This is what people have been telling those who are concern trolling for months. Sure, some things won't pay-off properly. That's expected. But some things are going to cook better because they were allowed to stew. The focus on instant ratings & making sure certain segments win over others has irreparably damaged wrestling. Vince Russo crossed the alps and 20 years later, we still pay for the sins of Vince McMahon listening to him for more than three seconds.
Long-term and short-term booking both have their pros and cons, but IMO when done well, short-term booking is the only booking that can genuinely listen to the fans.
Long-term booking always requires you to work the fans into buying what you want them to buy.
It’s the opposite principle to having a free market of situations that the audience accepts or rejects to determine next week’s direction of the show.
If fans figure it out or react against your wishes, then you’re stuck in a long-term arc that nobody wants to see.
- crowd reactions literally influence the next week’s show. If you chant for Rusev, then Rusev gets more airtime next week.
- can immediately correct course in response to unexpected factors that affect how the storyline has played out
- Injuries or unexpected crowd reactions are easier to write around with new storylines that won’t ruin the other moving pieces.
- Principle of free market (audience) guides the product
Russo’s Undertaker in a Kane mask surprise was the culmination of multiple storylines coming together after 7 months - it wasn’t planned in advanced, but it doesn’t mean logical conclusions can’t be reached when the crowd energy and timing is right.
AEW’s crowd is highly willing to go along with the show out of respect, but there are undoubtedly challenges with any form of long-term booking in such a dynamic, agile environment.
Realistically, they’ll use a combination of both when appropriate.