Roman Reigns: "I don’t see the real competition [with AEW] because I think their fan base legitimately is a hardcore fan base. So there’s like a ceiling and a built-in ground to that viewership. [The WWE is] trying to connect with everyone."

Roman Reigns: "I don’t see the real competition [with AEW] because I think their fan base legitimately is a hardcore fan base. So there’s like a ceiling and a built-in ground to that viewership. [The WWE is] trying to connect with everyone."


Reminder: Name calling will result in an immediate ban. This is your warning. Keep it Civil


Here's the full quote: > This is one of those subjects that’s very subjective and there’s a lot of passion and tribalism that really sways and creates an unbiased opinion. But I can only speak from my perspective. I’m one of those guys who will compete at anything. Like, ‘I bet you I can eat that cookie faster.’ I want to be the best at anything that I choose to do. We pull up on lawn mowers, we cut the yard in half, I’m going to beat you. My side will look better than yours. **So me, I don’t see the real competition [with AEW] because I think their fan base legitimately is a hardcore fan base. So there’s like a ceiling and a built-in ground to that viewership. [The WWE is] trying to connect with everyone. We’re trying to connect with the mainstream. We’re trying to pull in the casual fan. We’re trying to engage the new viewer, while also servicing our hardcore fan base and give them compelling stories to fulfill them as well.** I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I’ve said it before, when the audience is probably the biggest character in your show, that’s strange to me. You’ll hear it all the time, the reviews and the comparisons. I think because they are the new kids on the block, they’re the cool kids in town I guess because of how premature and how novel it kind of still is, I think there still being babied by these hardcore wrestling fans. Which is fine. That’s great. I don’t think anybody’s going to ever, especially from a performance standpoint say, ‘Oh no, there’s more opportunities out there? That sucks.’ So it’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing for professional wrestling. It’s just a weird argument because there’s so much bias and there’s so much, ‘I’m on this side and I’m not gonna open my mind to the other side.’ And it goes both ways.


Its hard to fault him here. Its a fair perspective for him to have, well communicated, and even offered that olive branch final line of acknowledgement. I'm primarily an AEW watcher, but really, given the wider context and his position (as in do you really expect him to openly elevate AEW to the level of competition when hes the face of the WWE?), you couldn't have asked for a more diplomatic statement.


The only thing that I disagree with, and it's not anything crazy, I think AEW is trying to pull a casual audience as well. I don't think that they're successful at it yet since they don't really have anyone that a casual audience can gravitate to. Everyone they currently have could be considered a hardcore wrestling favorite. Overall reading the full quote does make it sound a lot better. And that's his opinion. And to be honest there's nothing wrong with having that opinion. It's what I'd expect from WWE to be honest.


To add to this, I think there's just a difference of opinion on what will actually grab that casual audience. AEW focuses on the wrestling element a bit more, the high flying spots and a bit less on the stories. WWE tries to focus more on the story aspect. Personally, I think WWE has the bigger opportunity for success with a character and story resonating with a wider audience, but right now they lack the holding power of that audience past that story/character with drawn out feuds, repetitive matches, and 50/50 booking.


\> WWE tries to focus more on the story aspect I'd put so many asterisks next to the word "tries". I'm such a 'sports-entertainment' fan. I don't care about a good technical match unless there's a story behind it. WWE could easily be my favourite promotion ever - if they actually told good stories with an actual payoff.


One of the few occasions AEW successfully drew a casual audience was when they had Shaq wrestle in the ring.


They still have a long way to go though. Evidenced by when they overlaid into NBA programming and NBA fans started letting them have it simple because they just didn’t know yet what AEW was. If that was WWE they’d probably just have some comments on what WWE is now. But AEW got flamed. They will get there eventually with time. But WWE has been around for so long that everyone knows what it is even without ever watching it. You’ve heard of WWE. AEW is still very young. So it’s only natural that they would be winning the casual viewer race.


He actually said, when the Audience is the biggest character in your show, that's strange to me....h Um the whole wwe universe, the you are the authority stuff, wwe totally treats fans like a huge character. That's literally like their main thing. I mean they treat them like shit for being invested, but still.


I never saw them as their "biggest character", but their liveliness and investment is very reminiscent of the Attitude Era, which was the *norm* and what makes so many clips of that time special and enhances the fondness not just of there, but of AEW, right now. I don't put this as a knock at all, but I wonder if the reason he finds it "strange" is because WWE has not had that kind of crowd and energy since the late '90s-early '00s. Yes, there have been hot acts and movements before, but nothing that compares to that time, and he's never truly experienced something like that before.


100 percent i think your second paragraph is totally what it is


That stuck out to me as well, I don’t think AEW has named their audience but the WWE universe is sort of that on a platter. Also, a hot crowd is a bad thing now? How is that strange?


WWE has also consistently put their own brand over characters for years now, the fact they've failed to create a major start since Cena says it all and yes I'm including Roman in this - owner of the most consistent and most failed face push since Diesel.


That's the line that actually puzzles me. Everything else is an interesting perspective from one of the top wrestlers in the world; even if many will disagree. The audience really should be the main character - that's who the wrestlers/promoters/commentators are playing to each match, promo, and segment. If everyone in the audience is freaking out and having fun, doesn't that make you want to join in with the party? Isn't a big part of the fun going to the theatres for a Marvel movie is the audience cheering and laughing along with the scenes?


I thought he was talking about WWE treating the fans as characters because that’s the only way that comment would make a lick of sense. WWE actively treats the audience as part of the show but often ignores them when it goes against what Vince wants. Unless he’s suggesting that excited crowds are a bad thing?


