How Groundbreaking Are AEW’s Reported Signings? - Triple Threat POV | Smark Out Moment

How Groundbreaking Are AEW’s Reported Signings? - Triple Threat POV

Posted by Dallas Allsopp Thursday, July 29, 2021

Welcome to another edition of Triple Threat from Smark Out Moment, where three of us get together to discuss three questions based on one big topic going down in the week of professional wrestling.

This week, Dallas Allsopp, Greg Coleman and Ethan Neufeld discuss the potentially groundbreaking news that Bryan Danielson and CM Punk have signed with AEW.

It has been reported recently that both Daniel Bryan and CM Punk have signed with AEW. Whilst Bryan, presumably going by his real name of Bryan Danielson, will have the benefit of a recent string run with WWE, CM Punk has been out of action since January 2014. Will both men be a success, and are these the signings AEW needs to challenge WWE?

Question 1: What will Bryan Danielson achieve in AEW? Is he a sure fire AEW World Champion?

ALLSOPP: Bryan Danielson can honestly be the franchise player for them over the next few years, as long as they use him effectively. Not only is he one of the best wrestlers in the world, but he is also one of the most passionate and dedicated. AEW would be stupid to not put the title on him at some point, adding name value to the belt before making a so called ‘home grown’ star by dropping the belt to them in an intense series of matches. Danielson vs MJF just screams excitement, with the feud possibly being the maker for MJF to ensure he becomes the de-facto leader of AEW.

COLEMAN: Bryan Danielson will achieve in AEW whatever he wants to achieve in AEW. If he comes in and wants to be the AEW World Champion, there's no reason why he can’t be, or won’t be. If he wants to come in and give talent such as Jungle Boy, Darby Allin, and Hangman Adam Page the rub, he will do that. If Tony Khan is smart, he will let Danielson chart his own path (without full creative control) and take his opinions on how Danieson feels he can best help AEW, and achieve what he is hoping to accomplish individually.

NEUFELD: My sense of who Bryan Danielson is as a wrestler makes me think that he’s focused on having great wrestling matches with people that he has either never wrestled, or with whom he didn’t get the match he wanted. His career at this point is absolutely legendary, and he doesn’t need a single title reign in AEW whatsoever. For the matter, I don’t think he’d want one unless it made for a great story. Should the fates allow, we will hopefully see some amazing one-on-one matches on pay-per-view that will steal the show, even though they’re not for any title. I truly hope that they factor in his medical history and don’t put him in reckless matches against reckless people though. As good as he’s been lately, AEW has a lot of inexperienced talent who are risk-takers. I worry that Danielson might want to relive some of his more youthful days with said talent, and hope that he focuses on his well-being in what seems to be his swan song in AEW.

Question 2: Are AEW wise in bringing in CM Punk? Will he be motivated to perform to the very best of his ability, or is he a spent force?

COLEMAN: AEW is very wise to bring in CM Punk! He’s one of the best to ever do it, and is still very relevant to this day. If AEW could sign a star, who many wrestling fans feel had his last run cut way too short by politics, and get Punk to do something that he said he wouldn’t do, is huge. If Punk decides to come back for a major promotion, motivation will be the last thing AEW should worry about with him. He’s going to want to show WWE and his detractors that he should’ve been a much bigger star than he was, and most importantly, that he deserved everything he asked for from WWE.

NEUFELD: Obviously we won’t be privy to the contractual details of CM Punk’s hiring, but if Punk wants to work with AEW, they’d be fools not to agree under almost any circumstance. There’s not a single person who could make a return which would make more of an impact than Punk. He’s a name that would actually change pay-per-view buy rates, television viewership, merchandise sales, et cetera. He’s a name that could actually get lapsed fans (that mysterious target demographic) to come back. It’s been so long since he’s wrestled actively that it’s difficult to predict what seeing him perform will be like. His return would be absolutely massive, and his first match would be a huge draw to any card. One wonders though, if there will be some rust on his performance, or if the years he’s been gone have allowed the rest of the industry to 'catch up' thus rendering him not as special anymore. If nothing else, it’s going to be must-see wrestling.

ALLSOPP: I used to be the absolute biggest mark for CM Punk, and I’d be a liar if I said I wouldn’t pop for him. But I just cannot root for a guy that has such hate for the business. Over the past 7 years, he has distanced himself from wrestling and ridiculed it to the point that he comes across as a vengeful ex of Vince McMahon. That’s not even including how his UFC run was a pure farce. He has name value, that much needs to be acknowledged, but AEW need to realise that he is not the CM Punk of 2011-12. Hell, he isn’t even the CM Punk from before then. I’d love to be proved wrong, I really would. But I just do not have confidence that he is returning to wrestling for the right reasons.

Question 3: With Bryan Danielson and CM Punk reportedly on board, is there anything else that AEW needs to do to challenge WWE? Is it feasible that AEW can beat WWE in the ratings on a consistent basis?

NEUFELD: If AEW wants to challenge WWE, they need to hunker down and have good, consistent booking. They’ve got the big names, they’ve got the young talent, they’ve got amazing veterans backstage, they’ve got the rapid core fan base, and they have the bank roll. What AEW is missing is logical, consistent psychology to what happens on their programs, when it happens, and why it happens. Too often it feels like things are being thrown at a wall to see what sticks. If Bryan Danielson and CM Punk arrive in AEW, they should ride the wave of momentum and then take a good long look at their roster, perhaps even thin it out a bit. If AEW can focus on putting out a superior wrestling product with the names they now have, it is entirely conceivable that they could be beating the main WWE shows in the ratings. It won’t happen quickly, but it’s possible.

ALLSOPP: All AEW needs now to be a fully viable threat to WWE is to crown a true ‘home grown’ star. MJF, Jungle Boy, Wardlow, Sammy Guevara, Brian Pullman Jr, and many more have the opportunity to fully establish themselves as the man in AEW. The roster is packed of stars and future stars, and with a few exceptions, the match quality surpasses that of WWE. AEW does a lot right in terms of making the product accessible to fans, whilst WWE have such a bad reputation at the moment for how they handle their releases and other HR issues. AEW is already a true and viable threat to WWE, but in order to take the fight to them, signings like Bryan Danielson and CM Punk to complement their already stacked roster means they can easily achieve this. I want them to beat WWE regularly, as competition can only be better for the industry as a whole.

COLEMAN: AEW shouldn’t focus on challenging WWE, but instead focus on how they can use Bryan Danielson and CM Punk to become the best version of AEW they can have. WWE is a juggernaut and has a rich history in pro wrestling and sports entertainment. Whilst it’s feasible that AEW could beat WWE in the ratings, again, this shouldn’t be their goal. Learn from the mistakes WCW made and don’t focus on beating WWE in the ratings. Give the fans the dream matchups they want, great feuds and storytelling, and be unique. Don’t start giving away major matches on television just to win a ratings war!

Those are our thoughts on the issue, but where do you stand?

Let us know your answers to these questions in the comments below!

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Dallas Allsopp is a writer with two main interests, Pokemon and wrestling. He has been writing for a few years for his own personal blogs and is now taking his passion for wrestling and putting it into his writing. You can follow him on Facebook.


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