All Elite Wrestling: A Guide to Wrestling’s New Contender

AEW is wrestling's latest x-factor, causing shockwaves in the wrestling industry, but what is it all about? We have the answers.

All Elite Wrestling Everything You Need to Know Guide

The pro wrestling world has been given what’s felt like a hopeful shot in the arm with the sudden emergence of All Elite Wrestling, otherwise known as AEW. In a time when WWE has cratered in creativity, IMPACT has become an afterthought on life-support, Lucha Underground is dead in the water, and Ring of Honor is just…a thing that exists, your best options are to figure out how to watch New Japan Pro Wrestling, follow whichever indie promotions suit your needs, or keep an eye on AEW.

AEW has good money behind it, strong word of mouth, and some forward momentum. It could be the next big thing or it could be just a flash in the pan. Either way, it’s a critical moment in wrestling history.

AEW Guide - Cody and Young Bucks

WHO RUNS AEW?

AEW is owned by Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars and that damn fine mustache. His son Tony Khan is the President and CEO. The Executive Vice Presidents of the company are Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and Kenny Omega (all of whom wrestle for the promotion). Brandi Rhodes is AEW’s Chief Brand Officer.

AEW Guide - Cody's Bucket List

WHERE DID AEW EVEN COME FROM?

In mid-2016, Cody Rhodes requested his release from WWE, feeling frustrated over being stuck in the mid-card and not being allowed to escape his long-after-the-expiration-date gimmick of Stardust. Having his release granted, he posted on social media an image of his bucket list, showing a list of indie wrestling names and concepts he wanted to deal with, like wrestle Dalton Castle or take part in PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles tournament. In the years that followed, he and his wife Brandi traveled around the world and took part in various promotions, including ROH, IMPACT, and NJPW.

Ad – content continues below

Cody became part of the Bullet Club stable and, with that, associated with the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) and Kenny Omega. These guys also had rough histories with WWE in the form of a couple near-misses. Omega spent some time in pre-NXT developmental before leaving on his own accord, unhappy with how things were handled. The Young Bucks were in talks to sign with WWE, but wanted a guarantee that they wouldn’t be broken up, and considering how much of an afterthought the company treats their tag teams, that didn’t go over well. Omega went on to become one of the biggest wrestling stars in the world to not be on WWE’s roster and the Young Bucks are such a beloved tag team that they even have their merchandise sold at Hot Topic.

In 2017, wrestling news guy and historian Dave Meltzer mentioned that an independent wrestling show would never be able to sell out a 10,000 seat arena in the US. Cody and the Bucks decided to take him up on that challenge and put together a PPV at the Sears Centre Arena on September 1, 2018. The event, All In, featured names from ROH, NJPW, AAA, IMPACT, NWA, and other non-WWE promotions. The show did a respectable buy rate at 50,000, was critically lauded, and even sold out in about a half hour in an arena that fit over 11,000 seats.

Knowing that there was a paying audience for what they wanted to do, Cody and the Bucks got together with the Khan family to keep that momentum going. On January 1, 2019, AEW was formally announced. In the months that followed, more details came out about the promotion, including their first event, their signees, their eventual TV deal, and the inclusion of Kenny Omega as an executive and part of the roster.

Their first official show was Double or Nothing on May 25, which was a fitting name as it about doubled All In’s buy rate. It was deemed the biggest wrestling PPV in history that wasn’t produced by WWE or WCW.

read more: All Elite Wrestling (AEW) Officially Launches

AEW on TNT

WHERE CAN I WATCH AEW? IS IT ON TV?

On May 15, it was announced that AEW will start airing live for two hours every week on TNT. On October 2, AEW Wednesday Night Dynamite began. Also, on the following Tuesdays, their YouTube channel will air AEW Dark, which features the dark matches taped before and after the live shows. These matches are all part of the canon, as AEW puts emphasis on win-loss records.

Ad – content continues below

In the months before Dynamite started, AEW had more rampant PPVs to keep people’s attention on the brand. First up was their major show Double or Nothing, which was followed by free (or cheap, depending on what country you’re in) shows Fyter Fest and Fight for the Fallen. All Out came next and was their last big event before Dynamite‘s debut. With a regular TV show, PPVs will now take place 4-5 times a month, including Full Gear in November.

PPVs are available on Fite.TV and Bleacher Report Live.

read more: AEW will begin airing a weekly show on TNT later this year

IS IT TRUE THAT I NEED TO FOLLOW THEM ON YOUTUBE TOO?

Well, there’s definitely some extra stuff out there that adds to the experience. Before Dynamite, fans had to rely on YouTube just to follow the storylines and the builds for the PPV matches.