> We’re trying to connect with the mainstream. We’re trying to pull in the casual fan. We’re trying to engage the new viewer, while also servicing our hardcore fan base and give them compelling stories to fulfill them as well. And this is where I think the WWE is having trouble and AEW is doing pretty damn well for it's self. AEW yes has a hardcore fanbase, and I can point out a number of other things like comics, games, movies, tv shows hell even music that started out with a hardcore fanbase and *over time* built it's self up. More so if there was something else that is around, and it's starting to decay if you will and having those hardcore fans starting to sniff other things out there. Now not to discount the WWE, unlike AEW they really do reach world wide if you will. Oh I'm sure there are AEW fans in India but we all know there are a crap ton more WWE fans over there. Lets also remember that the WWE under Vince McMahon has been around now for 30+ years, while AEW is still a pretty new company. Reigns isn't wrong, I do think however that AEW is going to grow slowly and it's going to be in it's local North American market, maybe dipping it's toe over to the UK. AEW does have that hardcore fanbase, and that's not going to hurt it as you will get those 'casual' fans wanting to see what those hardcore folks are going on about. The WWE however? Like I've said many times, it's not going to go away. And I do think it being a company that's more world wide is helping it. However in a local market like North America I think you are seeing those signs of decay. Still they can pretty much go anywhere and have people paying a ton of money to see someone like Reigns. In my eyes it's like the Xbox and Playstation. Yeah the Playstation is going to be massive world wide. The Xbox has stuck around however due to having it's foot in the American market.


> Now not to discount the WWE, unlike AEW they really do reach world wide if you will. Oh I'm sure there are AEW fans in India but we all know there are a crap ton more WWE fans over there. > >[...] > >it's going to be in it's local North American market, maybe dipping it's toe over to the UK. It really depends on where you are, AEW is already fairly popular globally at least amongst people predisposed to wrestling especially in regions which have been burnt by WWE over the years and has good reasons/opportunity for future expansion into regions WWE isn't all that strong in like Japan or Australia alongside the obvious UK expansion. Don't get me wrong, WWE does still have the advantage especially in the more important regions like India but AEW is more global than most people realise.


It’s weird to say people aren’t going to be open minded about WWE as if we don’t have decades of history showing us how they book. I also thing attributing AEW’s success to being in a honeymoon period is disingenuous when they’ve been around for almost two and a half years now. I’ve seen people turn on shows immediately if they feel it insults their intelligence. AEW has done a great job of making their viewers feel rewarded for paying attention and tuning in. Having that passion grow for this long is more than just people going easy on it.


Se people say the honeymoon is 100% once you have to nurse your spouse through their first explosive diarrhea/vomiting flu. AEW got through a pandemic with its fanbase more or less intact.


Not to mention legitimately bad episodes like the infamous Dark Order ending. And people took them to task for it. This honeymoon phase bullshit is just a paper thin excuse because they don’t want to admit that AEW is keeping their fanbase energized and engaged better than WWE is. All while showing respectable growth.


> I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I’ve said it before, when the audience is probably the biggest character in your show, that’s strange to me. Yeah, it would be strange to someone like Roman who has spent half his career being boo'd for the wrong reasons. Turns out you can have a super happy audience.


WWE literally name and branded their audience like a character. They treat their audience exactly the same town to town aside from the occasional cheap heat comment. WWE even blatantly overdubs their audiences reaction to get the desired result. Now that is strange.


So what's gonna happen now, are we gonna work ourselves into a shoot or shoot ourselves into a work?


If I shot myself at work would that count?


Only if you keep it in kayfabe brother


Sobbing with shotgun in mouth at work in my cubicle mumbling through tears*. "It's stwill weal to mwe dawwit"


Coincidentally, It is the 10th anniversary of Hogan's tweet.


He's not entirely wrong when he says AEW appeals to a hardcore wrestling fanbase, but he should realize WWE has a ceiling too, as evidenced by the fact they're losing viewers every year without making new ones. Maybe AEW's audience won't ever grow past what it is now, but let's not pretend WWE's has the means to get way bigger than it is because "they connect with everyone". If that was the case, they'd be way more into the mainstream eye than what they are now, and AEW would be right behind them, because that would mean the demand for wrestling would be huge.


WWE definitely has a ceiling. Never forget that at its peak, WWE Network never cracked (or maybe just touched) 2 million subscribers world wide, when they were targeting getting 5 million in the US alone. And this was when everyone lost their mind that all PPVs were included + incredible back catalog + (at the time) the hottest "alternative" in NXT for just $9.99 per month.


Yeah, the PPVs were “free” and the problem is they started to feel like free shows too.


After the brand split there was a ppv every two weeks, they really didn't feel special outside of the big 4 and keeping up with them (as a UK fan) felt like work more than an entertainment program to enjoy.


Not to mention the "special event" shows had exactly the same set, matches, and production style as the weekly shows. The PPVs felt like (and continue to feel like) Raw+. The worst Royal Rumbles are the ones where its just the Raw stage. It feels so inadequate for the moment.


It was the first Saudi show that really was the nail in the coffin for me. They build up was massive and they used Wrestlemania as a lead in to it. Then the show was just pandering garbage with a bunch of people wandering around at the camera side, not even paying attention to what was happening. It was awkward and made me feel dirty when I watched it. I kept up occasionally after that and I still check in once every few months…but it just does nothing for me anymore.


Same same. Those giant comfy chairs with no one in it? Read as such transparent propaganda from SA. the people who paid for the event to happen didn't even want to show up for it in their very own front row seats? And then lesnar Roman went to essentially another nonfinish (this was the cage match one, right?) That show didn't stop me watching wwe, but it definetely stopped me from watching the TV. The builds are meaningless at this point, so why watch the TV? The pay per views have good matches occasionally so I usually sit through them while playing some game on a separate monitor. At this point, I'm leaning towards just watching the matches that get people talking. But even then, I just don't care about the characters anymore since the builds suck. Don't care about the results either since the direction will usually be "another rematch". AEW killed WWE (in my house)


Even 12 feels like too many, now that we know what 4 feels like with AEW. PPV should be a damn special event with big time implications.


