AEW’s in-ring product seems to be in store for major changes as the company attempts to protect both its wrestlers and its fans.
According to a new report from Fightful Select, AEW is making sweeping changes when it comes to its in-ring presentation. The company has often been criticized for allowing risky moves in the ring as well as its liberal use of blood in matches. Fightful Select does note that while many people in the company have confirmed the list as legitimate, there were also talent who said they hadn’t yet seen the document.
The report notes that these protocols were developed by AEW’s medial team, coaches, and referees to “help protect talent, staff, crew and fans.” The document obtained by Fightful stated that while wrestling always carries a certain amount of risk, the company wants to minimize that risk without hampering the creativity of its performers.
Fightful reports that the following have been banned by AEW when it comes to in-ring action:
- 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. Nothing with blood on it should be thrown into the crowd.
The list comes shortly after Bryan Danielson used a seizure-like sell in his match with Kazuchika Okada at AEW x NJPW Forbidden Door. Meanwhile, Jon Moxley is known to go into the crowd while covered in blood, and MJF often makes waves with his interactions with the crowd. MJF recently came under fire when he threw a drink on a child, something the list expressly bans.
Meanwhile, Fightful Select lists the following moves as requiring company approval rather than being outright banned:
- Spots and bumps on the ring apron and outside
- 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
When it comes to the moves needing approval, the document provided to Fightful indicates that providing everyone involved with advance notice about “creative planned stunts” is a way to help ensure that moves be executed as safely as possible. Talent were encouraged to speak to coaches, referees, fellow performers, legal, and medical staff as soon as possible when these sorts of moves are being planned.
One AEW talent told Fightful Select that this move was a good one for the company as it will help to streamline shows, avoid talent repeating moves that have been done on the same show, and make more of the athletic feats that are possible. Also, it was said that the new protocol will help give authority to coaches and let production staff be more prepared. Most talent who spoke to Fightful agreed that it was a necessary “tightening of the screws” as AEW continues to grow.