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article imageOp-Ed: All Elite Wrestling vs WWE — The war has begun

By Paul Wallis     Jan 14, 2019 in Entertainment
Jacksonville - World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) has been the only show in town for nearly 20 years. A new promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW) looks like a mix of hitting all the raw nerves of WWE, pun intended.
The news about AEW has been all over the place. AEW is the new kid in wrestling, apparently based on an organization derived from Tony Connors business interests in the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars and created the All Elite Wrestling LLC company as the vehicle with founders the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and Cody Rhodes, a former WWE wrestler.
AEW has already done a very good job of getting its name in to every possible online talkfest. Whoever’s behind this promotion isn’t doing an Amateur Hour job, by any means.
The story with AEW according to a truly huge mix of rumours and facts is a shopping list of wrestling issues:
• Contracting top professionals like Chris Jericho, one of the most astute guys in the business. His name alone means high credibility for those in the industry.
• Better pay, another sore point, particularly for female wrestlers.
• Extra-contractual work and time outs while under contract, unlike WWE’s murderously hard work regime and highly demanding contracts schedule.
• Rumours abound of fan favourites like CM Punk, Goldberg, and other very big names signing, or at least interested, in AEW even at this early stage.
• They’re going to the top rank of competitive levels right from the start. That’s not for the faint hearted, nor the professionally feeble.
• AEW’s formation included a highly successful promotional match in embryo, which is not easy to do.
• The behind the scenes people at AEW are all wrestling people, not TV network stooges, which is another big plus for those in the industry.
• WWE has been getting severe criticism, justified and unjustified. Ratings are about low average for flagships RAW and Smackdown, with NXT and other promotions creating a wide spread. Performers are known to be dissatisfied for a range of reasons.
• AEW appears to be targeting Tuesday airtime for its next release, which is in direct competition with Smackdown. That can't be a coincidence, if true.
Exactly how realistic is AEW as a competitor for WWE?
AEW is taking on very tough competition. WWE has been a monopoly in the industry for nearly 20 years. If Vince McMahon is the instant target for criticism, there’s no denying that he and his family have built up a gigantic, almost overflowing reservoir of talent.
On the big stage, it’s even tougher. WWE has gone to traditional wrestling territory in Japan for expansion and also to the UK and China. These new talent zones can deliver a lot, in terms of performers and “wow factor” entertainment. Don’t discount these assets in any sort of competition, because even without AEW as a competitor, they’re getting good value out of these regions.
The McMahon kids, Stephanie and Shane, are pretty hardnosed. Forget their images - They’ve been wearing their very high profile roles like gloves for years, and Stephanie’s husband, HHH, has been delivering for them with NXT, a promotion which has managed to thrive in this very crowded space. WWE as competition won’t be a soft target, whoever’s in charge.
On the other side of the equation, AEW seems to be taking the expedient, but highly efficient, approach to approaching talent:
• They’re getting the bigger names first, guaranteed attention getters who are already generating a lot of publicity.
• The AEW founders even did a parody of not signing a WWE contract… no maps need be drawn here.
• They’re offering deals which obviously look good even to expert pros like Jericho. These deals are important, because they’re focusing on the truly business-savvy performers and getting traction.
• They’re making a point of doing everything possible to look like a viable alternative to WWE. That’s important, because WWE can be said to be overloaded, with fewer opportunities for advancement. Wrestlers, like most people, go where the money and opportunities are.
• AEW is likely to be a hybrid TV/streaming promotion, which is a different revenue model from the old-style TV only model. That may mean better cashflow, dodging the usual downfall of past wrestling promotions.
AEW deserves the credibility of being seen as an emerging, competent competitor. The people running it obviously aren’t fools, or doing any of the predictable dumb things done by other wannabe promotions. (Some WWE competitors have self-destructed so thoroughly you could write nursery rhymes about them.)
AEW is doing business, and doing it well, so far. Second generation wrestler Cody Rhodes is definitely no fool, and a true professional. He even managed to handle the almost impossible Stardust persona for years, and do it effectively, despite the endless limitations of that role. The Young Bucks are super-hot wrestling property at the moment, and apparently no slouches at the business end, either.
WWE is an anomaly in wrestling history. Traditionally, wrestling was divided in to physical “territories”, first regional, then in to territories in terms of broadcasting regionally and nationally. Digital media territories may be different, and may well be global, but this may be the default model for how the industry works. Expect something very interesting, and soon.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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