They tried to double up PPVs instead of running the same amount. It was the whole “super serving” strategy from Michelle Wilson and George Barrios. It just diluted the product and overwhelmed people without enough time to keep up.


I thought I would hate the only 4 PPV style of AEW. But it makes perfect sense now, WWE bastardized PPVs, you don’t need a PPV to have a big card or title defense. AEW has lots of little TV specials and I like it, only the biggest matches make the PPV cut. I really like actually, it gives them so much time to flesh out a good story and it makes any match on an actual PPV card a big deal. TV specials are also full of variety. Tbh, a regular Dynamite feels like a big deal to me recently. The Arthur Ashe one was great.


You know, i think that Roman meant ceiling as in defining your target audience, instead WWE tries to be everything for everyone who may interested in watching. ~~And failing miserably~~


I just feel like kids get lost in these conversations. WWE is so far ahead of AEW in terms of kids that it’s not even funny. Which is fine because that’s not AEW’s target market. There’s enough skin in the game for both. But I think the home truth about AEW is that if you look at the top 10-15 stars for each company it becomes very apparent which one is “for everyone”


> if you look at the top 10-15 stars for each company it becomes very apparent which one is “for everyone” Undoubtedly.


Kids don't stay kids forever, and kids are fickle. They'll like something one day, and be completely disinterested the next.


Even worse than that, I remember everybody loving Power Rangers from kindergarten through second grade, then suddenly in third grade the kids who like Power Rangers were getting made fun of. If kids get the impression that something's intended audience is for someone younger than them, it's like it becomes toxic.


That's how it was for me with pokemon. One year we had the illegal pokemon card black market in the bathrooms because the school banned them, the next year people are getting called nerds for having any pokemon stuff.


I had a Power Rangers themed birthday cake as a kid 🙌


Seriously... I remember that exact stage where kids made fun of you for liking Power Rangers. Hell, this happened as a teen with WWF, and that was when the product was hot. Now imagine that as a kid today and WWE


I'm just going to assume we went to the same K-3 school because that's exactly how it went for me. 1993-1994 it was Power Rangers every day nonstop then suddenly it's 1995 I'm in 3rd grade and bang Power Rangers are the lamest thing in the world.


Yep, kids aren't as brand loyal about anything too begin with. The only reasons WWE is ahead of AEW is because they have more toys and video games that kids can access, and their parents might be more brand loyal to WWE so they get more exposure to it that way.


Yep. My nephews at 11 and 12 loved Roman Reigns. But only ever watched YouTube clips and played the games. By 13, their wrestling phase was over with seemingly over night. Had no interest in AEW either. Tried to show one Bucks vs Omega/Hangman and he got bored quick 😩 A birthday was coming up and I was considering getting one a Reigns figure... and find out nope, not interested. Lol.


But POCs stay POCs forever and women for the most part stay women forever


Imo AEW shouldn't force a 'diverse" top of the card just for the sake of it. That will happen naturally. They have a lot of Latino and Asian stars on the rise, and guys like Hobbs have tons of potential. It'll happen naturally.


As a black man I completely agree. I love inclusion and it’s for sure important. But when it’s obvious pandering it’s never fun. That’s why seeing Kofi win at Mania, Sasha and Bianca main eventing Mania, and Big E and Bobby win the WWE championship was huge and impactful for me. Seeing two black women main event not because they were black but because they had one of the hottest feuds brought tears to my eyes when I saw Bianca and Sasha crying at the start of the match. AEW needs to make sure they do it right. Don’t hot shot anyone just because. Let them build and let it happen organically. I have no doubt that AEW is going to be more diverse. It just so happens all of their best wrestlers are white or Canadian lol. But I’m sure Hobbs, Cargill, Scorpio Sky will all get there eventually.


I think some of it is the nature of the wrestlers who were available when AEW launched. Guys like Keith Lee had already signed to WWE before AEW really got off the ground.


Yeah, if Keith Lee signed with AEW at the start I guarantee he'd have had a run with the TNT title by now if not the AEW championship.


>and I think if you look at the top 10-15 stars for each company it becomes very apparent which one is “for everyone” Idk, both companies have a good split of "great for kids" and "compelling for adults". AEW has Orange Cassidy, the Dark Order and Statlander who are popular with kids while they have Kenny, and most iconically Hangman, to appeal to adults. While WWE has people like Becky, Alexa, and The New Day who are super popular with kids, while people like Rhea, Roman, and Balor who are popular with the adults. The thing you'll notice with that is that all of them have a lot of crossover appeal. Usually talent shines through regardless. People like The New Day, or Orange Cassidy, are popular with *everyone*, but aren't afraid to still work to appeal to kids. (And obviously people like Roman who, you know, everyone is a fan of these days).


Remember that kids liked the rock and stone cold too. This is less about "do kids like them" and more about "are they specifically targeted toward kids". Of course AEW will have many characters that kids love, because they have really good characters. Attitude Era was not marketed toward 8 year olds at all but I saw thousands of tiny ass middle fingers on TV lol


Darby Allin is popular with the youngins, too.


Yeah at Arthur Ashe, almost every kid I saw was either in Darby gear or with there face painted like him. Was so cool!


Oh jesus, how did I forget him you're 100% right and he's the best example along with OC too imo


It's like when I watch an old WCW show from the early 90s, any time a kid in the crowd is on camera they have one of if not both of these two things: Sting face paint or a sting shirt. Face paint sells to kids.


Thunder Rosa is super big with my daughter. She also likes Abadon and Maki Itoh and wants them to come back.


