In the vast arena of professional wrestling, where every move is analysed and every match discussed, the most persistent dialogue remains: WWE or AEW? Which reigns supreme? While many armchair critics are quick to choose sides, for Shawn Spears, a wrestling maestro who has set foot in both worlds, the debate is more than just about bragging rights; it’s about passion, growth, and the very essence of the sport.
“WWE and AEW, they’re like the titans of today’s wrestling world. It’s akin to watching two colossal entities perform an intricate dance, week after week,” Spears elucidated in a heartfelt tête-à-tête on “Off Her Chops.” “Many bandy about phrases like ‘the grass is always greener.’ But here’s the truth, distilled: when you’ve been wrestling as long as I have, you comprehend the mechanics. The spotlight, the stage, the electrifying atmosphere—it’s universal.”
What Spears cherishes most, however, is the fevered debate among fans. “Witnessing WWE aficionados and AEW loyalists lock horns online, passionately defending their chosen universe? It’s exhilarating,” he remarked. “But here’s the thing—I don’t care which banner you’re waving. As long as you’re speaking about wrestling, as long as you’re fuelling the growth of this incredible sport, it’s all gold to me.”
Shawn says, leaning into the importance of differentiation. “AEW is a force in its own right. It’s not just another wrestling show—it’s an alternative. And that’s vital. We’ve always stressed this: AEW is different. The allure is in that distinction. The very essence of what makes it unique.”
Journeying further down memory lane, in a captivating segment of the Art of Wrestling podcast hosted by Colt Cabana, Shawn recalled an iconic moment: a face-off against the legendary John Cena back in 2007 at the Ohio Valley Wrestling’s Six Flags Summer Sizzler Series.
“We were all prepped for a full deck—an eight-match bonanza. But then, as if scripted by the drama gods themselves, the skies burst open. The downpour was relentless, cutting our matches to a mere three,” he remembered. The apprehension before that fight was palpable. “It wasn’t just about the performance. It was about ensuring safety in those treacherous conditions. I remember thinking, if Cena gets injured, all eyes would dart to me.”
But, in this moment of chaos, Cena’s dedication shone through. “Cody had already given Cena a brief about me, and when we met, Cena nodded, ‘Cody’s given the thumbs up. Let’s make this one for the ages.’ That bout? It was more than just moves—it was about trust. Trusting that the other wouldn’t falter, even on a surface more slippery than an ice rink.”
There’s a particular reverence in Spears’ voice when he speaks of Cena. “Detractors might nitpick at Cena’s wrestling style, but let me lay it out straight: John Cena is one of the finest workers in the history of this game. That match wasn’t just a contest; it was an education.”
Despite the highs, Spears is pragmatic about the transient nature of his career. “Life’s unpredictable, much like a wrestling match. I was let go from WWE about a year-and-a-half post that epic face-off with Cena. In AEW, who knows what the morrow brings? Maybe it’ll be an open-air duel with Kenny Omega that marks my final act. But here’s what’s certain: the rhythm of this industry, its unpredictable cadence, it’s what keeps me going,” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
Spears’ insights provide a panoramic view of the wrestling world. At the heart of it, whether it’s the glitzy universe of WWE or the innovative realm of AEW, both are part of the same vibrant tapestry, each thread as vital as the other. The WWE vs. AEW debate isn’t just about which is better—it’s a testament to the undying love and fervour fans across the globe hold for this timeless sport. And as Spears would say, “as long as you’re talking about wrestling, it’s all gold.”