Mick Foley knows a thing or two about making money in the world of professional wrestling. When he speaks about the business, it is worth the effort to listen. In this case, the topic was the development of AEW.
Foley sat down for a quick interview with Inside the Ropes to discuss his opinion on AEW in the viewership war against NXT. The AEW portion begins at the 2:05 mark of the chat.
Foley put over the AEW roster as amazing talent, however, he cautions about seeing the younger guys making mistakes on national television instead of at a smaller venue as they grow. Foley also sees inexperience in shooting angles.
“Some of the guys have grown up yearning after the, ‘This is awesome,’ chant. But having had the experience of being in the angles that need to draw money, I think for guys of my era, there was definitely a very real sense that if the angle wasn’t successful, you didn’t draw at the houses. And there was no other ancillary means of income.
I’m not down on the guys, but I think you’re seeing some inexperience in shooting angles and performing for the camera. So guys are out there, it’s an admirable trait that they want to have the best match they possibly can, but every guy wanting to have the best match at every venue doesn’t necessarily lead to the best promotion. That’s just my opinion.
So, I think someone needs to reign some of these guys in. Like Gerald Brisco told me when I got to WWE, he says, “We know you like to do a lot of these things. There may come a time when we ask you to do that, but until then we’re going to ask you not to.” And that really improved my longevity.”
Foley’s points remind me of the idea that if everyone is doing suicide dives, and other such flash, then the move ceases to be special. One criticism I had early on was the overuse of dramatic kickouts from pinfalls. I have noticed AEW scaling back on that as of late, and it has benefited my viewing experience.
Foley also mentioned AEW should slow down on their feud progression.
“I thought they rushed the match (Cody Rhodes vs Chris Jericho). Maybe, they’re not showing the patience they need to. I would say that Moxley and Kenny Omega shouldn’t have had their first match in a wild, anything goes environment. But I think these are mistakes made out of wanting to give people the absolute best product they can. But I do feel like there needs to be somebody reigning in their enthusiasm.”
On a monthly PPV schedule, I understand Foley’s critique. On a quarterly PPV schedule, I don’t think I agree with his assessment. I’d be very interested to hear from Foley how he would have scheduled the timing of the feuds.
How would Foley have filled time in the Rhodes vs Jericho feud from October to the end of February? That’s when Dynamite debuted to where I assume Foley would do the match at the Revolution PPV. In my mind, five months seems like an awfully long time for them to be circling each other without a singles match. I guess AEW could have slipped in a War Games type of bout between the Elite and the Inner Circle at their Full Gear event, but would that be too much too soon for that faction feud?
In regard to Moxley vs Omega in an unsanctioned bout, it wasn’t so bad of a story decision in hindsight, because the two haven’t laid a hand on each other since. I would definitely agree with Foley if that feud was still going on.
As for NXT, Foley thinks they have an advantage in being trained to work for the camera, more seasoned stars, and a dedicated writing staff. In the end, it all comes down to who can tell long-term stories that engage the audience.
Do you agree with Mick Foley’s critique of AEW? How would you have mapped out the time frame for the two feuds mentioned?