All Elite Wrestling (AEW), since its inception in 2019, has been a revolutionary force in the world of professional wrestling, challenging norms and introducing innovative concepts. One such concept was the implementation of a ranking system to determine the top contenders for championships, a move that promised a more sports-oriented approach to the narrative of professional wrestling.
However, this system quickly stirred controversy, with criticisms centering on the unequal value of wins and deviations from title contention due to storyline demands. In a significant development in September 2022, AEW decided to phase out this ranking system, disconnecting it entirely from championship considerations.
This decision, as revealed by Bryan Alvarez, was influenced by CM Punk, who reportedly persuaded AEW's Tony Khan to eliminate the ranking system. Now, in a surprising turn of events, AEW is set to bring back this ranking system, a move that has sparked a mixture of anticipation and skepticism within the wrestling community.
The impact of this reinstatement on the championship landscape is a subject of considerable debate.
Bischoff Critiques AEW Return
Eric Bischoff, the former President of World Championship Wrestling (WCW), shared his insights on the return of AEW's rankings on his podcast.
Bischoff, known for his candid and insightful commentary on wrestling matters, observed, “It can be effective, but it also risks painting you into a corner that you can't escape from. This is likely why it didn't work out initially.
Balancing creative storytelling with mathematical ranking is a challenging task. These two elements often don’t align: good creativity can lack solid math, and vice versa. However, it's not impossible to merge them effectively”.
Bischoff further added, “This is a high-stakes gamble. If there are flaws in the system, the audience will notice and quickly lose faith. I was excited about this unique approach back in 2019. It differentiated AEW from WWE, but it was quickly abandoned, which was a disappointment.
This represents a significant challenge to AEW’s brand identity. When a brand makes a promise and then shifts course, it can damage consumer trust”. Highlighting concerns about AEW's creative direction, Bischoff expressed, “Given the inconsistent and often lackluster creative output from AEW in recent years, there’s legitimate concern about their ability to successfully integrate this system.
A compelling narrative is essential, and that’s something AEW has struggled with. This return to the ranking system is not just a reintroduction of a concept; it's a test of AEW’s ability to blend creativity with logic, a challenge that is indeed formidable”.