The constant chatter, if not outright yelling over, and study of TV ratings for both AEW, and WWE has long passed the threshold of being an annoyance. But AEW fans couldn’t help but occasionally peek to see how Dynamite and Rampage were doing, if only to assure themselves that the company was doing well enough to stick around. While it’s been a pretty poorly kept secret (most everything in wrestling is), Wednesday’s announcement of a new two-hour show on Saturday nights on TNT called Collision can send everyone’s nerves to the hammock for a while.
The new show will give AEW the exact same amount of airtime that WWE gets, five hours, though Rampage will now be officially a B-level show for mid-card stories, and below, which it kind of unofficially has been for a while. This is why we saw a couple returning talents last week in Miro and Thunder Rosa, and will continue to see more, including one CM Punk before too long. AEW has more slots to fill.
While there had been talk of a brand split, mostly to keep The Elite away from Punk, and vice versa, the buzz today is that there will be than first thought, though those carrying various titles will not be show-exclusive to either Dynamite or Collision. For now. That could change. And in some parts, probably should. We’ll get to that.
Splitting the roster between the two shows definitely gives more room for more talent to get on TV and engage even more fans. But there are pitfalls to having two separate rosters essentially, and AEW would do well to avoid them. Here’s how we think it should go.
The titles shouldn’t be show-exclusive except for the TNT and International titles
The two mid-card belts should be kept apart from each other for a couple reasons. One, it always seems jumbled to have two titles below the main titles, and it was hard to create clear divisions for them when they were mostly on the same show. They were drinking from the same trough, basically.
Second, the TNT title has really waned in importance thanks to some wonky booking for it, and also from the glow of Orange Cassidy’s run with the International title. OC has been putting on a banger pretty much every week to lift the profile of the International title, while the TNT title is kind of covered in whatever muck Wardlow applies to it. Or the stunted run of Powerhouse Hobbs kind of exhibited that AEW didn’t really know what to do with it. Let the TNT title be on TNT on Saturday nights, and put the fucking thing on Brody King, and let him toss people into a garbage can in the upper deck for a few months to get its luster back. They can both be the anchors for their own shows as the main title floats between the two.
Put Jamie Hayter in the main event more often
Most AEW fans will have given up hope that Tony Khan, or Warner Bros-Discovery quite possibly, is going to allow for more than one women’s match per show more often. But AEW can make up for that by not always dumping it in the 9:30 slot on either Dynamite or Collision. The women’s title, which Hayter still holds in case you may have forgotten, can bounce to whatever show MJF isn’t bringing his title to each week. Give it some gloss and importance by putting it in the slot where the biggest titles go. The trios titles aren’t going to headline a show, the tag division is in kind of a weird place, so now’s the time. If we can’t get more women’s wrestling then at least make the little we have feel like it matters. It also wouldn’t hurt to let Punk pump Hayter’s tires the way he was for Britt Baker in his first run. Khan would say that there aren’t enough opponents for Hayter that can carry a main event-on-TV feud through a few weeks. So build them, and there’s room now to do it.
Stick to the split
While the various title-holders may not be leashed to one show or the other, one thing that WWE had a habit of doing that made things confusing and stupid was just disregarding their own rules on a whim, having various wrestlers bounce between shows without explanation, and then watching others fade into the background so we could all watch the same matches on both Raw and SmackDown. And then months later they would tell us there was no brand split…until a few weeks later when they would say there’s a brand split again, usually to promote a useless Survivor Series.
It’s wrestling, there really aren’t rules, but fans like to know that investing in it will be worth the time. If that means AEW has to reshuffle the rosters of the two shows twice a year instead of once, cool. Just do what you said you’re gonna.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Felsgate as he lobbies for a Malakai Black and CM Punk feud.