As AEW navigates its third year of weekly programming, the most consistent mistake made by the company is its failure to deliver on the potential of its main event talent. With names like Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho, and Bryan Danielson currently on the roster, it shouldn't be difficult for AEW to create compelling storylines and build new stars. Even with these massive names lending credibility to the product, however, AEW is still unable to break through its 1 million viewer ceiling.
AEW Dynamite debuted on TNT in October of 2019 to an average audience of 1.4 million viewers. The company has failed to surpass that viewership peak over the last three years. Not even AEW's most anticipated returns or CM Punk's appearances have created a spike beyond that number. Instead of working to raise the bar, AEW seems content with delivering the same product week after week.
AEW will never be able to grow if they can't fix the problems repeatedly demonstrated in their weekly main event matches. Jon Moxley's current reign as the Interim World Champion has made these problems more visible than ever before. During the tournament that would see Moxley become champion, AEW owner Tony Khan assured fans that his reign would be legitimate and not just a holdover until CM Punk could return from injury. Yet no serious contenders have been built for Jon. He's been involved in no major storylines as champion, except for the residual feud against AEW legend Chris Jericho, which has quickly overstayed its welcome.
AEW Can't Wait For CM Punk To Build Their Main Event
Instead of dedicating TV time to resurrecting and prolonging an old feud between Moxley and Jericho, AEW could be building new superstars to challenge Jon or to face CM Punk when he eventually returns to the company. Mox has blown through a handful of challengers who received little time to build their match against the champion. Names like Brody King and Rush came and went, as they were announced and then swept away on the next weekly episode of AEW Dynamite. This isn't doing any favors for the long-term success of the product. With only footnote defeats at the hands of Moxley added to their records, it wouldn't make sense for King and Rush to jump back to the top of the card to face CM Punk in the future.
Of course, even AEW's most promising main event stars can't escape Dynamite's biggest issue. Weekly viewers have noticed that Wednesday night's closing matches often appear rushed or mistimed. With so many other athletes, promo segments, and undercard matches crammed into a single episode, the main event bouts are often left with less on-air time than they need. Even the best of AEW's performers, like Chris Jericho and Eddie Kingston, end up stumbling through the closing sequences of their matches. The most important element of professional wrestling, storytelling, is sacrificed so that the contenders can hurry through the agreed-upon spots.
First-time viewers aren't going to tune back in the following week if Dynamite's main events always feel rushed. Fewer and fewer members of the audience are going to buy a pay-per-view if AEW's regular storylines feel uninspired or exploitative. The company is creating a number of future problems for itself by not committing to Jon Moxley's reign as Interim World Champion while CM Punk is on the shelf. If Tony Khan doesn't want AEW to be left behind as WWE undergoes its corporate evolution, these main event issues need to be fixed sooner rather than later.