So it’s finally here. A genuine rival to take on WWE.
This Saturday saw the first pay per view from the newly formed AEW (All Elite Wrestling) and it did not disappoint.
The card had been hyped up for some time with marquee matches like Kenny Omega v Chris Jericho and The Young Bucks v The Lucha Bros. It also had some surprises like Tye Dillinger, recently released from WWE now going under the name Shawn Spears taking part in the battle royal at the start of the show. Not to mention the surprise debut of Jon Moxley (formally Dean Ambrose in WWE up until a month ago)
First a bit of background. Before AEW was even a company Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks along with then fellow Bullet Club member Adam Page decided to put on their own pay per view show in Chicago, ALL IN. Not wanting to work under the constraints of other wrestling promotions in America like Ring Of Honour and Impact they decided to do it alone.
They believed in their idea and backed themselves to pull off a massive independent show in a market where WWE reigned supreme and they did pulled it off. And then some. Nearly 12,000 tickets sold in just under 30 minutes. Not bad for your first show.
Fast forward a few months and AEW is launched. Cody, The Young Bucks, Adam Page and Kenny Omega all break away from the Bullet Club, one of the most famous, elite groups in wrestling to form The Elite. Cody and the Bucks being the most business minded took on executive vice president roles and along with Billionaire Tony Khan launched their new venture.
All Elite Wrestling is formed with the ethos of moving away from scripted promos and “PG” style wrestling. This was bringing the sport element back. Wins and loses would matter as well as a more statistical style presentation, what percentage of offence has an opponent had, how many significant moves did someone land on their opponent. They even have pre and post pay per view press conferences. All this designed to move away from what WWE has been presenting on its main shows.
This brings us to their first pay per view. Double or Nothing. Held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to another sell out crowd, This time in around 4 minutes!
What we got was a mix of high flying matches, hard hitting matches where opponents got nasty cuts and bleed heavily to all out brawls the genuinely took a lot out of each competitor.
However there were some spots that were very WWE like which disappointed a few hard core wrestling fans who wanted to see a real break from the norm. One such instance was while Cody was making his entrance to the ring to face his brother Dustin he return to the top of the entrance way with a sledgehammer he pulled from under the ring (Triple H’s favourite weapon of choice) and began to hit a throne adorned with skulls and a cross very akin to the WWE head mans wrestling attire. A large cloud of smoke appeared along with a well timed pyro explosion. This was Cody signalling he was taking down WWE and announcing AEW as genuine competition for the wrestling giants. This didn’t go over well with some of the wrestling purists online who thought it was an unnecessary almost corny moment. We’re not watching to see a company take digs at WWE we’re watching AEW because of its quality of wrestling. Leave the taunting and name calling to the other company. Essentially “you do you”!
Every match showcased what independent wrestling is about. Form the battle royal to Kip Sabian taking on Sammy Guevara as well as highlighting the women’s wrestling scene in Japan with a 6 woman tag that include Aja Kong. A veteran in wresting and someone who even had a match at WWE Survivor Series in 1995.
The three main matches were Cody v Dustin Rhodes, brother vs brother. An absolute bloodbath of a match that saw the older Dustin get a nasty cut on his head from which blood literally pumped out of. A special moment came when the crowd all started chanting for the legendary Dusty Rhodes, Cody and Dutins father. A true wrestling great which saw both men genuinely overcome with emotion. The Young Bucks and The Lucha Bros. showed what tag team wrestling can be all about with a high flying hard hitting match. Then the headlining match of Kenny Omega v Chris Jericho. This was the second match these two have had, the first being the 5 star rated Wrestle Kingdom match in January of 2018.
What made all these matches special is that all competitors were free to put on the match they wanted to. Uninhibited by a writing team or an owner who has a grand vision that no one else subscribes to. This is what wrestling can be if it is allowed to be presented as intended. Not restricted to the point it does even seem anything close to a contest.
At the end of the day WWE is still the biggest wrestling promotion in the world run by a billionaire who will be around for along time however this is genuinely the start of something with AEW they are attracting the talent, they are presenting matches in a more realistic way with more believable outcomes where talent gets to genuinely show off their skills.
It’s an exciting time to be a wrestling fan. There is real competition out there now for WWE who if they aren’t careful could lose a lot of viewers to their shows and see them head to AEW.
AEW recently announce a tv deal in the US with TNT, Ted Turners company (the former owner or WCW) and long time rival of Vince McMahon. They’ve also announced their tv partner in the UK will be ITV which means high quality wrestling will be available on a free to air tv channel for the first time in years.