First is the basic All Elite Wrestling channel. There are some promos and video packages for upcoming matches and events. Occasionally, they throw in some special videos like the Buy In pre-show for Double or Nothing and matches from other promotions that play into AEW storylines. Most importantly, it features the “Road to [Show]” videos, which are like fictional documentaries about putting together the next big event. This tends to include lengthy promos from wrestlers, especially for those we know little about. A good way to get to know the talent.

As mentioned earlier, on Tuesday nights, they will put up AEW Dark, which is a collection of dark matches filmed the previous Wednesday.

Ad – content continues below

Then there’s Nightmare Family, Cody and Brandi’s channel. It’s where the older episodes of the “Road to” shows went before they realized it made more sense to put it on the official channel. Otherwise, it’s just Brandi doing cooking videos nowadays.

Last but not least is Being the Elite. This channel put together by the Young Bucks is partially a documentary of their lives on the road and partially the Jackson brothers and their wrestling friends goofing around with comedy sketches. These tie into AEW storylines and are used to build up towards future shows.

Moxley and Jericho on WWE

AS SOMEONE WHO ONLY KNOWS WWE, WOULD I KNOW ANYONE ON THE ROSTER?

Of course, there is Cody Rhodes and Brandi Rhodes. Though Cody just goes by his first name due to weird rights issues. Dustin Rhodes arrived soon enough, leaving his life as Goldust behind. Chris Jericho is one of the top stars, as is Jon Moxley (the former Dean Ambrose). Then you have the likes of Shawn Spears (Tye Dillinger), Trent Beretta, Awesome Kong (Kharma), PAC (Neville), and Jack Hagar (Jack Swagger).

Jim Ross and Tony Schiavone part of the commentary team and Justin Roberts is the ring announcer.

AEW - Fenix and Pentagon

OKAY, THEN WHAT’S THE ROSTER LOOK LIKE?

Here’s a look at the current roster off their official site.

What’s important is that one tag team is made up of a wrestling dinosaur and his Tarzan-like partner, who also happens to be the son of Luke Perry. You have a luchador version of Scorpion from Mortal Kombat and his undying brother. There are two librarians whose gimmick is partially meta in the sense that they know it’s stupid. There’s a weird cult of spooky guys in masks. A guy in a scarf who acts like the biggest dickhead ever. A self-destructive party boy who dresses like he walked out of the 1980s. A cowboy who will ride an actual horse to the ring.

Ad – content continues below

Lots of interesting fighters.

AEW Championship Belt

WHO ARE THE AEW CHAMPIONS?

The AEW Heavyweight Championship belt was shown off at Double or Nothing. At the show, Adam Page and Chris Jericho each advanced to crown the inaugural champion. At All Out, Jericho defeated Page to be crowned the first ever champ.

The AEW Women’s Championship was revealed at All Out. Nyla Rose and Riho each earned victories at that show and it was established that they would compete for the title at the very first installment of Dynamite. Riho came out of it the winner.

The AEW Tag Team Championship will be decided via a seven-team tournament. At All Out, the Dark Order earned a bye.

AEW Fyter Fest

WHAT ARE AEW’S EXISTING SHOWS?

So, All In isn’t technically AEW, but we’ll count it here due to its importance as a prototype.

ALL IN (9/1/18)

The Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe and Mark Briscoe) vs. SoCal Uncensored (Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky)Over Budget Battle Royale to determine the #1 contender to the ROH World ChampionshipMatt Cross vs. Maxwell Jacob FriedmanStephen Amell vs. Christopher DanielsDr. Britt Baker vs. Tessa Blanchard vs. Chelsea Green vs. Madison RayneNick Aldis (c) vs. Cody for the NWA Heavyweight ChampionshipHangman Page vs. Joey Janela in a Chicago Street FightJay Lethal (c) vs. the winner of the Over Budget Battle RoyaleKenny Omega vs. Penta El ZeroKazuchika Okada vs. Marty ScurllThe Golden Elite (Kota Ibushi, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson) vs. Bandido, Rey Fenix, and Rey Mysterio

Ad – content continues below

DOUBLE OR NOTHING (5/25/19)

Casino Battle Royale for a shot at the inaugural AEW World ChampionshipSammy Guevar a vs. Kip SabianSoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daneils, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky) vs. Strong Hearts (Cima, T-Hawk, and El Lindaman)Awesome Kong vs. Dr. Britt Baker vs. Kylie Rae vs. Nyla RoseAngelico and Jack Evans vs. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta)Aja Kong, Emi Sakura, and Yuka Sakazaki vs. Riho, Ryo Mizumani, and Hikaru ShidaCody vs. Dustin RhodesThe Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) (c) vs. The Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr. and Rey Fenix) for the AAA Tag Team ChampionshipChris Jericho vs. Kenny Omega for a shot at the inaugural AEW World Championship

