Major changes to AEW’s in-ring product may be on the horizon.
With All Elite Wrestling now over four and a half years old, the company has undergone a number of changes over the years, ranging from their ever-growing roster of talent, backstage personalities, and even the addition of further weekly television shows. It now appears as though yet another change is set to be implemented, with this one pertaining to the promotion’s in-ring product.
Fightful Select are now reporting that a document was recently sent out within the company outlining some of the changes they’re planning to make in regards to the safety of both their performers and fans.
Elaborating on said document, Fightful noted that the protocols were developed by the AEW medical team, coaches, and referees with a view to help protect talent, staff, crew, and fans moving forward. The document reportedly also acknowledged that whilst there will always be risks involved with pro wrestling, the company are looking to minimise that risk without compromising the quality of the talent’s performances and ability to be creative.
Regarding the moves and spots that are believed to have been banned outright by AEW, Fightful Select’s report states the following:
“Specifically, a document was sent out that outright banned unprotected chair shots to the head, shots to the back of the head, buckle bombs and blind moves backwards into the turnbuckle, fencing responses (unnatural position of arms following a concussion), seizure sells, spitting, bleeding in the crowd, weapons or projectiles in the crowd, taking drinks or food from guests in the crowd, or physical contact with the crowd. We’re told that nothing with blood on it should be thrown into the crowd.”-Fightful
Several wrestlers are likely to be affected by the changes being implemented in terms of their in-ring offence. However, this is likely to only be the case with buckle bombs and moves to that effect, whereas general conduct in and around the ring is expected to be under greater scrutiny, with instances of wrestlers bleeding in the crowd, MJF’s physical interactions with the AEW fans, and Bryan Danielson’s recent seizure-esque sell all being noted as examples of things the company are believed to be looking to be putting a stop to.
The report then adds that a number of other spots, whilst not outright banned by the promotion, will only be permitted following the approval of AEW’s medical team, as well as the coaches assigned to the match.
Fightful highlighted that whilst the list isn’t comprehensive and could be adjusted by medical, legal, and coaching staff, the following moves are expected to be performed in accordance with the safety protocols in place moving forward:
“- Spots and bumps on the ring apron and outside-Fightful
– Table/ladder/chair spots in and out of the ring (Only allowed with padding)
Any elevated spots outside of the barricades (dives and ladder spots on stage, around the arena, and other places outside of the ring)
– All piledriver/tombstone variations, including: sit down drivers, inverted/poison hurricarana and vertebreakers
– High-risk dives or top rope moves (450, 630, double moonsaults, SSP, etc.) Intentional bleeding (of any sort, not just blading)
– Throwing people into/through/over ring steps, commentary table, bell table, or guardrails/barricades Weapon usage:
– Chairs, pipes, kendo sticks, hammers, ring bells, bats, chains, etc. Title belts
– Thumbtacks, skewers, barbed wire, and other sharp/puncturing objects o Powders, aerosol sprays, or liquids
– Throwing any weapons or objects- chairs, etc.
– Choking/strangling with hands or a weapon or hanging spots
– Injury spots or angles, whether or not medical is involved/called to the ring
– Any physicality in the crowd or crowd brawling
– Any physicality involving referees, managers, extras, celebrities, or special guests”
Additionally, the document is reported to have stated that providing the necessary parties with notice to plan “creative stunts and spots” will help in ensuring that said stunts and spots are performed as safely as possible.
Fightful then added that talent were encouraged within the document to speak to coaches, talent relations, medical team, or legal as early as possible for things that would require such planning.
One talent that spoke to Fightful told them that they believe this is a good move and will help streamline the show, avoid repeat spots and moves in general, and make more of the athletic spots that talent are capable of. The change is also expected to help instil authority to the coaches, alongside maintaining performer and fan safety, with multiple sources also telling Fightful that they believe the changes are a necessary “tightening of the screws.”
Finally, it’s important to note that whilst multiple sources within the company are said to have confirmed the document’s legitimacy, several other talents noted that they’re yet to see it for themselves.
As always, we’ll aim to provide any further updates on the reported changes to AEW’s health and safety protocols as soon as we hear more.