Miro is that dude right now. The artist formerly known as Rusev is on a tear since he rather violently dissolved his partnership with Kip Sabien. Every match he has or promo he cuts—especially the promos—is must-see television.
But his current position wasn’t a given. It was hard to see it as even a possibility when Miro stepped into AEW with a joystick in one hand and Kip Sabian’s wedding ring in the other.
The Best Man thing was meh, even when at its best. AEW, to their credit, called an audible, and here we are on the eve of Miro’s first title defense in God knows how long. According to some of the AEW faithful, there was no course correction. They say this was all part of some master plan.
There’s long-term booking, and there’s that. A foresight rivaled only by Commander Data playing six-dimensional chess. And maybe the Joker in The Dark Knight or Skyfall’s Silva, depending on the day. While it’s fun to think real-life humans are as intelligent as fictional characters, it’s also not fair.
It is perfectly OK to admit when AEW makes mistakes. Acting like the company is infallible only hurts everyone involved in the long run.
AEW is a young company. In human terms, they’re not even old enough to know what alcohol is, much less buy it. With that youthfulness comes a lot of dopeness wrapped in infectious energy that words can’t adequately convey. Even by those of us paid to scribble descriptions. On the flip side, we should expect mistakes. Several veterans posed for those “All Elite” photo ops, but the company has wrestlers and creatives learning on the fly.
Even if the company was at seasoned veteran status, not every decision would pan out because that’s the nature of creativity. Throw as much stuff to the wall and see what doesn’t slide off like jello. And it’s a lot easier to figure out what works when the person doing said throwing gets live feedback every week.
That’s what makes the pearl-clutching and cape donning for creative missteps so weird. Miro, as the right blend of both James Bond big bad and henchman, is the pitch-perfect note for him to sing. He showed as much during that 2018 TMZ interview that maybe put him in WWE’s purgatory. That guy TMZ interviewed has more in common with the current TNT Champion than the Bulgarian Brute, the man who just wanted a day to himself or Kip’s best friend.
The fact we’re getting that, plus his bad guy one-liners every damn week, is enough to break out the party favors and rejoice. That Tony Khan and everyone else involved saw that was the right call to make is worthy of…acknowledgment.
Now, none of us know whether it was an esoteric metric, the crowd response, or just good old-fashioned spidey sense, but something told TK and the boys to switch it up for Miro. That bodes well for AEW’s future as it shows the people in charge aren’t stereotypically stubborn wrestling promoters. Professional wrestling is trial and error. Even if they refuse to do it publicly, AEW is privately willing to admit the error part of that equation. The assumption that every past or future decision was “all part of the plan” discredits Khan’s ability to adapt, a quality he’ll need by the boatload as AEW expands.
Ironically, being a hardcore apologist for All Elite Wrestling means not giving them props for the one trait they have in common with Simone Biles, which is also the one quality WWE lacks all too often: flexibility. Doubling down when an angle or persona isn’t connecting is a colossal waste of time and money. Even if the people behind these choices have an abundance of both, the fans don’t and will make their displeasure pretty obvious.
Liking a thing doesn’t mean blind devotion. Criticizing something you love doesn’t mean that one’s affection is shallow or cheap. It’s the exact opposite. Calling out AEW’s creative misfires helps them learn, which hopefully keeps them around long enough to get a few gray hairs. Not every idea will work and changes will get made.
When you're imperfect, that is the only aspect of the plan that always comes together.