When AEW announced its deal with TNT last May, they promised to bring something different, putting their “talent forward, fan-first league” on weekly to give fans something different from what they have become accustomed to because there were no other options out there doing something different.
The difference seems to be creative control, and how it is being handled between the wrestlers and the powers that be at both promotions. While the WWE seems to have writers who produce stories wrestlers have to follow, AEW seems to give more creative control to the wrestlers, which makes for happier and more willing performers.
The thing about professional wrestling and its talent is that the performers not only have to have the stories that make their matches, but they also have to deliver when the matches get made, which brings us back to the wrestling. NXT features a lot of new, young talent, but if they are stifled by having to underperform because the script has them taking a back seat to older wrestlers who are better on the microphone than in the ring, they can go unnoticed.
Legends like Goldberg, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant were famous for their performances in the ring, and while predetermined, putting someone over by losing requires a lot of athleticism. There are going to be winners and losers, but both parties have to be able to dish out and take the damage inflicted in sports entertainment, which requires fresh talent. In sports entertainment, like combat sports, “fresh” means young and having a champion in their 50s cannot sustain a steady fan base for long.
Highlighting the athletic abilities of characters in professional wrestling can only be done with performers who have the athleticism to keep up with the demands of the ring, which makes it a young man or woman’s sport. AEW seems to be doing that, along with allowing for creativity of the wrestler's connection to fans put over the talent that deserves it.