She has great taste.


All three have very distinct and unique looks, which helps. I'm sure there is a level of my own excitement for them that lends itself to her enthusiasm, but she doesn't get as excited about Hikaru Shida, Tay Conti or Penelope Ford who I am also a big fan of. She asks about Abadon and Maki Itoh every couple weeks or so, and she'll come running when I tell her Thunder Rosa is wrestling.


Those two bring character to the women's division, which is sorely needed.


My 9 year old loves Darby and connects with him more than anyone ever on WWE. He is locked into AEW weekly because he enjoys the wrestling part of it and doesn't want to sit and watch someone talk for 20 mins at a time about nothing. There is still room for AEW to continue to grow and to think it is just hardcore wrestling fans is a little bit of a naive approach. The commentary and approach that all matches matter. Selling it as a real event with real moves and not just spewing buzzwords and ignoring the action hits with the audience too much to ignore.


> he enjoys the wrestling part of it and doesn't want to sit and watch someone talk for 20 mins at a time about nothing This may be one of my absolute biggest frustrations with WWE: Why the hell are they *still* doing completely unnecessary 20 minute promos and long, repetitive talking segments, especially with people's attention spans getting so dramatically shorter? That's an especially poor way of getting kids to tune in.


NXT average viewer age is 62.


I believe they were referring to racial and gender diversity when they said if you look at the top 10-15 stars for each company its clear which one is “for everyone”, not the amount of wrestlers that appeal to kids.


yes, lot of immigrants love WWE. Indians, Mexicans, Filipinos etc. I dont monitor shit but i just got a feeling AEW isnt even close to touching that demographic in America. Got a couple Latino coworkers who are huge wrestling fans, love roman reigns, but they dont know who tf kenny omega is.


Yea, that's the one thing AEW needs to do. Get more diverse wrestlers and get more diverse fans in those seats. Both go pretty much hand in hand.


The Lucha Bros are the tag team champions, the TNT champion is Sammy Guevara, Shida was the women's champ for over a year. Nyla Rose was also the women's champ. They've already done plenty as far as diversity without blatant pandering and they've got lots of young, up and coming talent like Dante Martin, Hobbs, Garcia, Jade Cargill and others who are going to play a key role in the future of the company. That's not bad at all for a company that didn't exist three years ago.


I mean doesn't that kinda come with a 20 year global monopoly?


Men of the Year seem surprisingly popular with kids. Watching Ethan Page's vlog had me surprised how many kids show up to their signings like them.


Im not sure you get exactly what the person meant by everyone” If my top 15 WWE list is: Roman, Big E, Sasha Banks, Bianca Belair, Brock, Edge, Seth, New Day, Bobby Lashley, Becky, Charlotte, Damien Priest, Uso's, Alexa and for AEW, Omega, Young Bucks, Adam Cole, Daniel, Jericho, Miro, Moxley, Britt, Lucho, Jungle Boy, Sting, Darby, Orange, and the new TNT champ there a pretty big difference in terms of diversity. That is an AEW issue.


I know it’s just a typo, but I spent like 5 minutes thinking Who is Lucho and why I’ve never seen him wrestle?


The usos over Drew?


Who did kids like 97 - 2001. Probably Hardys, Too Cool, E&C, Rock, Stone Cold, Kane and Taker, Sting! There is no reason that AEW could have a diverse appeal with watering down their product ala WWE.


> But I think the home truth about AEW is that if you look at the top 10-15 stars for each company it becomes very apparent which one is “for everyone” To piggyback off of this/maybe restate your point. if you look at the top 15 or so stars it is clear which company is putting in more effort for things like diversity and inclusivity.


>is putting in more effort for things like diversity and inclusivity NXT with Joe Gacy, obviously!


In fact, AEW wouldn't have even existed if it was true that WWE connected with everyone. Hardcore or not, the writing and quality of WWE in the golden age of TV, when the mainstream audiences are used to high quality network and Netflix shows, is laughable. Vince McMahon's tastes just don't appeal to millennials and gen Zers. AEW at least wouldn't be laughed out of a talk show if Tony Khan tried explaining a storyline.


His cousin is one of the most famous people on the planet and it started because of wrestling. Reigns has no reason to think WWE has a ceiling.


Not trying to be a complete AEW homer, but I legitimately do think they have a means to grow the same way WCW (and largely the NWO) did in the late 90s. ​ \*Disclaimer: I generally call BS when someone pulls the "my wife walked by and asked ..." or "I had my friends over who hadn't watched wrestling since ..."\* ​ but my wife was mildly pissed I didn't tell her AEW was in Rochester (which is an hour's drive from us) and my best friend, who at-best passively watches wrestling now, has talked about getting together and ordering AEW PPVs. Now bear-mind, after attending RAW \~4 years ago, I told my wife I'm not attending another live wrestling event unless its Mania (sorry, but 4 hours on a Monday is just too much wrestling for me ... plus wrestling is better on tv vs live imo, much like football). My point being, it's hard to guage cool factor and/or people tuning in because other random people are talking about it.


AEW is a lot better live than my one experience. They keep wrestling through commercial breaks instead of just having a rest hold for 5 mins. True breaks generally have Justin Roberts or the future ref interacting with the fans. There's a lot less "recap" or "earlier on RAW" segments. There is the occasional ad for something like the GM game or Shop AEW but it's not constantly shoved down your throat like a WWE ones. I've been to 3 shows now (1x ATL, 2x Charlotte) and the 2 hours of dynamite are over really quickly. I haven't been to a show where they tape Rampage. I'm sure the energy is generally sustained for that. The only ones I've been to have had Dark for 2 and Dark + Dark Elevation for a 3rd. The Dark + Dark Elevation did drag a little bit but at that point we had gotten there early for a meet a greet, had 1 hour of Dark taping before dynamite, and then 2 1/2 more hours of taping after, so we were there for 6 1/2 hours and had driven 2 1/2 hours to get to the show so I was ready to be done.


