From telling Ted Turner he wasn’t in the rasslin’ business before the Monday Night War, to telling WWE investors he wouldn’t resort to the “blood and guts” booking of the past to deal with his newest competitor — Vince McMahon’s long been striving to make sure fans and sponsors see his company as different from the professional wrestling business his father & grandfather helped create.
Drawing a distinction between WWE’s brand of sports entertainment and AEW proudly embracing all things pro wrestling has been part of Team McMahon’s strategy for as long as Tony Khan’s promotion’s been around. In addition to the “blood and guts” quote, there were also allegations WWE tried to get press to cover Dynamite’s Nick Gage/Chris Jericho match (and specifically a picture-in-picture commercial for Dominos while Gage used a pizza cutter on Jericho’s forehead).
Now, a WWE spokesperson is calling attention to the bloody women’s tag match from the Dec. 31, 2021 Rampage as proof AEW’s isn’t a family-friendly, mainstream product like theirs. This quote was given to the Toronto Star’s Murtz Jaffer for an article which ran today (Jan. 15) titled, “Can Tony Khan’s AEW beat Vince McMahon and WWE at its own game?”
It seems designed to say that even if AEW is doing similar numbers to WWE in some areas, they’re not playing the same game:
“If you look at the gory self-mutilation that bloodied several women in the December 31 event on TNT, it quickly becomes clear that these are very different businesses. We had an edgier product in the Attitude Era and in the 2022 world, we don’t believe that type of dangerous and brutal display is appealing to network partners, sponsors, venues, children, or the general public as a whole.”
This makes WWE’s stance even more clear than it was before. Are they right? The market will continue to decide.
For AEW’s part? I’d look for a themed show or new match called “gory self-mutilation”. Oh, and definitely expect a Tony Khan tweet...