The biggest wrestling story of the last 3 months is the new promotion named, All Elite Wrestling or AEW. The team of Cody and Brandi Rhodes (Executive Producer and Chief Branding Officer respectively), the “Young Bucks” Matt and Nick Jackson (Producers) and is being funded by Tony Kahn (Co-Owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars) is definitely a powerful and creative crew for today’s wrestling world. But let’s take a look at five reasons why WWE is and should be worried about AEW:
- AEW Has the Fans of the Independent Circuit Behind Them
Over the past few years, WWE’s product has grown stale to many long-time fans. However, the independent circuit of wrestling has never been hotter. The independent scene was more or less revamped with the rise of competitors like Cody Rhodes and Kenny Omega, a big target for both WWE and AEW at the moment. The Indy’s have never been bigger and they’re continuing to grow. The top promotions of: Ring of Honor, New Japan Pro Wrestling, iMPACT Wrestling and NWA, will all soon lose their best performers to AEW. But, AEW will retain those fans from other companies.
- AEW Producers Have a Better Understanding of How Today’s Wrestling Scene Works
A big problem with the current WWE product is that they don’t seem to grab people like the higher-up independant promotions do like Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling. WWE misses proper opportunities to propel potential stars to the next level. For example, when Batista returned in 2014, him and a now-solo Roman Reigns were the final two men in the Royal Rumble. The entire match, the crowd was pulling for Reigns. When Batista eventually won the Rumble, the arena erupted in boos. As a result, WWE continued to force Reigns down people’s throat afterwards and killed what should’ve been his first step towards superstardom. Contrary to WWE, independent promotions push performers who the people believe are hot. This is a big reason why weekly WWE broadcasts are experiencing record low ratings currently. Because they simply cannot firmly grasp changes in the business.
- AEW Possible TV Deal Could Start Another Ratings War
One of the main reasons wrestling is a huge draw to many people today is because of the “Monday Night Wars” which started blew up in 1997 when WCW and WWE both competed for the top spot in wrestling with their Monday night shows Nitro and Raw respectively. TNA attempted another war but that fizzled quickly. Although, the only thing that could hold AEW back from competing with WWE is failing to get a big enough television deal for their promotion. If AEW can land a large enough television deal, I believe they will without a doubt start another ratings war with WWE.
- AEW Could Steal a Plethora of WWE’s Talent
One thing the independent scene doesn’t hold back from doing is poaching lower-tier or former WWE talent to help draw larger crowds for their smaller shows. If AEW’s takeoff is big enough, they would be nowhere similar to independent promotions who grab lower-tier WWE talent. The rumor mill states that an excess of WWE talent could jump shimp to AEW (if it can take off) when their respective contracts expire. This technically wouldn’t hurt WWE as they have a ridiculous amount of developmental talent in Orlando at their Performance Center and NXT. Nonetheless, the WWE would have to do what they did when people were leaving for WCW; they have to rely on their WWE-developed performers such as former NXT competitors or main roster veterans. As of their fan rally, they have already signed WWE legend, Chris Jericho and former NXT and Cruiserweight Champion PAC (formally known as Neville).
- Cody Rhodes Has a Vendetta Against WWE
When Cody Rhodes left WWE in May of 2016, he left with a bad and bitter taste in his mouth. His main issue when deciding to request his release was the lack of creative control over his character, Stardust. He grew agitated performing as Stardust after his father, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, passed away. In a storyline prior to Rhodes’ death, Stardust had told his real-life father that he was “dead” to him. The development of the angle and unwillingness of WWE to let Rhodes stop being Stardust angered him. Upon his release from WWE, Rhodes led the Bullet Club in their “Elite Era”, won World Championships and even created, produced and booked his own pay-per-view (All In) and it sold out in 30 minutes despite only announcing one match at the time of ticket release. It was the largest non-WWE/WCW event to sell 10,000 tickets since 1993. The fact that Rhodes pulled this off once, proves that he will do it again. Except this time, he’s calling out WWE almost directly.
On January 8, 2019, AEW held a fan rally to celebrate the launching of the promotion in Jacksonville, Florida. This rally contained huge announcements, one being the announcing of their first pay-per-view, Double or Nothing, which will be held on May 25 of 2019 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. By far the biggest announcement and reveal of the rally was the signing of one of the greatest performers of all-time: Y2J, Chris Jericho. This is a big shot at WWE as Jericho is one of the most important superstars in WWE history and once said he would not work in the same market as Vince McMahon. Another shock was the signing of former NXT and WWE Cruiserweight Champion, PAC (formerly known as Neville). This company has already made a huge splash in the wrestling world and they have been a brand for two months. WWE was already turning away fans at their Smackdown Live show (also held in Jacksonville) who were wearing AEW merchandise. WWE also had representatives at the rally to monitor what went down. These are the first few signs that WWE is worried about AEW and that WWE knows they will start competing for fans with AEW. So now what? Now, we wait and see if AEW really can “change the universe”.