Not many people are asking where to find someone wearing a dinosaur mask going by the name “Luchasaurus” go up against an evil organization or see two performers do battle on a cruise ship, but there is a place to find these phenomena and much more.
There is only one form of entertainment that blurs the lines between sports and theater acting, and that’s professional wrestling. Professional wrestling has been around since the 1860s and was used for entertainment post-Civil War, but it is now televised across the world.
Professional wrestling is built on storylines that are developed between two performers and then settled in the ring. For decades the biggest professional wrestling show in the USA has been World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) but a recent debut of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) is changing the landscape.
Pro-wrestling hasn’t really been in the spotlight since celebrities John Cena and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have been in the ring, but AEW looks to change that by bringing pro-wrestling back into entertainment popularity.
AEW has begun airing weekly two-hour shows on TNT called AEW Dynamite in the United States at 7 p.m. central time. AEW was created in partnership with Jacksonville Jaguars co-owner Tony Khan, Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson. The show looks to compete with WWE for ratings as WWE’s third brand, NXT, also runs on Wednesdays. AEW has signed multiple well-known pro-wrestlers such as former WWE superstars Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley (FKA Dean Ambrose).
AEW started because professional wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer said that a Ring of Honor (ROH) show could not sell 10,000 tickets for a pro-wrestling event. Cody and the Young Bucks commented on this, as they worked for ROH at the time. They ended up holding an event called “All In” that ended up selling out in 30 minutes and had the largest audience in attendance for an independent pro-wrestling show. This impressed many people in the television world and led to AEW becoming a reality.
The show looks at professional wrestling in more of a competitive-sports outlook than an entertainment perspective. What this means is less talking, more pro-wrestling. Storytelling will be done in the ring and will be done in a competitive sense. The performers actions in the ring will push along the storylines. Dynamite is built upon the performance of the pro-wrestler’s athleticism and strength. Wins and losses are shown each week to see where performers are standing in the ranking. When a performer ranks high enough in the standings, they are allowed a chance to compete for a championship.
Instead of the having rehearsed or scripted lines, each performer will be able to speak for themselves and build their own monologues. The performers come off as actually speaking about how they feel and why they are wrestling. Allowing the performers to do this brings realism to the show, much like WWE had in the 1990s. Realism is what makes pro-wrestling so interesting, as opponents go one-on-one hoping to be the one raising their hand at the end of the bout. AEW has created a recipe that works, and viewers forget that it’s staged because of the physical storytelling that allows for a competitive sport with entertainment value. AEW is blurring the lines between fiction and reality.