After months of speculation, AEW finally has their home. At today’s WarnerMedia press conference, attended by AEWs Cody Rhodes, “Hangman” Adam Page, Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks, it was announced that for the first time in 20 years, they were back in the wrestling business.
Of course, this is in reference to the Monday Night Wars in the late 1990s where WCW Nitro beat the WWE in ratings for 83 consecutive weeks. As WWEs ratings continue to falter similarly, one of the smartest people in wrestling today (Cody) promoted his own pay-per-view with the Young Bucks last year which was a massive success. Since, they’ve gotten the financial backing of billionaire Shad Khan, signed one of the biggest superstars that professional wrestling has ever seen (Chris Jericho) and the most popular wrestler in the sport today (Kenny Omega). Their second pay-per-view, Double or Nothing in just a few weeks in Las Vegas, has already sold out completely. Their third event, Fight For the Fallen in Jacksonville, tickets are moving very well. The last step was a TV deal.
TNT released a statement that AEW will provide their fanbase “less scripted, soapy drama and more athleticism and real sports analytics, bringing a legitimacy to wrestling that it has not previously had.” Company CEO, Tony Khan, went on record to say that “wrestling fans have wanted and needed something different, authentic and better for far too long. AEW is answering the call. AEW is more than wrestling. It’s about a movement fueled by wrestling fans who have been undeserved and perhaps even disappointed by what the industry has produced in recent years.”
This, of course, is absolutely spot on. The way the Elite have produced their brand is unprecedented and gaining mainstream popularity that WWE hasn’t quite been able to provide. Since 2014 when CM Punk left and Daniel Bryan abruptly broke his neck, WWEs ratings have continued to decline, despite its most talent roster ever. To be frank, wrestling fans are sick of the outdated format that sees Roman Reigns be Roman Reigns like he’s in the 1980s. The guys who get the groundswell are always fed to him, Brock and guys like Bill Goldberg get the best spots. WWE hasn’t built any stars that the audience reacts to outside of one or two and it’s completely blown up in their face. Meanwhile, following his release from WWE, Cody Rhodes transformed into a marketing guru and here we are.
AEW is now on primetime TV starting later this year. It’ll be really interesting to see how it draws, but for now, let’s just enjoy the ride.
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