AEW Has A Title Problem

I’ve had a recent issue with the AEW title pictures; and not just the heavyweight title. AEW has fan favorite champions in “Hangman” Adam Page, Jurassic Express, and Thunder Rosa, but all of them have been underwhelming as champions. I don’t think the issue is with the champions either.

Prior to each of them winning their respective titles, they got a good amount of TV time and had appealing stories. The titles also had strong storylines with the previous champions.

Hangman was the millennial cowboy who’s self-doubt made his road to the championship a great story. They played the long game and it paid off when he defeated Kenny Omega for the heavyweight title. Since then, he’s had a short run with Bryan Danielson, an out-of-nowhere feud with Lance Archer, a drawn out, forced program with Adam Cole, and the current story with C.M. Punk. We’ve also seen one off matches with Dante Martin and Konosuke Takeshita, and tag matches with various members of the Dark Order and Jurassic Express. He’s had 10 total matches in 6 months as champion and 6 of those have been for the title.

I don’t think the champion needs to wrestle every week, but he should be a presence on the show. We’ve gotten very little of Hangman each week, and recently it’s only been during Punk’s matches. When you look back at Kenny’s reign, he was one the show every week, even if he wasn’t wrestling. He’s be involved with the Elite matches. Hangman could have done something like this with the Dark Order, but AEW has essentially buried them. In fact, they were replaced by Jurassic Express in the Adam Cole/ReDragon trios match (and I get it, that was to set up both championship matches).

And this brings me to Jurassic Express. The only real story they’ve had was against ReDragon and that’s been more recent. They’ve defended the title more then Hangman has, but there has been no real build up to most of the matches: The Dark Order (Silver/Reynolds), Private Party, the Gunn Club, and the Acclaimed. The Gunn Club had a segment the week before when they jumped Jungle Boy, but pretty much everything else has been just a match.

The ReDragon stuff was underwhelming when they started to build it up. In fact, I felt that Jurassic Express was a second though in the 3-way match with ReDragon and the Young Bucks; there was a better story starting up between the other tag teams in the match. This Team Taz story has potential, but they really should have held off on adding Swerve and Keith Lee to the mix; the last Pay-Per-View had a 3-way match for the title and a regular tag match would have been better.

I’d group Thunder Rosa with Hangman; she had a quick, thrown together feud with Nyla Rose, then we’ve had nothing for a couple of weeks before the Serena Deeb stuff started up. In fact, since winning the title in March, Thunder Rosa has had less then 20 minutes of TV time. Her title reign has been the shortest, but the fact that she’s getting no TV time doesn’t allow her to work on the mic or show off what a good wrestler she is. The TV time issue is something that is bigger then Rosa and the title; they could really use an hour long show for the women on YouTube. It’ll help develop the women’s division better and allow younger women to get time to work on live matches.

The common denominator is lack of stories for all 3. If you build stories, these characters will live up to the potential everyone saw before they won titles. I’ve enjoyed the last few weeks of storytelling. I think Punk/Hangman could have had more coming into the pay-per-view, but the match should be good. Jurassic Express and Team Taz has had a little more buildup, but Swerve/Lee being added takes a little away. And Rosa/Deeb should be a great technical match, but the build up has been over 2 weeks and it’s not been the greatest mic work from either of them.

The TNT Title might be in worse shape then the ones I mentioned. To me, it’s their Intercontinental Title and should be treated with a little respect. Since December 22, we’ve had 5 title changes: Cody Rhodes, Sammy Guevara, Scorpio Sky, Sammy, and Scorpio again. That’s too much and it doesn’t include Sammy winning the Interim belt when Cody had Covid. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some great title matches; I just don’t like seeing the title switch hands so much. I’m also glad it’s off Sammy; he’s a good wrestler, but he’s still pretty raw and could use some time working on having cleaner matches.

Keep the belt on Scorpio for a while before having him go face and taking on Ethan Page. There are quite a few good feuds away from Sammy that Scorpio could have, including the one they’ve started with Frankie Kazarian.

The TBS Title might be the best booked title right now. Jade Cargill is probably too raw to have the belt and needs a strong opponent to put on a good match; but the build up to her winning the title and her being on TV every week has helped make the title seem more relevant then the Woman’s Heavyweight Title. And while she hasn’t had a long-form program with anyone other than a couple of week build up to Marina Shafir, the story of her undefeated streak had made the one off matches seem like they matter.

Maybe things will change after the pay-per-view; all of the titles except the TNT Title are involved in matches. I fully expect C.M. Punk to defeat Hangman while the other titles will probably stay put. Whatever they do, they just need to write better storylines for the belts.

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