AEW has a few neglected weekly programs in Dark and Dark Elevation, but this fresh idea would go a long way towards changing that. All Elite Wrestling puts on several shows each week, but only Wednesday Night Dynamite is can’t miss when it comes to storylines. That’s the flagship, and there’s no and, if, or but about it. These days, Friday Night Rampage rarely progresses stories in meaningful ways, and the matches on that card generally feel like exhibition-style bouts instead of carrying any actual weight.
If that’s true for Rampage, then it’s doubly true for Dark and Dark Elevation. These are supposed to be AEW’s developmental style shows, but they rarely produce quality content. Most of the fights are of the squash variety, with wrestlers rarely learning to work for cameras or perform for more than a few minutes. They’re getting out and working in front of a live audience, but the gap between how WWE treats NXT and how AEW handles Dark is monstrous.
That doesn’t have to be the case, however. The shows have potential, and in the latest edition of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer outlined how AEW could make them relevant. “AEW doesn’t have enough TV for the number of very good wrestlers they have. So many are lost in the shuffle.” Meltzer proposed the following to fix this issue. “Every week AEW tapes Dark Elevation, and every few weeks they tape Dark. Little is talked about from the shows because they are basic formula squash matches, rarely ever using the main event guys, but mostly giving wins to lesser experienced talent in dark matches. An idea is to change this up and put somebody other than Khan, who has far too much on his plate already, in charge and use the other shows as more like modern wrestling shows.“
Making Dark And Dark Elevation Matter Is A Huge Undertaking
At this juncture, making the Dark brand matter to more casual AEW fans would be a massive undertaking. Most of the audience is already settled into a viewing pattern, meaning they mostly only watch Dynamite. At this point, the gap in interest between Dynamite and Rampage is vast, based on the ratings. Asking those who don’t tune in on Friday nights to boot up YouTube to catch meaningful Dark matches wouldn’t work immediately.
Instead, it would likely take several months of compelling programming to start drawing eyes to the product. Having storylines built up on YouTube carry over to television would be risky, but Being The Elite has been a borderline required viewing for AEW’s core audience for three years. If Khan trusts that much of the creative process to The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, then surely he could find someone capable of piecing together entertaining and perhaps even meaningful angles for AEW Dark. There’s a feeling that the match outcomes don’t matter there now, and that’s no way to build a wrestling show’s viewership.
Source: Wrestling Observer Newsletter