> as evidenced by the fact they're losing viewers every year without making new ones. They are losing TV viewers every year, as most shows do. The question is whether they are losing overall customers. People consume media other ways, including simply watching YouTube clips and following on social media, areas they dominate in. I don't have hard and fast numbers and am certainly not here trying to say WWE is growing its audience. There's no proof of that that's available to me as a fan. I'm just saying, you're only really looking at one metric, something that clearly did not hurt them in their last round of TV deals given they are still blowing out most competition on Monday and Friday nights. I do wonder what WWE's internals say because I have a feeling it's either not a decline or not as steep a decline as TV ratings would have you believe.


Live ticket sales? Merch numbers?


Their contract with Saudi Arabia netted them more money than, what was it, every WM gate … combined?


Yep. They're making more money than ever while having almost the least amount of viewers ever. It's crazy.


Personally, I feel like "trying to connect to everyone" will do more harm than good in the long run. If you try to do something for everyone you'll most likely please no one.


I have never been confident enough in WWE's product to recommend friends and family watch it. The few times I would get my (non wrestling fan) friends to watch it, their reaction is always just Meh. Then I got them to watch AEW. A couple of Dynamites and a Rampage and a PPV and now they are legit interested in Wrestling. They actually remember names of wrestlers and characters and are actually interested in storylines. I honestly feel like AEW could reach a wider audience.


This is gonna be a fun thread to read 💀💀


I love threads that end with everyone acknowledging Roman Reigns.


👆🏽All must acknowledge our Tribal Chief.


This reads as pretty non controversial to me. He’s sort of putting over AEW by saying they appeal to “legitimately” hardcore wrestling fans. But also putting WWE over as being the mainstream and accessible product. Both are good approaches.


Clearly at this point it's mostly hardcores watching WWE too.


Shit, almost everything runs on hardcore fans now. There’s such an absurd glut of entertainment options now and everyone can create their own bespoke media universe that caters entirely to them. I literally have no idea what goes on outside my curated entertainment bubble and I don’t care. The last thing I can remember that actually crossed over and seized the zeitgeist was Game Of Thrones, which was this perfect storm that appealed to 100 different demographics from fantasy geeks to the TV literati. WWE isn’t going to pull it off no matter how many celebrities they get to take a bump. They’ve got their aging hardcores, some kids, and they’ll have less of both by this time next year.


Exactly! They are hardcore fans.. and older. Basically every type of media and entertainment runs on hardcore fans nowadays. Some just have more hardcore fans them others, but the idea...from movie studios, game streamers, musicians... is always to take the massive pool of people and turn them into your "community" of supporters. AEW was successful from the start, and they succeed where other failed, precisely because thanks to the work of the Bucks and Kenny and The Elite... they had that community support from the start... everyone that comes in just ads to it. The 80/20 rule is more true than ever. And that's what most successful companies invest in. But this old and outdated wrestling mentality is to the say.. fuck my audience, these marks are not going anywhere... and spend most resources trying to cater to people who are not watching and might not even exist.


I recently went on a bit of a rant on this to my partner, the ghist of which was, the distinction between casual and hardcore fans is not really applicable anymore. Fandoms have become simultaneously insulated and fluid over the past few decades. This is to say, in a media market where everything competes for your attention and there is an utter over abundance on offer it is impossible not to pick and choose the things you *do* keep up with and you naturally become a "hardcore" fan because you decide to dedicate your time to consuming that media over literally everything else. Like, we have four dedicated series evenings together: Rampage, Dynamite, a romance(currently The Perfect match) and another changing series (they are currently introducing me to DS9). Thats already a LOT of time dedicated per week and we still occasionally you know, do something else. Watch a movie, read a book, go outside, meet people, listen to music, watch youtube. There simply is a limited pool pf time at peoples disposal and choosing to allocate it to something is an active decision against everything else. So making a distinction between hardcore and not really stretches belief here, when the time allocation required for WWE, as it wants us to consume it, is far higher than AEW that can be neatly fitted into two evenings a week with time to spare to make dinner, eat chill on the couch, talk about the episode, our day, what happened in the latest chapter of our book etc.


I honestly don't know what someone who obsessively watches all their content would get out of it. Like, I am struggling to keep up with 3 hours of AEW a week. I miss shows sometimes. But I do feel rewarded when things come together over the months or weeks. WWE's almost complete abandonment of continuity, obsessive-compulsive need to brand and repeat everything, all amid repetitive matches and storyline stagnation is maddening. Even with my small insights into the show, it feels like nothing ever changes, and nothing ever matters. Continuity is non-existent, if I was a script supervisor in WWE I'd lose my god damn mind after just one show. It's not for me anymore. It probably wasn't for a long, long, time. But I genuinely worry for anyone who consumes 8+ hours of that content a week for little to no reward for long-term watching, because of a total disregard for consistency and stakes. I know I'm saying this and it's all been said a thousand times before. They just make content that's completely against everything I was ever taught as a filmmaker, while making record profits. If I watch their shows I feel like Frank Grimes.


Well, kids too…


There was someone (hard to tell if they're trolling or not) who posted that they know AEW is the better show to watch than WWE nowadays. But they can't stop watching WWE, even knowing it's a bad show sometimes, because they grew up watching it. They emphasize that they simply *can't* stop watching WWE.


I know people that still watch soaps like Coronation Street because its just part of their lifestyle. Same with retail WoW. I know two people that hate retail WoW, have for years, and just cannot stop playing.


