On a recent edition of "Tuesday with the Taskmaster," Kevin Sullivan, the storied former WCW head booker, addressed the perennial debate that has wrestled the minds of fans for generations: Is it the stories or the matches that draw bigger bucks? The question, which stems from WWE's pronounced focus on storylines compared to AEW's emphasis on in-ring action, brought Sullivan back to a defining moment from 1996.
Recalling a pivotal conversation with wrestling icon Hulk Hogan, Sullivan reminisced, "When Hogan approached me to take the reins as the booker, my philosophy was clear. I told him, 'If Vince McMahon is in the business of selling luxurious Mercedes-Benz cars, I intend to sell the rugged charm of Harley-Davidsons.'
They're worlds apart, but both are alluring in their own right."
Sullivan Praises AEW's Direction
Sullivan expressed admiration for AEW's current trajectory. "AEW is on the right track. Direct competition with WWE at this juncture would be foolhardy.
What's needed is persistence and internal unity. They should promote open communication, urging those with grievances to approach management rather than murmuring in the shadows. This will foster growth." Drawing a food analogy to the wrestling world, Sullivan mused that AEW's potential to challenge WWE lies in its distinct flavor.
He said, "Imagine a diner frequenting their go-to restaurant. If they find a new enticing dish every time, it piques their interest. Likewise, if AEW continues to serve distinct 'culinary delights,' they could level up to WWE." However, Sullivan did voice certain reservations about AEW's product.
"Their commitment to wrestling quality is commendable. But the program loses me when they crowd the announce booth with four voices. And, though I risk controversy here, I question the emphasis on tracking wins and losses and introducing interim champions in case of injuries.
The approach is too sports-centric." To Sullivan, the gold standard remains a two-person announce team with a dedicated interviewer, reminiscent of legends like Gordon Solie and Mean Gene Okerlund. "Remember the subtleties, the nuances in the faces of Solie and Okerlund as they engaged with titans like Dusty Rhodes and Randy Savage? That's pure gold."