30th May2019

Feature: All Elite Wrestling – A Brand New World!

by Chris Cummings

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When WCW closed its doors all the way back in 2001 it was a huge day in the history of pro-wrestling. It was the day that the BIG TWO wrestling companies in the world became the BIG ONE. WWE had survived the “Monday Night Wars” and the battle between Ted Turner’s WCW and Vince McMahon’s WWE had ended, leaving Vinnie Mac standing alone at the top of the heap, holding WCW in his hand like a dead badger. It was done.

And with the death of WCW and demise of smaller yet hugely influential promotion ECW, WWE was without competition in the world of wrestling. I mean sure, WWE would still be competing with everything else on television, but as far as pro-wrestling companies… it was the last one standing, the biggest in the world with no other promotion coming anywhere close. It was the market. It was the pinnacle. If you wanted to make a career in pro-wrestling and make a lot of money, you aimed to be in WWE. This was certainly the case for a very long time.

Independant wrestling has grown in the last decade or so. Over a decade ago there was a buzz there, sure, and there were some amazing wrestlers working the indies, but in the past decade there’s been a change in the overall way that indie-wrestling has been viewed, not just by fans, but by WWE too. With the inception of NXT, there has become something of a focus placed on indie-wrestling, the sheer mass of talent that has walked through promotions like Ring of Honor, Impact, CZW, Progress, Dragongate and PWG to end up on WWE television is just amazing. Years ago this wouldn’t have been the case. Now, with NXT and WWE’s main shows, the indie scene is to thank for the roster that has been assembled in WWE right now. WWE, in this writers view, has the best talent roster that it’s ever had and we have independent wrestling to thank for much of it.

Without competition there are many viewpoints that WWE has become stale, that the lack of another big option for fans and wrestlers has resulted in complacency from WWE and its management. Not everyone agrees, but having lived through the 90s of wrestling, and seen just how exciting it was when WWE and WCW were hot on each others’ heels, I can honestly say that the birth of a new competitor can only be a good thing. For fans, for wrestlers looking for somewhere else to ply their craft, and for the companies themselves. The landscape of wrestling has looked similar for a while, and I think it’s pretty obvious that we’re on the brink of the landscape changing. It will look very different in the next couple of years, that’s for sure.

When Cody Rhodes left WWE and proceeded to make a name for himself as “The American Nightmare” on the independent scene and in New Japan Pro Wrestling, it was becoming more and more obvious that he had a lot to prove, little did we know just how much he would prove. The Bullet Club was a huge deal, and Cody, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega were at the helm, making indie-wrestling cool, making history with merchandising deals and social-media promotion that nobody before them had been able to do before, or had even known how to do before. When the decision was made to take things to the next level, The Bucks and Cody, stepping away from NJPW, went ahead and booked their own show.

ALL IN took place on September 1st 2018 at the Sears Centre in Chicago, and was a sold out event, with over 11,000 fans in attendance. This was wrestling history taking place, proof that wrestling fans wanted something new, something different. The presentation, the reaction and the whole feel and tone of ALL IN made fans eager for something more when it was finished, and that something more came along a few months later.

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There were rumblings prior, but when All Elite Wrestling was announced in 2019 it was an exciting and intriguing announcement. Cody and The Young Bucks, along with Kenny Omega, would be Executive VPs for the promotion, with Tony Khan and his father Shahid, as investors and in Tony’s case, President and CEO of AEW. The company had the financial backing in place that would allow them a chance to offer a real alternative to WWE. We have seen a roster being assembled in 2019 so far featuring some magnificent and hugely talented performers. We’ve seen the announcement of Pay-per View shows like the debut show in Las Vegas, Double or Nothing, which happened last week and was a very exciting, well-produced and entertaining event. We have also seen the announcement that AEW will have a weekly television show on TNT beginning later in 2019, a two-hour LIVE show on a day yet to be announced. This is all huge news. A new wrestling promotion with a roster of exciting talent, a weekly show and pay-per-view events. It’s a great time to be a wrestling fan when you look at what AEW is doing. Not only are they going to be competition to WWE in the future, but they already are. They are competing immediately to capture the attention of WWE’s fanbase and perhaps even some of the performers who might want a new place to shine.

With the backing of the Khan family and Warner Media, and the financial and critical success of Double or Nothing, the sky looks clear for AEW right now. They have made many announcements over the past few months, about their roster, about their television product and the plans moving forward, and it all sounds great, it’s now up to them to make it happen. I am a fan of professional wrestling, so I am on board with AEW and fully support what they are planning to do. With their debut Double or Nothing show they showed that they know what they’re doing. With fresh new acts that will grow over time, veterans and favourites from the world of wrestling, and voices like the legendary Jim Ross calling the action, it’s an excellent base for what could grow into a very successful product. I wish them all the best, and I will definitely be on board for the ride.

We’re entering a brand new world, and it’s damn exciting.

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