhere, MJF-The Acclaimed is going nowhere, and MJF-Jay White, the main event for the upcoming “Full Gear” show, is obviously not going to end with White going over to win the world title.

Khan has been hinting toward an MJF-Samoa Joe rematch, but MJF won their first title match by a clean fall, and Khan, memorably, also had Joe job to CM Punk at “All In,” literally minutes after the backstage fight involving Punk and Jack Perry that Khan cited as the reason for firing Punk, by far his most marketable star, from the company.

The signing of Adam Copeland, WWE’s Edge, was looked at as a move to try to fill the star-power vacuum left by the dismissal of Punk, but the Copeland-Christian Cage feud has been getting bogged down by uneven weekly booking, and the presence of way, way, way too many peripheral players.

Even stripping that one down to the two main players, Copeland-Cage should be allowed to play out over the next several months, building toward perhaps a main event next summer at the second Wembley Stadium “All In” next August.

Doing that one the right way leaves Khan with a big-time problem with the booking of his world champ.

Before Punk was fired, it was apparent that Khan was building toward an MJF-Punk megamatch that would have been a logical Wembley main event a year out, but without Punk, Khan is left with Samoa Joe, who was just beaten clean by the champ, MJF-Kenny Omega, which for some reason Khan hotshot-booked for a “Collision” that averaged less than 500,000 viewers on a random Saturday night, and otherwise, MJF-Wardlow, who owns a victory over the champ from 2022, but Wardlow’s star faded out quickly with bad booking last summer, and uneven booking since.

AEW is a mess, and honestly, I have no idea where Khan can go from where he is now to get things back on track.

Well, OK, he could cede control of booking to the professionals, but we know that’s not going to happen.

Like a lot of people, I’m still a fan, but it’s frustrating for me and a lot of fans like me to see Khan build what he has built in terms of a solid roster and TV-production infrastructure, and then not do more with it.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham, the king of "fringe media," is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].

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