January 1st is a day that will live in wrestling infamy.
Cody and Brandi Rhodes, The Young Bucks and Hangman Page announced the arrival of All Elite Wrestling. Bankrolled by Tony Khan, a lot of rumours flew about. But what do we know so far? Lets find out.
WHAT IS AEW
2018 saw many fantastic events in wrestling, one of the biggest was the independent show ‘ALL IN’. The show was put on by a few close friends who had grown disgruntled with some aspect of the industry, and who had accepted a challenge to fill a 10,000-seater stadium. Cody and the Young Bucks worked tirelessly to promote the event, which duly sole 11,263 tickets The show was a fantastic success and lead many to ask when the follow up would happen. Nothing was mentioned for quite some time before it came out on the 19th of November that trademarks had been filed for the name All Elite Wrestling and AEW, the event AEW Double or Nothing and the TV show Tuesday Night Dynamite. Towards the end of last year, members of ‘The Elite’ started hinting at an announcement to be made early in the new year. As the first of January approached speculation grew and grew as to what was happening. Cody started by confirming that he wouldn’t be at the ROH/NJPW Maddison Square Garden show. The Young Bucks followed, Tweeting comments saying they weren’t going to be at the MSG show, but that it will be fantastic.
We will not be there, but I encourage everyone to still go. It’s a historic night for wrestling. https://t.co/kPVEjtTqIa
— The Young Bucks (@MattJackson13) December 20, 2018
As the clock struck midnight Rhodes, the Young Bucks and Adam Page officially revealed the promotion to the world via Twitter. With the key members (Cody, The Young Bucks, Adam Page, Brandi Rhodes, and Dana Massie) signing multi-year contracts, the foundations were firmly planted in the wrestling landscape. Shortly after we were to learn that ‘Double or Nothing’ was going to be the follow up to ÁLL IN’ and that a rally was being organized at the Jacksonville Jaguar’s Stadium. The Jaguar’s are owned by Shahid Khan, who, with son Tony Khan is backing the venture to a reported initial sum of $100 million.
The Elite have stated explicitly that they want to ‘change the wrestling economy’, with Cody saying at the press event:
“You can offer somebody opportunity, but opportunity doesn’t pay the bills, money does”
Cody had already spoken about how wrestlers were underpaid when compared to comparable entertainers in other fields. Cody went on to talk about another difference between the new promotion and the status quo, saying that wins will matter. There were, of course, many other announcements regarding the structure of the company, some of which are detailed below:
- There will be a women’s division.
- Equal pay between men and women.
- Wrestlers are employees, not independent contractors.
- ‘Double or Nothing’will take place May 25th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena
- There will be a second event, as of yet unnamed and on an unknown date, taking place at the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
- No wellness policy
- Healthcare will be provided to executives and employees
- TV Deal is in the works
Equal pay means equal opportunity regardless of sex. It does not mean that everyone will be paid the exact same salary regardless of their position. It means the gender pay gap does not apply. An entry level woman won’t make less than an entry level man because of her gender.
— Brandi Rhodes (@TheBrandiRhodes) January 9, 2019
For a long time, the involvement of the Khan’s was just speculation, stoked by tweets from Chris Jericho about Vikings tickets. When the announcement was made that the promotion was coming out from the shadows it still wasn’t confirmed who the financial backers were. We had to wait until the morning for the rally for the following press release. First from father Shahid:
SHAD KHAN STATEMENT ON AEW, Tuesday, January 8, 2019
“I am the lead investor, a supporter and a backer of All Elite Wrestling, and I anticipate great things today and into the future for AEW and everyone who has worked passionately on this week’s launch. I know AEW will be welcomed by wrestling fans here in the U.S. and throughout the world who are ready for something new and authentic. AEW will work hard to deliver on that promise. As important, I am the father – the proud father – of Tony Khan, who will serve in a leadership role at AEW during the 2019 launch and in the years ahead. Tony will assemble a great team to take AEW over the top, for the benefit of everyone who loves the wrestling industry, while continuing to serve in his current capacities with the Jaguars and Fulham. AEW will operate as an organization completely independently from my other interests. It will not deter attention or divert resources from any of my businesses, teams, projects or investments. At the same time, AEW will enjoy the same full commitment I given to everything and everyone in my life – my family and friends, my business and, in recent years, to sports, hospitality and now entertainment.”
