AEW has seen some notable exits as they approach the end of 2023. QT Marshall is gone, and so is Rafael Morffi. Dana Massie’s departure was very big surprise for a lot of people, as Matt Jackson revealed in his post about his wife’s exit that she was in on the conversations that birthed AEW.
During Wrestling Observer Radio, Bryan Alvarez and Dave Meltzer had a conversation about AEW’s recent departures. This included some theorizing on why Dana Massie decided to go.
Bryan Alvarez kicked things off by saying, “Third and fourth major individuals behind the scenes to leave AEW, following Kevin Sullivan and QT Marshall, we had Rafael Morfii and also Dana Massie, who is the wife of Matt Jackson. She had been there literally since before day one.”
Dave Meltzer then replied to say, “They were all day one people.” Bryan Alvarez corrected Meltzer to include, “She was pre day one.”
“Yeah, she was at the meetings in 2018, yeah, that’s true,” Dave Meltzer stated in reply.
Bryan Alvarez stated that, “Both of them are gone as of the end of the year, they tried to re-sign Dana, and she opted not to re-sign. Where’s Rafael going?”
Dave Meltzer then explained that Rafael Morffi is going to go work for the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. He will be helping that venue out as he books for them. The very curious situation is Dana Massie leaving the company like she did.
“He’s going to work for the Barclays Center as an executive there he’s going to be booking acts, working with the [NBA] Nets, who play in that building. Book entertainment acts, sports acts. He lives in that area. It’s a job where he doesn’t have to travel. Good job opportunity for him.“
“With Dana, it’s a funny thing. If you’re in a position where you’re a wrestler, you go with the flow, you’ll work even if you’re unfairly maligned. I think that with her, she was someone at one point expected to do this forever. I think with everything that happened over the last year with her husband and brother-in-law, vilified and never defended and never being allowed to defend themselves and the company never defending them, it made it really difficult. They [The Bucks] re-signed, they didn’t go to WWE basically because they got a great offer to stay, and it was the best thing for the family and it was the best thing financially to stay. They [The Elite] all agreed to the majority vote, that was one of the things they all agreed to so they stayed.”
“With her, I think it just got too tough, I’m sure there’s other things too, but that was a lot of it, the fact that she felt they were never defended at a time when they probably should have been defended by the company. There was the situation where [CM] Punk went after her too and she was never defended either.”
Bryan Alvarez then stated, “Four of the founding members of the company, all gone by 2024.”
Dave Meltzer then replied to say, “Because it’s so many in a short period of time, I’m getting people going ‘oh my god, the company is sinking.”
Alvarez then retorted to say, “The company is not sinking, but it is absolutely changing.” Dave Meltzer then said, “Totally changing, you can watch the TVs.”
“It’s never going to be that company again,” Bryan Alvarez chimed in. Then Dave Meltzer had a much longer opinion to interject. WWE getting hot and yanking so many fans from AEW was terrible timing, and the company also adopted a much different image of being All Friends Wrestling instead.
It’s a different company, whether that’s good or bad. One of the things that was an ironically out of touch knock on the company was that veterans who came in had never seen a dressing room like that. There was inexperience as far as management, with so many people who had never worked in a management capacity in wrestling. So many new people, you’re going to make mistakes based on that, but the harmony in the dressing room was incredible.
People were calling it All Friends Wrestling, but what built the company was that exact fact. That wasn’t going to last forever. When that harmony was gone, that’s when you started having problems. Before, everyone had a common goal, even if they didn’t all agree on how to reach that goal. Everyone had a different idea on how to do what’s going to engage the most fans and how you combat being in a fight with WWE, how do you react to that. For a while it was a very harmonious thing, then in changed, and it wasn’t for the better.
Their number one problem is that WWE got hot. When [AEW] first had their big success, Vince was running WWE and a lot of people wanted out. It was an alternative, a lot of fans weren’t engaged by WWE. When Vince left, I told people this is when it’s all going to change. Vince was a real negative in WWE. Levesque is a lot more open-minded and modern when it comes to talent. When #1 is hot, #2 is a very difficult position to be in.
A lot of it is a perception that has gotten worse and worse as attendance dwindled. The advances and the actual attendance at the shows is not great, but for #2 it’s not bad either. PPV numbers have been very good almost the entire run, but they are facing a perception and momentum problem far more than a product problem. A lot of great matches on the shows, but they’re weak on making the matches mean a lot and making people into big stars. Super talented guys, but if main events aren’t main events, you don’t draw.
We will have to see what is AEW’s future for 2024. They will carry on, and replace those who left the company. Only time will tell if those early exits are an indicator that there are much bigger problems going on in AEW.
Keep checking back with us here at Ringside News as we continue covering this subject, and many more from all over the pro wrestling world. You never know what will break next, but we will be here with all the headlines you need.
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