So you’ve heard of this All Out event happening on Saturday, August 31. You’ve heard people talking about AEW, Being the Elite, and Kenny Omega, and wrestling fans seem truly excited about it. You’ve seen people with AEW t-shirts. But you aren’t sure what AEW is or why you should be watching. Don’t worry! WhoASKD is here to help. I’m going to go through everything that you need to know to get into the new wrestling phenomenon that is AEW.
Where Did AEW Come From?
The story of AEW is actually about a group of guys simply proving to the world that they could do it. The story starts in 2017 when a wrestling journalist, Dave Meltzer, commented that Ring of Honour (ROH), a smaller wrestling promotion, could not sell 10,000 seat for a show. Some of the contracted talent at ROH – Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson) responded by promoting and holding a wrestling event called “All In” in September 2018, featuring talent from a number of different wrestling organizations. Astonishingly, it sold out in 30 minutes and was attended by over 11,000 people.
As a result of the success of All In, Cody and the Bucks decided to try and make their own wrestling promotion and left ROH. That promotion, All-Elite Wrestling, officially launched on January 1, 2019, with Cody and the Bucks serving as executive VPs in addition to being in-ring talent. Their main investor was Shahid Khan, whose son Tony is the company’s president and CEO. The Khans are the billionaire owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tony is an avid wrestling fan. So there’s plenty of money backing up AEW, giving it a real chance of being a contender on the playing field with WWE.
Cody and the Young Bucks announce the creation of AEW
But why should you watch? The best reason is that the company is making a strong effort to be different from other wrestling promotions, especially WWE, both in the ring and out of the ring. For the in-ring product, AEW will not have scripted promos like the WWE does, giving its talent more freedom in their characters. AEW places a stronger emphasis on the sport component of professional wrestling, making the wins and losses matter, and concentrating on in-ring storytelling. The tag team division will actually be important. Brandi Rhodes, Cody’s wife and Chief Brand Officer, stated that AEW will have less backstage “soapy” drama than WWE. The focus will be on excellent matches and drama in the ring. They’ve already earned one five-star match from Dave Meltzer, which ties them with the WWE’s main roster total in the last nine years.
AEW is making a difference outside the ring too. On its formation, Cody Rhodes claimed that AEW will pay for 100 percent of the medical costs for its performers, unlike WWE. They will also cycle talent so wrestlers can get breaks, and reduce wear and tear on their bodies. Wrestlers will ostensibly be paid enough to cover necessities on their own. The company bills itself as a safe space for everyone, both talent and fans. This includes having talent that are openly transgender or gay, and providing sensory break areas for fans with autism at their events. The company even donated all the proceeds from the gate at their Fight for the Fallen event to victims of gun violence. You can actually feel good about supporting a company like AEW instead of compromising your ethics watching a company like WWE that touts the women’s revolution on one hand and hold constant events in Saudi Arabia where women barely have any rights to speak of.
Who Wrestles in AEW?
Well, I’m glad you asked. You see, in my opinion, AEW has some of the absolute best wrestlers on the planet today signed to the promotion. I’ll try very hard not to sound like too much of a fanboy here, but they really are that good. One of them is former WWE wrestler Chris Jericho. If you’ve watched WWE over the past few years, you will also recognize Cody Rhodes, Jon Moxley (the former Dean Ambrose) and Pac (formerly Adrian Neville). But there are a number of wrestlers you might not know if all you’ve watched before is WWE. Here’s just a few of the main players with AEW.
Kenny Omega is widely considered the best wrestler in the world today. Not only is he a phenomenal talent in terms of pure skill and moveset, but he also has an exceptional understanding of in-ring psychology and storytelling. His promo skills are just as good, making him a truly all-around wrestler. He was Sports Illustrated’s Wrestler of the Year in 2017, and named top wrestler in 2018 by both Pro Wrestling Illustrated and the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Kenny rose to prominence while wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling as part of the Bullet Club faction. You’ve probably seen Bullet Club shirts at wrestling events. When Kenny became the leader of that faction, he formed the Elite with Matt and Nick Jackson, the Young Bucks. The Elite is a still a group in AEW today. New Japan is also where Kenny had a number of matches with Kazuchida Okada in 2018 that are widely regarded as the best series of wrestling matches of all time.
Kenny’s the kind of person who wants to see something different in wrestling, somethings that’s an alternative to the standard WWE style. As he told the Business Times in 2018, “I am sort of very much a part of representing an alternative. If my motivation was money, I would already be in the WWE. I was down on the current product and I wanted to create a style and have matches that my friends, my family and other athletes could watch and enjoy.” He’s been offered WWE contracts five times, most recently in January 2019, and turned them down every single time. For Kenny Omega, the art and creativity of wrestling is his main driving factor, and it shows in his work.
If you need another reason to love Kenny Omega, he is an avid video gamer, and frequently attends gamer conventions. Elements of video game characters are often incorporated into his ring gear, and sometimes even his moveset, including his One-Winged Angel finishing move, a reference to Sephiroth, the villain of Final Fantasy VII. He leads a clean lifestyle, abstaining from alcohol, drugs and tobacco. Finally, if you need any icing on this cake, he’s Canadian, heralding from Winnipeg, the same city that gave us Chris Jericho.
