A lot of fans and critics have questioned All Elite Wrestling’s strategy for booking the pre-shows before their streaming/PPV events.
Conventional wisdom says the more widely available lead-in to the sign-up and/or payment required main show would be used to entice fans to continue watching the event itself. In a limited sample of two shows, AEW’s The Buy In has done a little of that. The impression many have been left with from Double or Nothing and Fyter Fest’s pre-shows, however, has been that they’re where the Being The Elite angles play out in comedy matches and backstage bits.
Whether that’s an entirely fair assessment or not, it’s a view that’s out there - and continuing the floundering Librarians angle on The Buy In for this Saturday’s Fight for the Fallen with Peter Avalon vs. Sonny Kiss is reinforcing the notion.
It continues to sound like something there’s some disagreement about backstage, too. President Tony Khan has been openly skeptical or critical of some of the pre-show booking, and on Sirius XM’s Busted Open this week, senior advisor and lead commentator Jim Ross offered this assessment:
“Honestly, I wasn’t crazy about it, I do not think it sold enough of what we were doing on the main show. I didn’t think it was what we needed to be doing. Now, I like comedies, when I’m drinking those are my go-to. I think we have to be selling a good sampling of what we do in the main show. If you have a pregame show for a pay-per-view, those matches shouldn’t just be filler, they should be something.”
The weird thing is the pre-shows have featured matches and stories important to big angles, like Hangman Page’s battle royal win on Double or Nothing’s pre-show earning him a shot at becoming the first AEW World champ at All Out. But even then, a lot of what people remember about that match is criticism of more outlandish gimmicks like Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy or bilateral amputee Dustin Thomas. And Best Friends qualifying to compete for a bye in the Tag Title tournament at Fyter Fest was overshadowed by the Librarians angle in Allie’s match. and Michael Nakazawa facing non-wrestler Alex Jebailey.
This weekend’s The Buy In features a six-man tag which will likely be used to advance the Shawn Spears/MJF story and more Librarians action. We’ll see if that mix remains for All Out’s pre-show, or if JR and Khan force a change.