And then from his son, Tony Khan:
“Wrestling fans are a community unlike most others. I’ve been a part of this community since I was 7 years old, and I can tell you that wrestling fans see the world every day through a special lens. We see wrestling in Hollywood films and tv shows, we see elements of wrestling in the presentation of sports and in the marketing of grandiose star athletes, and we certainly see wrestling in politics. The wrestling community is a constant; its members are diverse, we are physically located on all corners of the planet, yet we are constantly connected. Recently, a new family has formed, bonded by love and respect for wrestling but armed with a vision and resources that have never before been available to the wrestling community. Our objective is to connect our community closer than ever before through All Elite Wrestling, or AEW. AEW does not mean any less of a continued commitment to existing obligations and duties that I have, or my family has, to our business and sports interests. That will never be the case. What’s important is that every individual decision we make as family, whether it’s ownership or investment in a team or property, is 100 percent beneficial to those specific interests. I will always welcome that accountability and responsibility, as nothing is more important than serving our supporters and friends. AEW will launch with a roster of the top wrestlers in the world. While they’ll clash in what will be some of the most intense and fast-paced contests ever sanctioned in the squared circle, they’ll also share a common goal: to make this the true golden age, to make this the greatest time ever to be a wrestling fan. Likewise, as a business, by treating our wrestlers with respect and warmth, we also seek to make this the golden age for the performers themselves. I urge everyone who believes in what we’re doing, or wants to believe in dreams coming true, to support AEW by spreading the word and passing the wrestling bug onto someone else. My message: Get in on the ground floor with AEW today and help lead our movement to grow the wrestling community and ensure that the voices of the wrestling fans, their creative minds and their remarkable ideas, will always be heard.”
Shahid Khan made his fortune manufacturing car parts for the major manufacturers. He has since purchased the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, and Fulham F.C. in 2013. AEW is his latest venture, and will his reported $6.4 billion fortune significantly eclipses even Vince McMahon (reported 3.5 billion net worth)
CONFIRMED AS INVOLVED
During the rally many of the company’s roster was revealed, so far, the male roster consists of:
- Chris Jericho
- Christopher Daniels
- Cody – Executive Vice President
- El Lindaman
- Frankie Kazarian
- “Hangman” Adam Page
- Joey Janela
- Matt Jackson – Executive Vice President
- Maxwell Jacob Friedman
- Nick Jackson – Executive Vice President
- Scorpio Sky
- Takehiro Yamamura
And the women’s roster looks like:
- Brandi Rhodes – Chief Brand Officer
- Britt Baker
- Penelope Ford
With a number of the backstage staff confirmed as well:
- Billy Gunn – Producer
- B.J. Whitmer
- Dana Massie
- Jeff Jones
During the press conference, it was stated that AEW would be working with OWE, but Meltzer has said that this doesn’t include DragonGate.
Double or Nothing is set to take place in the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The arena was last home to WCW Halloween Havoc and hosted many episodes of Nitro. The venue has a capacity of around 12,000 when hosting wrestling events, which is roughly the same as ‘ALL IN’.
The second event is in support of the victims of gun violence. According to Wrestling Observer Radio, Tony Khan is pushing it a great deal. Everything is up in the air at the moment.
There are though, a few wrestlers whom you might expect to make there way over to AEW eventually and many who have been linked with a move when their current contracts and/or no-compete clause’ expire:
- Kenny Omega, a member of The Elite, has recently announced that he is leaving NJPW and is currently under a no-compete clause. He should be free to announce at the end of January.
- Marty Scurll, a member of The Elite, is currently under contract with ROH until April.
- Jim Ross, under contract with WWE which ends in March.
- Kota Ibushi, under contract with NJPW, might have pre-planned the stretcher ending to the Ospreay WK13 match to cover his AEW exit.