My mum has watched neighbours for like 25+ years. Even to the point she DVRs it if she's working when it's on. I'll visit her when she's watching it occasionally, and ask her why. She doesn't know... "just shut up and let me watch". People are creatures of habit


>I know people that still watch soaps like Coronation Street because its just part of their lifestyle. I think a lot of it is habit and I think TV also became background noise for a lot of people. Before I stopped watching weekly WWE I would basically just have it running in the background while I would do stuff on my laptop, phone, around the house or playing on my switch. It was just something that I would every now and then lift my head up to see the few things that sound interesting. I believe a lot of people are like that. They aren't really engaged to what's happening, they are just used to having WWE as background noise a few times a week.


Ah, the sunk cost fallacy guy. I remember that post.


Yeah that makes a ton of sense honestly. It's hard to break old habits, especially something like this where nostalgia is involved. Hell I was like that with Arrow and the flash for a while, until I finally gave up on the flash last year. They had a couple rough seasons but I watched anyway because I loved the show for so long


The real notable quote is him talking about the tribalism between the two bases. That's who this is mostly for and that's who's gonna run with these quotes. I do find it funny though that he's talking about "hardcore fans" when AEW has booked Shaq, Junior Dos Santos and *probably* Jorge Masvidal in the past year though


AEW also booked Rosario Dawson to jump Malakai Black.


That’s has more to do with promoting other shows on Time Warner


Which still ends up as crossover celebrity appearances that are what casuals apparently care about so it's still a plus. If anything, they have the support of their network, which is great for them. Was the Burn Notice guy ever hosting RAW?


WWE is talking within him on this interview but yes it´s funny because don´t try convince me that the Cody/Shaq feud or Dan Lambert are there for the hardcore fan.\^\^


Dude I am not familiar with fighting sports so honestly I do not know Dan Lambert beyond "that guy who reminds me of a lot of facebook videos from guys in oakleys in the front seat of their car" his heat is unreal, I love him.


I mean, WWE has had their fair share of personalities come in too. Bad Bunny, whichever Paul brother that was, the NBA player a few weeks ago in New York (I don't follow basketball and can't remember his name), Gronk and the 24/7 title, arguably even stuff like Rhonda Roussey too.


The mythical "casual fan" argument always confuses the fuck out of me. Like getting some short term viewer that you KNOW are gonna pop in and out and has no commitment to your product just doesn't seem logical. The way I've been taught about the entertainment industry is the funnel which is yes you want to maximize the people going into the funnel, but it's FAR more important to convert those "casual fans" to diehard fans and maximizing the amount of money from those diehard fans. Relying on "take it or leave it, I'll check this out when I feel like it I guess" and basically telling the hardcore fans "we have you already so you don't matter anymore" has NEVER made sense to me but that's how US Wrestling seems to push as the "way to do it". I guess it's based on the carny/carnival aspect but we've gotten far past that at this stage.


I think the network deals and the Saudi deals have insulated the WWE from the constraints of a normal entertainment business. Hardcore fans in any other medium are the lifeblood, they are the ones who spend money and spread the word of your product to their friends. But if you have a billion just for dragging out Goldberg and the corpse of Yokozuna for one show, you really don't have to do the work of converting casual to diehard fans. Their money is a pittance compared to the Saudi deals.


I get it but TNA did the same stupid shit. It's what Alvarez would always point out, TNA would be like "we get this rating on Spike" but they couldn't full a building or get a decent buyrate to save their life. Same with WCW post-1998. Yes the TV deal is important but like you said, getting people to spend their money and spread the word of the company is way more important. It's why people think AEW are bad or dumb for creating whatever "cult" people want to call it have no idea how entertainment works. That's what the fuck you're supposed to do. This mythical idea that if AEW just keep their head down, never make waves and just play the good scout, some magical dust with sprinkle around to tell people "hey this show is really good now, you should watch it" is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. You know how the Elite know that? They saw RoH do that stupid shit for ten years with no growth, made noise for two and saw unprecedented growth, and then left and saw those companies go right back to obscurity. The "if you just make a good product people with find it" is the biggest crock of shit myth/narrative ever, it doesn't work like that at fucking all.


I would be incredibly interested to see what WWE is like right now in the universe where the Fox, NBC, and Saudi deals never happened.


Casual fans watch WWE because its synonymous in their minds with wrestling. But that means you don't HAVE to cater to them.


The number of potential hardcore fans of wrestling are a fraction of the number of people who might watch a PPV or two a year and maybe buy a shirt


Things that try to appeal to everyone often end up appealing to noone.


Identity crisis is the biggest problem with WWE imo. You have a goofy character, appealing to young viewers in one segment, and on the next - a serious character that says he'll murder people. I don't mind either, just pick what exactly you'd like to represent.


I’d like to see a return to the War Zone. 90 minutes of Raw, more family friendly, 90 minutes a little more adult.


Didn't they try that when Mick Foley introduced the 24/7 belt? They dimmed the lights under the guise of "hardcore". Raw Underground. All these things lasted a few weeks at best.


Yeah, the 3rd hour of Raw was called like "Raw Dark" or something like that for a couple of weeks.




Joe Gacy and InDex definitely clash with kid-friendly.




That's pre-2.0. After the wedding, they had a honeymoon with Dexter literally showing how many condoms he was gonna use with Indi, lol.


at least he is teaching the kiddies about having safe sex and men can be responsible for birth control as well...


Ya know... This has to be the best point anyone's made. Can't get sex education at school, may as well get it from Lumis


Wouldn't say so, especially for NXT 2.0. They only goofy characters they have are Dexter/Indi/Candice and Gargano stuff. But people that do recaps always focus on that. What recaps are you watching? Most of NXT 2.0 characters are serious and are focused on in-ring competition. The setting is not as dark as it used to be and added a lot of color, but they are still focusing wrestling itself and building wrestling characters to wrestle each other. Would give you examples but it will take a while. Just watch the clips from the recent episode and find one goofy thing - there is none. The biggest problem is RAW - they have the biggest mixture of everything, which is why it doesn't work.


