If you’re a hardcore professional wrestling fan, you either know about, or have at least heard about a new promotion lurking in the shadows, run by Cody Rhodes and Matt & Nick Jackson, The Young Bucks. This is the same crew that put on ‘ALL IN’ back in September, the first independent wrestling show to draw over 10,000 fans ever…
…and the same crew that has proved time and time again that WWE isn’t the be-all-end-all as far as making a living goes in the wrestling industry. They’re also among the first “indie” guys to break through to the mainstream “pop culture” audience, having their shirts, POP! Vinyls, and other merchandise available at Hot Topics all over the country!
I should state my possible bias before I go on: I’ve been lucky enough to have known Cody and The Young Bucks personally since I was in high school, and have designed a few sets of gear for each of them in the past. They’re truly great human beings, and I wish them nothing but success and happiness with all of my heart. Take that as you will, but also know that I’m calling this one down the middle in my mind. They don’t need my bias, or anyone else’s, as we’ve seen over and over now, because they are the epitome of self-made men.
Recently, they’ve received massive funding from the Khan family (yes, the same Khans that own the Jacksonville Jaguars) to kickstart their own promotion, called “All Elite Wrestling”, or AEW for short, leading them to finish out their Ring of Honor/New Japan Pro Wrestling dates in 2018, and get to work on building what could possibly be the WWE’s first viable contender since WCW in the 90’s. This isn’t their goal, I don’t think – I’m sure it’s a nice thought in the back of all of their heads (mainly the Khans’ heads), but I think they honestly just want to run a successful company that treats its workers right. If they’re competing with the big dogs, great, if not, that doesn’t mean the end of ‘em as long as they’re in the green making money. They do have the resources and financial backing to compete, though.
Yesterday, outside TIAA Bank Field (where the Jaguars play), AEW held their first ever press conference (or rally, as they called it) to make a few major announcements and sorta give us, the fans, a look at who’ll make up some of their roster, and here’s what you should know:
-Tony Khan, a lifelong wrestling fan, serves as the President/Owner of AEW.
-Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks have signed 5-year deals with AEW, and are serving as both on-screen talent and Executive Vice Presidents of the company. Rumors say that Cody will handle production and Matt/Nick Jackson will handle booking. I think this is a good call. Cody mentioned that wins/losses will matter more than ever in AEW, and that fans would get to decide who they wanted to cheer/boo, and that AEW would not dictate that. Subtle shots at two gripes WWE fans have had forever. Smart. Cody also mentioned that all workers injured in an AEW will be “taken care of”, alluding to the fact that when the details are all figures out, they will be the first wrestling promotion in history to provide health insurance for all full-time employees. Novel concept, huh?!
-AEW’s first show (Cody/The Bucks’ second show), ‘Double or Nothing’, will be taking place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, May 25, 2019. This is where a lot of classic UFC fights have gone down, obviously, and has a capacity of about 17,157. Big sell, but there’s really no doubt in my mind they could fill that place up. Their second show, which details are still being sorted out for, will take place in Jacksonville and a large portion of the proceeds will go towards gun violence, which Tony Khan is passionate about.
-Brandi Rhodes, Cody’s wife, serves as Chief Brand Officer, and announced that there will be a women’s division, and that men and women will be paid equally in All Elite Wrestling. This is huge.
-Britt Baker will likely be the face of AEW’s women’s division – a truly great selection.
-Billy Gunn is the company’s sole producer as of this writing.
-AEW will have an ongoing partnership with a Chinese promotion called Oriental Wrestling Entertainment (OWE) that I’ve never heard of.
-PAC, formerly known as Neville, will be working with All Elite Wrestling. It’s unclear as to whether it’s a partnership with Dragon Gate, who he currently works for and is insanely loyal to, or he actually signed. It appears that he and “Hangman” Page are the direction for ‘Double or Nothing’ however.
-Chris Jericho in “ALL IN” with the promotion, has signed his contract, and has been moved to the “Alumni” section of WWE.com
So far, the roster is comprised of…
-The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson)
-SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky)
-Adam “Hangman” Page
-Maxwell Jacob Friedman
Kenny Omega is expected to sign with All Elite Wrestling when his contract with NJPW expires at the end of this month, but no announcement was made regarding that as it’d be a breach of contract. Marty Scrull, another member of the ‘Being The Elite’ YouTube series, is also expected to sign when his contract expires, but I’m not sure how soon that’ll be. Could be a month, could be a year. One other notable omission from the announcements was that of a television deal, which I’m told is being finalized right now with a Turner network. Should be a weekly 60-90 minute show. Oh, and yes, many talent from WWE unhappy with their position have already inquired about jumping ship, as they’ve heard pay appears to be extremely similar in both companies.
It was also reported by Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com (and later confirmed via video evidence) that the WWE were not allowing fans wearing AEW merchandise to enter the arena for SmackDown Live, coincidentally also taking place from Jacksonville last night. Petty as hell!
WWE issued a statement later on saying that this was false, but fans wearing AEW merchandise were also asked to cover it up with WWE merchandise during the taping, sooooo that’s the only thing that appears false about that story.
I’m sure I’m missing SOMETHING important, because I’m closing in on a thousand words here and that usually means I’m missing something, but that’s all I’ve got for now! Cody, Brandi, Matt, Nick – if you’re reading this, I’d like to sincerely wish you the best of luck on behalf of all of Barstool Sports. We’re pulling for ya!