SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
AEW and Warner Br0s. Discover (WMD) announced the launch of AEW Collision starting next month. It’ll air for two hours Saturday nights at 8 ET.
A few things jumped out to me in the press release.
•They named a curious list of wrestlers. The bold headline says that the show will be “featuring headliners Thunder Rosa, Miro, Samoa Joe, Powerhouse Hobbs, and Andrade El Idolo.” Huh? What about MJF? Jon Moxley? Kenny Omega? Chris Jericho? Britt Baker? With all due respect, the wrestlers listed looks like a B-show line-up at this point. Was it random? Or is this indicative of something. The list of wrestlers could be categorized as malcontents and controversial figures who have mysteriously been underutilized.
For instance, Thunder Rosa has issues with Britt Baker and her friends. Miro has been mysteriously underutilized and absent for long stretches. Andrade has been missing and, when he’s around, a controversial figure behind the scenes. Powerhouse Hobbs and Samoa Joe have often been mentioned as wrestlers who CM Punk might be amenable to work with and a good fit for feuds. Is Collision going to have a separate roster from Dynamite (other than the main champions floating between shows) and end up like ECW’s roster was once called, a collection of misfit toys (a reference to the movie “Toy Story”)?
Also, CM Punk wasn’t announced. Brandon Thuston of Wrestlenomics noted on Twitter that Punk’s name was originally listed on the press release, then removed in a subsequent draft. Is that because Tony Khan wants to make that announcement tonight? Or is he not returning after all, perhaps due to some late hour blow-up? I have to think they wouldn’t have announced a new prime time two hour show if they weren’t going to have Punk back, especially if they are going with separate rosters. With ROH tapings taking place at Collision events, is Collision going to be an upgraded version of ROH but with AEW branding.
•Will it be live every week? If Dynamite is always live but Collision turns out not to be live every week (there had been indications internally and reports it’ll be taped on Thursdays sometimes, but the press release categorizes it as “live” at this point), it will immediately define Collision as a B-show. Results will get out ahead of time. As a result, many fans will pick and choose whether to watch it based on the buzz, or just watch on delay if they get around to it. AEW will have to rely on other techniques to provide surprises via post-produced special announcements and other such teases.
The show’s success doesn’t entirely rest on whether it’s live, but in this era, being live always is essential for the show to be seen as an A-show. If it’s eventually only “sometimes live” (as reports says had at least been considered at one point), fans will categorize it as a B-show and won’t, for the most part, track when it’s live and choose to watch then; rather, they’ll just see it as a B-show and only watch if they really, really like the wrestlers exclusive to the show or the matches that took place. In this busy landscape with 12 hours of prime time wrestling on cable and broadcast TV before Collision is added, to stand out and draw comparable numbers of Dynamite rather than Rampage, being perceived as an equal to Dynamite is essential.
(Note: A previous version of this editorial stated that it wasn’t noted in the press release the show will be live. The official press release does in fact say it’s live.)
•How much more money is AEW getting to produce the show? So far, there’s no details on the financials of the new deal. Speculation by TV and pro wrestling insiders pegged this as potentially a billion dollar deal with a ton of facets, but so far no details. AEW needs a big budget to make Collision more Smackdown than Thunder. They need the budget to deepen the roster (especially if top talent suffer injuries or depart when contracts expire) and make the show look major league. They need to run major arenas and draw big crowds. If it looks drab and darkly lit to hide empty seats, and if the show really is built around a roster made up of Punk and no one else in AEW’s current top ten list of stars, that’s a problem.
Stay tuned, because will could know a lot more soon, and certainly tonight will be highly anticipated if the Punk announcement is made during Dynamite. Perhaps we get clarity on a roster split or AEW Draft scenario too if indeed they’re going with a split-roster.
Jason Powell from ProWrestling.net joined me yesterday on the Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast weekly flagship edition and we discussed the ramifications and implications of the expanded two hours in AEW’s schedule. I also had an idea for a roster split that is different than what WWE has done that might work perfectly to balance the importance and freshness of both Dynamite and Collision over time. Listen HERE.
PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling since 1987. He has been a guest on the Steve Austin Show as an analyst of current events and pro wrestling history 40 times, making more appearances than any other guest. He currently hosts the “Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Podcast” and “Wade Keller Pro Wrestling Post-show” along with several PWTorch VIP-exclusive podcasts every week. He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame for “Excellence in Writing on Professional Wrestling” in 2015. He hosted “The Ultimate Insiders” DVD series in the 2000s including long-from studio interviews in Los Angeles, Calif. with Matt & Jeff Hardy and Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara. He has interviewed more big name wrestlers and promoters in long-form insider interviews over the last 35 years for the Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter, usually in the “Torch Talk” transcribed Q&A format, than any pro wrestling reporter. The list of those he has interviewed include Steve Austin, The Rock, Vince McMahon, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Hulk Hogan, Goldberg, Eric Bischoff, Verne Gagne, Lou Thesz, Jesse Ventura, Drew McIntyre, Brian Gewirtz, Paul Heyman, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, Jon Moxley, and dozens of other top stars and influential promoters and bookers/creative team members.