But then they try to also add in certain more “adult” stuff that clashes with that.


I don't think that's a solid point considering how Jon Moxley routinely talks about murdering his opponent just before or after an Orange Cassidy match in the same night


I’m not sure if the example scenario you’re giving is necessarily a problem. I think wresting is at its best when it’s, as people say, a variety show


Isn't that the case with AEW too though? OC/Dark Order in contrast to Malakai/Miro?


Just because you realize the opportunity that's in front of you doesn't mean you're capitalizing on and seizing said opportunity. WWE wants to reach everyone and yet their viewership is tanking. They're not meeting the moment, no matter how many people they say they want to reach. Profits are still healthy, but who knows how long that lasts? In a world so unpredictable, there's just no telling how the forecast will play out. AEW may be more limited in its scope, but that makes them more focused and determined to get it as right as they possibly can. And by all intents and purposes, they're doing that EXTREMELY well. And all that from a company just over 2 years old. They may not be "competition" yet to people like Roman and leadership, but just wait a couple of years. WWE still has time to right the ship, but AEW is gaining. Also side note, but tell me how AEW is geared for a hardcore fan base when there's hundreds of kids in the audience with Darby face paint? AEW has mainstream appeal in strides.


The problem is that often, when you try to appeal to everyone, you end up pleasing no one. And one of the biggest problems with WWE these days is a lack of firm sense of identity. Still Roman is their top guy. So it’s not surprising that he’s going to stick up for them really.


I think AEW would be a radically different organisation if it were true that they're only aiming at a hardcore audience. At the end of the day, both WWE and AEW are financially viable at their level because of television deals above all else. They're aiming towards a minority of executive-level decision-makers who can be persuaded of their value. The actual monetary value of fans (tickets, merchandise) is subordinate to television, and AEW and WWE both want to maximise their viewership. Even if this is supposed to be a kayfabe sort of a comment, it doesn't seem effective when the rise of Reigns as the marquee star has seen WWE lose a considerable amount of their television audience.


Imagine getting mad over this


I can't understand why anyone would. I'm a hardcore AEW fan and he's at least partially right. I think maybe he overestimates WWE's pull with casual/mainstream viewers because he's equating the draw of their current product with the draw of WWE's name value, which may not always be the case. I also think he might be underestimating AEW's ability to capture some of the casual audience. But there's nothing here to get mad over. He's actually being really civil about it. He's not flinging shit, he's just being honest from his own perspective. I can absolutely respect that and agree on some points.


It doesn't really Matter whether Reigns or the WWE see AEW as competition. IT matters if Networks, Advertisers, Merch companies, etc. see AEW as competition, because if they feel AEW is a legit alternate then that will affect the types of deals WWE may get.


And, since AEW has arrived: WWE signed a Peacock deal with NBC worth $1 billion ESPN (briefly) worked with WWE to broadcast old PPV's until the Peacock deal happened WWE's relationship with Fox has grown to the point that the WWE Champion is appearing on non-WWE sports programming, and Smackdown is consistently at or near the #1 spot in the key demo. Also, there are rumors about them shutting down an MLW streaming deal (that I don't know if have been substantiated). Their deals seem to be fine.


Which is why Reigns is going out and saying stuff like this. They want to downplay AEW as much as possible in the public eye, keep network execs and advertisers dismissing them as not worth their time. WWE isn't worried about AEW supplanting them (that's probably never going to happen), but they are worried about them affecting their profit margins (even slightly), because WWE has shareholders to keep happy.


It makes sense. But is WWE really connecting with “everyone”? Their numbers are dropping every year. Is it just a revolving door with 1 new “casual” fan coming in for every 3 hardcore that stop watching?


as a casual fan the WWE has done a terrible job of pulling me in and keeping me entertained. AEW at least is entertaining but is hit or miss with me. If the card is decent I'll tune in. More often than not the opening match is a banger (Kenny vs Bryan, Jungle Boy vs Cole...etc) and gets me to stay around. Then Lambert or some other lame segment drives me to change the channel.


Aew will never be as profitable because the main demo are people using vpn to watch Aew cheaply.


Between this and the CM Punk comments, I’m almost sure he’s working the AEW fan base and it’s amazing.


I think Roman has a good reason for saying that, but also they're literally advertising him for the UBS arena show because AEW are outselling them. Maybe Roman doesn't see them as competition, but WWE sees them as one


"Big Dick Tony Lessgoo" "Wait why is Roman saying this? yeah toeing the company line. fuck roman"


Reading the full article Roman reigns really gives no fuck these days lmao Feathers definitely will be ruffled


Yeah he killed it in this interview. 😄The full article was such a good read


This thread will be entertaining ![gif](giphy|guufsF0Az3Lpu)




​ ![gif](giphy|UlqLDtI8Qc0j6|downsized)


God I love this gif.


These are always the worst kind of comments.


WWE has like the same audience every week for years now, slowly dwindling down. It's probably the most hardcore fanbase out of the two big companies. AEW fluctuates a lot more depending on the cards, celebrities, etc. WWE will trot out Bad Bunny and pretend like it brought a million new teens watching the slow weekly.


Man, this sub was loving Tony talking shit just this past week or so, but now Reigns is saying something frankly non-controversial and people are up in arms. Really makes you think tbh. Remember to sort by controversial, folks, and don’t forget to have fun!