FYTER FEST (6/28/19)

Michael Nakazawa vs. Alex Jebailey in a hardcore matchCody vs. Darby AllinThe Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson, and Nick Jackson) vs. The Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr and Rey Fenix) and Laredo KidJon Moxley vs. Jey JanelaAdam Page vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Jungle Boy vs. MJFChristopher Daniels vs. CimaYuka Sakazaki vs. Riho vs. Nyla RoseBest Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Baretta) vs. SoCal Uncensored (Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) vs. Private Party (Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen) for an opportunity to earn a bye for the AEW Tag Team Championship tournamentAllie vs. Leva Bates

FIGHT FOR THE FALLEN (7/13/19)

Peter Avalon vs. Sonny KissBea Priestley and Shoko Nakajima vs. Dr. Britt Baker and RihoDarby Allin, Jimmy Havoc, and Joey Janela vs. MJF, Sammy Guevara, and Shawn SpearsAllie vs. Brandi RhodesAngelico and Jack Evans vs. A Boy and His Dinosaur (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus) vs. The Dark Order (Evil Uno and Stu Grayson) for an opportunity to earn a bye for the AEW Tag Team Championship tournamentAdam Page vs. Kip SabianLucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr and Fenix) vs. SoCal Uncensored (Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky)Cima vs. Kenny OmegaThe Brotherhood (Cody and Dustin Rhodes) vs. The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson)

ALL OUT (8/31/19)

Casino Battle Royale for a shot at the inaugural AEW Women’s World ChampionshipAngelico and Jack Evans vs. Private Party (Isiah Kassidy and Marq Quen)Jurassic Express (Marko Stunt, Jungle Boy, and Luchasaurus) vs. SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daneils, Frankie Kazarian, and Scorpio Sky)Kenny Omega vs. PACDarby Allin vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. Joey Janela in a Cracker Barrel ClashBest Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta) vs. Dark Order (Evil Uno and Stu Grayson) where the winners receive a first round bye in the AEW World Tag Team Championship tournamentRiho vs. Hikaru Shida for a shot at the inaugural AEW Women’s World ChampionshipCody vs. Shawn SpearsLucha Brothers (Pentagon Jr. and Fenix) vs. Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) in a ladder match for the AAA World Tag Team ChampionshipChris Jericho vs. Adam Page for the inaugural AEW World Championship

TNA Wrestling

SO WHAT MAKES YOU THINK THIS ISN’T JUST TNA ALL OVER AGAIN?

The narrative appears to be that AEW is going to be the new WCW. Of course, TNA tried to fill that void back in 2002 and that didn’t exactly work out for them. There are other similarities on the surface, like how Cody can be compared to Jeff Jarrett and TNA is also a company that started with a series of PPVs before moving to a widely-available TV channel.

The differences are more striking. TNA arrived when WWE won the big war and were coasting on how much potential they had from picking WCW’s scraps. AEW is arriving at a time when WWE is at its weakest and people are desperate for an alternative. They’ve busted out the gate with impressive demand.

Ad – content continues below

TNA’s repeated downfalls mainly came from those who mortally wounded WCW to begin with and WWE didn’t want on their payroll. They would grab any WWE castaway and push them over their own talent. These days, things seem to be reversed. Morale is so low in WWE that people are chomping at the bit to get out of their contracts and head to AEW.

We might actually see some real competition out there and positive ramifications! By golly, it’s been a while.

HAS THERE BEEN ANY RESPONSE FROM WWE?

It took a while and it was very rare for WWE to reference TNA and usually it was in a joking way. With AEW, it’s very different, and while some argue that AEW intentionally poked the bear, others will point out that WWE probably would have pushed back at them regardless.

First it was minor stuff. Sami Zayn was doing a interview segment on Raw and he said the fans could ask him anything, even about AEW. Not liking the response to the bit, that line was removed from the YouTube replay. During a conference with the shareholders, Vince McMahon referenced AEW, albeit not by name, and noted that their “blood and guts” product was not going to last them very long on TV.

On the bigger side, WWE has started counter-programming AEW. For Fight for the Fallen, WWE aired Evolve’s 10th anniversary show on the WWE Network…despite it not really being near the anniversary for the promotion’s start. Though earlier in the day, an NXT UK PPV was aired on the date of All Out. It was also announced that NXT would be moved to USA on Wednesday nights, go to two hours, and be regularly live…all while AEW would have their own show at that time. Some would call it coincidence, but I surely wouldn’t.

Gavin Jasper writes for Den of Geek and can’t believe that there’s a Moon Boy and Devil Dinosaur in wrestling in the year 2019. Read more of his articles here and follow him on Twitter @Gavin4L

Ad – content continues below