AEW, the Jacksonville-based wrestling promotion, has recently been under scrutiny due to declining television ratings and visible empty seats at their events, images of which have been widely shared on social media. This drop in viewership has drawn attention not only from fans but also from former AEW star Joey Janela, who offered a frank assessment of the situation.
Janela, who was part of AEW from 2019 to 2022, suggested that the promotion should consider hosting events in smaller venues and explore opportunities in the New York City market. He also proposed that AEW’s sister promotion, Ring of Honor (ROH), should operate more like an independent wrestling company, with frequent shows and dedicated management.
Janela believes these changes could lead to an increase in subscribers for Honor Club, ROH’s streaming service, and create a more engaging experience for wrestling fans.
Booking Strategy Under Fire
His comments come amid growing criticism of AEW's booking strategies, particularly those led by Tony Khan, the company’s head booker.
Khan has faced previous criticisms from wrestling personalities like Vince Russo, known for pioneering the 'Crash TV' style in wrestling, and Eric Bischoff, both of whom have questioned his approach to match booking. AEW’s struggles are evident in the ratings for their shows, 'Rampage' and 'Collision', which have seen a significant viewership decline of 40% to 50% compared to the previous year.
This situation raises questions about the promotion’s current direction and the effectiveness of its booking strategies. Janela’s remarks, although blunt, echo a sentiment shared by others in the industry, suggesting that a change in approach might be necessary for AEW.
The recommendation for Khan to adopt a more hands-off role in booking reflects a broader conversation about the best path forward for the promotion in a competitive wrestling landscape. As AEW navigates these challenges, the wrestling community will be watching closely to see how the promotion adapts and evolves in response to this feedback.
With the right adjustments, AEW has the potential to reinvigorate its fan base and strengthen its position in the world of professional wrestling.