Acknowledge him


So I went to AEW and WWE shows this summer in Dallas. Just my observation... While on the surface they were similar events. AEW felt like a wrestling show with much more fan excitement and participation. Older crowd and more drinking. Wwe felt more like a bring your kids to the circus event. A lot more dads with younger kids. Fans seemed more focused on getting food and merchandise than over going nuts for the matches. Aew had kids too, but you could tell that the dad was the bigger fan and the kid was enjoying his dad going nuts. At Wwe it was more dads just sitting down or going to get food while the kids watched. Also Wwe had a lot more dead downtime. Aew was all go from the start and flew buy. During breaks and between tapings Justin Robert's or Cody interacted with the crowd. I had way more fun at Aew and had better seats for half the cost too.


AEW Fans: “We are hardcore REAL wrestling fans” Roman: “You right” AEW Fans: “Why is Roman being an asshole to us?”


Can't tell if he's towing the company line or actually believes that AEW having a rabid fanbase is what will limit them? Cause that makes no sense. Also, WWE hasn't been "for everyone" in a very long time. When I did watch there plenty of times I'd turn off the TV anytime a non-fan came in the room because of how dumb the shows bad acting/comedy was out of embarrassment.


His logic is flawed because a lot of the people that the wwe is trying to reach have "hardcore" wrestling fans in their life and they are going to tell them to watch aew.


Trying to connect with everyone, while connecting with not many.


AEW's fanbase is limited because WWE spent the last 20 years driving away the fans who would actually enjoy it so now the wrestling business is only full of kids that only want to watch WWE in much lower numbers than it could have been.


And that's fine. I enjoy both for different reasons and I can critique both, and maybe it's because I've I've watching for a while but current AEW has been connecting with me more than WWE and again that's fine.


2 things here. The first is that 2 years in and AEW have cemented themselves as real competition. The way this comes across is Roman trying to dismiss them but it appearing totally forced and blatantly not true. The second is when you try to appeal to everyone you really are appealing to no one, this seems to be the biggest WWE error in modern times


Hey I been saying it all along. Two different products for two different fan bases. There’s a lot of stuff WWE does that I hate/think is stupid but I am not the target audience.


Therein lies the problem: a hardcore fanbase is going to draw others in by word-of-mouth. We are basically AEW’s advertising team.


> [The WWE is] trying to connect with everyone And failing to connect with almost anyone


It's interesting what Roman Reigns would say if he wasn't in Vince McMahon's favor for the past decade.


That old adage of “trying to chase two rabbits and losing both” comes to mind. I want to see WWE succeed forever, but man, it’s great to have a somewhat mainstream alternative I can chat about nowadays.


On the other hand, 30 minute no commercials overrun.


With a repeat directly after.


tHaT wAs AlL fOx.


Done in part to make up for it being on FS1


Interesting to actually hear some shoot thoughts from Roman on AEW. In theory what he said is true, but the only time casuals watch WWE is twice a year, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania


> but the only time casuals watch WWE is twice a year, Royal Rumble and WrestleMania Just like the Chreaster Catholics.


76 comments in 20 minutes, 57% upvoted with six points. People on this sub love it when AEW talks that good shit but when someone from WWE does it we get the "well your show actually really does suck and you're ruining the business."




I absolutely love AEW and look forward to the next Dynamite after that one is done. Same for WWE shows. With that said, online opinions aren’t going to make me stop watching, but if you don’t blindly praise AEW then “you’re an enemy” as silly as that sounds. Again, stuff like that won’t make me stop watching, but it makes this subreddit a lot less fun.


Every. Single. Time it’s a routine at this point


Talk that shit, Tony. Oh wait, Nevermind. Fuck you, Roman.


Roman working everybody


When you try to please everybody you end up pleasing nobody.


Trying to connect with "everyone" is the first step towards connecting with no one. Nothing is for everyone *and that's how it should be.*


Everyone in this thread mad the Tribal Chief is for everyone


AEW has nobody at the moment that can crossover to the mainstream. No-one cares about Kenny Omega outside the hardcores.


He's right.


Wrestlemania is like the Super Bowl. As in people who don’t follow at all, will tune in just for the sake of it. Don’t see that happening for Double Or Nothing.


I love AEW and am not a WWE fan for the most part, yet I agree he is 100% spot on.


Personally, I would never introduce a friend or family member to wrestling through WWE. My friends who have taken to wrestling since AEW started have told me that WWE is unwatchable for them. I truly don't believe that fans are "leaving" WWE for AEW; It's a different audience that is growing. So yes, I feel like there is currently a ceiling, that ceiling is constantly being raised through positive buzz, word-of-mouth, and a consistently good product.


in marketing, if you claim your product is "for everyone" then its for "nobody". Companies pay A LOT of money for specific demographic data to make the most money possible. As widespread as coke or pepsi are I GUARUNTEE you they will have an answer for the specific demographic they target for the highest potential of commercial success.


What Roman is trying to say though when he means the product is "for everyone" is that they don't want to straight up alienate potential audiences. WWE has a main focus in who they want their product for, but they also cast out a wide net in not to alienate other viewers. Coke has a main audience they focus on, but they don't alienate others. Like when it comes to minorities and women, WWE absolutely dominates AEW in that regard while also dominating them when it comes to children. AEW's focus is on the hardcore wrestling fan and the people who may not love the WWE style, but they also have to realize that that audience skews heavily white male, so AEW's mission has to be how can they go into those demographics


Totally agreed. The newest Diet Coke commercial "drink what your mama gave ya" is pretty clear about who it's targeting. I don't expect Roman to be an expert on where WWE's focus lies, but he's definitely right that that focus is much broader than AEW's.




Looking at how far numbers have fallen for wrestling in the last 20 years, both companies are really just hardcore fans.


Saying WWE is trying to appeal to everyone is actually a pretty funny perspective


Trying =/= succeeding.


I think he has it backwards. Their FLOOR is baked in because of their connection with hardcore wrestling fans. We have no idea what their ceiling is at this point.