AEW has been a growing name in the world of wrestling, and they haven't even aired a single TV show. Don't worry though, we'll see that soon enough as the promotion officially inked a deal with Time-Warner to air a program on TNT, the old home of WCW. We're sure that news is giving Vince McMahon war flashbacks to the mid-to-late 1990s, but maybe, he doesn't see this as a big deal. So, in light of AEW's TV deal, we've decided to delve into why Vince McMahon should be scared, and why he shouldn't be.
It's been a long time since this has happened. In fact, if we're not counting TNA, this is the first time WWE's seen a real alternative since WCW. While Vince McMahon and company made it out of that dogfight alive, there was a point in time when it didn't seem that way. For McMahon, the thought of another wrestling promotion getting mainstream exposure could make him squirm.
On the bright side, AEW doesn't look like it wants to compete head-on with McMahon. In fact, they're branding themselves as an alternative to what's already out there. AEW doesn't want to get in a knock-down, drag-out fight with WWE, because that market is covered. Instead, they will focus more on the athletic component of wrestling, with an emphasis on wins, losses, and fight analysis.
Sure, there will be a little bit of crossover since the two companies promote wrestling, but outside of that, the experience looks to be vastly different.
When Vince McMahon competed with Ted Turner in the mid-to-late 1990s, he was but a lowly millionaire competing against a billionaire media giant. Now, McMahon is sitting pretty like a dragon on his hoards of cash as a bonafide billion-dollar man as well.
AEW is owned by Tony Khan, the son of Shahid Khan. The two co-own the Jacksonville Jaguars and have some serious cash. Not only that but Tony Khan already has contacts to help with marketing, advertisements, and that new TV deal he landed. For McMahon, this is a player on his level, if not higher. This isn't a fight McMahon can just throw money at because it just won't work.
WWE doesn't live or die by Vince McMahon anymore. Sure, he owns a majority of WWE's shares, but at the end of the day, the company is publically traded and has its hands in so many markets that wrestling is only a portion of what they do.
While a little competition might make investors a little squeamish, one has to assume that this could be the spark for another boom period, meaning there could be even more investment in the big, well-known company.
Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega Chris Jericho, Hangman Page, Pac (formerly Neville), Christopher Daniels and SoCal Uncensored, and Pentagon Jr. are just a few of the high-end names AEW has on their roster. That's a good starting point, and we're sure it's only going to get bigger. These are some of the most bankable names outside of the WWE today, and they can put on one hell of a show.
These names sold out All In with no TV deal, and they did it again for Double Or Nothing. These are absolute superstars, and they'll only get bigger with more exposure.
Let's not act like WWE's roster is a joke, however. Their main event scene is so crowded, they need two shows to populate it. With stars like AJ Styles, Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Rey Mysterio, Samoa Joe, Daniel Bryan, Kofi Kingston, Brock Lesnar and more, this is a company overloaded with talent. That's without mentioning their women's division, who features some of the best performers on the planet.
Not only that, they have legends like John Cena, The Rock, Triple H, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and Goldberg who they can call in when needed.
With the idea of AEW looming over the world of wrestling, underused Superstars have been rumored to be unhappy — some have spoken out about their desire to leave, while others have kept quiet. Regardless, WWE has been reluctant to let any talent walk. This has created a pretty bleak morale backstage according to reports.
With that said, these are just rumors, so none of this can be confirmed. Still, we can't wait to hear the shoot interviews five years from now detailing what it was like behind the curtain in WWE at this moment in time.
With all that in mind, WWE's done this song and dance before. In fact, right down to talent wanting to leave for greener pastures on TNT. It would be hard to imagine that, after literally buying his competition, Vince McMahon wouldn't feel at least a little bit confident walking into this fight.
Sure, it might not be direct competition, but we know that deep down inside, McMahon wants his company to be on top forever.
AEW does have one really big thing going for it — it's new. This is a big deal in wrestling because, well, fans like shiny toys. There's something exciting about this promotion, and unless they fail to deliver on the hype, all the momentum in the world is on their side. That counts for something.
Despite that, WWE is still the established name. They have a history that dates back to the 1950s. They were at the forefront of nationally distributed wrestling, and they changed the game with WrestleMania. Because of this longevity, WWE has managed to keep one foot in popular culture while still providing a very niche source of entertainment. The biggest name in Hollywood, The Rock, got his start under Vince McMahon's employment and the new big star, John Cena did too. At some point or another, most people have at least heard names like The Undertaker, or Hulk Hogan, and that's because WWE has built-in name recognition.