What is AEW - All Elite Wrestling - Should the WWE be concerned
To understand the events that led up to the creation of All Elite Wrestling, one must understand the people responsible for its creation. All Elite Wrestling is primarily the brainchild of several professional wrestlers from different backgrounds whose career paths intersected in a New Japan Pro Wrestling faction known as the Bullet Club. If this seems like a strange place to sow the seeds for a promotion that could one day challenge WWE, read on, for there are many twists and turns in this strange story.
These men became close friends and decided they wanted to try something outlandish and different. A self-promoted wrestling show. But we’ll get to that.
First, let’s look at the Major Players and their history.
Like WWE and many wrestling companies in the History of American wrestling, Japan sometimes relies on the evil foreign heel (in this case, foreign devil westerners). Such was the case when Prince Devitt (Now Finn Balor) formed the Bullet Club in 2013. Since then, the group has often acted as a de-facto landing spot for foreign acts working in New Japan. AJ Styles was the leader for a while, but when he left, the role went to an up-and-coming phenomenon named Kenny Omega.
That year, Omega arrived. In 2017 and 2018, Kenny Omega had several matches that broke David Meltzer’s vaunted five-star rating scale. Meltzer has been rating matches forever in the Observer, a newsletter that offers the latest wwe news as well as MMA news. In the newsletter, Omega has wrestled multiple matches ranking between five and seven stars, which is unheard of.
Under Omega’s leadership, the faction grew to huge popularity. Even WWE referenced storylines that started in Bullet Club when dealing with their talent that had been in the faction (AJ Styles, Balor, Anderson, and Gallows).
By January of 2019, Omega was the hottest free agent in all of wrestling. Let’s see what happened with him.
The Young Bucks
Nick and Matt Jackson, the Young Bucks, are a tag team that has worked on the Independent wrestling scene for more than fifteen years. In that time, they became expert self-promoters and were seen as one of the most lucrative acts on the Independent scene.
When they went to work in New Japan, it was part of the Bullet Club. There, they befriended Kenny Omega and formed the faction-within-a-faction known as the Elite.
They debuted a YouTube series known as “Being the Elite,” showcasing their everyday lives. Their popularity only grew.
Cody was a WWE star for many years. When he debuted in Randy Orton’s Legacy stable, it was thought Cody would one day a main event player, but he just never quite got there. He wrestled under several gimmicks, each stranger than the next. In one, he was something of a Phantom of the Opera, thinking he was a hideous monster. He also had to paint himself silver and wrestle as Stardust, a riff on his older brother Dustin’s Goldust character.
Cody left WWE to great fanfare and hit the Independent scene. While his match quality was never anything to write home about, he was excellent at promoting himself. Eventually, he ended up in New Japan and joined the Elite.
So, we have at least three shameless self-promoters and one wrestling virtuoso that somehow wants to change the sport. What do they do? Try to self-promote a show of course!
The Bucks and Cody went into overdrive promoting their Chicago “All In” show. The goal was to draw 10,000 fans. No one thought they could do it. People in the industry were laughing at them.
Of course, the show was a resounding success. The appetite for an alternative was there — time to try something on a larger scale.
Shahid and Tony Khan
These two are the reason AEW is being spoken of as a competitor to WWE instead of some Indy startup. These men are billionaires. If AEW has a bottomless pocketbook, this is where things can get pretty interesting. They have the ability to compete with WWE in terms of salary. Something a company hasn’t been able to do in 20 years.
AEW is Born
On January 1, 2019, AEW was born. To date, they have signed some big players, with the two biggest names being Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega himself.
Are they a Threat to WWE?
If you’re asking if they’re an existential threat like WCW was, then no, nope, no way, not a chance. They don’t have the clout, resources, wrestlers, or infrastructure to challenge and they won’t for quite a while. Building things takes time.
Where they might be an annoyance is in terms of talent. For years, WWE has been able to hold talent hostage, ensuring it was their way or the highway.
Now, talent has a viable alternative where they can make a decent living. As a result, WWE might have to pay talent more and treat them better. Something they are certainly not likely to want.