The Young Bucks
Not only does AEW have the best wrestler in the world with Kenny Omega, they also have the best tag team in the world with the Young Bucks. The team is made up of real-life brothers Matt and Nick Jackson. They’re perhaps the premier high-flying tag team you will find anywhere. However, they’re not just high-fliers. In recent years, they have become excellent in-ring storytellers too, making their matches even more exceptional. They’ve been the Wrestling Observer’s Tag Team of the Year every year since 2014, and Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s top team in 2017 and 2018.
Like Kenny Omega, the Bucks rose to prominence in New Japan Pro Wrestling. They were actually close to retiring from the wrestling business before they went to Japan due to a lack of ability for them to get bookings with any promotions. However, once they started to wrestle in New Japan, everything changed and they became in high demand in the US too, mainly with Ring of Honor wrestling. They joined the Bullet Club faction and soon formed the Elite with Kenny Omega.
The Bucks are incredibly important to AEW. Without the Young Bucks, All In would never have happened. AEW wouldn’t exist. It really is that simple. Kenny Omega would not be anywhere near as popular in North America as he is now. Cody Rhodes wouldn’t make the impact that he did after leaving the WWE. Adam Page would remain a mid-carder in Ring of Honor. I realize that’s a lot for me to claim, but I have a good reason for saying this: Being The Elite.
Being the Elite made AEW possible. It is the Young Bucks’ YouTube show, and it debuted in May 2016 when they were part of NJPW. It started out as more of a travel blog of the Bucks’ life on the road, but soon morphed into something more. It began to include skits and storylines involving the Bullet Club and the Elite. It even became the main source of wrestling angles like the Elite kicking Adam Cole out of the Bullet Club. All In was promoted through Being the Elite. Today, the show serves as a promotional vehicle for AEW, introducing fans to many of the wrestlers signed there, while still being about the Bucks’ lives. There is a real element of humour in the show too. It’s solid entertainment, and a must-see for anyone interested in AEW. Being the Elite is the reason that this wrestling promotion can get so much buzz and excitement surrounding it without any kind of weekly TV show like WWE, Ring of Honor and Impact Wrestling all have.
“Hangman” Adam Page
Adam Page is a high school teacher turned wrestler. Page came up through Ring of Honor, and also joined the Bullet Club in the New Japan-ROH crossover of talent. He was the only member that completely supported Cody Rhodes in his attempt to take over the leadership from Kenny Omega. His rise to prominence didn’t happen though until he was the centre point of a storyline on Being The Elite involving his disappearance. For a while, he was the focal point of the show and his popularity skyrocketed.
He’s essentially very good at playing a good guy. He’s got the toughness and charisma to be a main eventer. He’s young, with a very bright future ahead of him. A solid wrestler, he also cuts good promos, and he has nowhere to go but up. Look for him to be the potential face of the company, a journey which might begin if he defeats Jericho at All Out and becomes the first AEW World Champion.
SoCal Uncensored, or SCU, is a team made up of (l-r in the picutre) Frankie Kazarian, Christopher Daniels, and Scorpio Sky. Daniels and Kazarian are long time ring veterans, having been with almost every major North Amercan promotion other than the WWE at one time or another, mainly with Ring of Honor before they joined AEW. The pair became a tag team in 2011. Sky joined them in 2017, officially creating SCU. Like Adam Page, their fame rose after appearing on Being The Elite that May, and they became staples of the show after that. It was that first appearance which gave the group their catchphrase, “This is the worst town I’ve ever been in.”
All three of them are solid wrestlers, with Sky being the more agile high-flier of the group. Daniels and Kazarian are experts at tag team double team maneuvers. You won’t be disappointed watching them in or out of the ring.
So these are just a few of the best wrestlers at AEW. There are so many I didn’t detail, but I can’t possibly talk about every one of them. They have a stacked female roster with the likes of Britt Baker, who is also a real-life dentist, Allie, and Japanese sensation Riho. The number of young talents that AEW has is impressive, including Maxwell Jacob Friendman, aka MJF, who is quite possibly the best heel promo in the business today, professional skateboarder-turned-wrestling daredevil Darby Allin, Luke Perry’s son Jungle Boy, and indy-scene mainstay Joey Janela. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention one of my personal favourite wrestlers, Brandon Cutler, a Being The Elite regular who is not only amazing in the ring, but is also an avid Dungeons & Dragons and video game fan outside the ring.
The Young Bucks face AAA’s Lucha Bros. in a ladder match at All Out for the AAA Tag Team Championship
AEW also has two official partners, Oriental Wrestling Entertainment (OWE), an fairly new Chinese wrestling company and Lucha Libre AAA, a large Mexican wrestling company. Having these partners means that we will see wrestlers from both these companies wrestle in AEW, including the Lucha Brothers, real-life brothers Fenix and Pentagon Jr., who give the Bucks a run for their money as world’s best tag team.
Where Can I Watch?
Well, until October 2 when they make their television debut on TNT, you can only find AEW in a couple of places. All of their big events, like Double or Nothing and Fyter Fest can be found on BRlive.com. The official AEW YouTube channel has their “Road To” videos, which is where you’ll find interviews and storyline developments for upcoming shows, including All Out. And of course, there’s Being The Elite.
AEW has the potential to seriously shake up the wrestling industry, perhaps giving WWE its first real competition since WCW folded in March 2001. The next year should be very interesting for wrestling fans. I’m really looking forward to it. I hope you are too.