WWE has been the premier wrestling brand ever since Vincent Kennedy McMahon went from state to state, buying federations, making the at the time WWF the premier brand. In the mid 90’s however, WCW boomed in popularity, temporarily beating the WWF in ratings, but after the “Attitude Era” began, and with WCW dwindling in popularity, and eventually being bought by the WWF, the WWF never had a competitor close to the level of the WWF/WWE, until now.
In 2017, Dave Meltzer, one of the most popular wrestling journalists for many decades now, said that the wrestling promotion ROH (Ring Of Honor) could not sell 10,000 tickets for a wrestling event. Popular ROH stars the Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes took this challenge from Dave, and devised the plan for a wrestling PPV named “All In”, that took place in September of 2018. This event was a mega hit, attended by 11,263 people, the most for an event not held by WWE or WCW since 1993.
The huge success of the PPV led to the idea of a new wrestling promotion, based on the Young Bucks famous YouTube Series Being The Elite, All Elite Wrestling. In January of 2019, Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks signed with the company as vice presidents, with Tony Khan, an entrepreneur and the son of the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was announced as the president. In February, another vice-president was announced, Kenny Omega, who is one of the biggest stars of all-time who never wrestled in a WWE ring. They announced their second PPV, Double Or Nothing, which took place on May 25, 2019. They signed with WarnerMedia, and had their debut episode of AEW: Dynamite on October 2nd, 2019, where they dominated rival WWE’s NXT in ratings, and the rest is history.
AEW’s strongest part of their company, is their roster. With the Elite being the ones to begin the party, they already had some of the biggest independent stars to work with. People like Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, The Lucha Bros, The Best Friends, and their partnership with AAA, a Mexico based wrestling promotion, they had a multitude of people to work with. They also were blessed by some people who had just left the WWE like Chris Jericho, their inaugural champion. They also had a star-studded commentary team, signing the likes of Jim Ross, a WWE Hall of Famer, Tony Schiavone, the former voice of WCW, and Excalibur, a popular commentator among hardcore wrestling fans.
Another strong point of the company is their wrestling. The WWE calls their product “sports entertainment”. They don’t even like saying the word wrestling on their show. AEW on the other hand, is built on it. They have had many classics in their short time on air, such as Young Bucks Vs Kenny Omega & Hangman Page, Cody Vs Dustin Rhodes, Britt Baker Vs Thunder Rosa. AEW tries to prioritize wrestling above all else but at the same time, they have amazing promos and backstage segments.
The thing everyone is enjoying the most about AEW, are the debuts, which they have been amazing at. Whether it be Jon Moxley’s debut at AEW’s first PPV, or Sting coming out of retirement, AEW caters to fans with the amazing pickups they have done. It is a cycle nowadays, WWE releases popular stars from their company, they wait out the remainder of their contract, and then they have their debut on AEW. It isn’t only people from WWE however, AEW has worked with many companies in their history, like Japans NJPW, or Impact Wrestling. A common phrase that AEW has is that they don’t have a forbidden door. They welcome other companies to have a partnership with them, because they love to cater to the fans, which is something the WWE has had trouble doing recently.
AEW has been the best thing to happen to professional wrestling in the past couple of years, and with their PPV Full Gear coming up Saturday, November 13, it looks like they’ll stick around for hopefully a long time.