So a lot has been said, rumors are flying every which way and everyone pretending to be a “wrestling journalist” is writing stories regardless of how legit and truthful they are about people asking for their releases and speculating on people jumping to the new upstart wrestling company being thrown together by the Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes. And to be honest, I’m actually getting sick of seeing the damn letters AEW already — which stands for All Elite Wrestling — that hasn’t even had it’s debut event yet!
If you read all the headlines, names have been thrown around from Dean Ambrose to the current WWE Raw Tag Team Champions, The Revival to current WWE Smackdown Live Tag Team Champions, The Usos all the way up to former 13-time World Champion, Randy Orton are all AEW-bound! When in all reality, the only name I believe to possibly be headed there from WWE — and this is only because WWE themselves actually addressed the fact that he decided he wanted to let his contract expire and leave the company this spring — is Dean Ambrose.
I don’t want to come off all doom and gloom here, instead I’d like to be realistic and fair. AEW is being backed by the Khan family that owns and runs the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL football team. Now in general, billionaires manage to stay rich usually by keeping their money and not investing in non-performing assets, which is why you don’t see a lot of billionaires jumping into the professional wrestling business. Or…those that do, tend to give up on it within a fairly short amount of time — see: Bob & Janice Carter of Panda Energy, the parents of Dixie Carter who eventually stopped funding TNA Wrestling because it became such a money pit that they stopped supporting it and it was eventually sold to current owner, Anthem Media Group — who still has yet to turn a profit with the wrestling company that is celebrating it’s 17th (!) year in operation this year. The only one who has had any sustained success in this business is Vince McMahon, and when he got into the game, he was FAR from being the billionaire he is now. Ted Turner loved his “wrasslin'” show on his Superstation TBS, but for most of it’s existence, it didn’t turn a profit either until Eric Bischoff took over the reigns, made some sound business decisions and hit it big with with one of the hottest storylines the wrestling business has ever seen with Hulk Hogan turning heel and forming the New World Order.
While their debut event called “Double or Nothing” is scheduled, All Elite Wrestling still has yet to announce any television deal, and the only news I’ve seen about a potential television deal is that “it’ll be better than the Pursuit Channel” which is where TNA/Impact Wrestling currently airs. This isn’t news…to say you’re going to be on a channel with more household penetration than the Pursuit Channel is laughable. Remember, Impact Wrestling had stays on both Destination America and PopTV after being bounced by Spike TV (now, the Paramount Network) — both networks that most people who get them probably didn’t even know existed prior to Impact being televised there.
The assembled roster is packed with younger, fairly athletically gifted wrestlers. However, what they lack is a few major stars with some name recognition that a potential television partner would know. Their only notable name on their roster is 48-year old Chris Jericho. Even Pac isn’t a recognizable name since during his time in WWE, he was known as Neville. Beyond Jericho, the only other name anyone might possibly recognize is Cody Rhodes — who can’t even use that last name due to copyrights held by WWE! So he is simply Cody. The Young Bucks are internet darlings and have a good following on their “Being The Elite” YouTube series, but when speaking with network executives, a YouTube series doesn’t exactly translate to mainstream recognition. The same can be said of Kenny Omega, Adam “Hangman” Page, Joey Janela & Scorpio Sky. Christopher Daniels & Frankie Kazarian add a little name recognition, but not a lot since the last time they were seen on a nationally televised weekly show was in 2014 when they wrestled for TNA.
AEW has also announced partnerships with AAA out of Mexico and OWE out of Japan…to me, this just comes off as bush league. As if they need to pull from these international companies and can’t fill a card with their own talents. Know who else has previously announced a partnership with Lucha Libre AAA? Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force Wrestling — a company that we’re STILL waiting to see get off the ground. Jeff had done a number of house shows with initial television tapings happening back in 2015. GFW’s proposed television show “Amped” still has yet to air anywhere and the latest reports are that the footage originally taped was destroyed by Impact Wrestling during the time when Jarrett had returned to the company, but that’s not really important. What is important is that so many companies have sprouted up in the wake of the end of ECW & WCW — now 20 years ago and haven’t made much of themselves! Granted, the Khan family has quite a bit more money backing this project, but until a television deal is inked on a prominent network, this is just the next World Wrestling All-Stars, Global Force Wrestling or Wrestling Society X to me.
I honestly hope that the Khan family are truly in it for the long haul and can create an alternative product to WWE, because for every Ring of Honor and (at one point) TNA/Impact Wrestling, there’s been a litany of other three-letter wrestling company abbreviations that have come and gone without making much of a spark. So let’s just be realistic here and stop jumping to conclusions when history has shown otherwise.
Right now, AEW has created a lot of buzz, sold out a show in Vegas on Memorial Day weekend and sold a lot of t-shirts, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here…there’s still A LOT of work to be done and a HUGE mountain to climb if they are to compete with WWE. Just remember…Vince wanted to compete with the NFL when he launched the XFL almost 20 years ago, and we all know how well that turned out. Realistic expectations!
Thanks for reading.