The game has changed.
For years, World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) and Vince McMahon has sat peacefully on top of the mountain, when it comes to Professional Wrestling, conquering the likes of Total Non-Stop Action Impact Wrestling (TNA), New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) and Ring Of Honor (ROH). The dust has settled on NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 in Tokyo, Japan, and the day has finally arrived. All Elite Wrestling (AEW), formed by Cody Rhodes, Matt & Nick Jackson, is here.
Today marked the official start to “All Elite Wrestling”, as the group held their first official press conference in Jacksonville, Florida, announcing the newest members to their elite roster. Cody Rhodes, alongside The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson) were all but set to jump over to AEW, however, there were a few surprises today at the rally, as some new faces emerged onto the scene.
PAC, formerly known as Neville in WWE, has found a new home in AEW, signing a contract and talking to the fans about his cross over to the independent scene, where he’s spent the past few years churning out classics with the best on the indy scene. Marty Scurll will be joining Rhodes and The Young Bucks as part of “The Elite” jumping ship from New Japan Pro Wrestling, where they have spent the past 3 years forming their legacy’s across the globe.
Another member of “The Elite”, Kenny Omega, has yet to sign his contract and jump over to AEW with his fellow Elite members, as he has yet to decline his offer from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) as he is set to meet with Chairman & CEO, Vince McMahon & Triple H later on in the month.
PAC was not the only surprise of the afternoon, however, as for the first time since leaving WCW, the Ayatollah of Rock n’ Rolla, 6-Time WWE World Champion & Former IWGP Intercontinental Champion, Chris Jericho, will compete for a non-WWE related wrestling business consistently in the United States as AEW’s newest Pro-Wrestler. Rumors have also been swirling around that Former WWE/WCW World Champion, Goldberg, has been linked to the newest wrestling promotion as well. The current roster is as follows:
– Cody Rhodes
– Nick Jackson
– Matt Jackson
– Adam “Hangman” Page
– Britt Bake
– Chris Jericho
– PAC – Known as Neville in WWE
– Brandi Rhodes
– Joey Janela
– Penelope Ford
– Christopher Daniels
– Scorpio Sky
– Frankie Kazarian
AEW’s second official event will take place on May 25, 2019 at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada as Cody Rhodes, Chris Jericho, The Young Bucks, Neville, among others are all advertised.
The company’s first official event, “ALL IN”, took place back on September 2, 2018 at the All-State Arena in Chicago, Illinois as Cody Rhodes headlined that event by defeating Nick Aldis to capture the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. Kenny Omega appeared at the event, defeated Pentagon Jr. in one-on-one action, with Chris Jericho making a shocking appearance after the match, dressed as Pentagon to attacked Omega before flying out to Wichita, Kansas for a rock show with his band, Fozzy.
Time will tell, whether or not All Elite Wrestling can compete with WWE. It will take some time to get adjusted at first, but this seems to have the potential to become the first wrestling brand to compete with its top dog (WWE) for the first time since the Monday night wars between WWE and WCW back in 1997. Given the current product, WWE has a lot of work to do if they want to remain the top dog in the fight, not to mention all of the bridges that they have burned with top name talents over the years.
Current WWE Superstar and Former IWGP World Champion, AJ Styles, is currently in the midst of a rivalry with current WWE Champion, Daniel Bryan, and is set to go one-on-one with the submission specialist on January 27th at the Royal Rumble event in Phoenix, Arizona at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field. However, as Styles gears towards WrestleMania XXXV at MetLife Stadium, his current WWE contract is set to come to an end, and as of this moment, Styles has made no indication whether or not he will re-sign with the company, especially now with the launch All Elite Wrestling. Styles’ Bullet Club members, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, are also finishing up their current deals in WWE, and it seems as if they would be more likely to align themselves with AEW, as opposed to Styles.
Finn Balor is another name that may intrigue AEW’s fanbase, as Balor has been the victim of very poor character booking ever since his arrival on the main roster in WWE, after competing in NJPW for a number of years, as well as in WWE NXT. If Rhodes can steer all former members of the Bullet Club away from the McMahon’s, we may be in the midst of something special when it comes to the AEW brand.
A few other WWE names that could potentially succeed in AEW include Dolph Ziggler, who has always entertained the idea of leaving WWE, as he has felt mis-used at times and has always felt that he was one of the top work horses in the business. Ziggler would provide the type of guy that AEW is looking for, in a hungry, driven and passionate wrestler. Zack Ryder has been with WWE for over a decade now, however, has yet to receive any type of a big push from Vince McMahon, which could ultimately steer him in AEW’s direction, as he has also been known to stake his claim as one of the hardest workers in the room.
Mike Bennett, Maria Kanellis, Andrade Cien Almas, Rusev, Kevin Owens, the list goes on and on. There are currently a number of superstars that are not happy with their current roles in the company, and may want to think about jumping ship. All Elite Wrestling has existed for all of about one week, and they have already made many pro wrestling fans out there think, “Is WWE worried?” They should be.
Especially, if Cody Rhodes can reel in the man who has been absent from the professional wrestling business for the past 5 years, and a man who has since gone on to compete in the UFC on multiple occasions, CM Punk. Punk held the WWE Championship for 434 days, spanning from 2011 to 2013, making him the longest reigning world champion in the modern era. Brock Lesnar has since broken Punk’s record, holding the WWE Universal Championship for 504 days, however did not defend the title or show up for work as nearly as much as the “best in the world” did.
CM Punk was invited to appear at the ‘ALL IN” event put together by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks back in September, however, the second city saint did not see it as an invitation or an “offer”. He did appear at the “ALL IN” meet and greet event, as he signed autographs and took pictures with fans, indicating that he may be interested in the idea of appearing for the promotion one day. Punk never did get his closure in WWE, leaving the company nearly 5 years ago, on the night after the 2014 Royal Rumble event, moments before the start of Monday Night Raw. Joining AEW would not only give Punk the opportunity to gain closure in his heating rivalry with the McMahon’s, but may give him the opportunity to regain a certain level of passion for the sport he was apart of for so many years, as well as getting the chance to wrestle those who had never previously been in the ring with.
If AEW can pull off the signing of CM Punk, we may get the chance to witness some of the dream matches that we have been waiting for since Punk left WWE back in 2014. Dream matches we never thought would happen, like CM Punk vs Kenny Omega. Two men who have excelled in each of their promotions over the last decade, with Punk in WWE and Omega in NJPW, a Punk/Omega contest may send shockwaves throughout the brand known as All Elite Wrestling, not to mention a CM Punk/AJ Styles feud (goosebumps).
Though it’s only the beginning of a very long road, it has been one hell of a start. All Elite Wrestling has already made itself known as a contender to Vince McMahon’s global phenomenon, and if booking does not improve over the next year, we may see some fans jump ship over to Cody Rhodes’ promotion, as well as some of Vince’s current talent.
The game has changed. For the first time in over 20 years, World Wrestling Entertainment has serious competition at the front door step, and if they aren’t worried yet, they will be.