There is a new wrestling promotion on the way. Three of the top non-WWE wrestlers in the world, Cody Rhodes, and the Young Bucks have teamed up with Tony Khan, son of Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan, to create what already feels like a game-changing moment in the history of North America wrestling.
The reason the announcement is so massive is not only the fact wrestling fans have suffered due to the WWE’s lack of competition, but because this promotion has enormous potential.
Let’s first talk about why an alternative for the WWE is so greatly needed. Ever since WCW went under, Vince McMahon has controlled nearly the entire marketplace. The WWE thrived during their battle with WCW when it was do or die and they had to put out a superior product. But once they won, the sense of urgency was eliminated. For decades now McMahon has not had to worry about putting out a quality show weekly and often has only done so leading up to big events.
As years have gone by, other promotions have come to life such as TNA – now Impact – and Ring of Honor. But neither were able to dent WWE’s path of money making dominance or make them alter a thing. So much so, coming off some of their weakest storytelling periods to date, the WWE was still able to strike big money television deals with FOX and NBC Universal despite losing portions of their audience.
While the pen is already to paper on those deals, right now the WWE is really feeling the aftermath of what comes with long stretches of lazy writing with no real direction and poor character development from the audience side. Their shows have experienced record lows lately while also being panned by critics and fans. This even led to McMahon returning to television – which he didn’t want to do – to save the product. As a wrestling fan, I can tell you, most of these people will eventually return as there is just no other convenient option.
But now there may be, and they have not have to.
In order for AEW to pick up an audience and to make the WWE sweat (no, they won’t challenge them) they need money, stars, exposure, and good quality. All four of those necessities seem to be en route. Khan reportedly is investing $100 million in AEW, and there are already rumors there will be television suitors from major networks at some point.
“It was previously rumored that AEW was working on a national TV deal. As per our sources, Khan is indeed using his connections to work on a prospective TV deal and one of the networks that they are negotiating with is Time Warner to have AEW air on TNT/TBS.”
As for stars and quality, they will have wrestlers that are draws that put on not good, but great matches. Cody and the Bucks already have a fanbase, just look at All In, which sold out an arena outside Chicago in minutes, and have proven they can put on speculator performances. To what degree of success they will have will depend on who comes along with them, who they can poach from other promotions, and whether or not they have working agreements with promotions like NJPW. There is already some speculation that legends Chris Jericho and Goldberg could be involved. And, of course, if AEW can win the Kenny Omega sweepstakes, which is possible, there would be tremendous momentum for the new promotion.
Nobody is expecting AEW to come in and beat the WWE in the near term; it won’t. But in a time where wrestling fans are not happy with the WWE, AEW appears to have all the necessary pieces to become a serious alternative. If and when it becomes that, not only will there be options — history has shown it will bring out the best in the WWE.