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WNS Column: How Successful Can All Elite Wrestling Realistically Be?

Posted By: Caylon Knox on Jan 01, 2019

WNS Column: How Successful Can All Elite Wrestling Realistically Be?

As wrestling fans are aware, the existence of a new wrestling promotion called All Elite Wrestling has been officially confirmed by the faction known as The Elite, currently consisting of "The American Nightmare" Cody Rhodes, Matt and Nick Jackson, Adam "Hangman" Page, "The Villain" Marty Scurll and "The Cleaner" Kenny Omega. It's also seemingly been confirmed that the trio SoCal Uncensored (Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky and Christopher Daniels) will also be working for the promotion as well.

This new company is reportedly being funded by billionaire Shahid "Shad" Khan and his son, Tony.

On the surface, it appears as though AEW is off to a great start. They have financial resources, they have a solid, core group of talent to start out with, and they have created a buzz within the wrestling industry. However, before we get our hopes up too high, let's not forget what we've seen with both IMPACT Wrestling and even Global Force Wrestling over the years.

IMPACT used to be financially supported by their former President, Dixie Carter, as well as her parents, Bob and Janice Carter of Panda Energy. Although IMPACT was originally founded by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett, the Carter Family were the ones who financially saved the promotion from going out of business for many years. For over a decade, IMPACT was recognized as the number two wrestling promotion in the United States behind WWE when IMPACT was on Paramount Network (formerly known as Spike TV).

IMPACT Wrestling had a spectacular roster throughout the years, consisting of both legends of the past and new stars that would take over the wrestling business in the future.

IMPACT Wresting has also been considered to be, quite possibly, the biggest failure in professional wrestling history. How the promotion is even still active at this point is mind-boggling. Jeff Jarrett is no longer affiliated with it at all. The Carter Family is no longer really affiliated with it. IMPACT is now owned by Anthem Sports & Entertainment Corporation. While Anthem seems to be doing the best they can with it, the fact of the matter is that IMPACT Wrestling is a dead brand. The roster that IMPACT once boasted has been severely depleted. They left Spike TV for Destination America, and then Pop TV, and now they're heading to the Pursuit Channel, which is a channel that virtually NOBODY HAS.

IMPACT once had the financial resources. IMPACT once had an incredible talent roster. IMPACT once had a great television deal on Spike TV. IMPACT now has next to nothing.

After leaving IMPACT Wrestling, Jeff Jarrett unveiled Global Force Wrestling in the early part of 2014. At that time, Jarrett was able to create a decent amount of buzz and excitement about GFW. There were rumors that he was in negotiations with Toby Keith about being a financial backer, and possibly with CMT about airing the promotion on that network. Jarrett even went as far as to secure working relationships with major promotions around the world for talent exchanges and co-promotional events. It appeared as though there might be a chance that GFW would become a solid alternative to WWE in the United States, very much along the lines of IMPACT or Ring of Honor Wrestling.

With the exception of a very brief working relationship with IMPACT Wrestling in 2017, Global Force Wrestling hasn't done much of anything in the U.S.

GFW still technically exists. They worked with the National Wrestling Alliance for the NWA's 70th Anniversary Show in October of 2018. They run small events sporadically. Who do they have on their roster? Does anybody know?

Despite the initial buzz that was generated in 2014, Global Force Wrestling turned out to be a flop. They never got on television, they have no real roster to speak of at this time, and they barely run events anymore.

IMPACT Wrestling and Global Force Wrestling. Both of these promotions captured the attention of the wrestling world at one time or another. They both seemed like they might have a real chance at succeeding and being a solid alternative to WWE. IMPACT is now in absolute obscurity, and GFW really only exists in name alone at this point.

However, this does not mean that All Elite Wrestling is destined to suffer the same fate as IMPACT and GFW.

They have the financial resources (like IMPACT used to). They've created a buzz (like both IMPACT and GFW did). They have a good roster and creative minds to start out with (like IMPACT once had). So what is really the difference between AEW and IMPACT/GFW?

The difference between AEW and IMPACT/GFW is the fact that they're building off of something that is already a proven commodity in recent times. It's been proven that wrestling fans will indeed pay money and fill up venues for a Ring of Honor or New Japan Pro Wrestling show. And one of the hottest acts in ROH and NJPW over the past five years has been the various different incarnations of the Bullet Club, specifically the members of The Elite off-shoot faction, which is now a totally separate entity from Bullet Club.

ROH shows do well. NJPW shows do well. And the success of All In on September 1st is evidence that there can be major wrestling events in the United States which are not associated with WWE. All In took place at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, with a reported attendance of 11,263 people. There were those who doubted whether or not they'd be able to draw 10,000 people. They drew over 11,000.

So getting back to what AEW has going for them, they have the money, they have a great core group of talent to start out with, they've generated a lot of buzz, and they've already proven that they can draw an audience.

Does this mean that AEW is going to be the next World Championship Wrestling? No, absolutely not. In fact, they would be wise not to try to set their sights quite that high. IMPACT Wrestling tried to be the next WCW and look where they've ended up. However, I do believe it's possible that they could at least end up being the solid number two company in the United States, very much along the lines of where IMPACT used to be when they were on Spike TV. But of course, AEW would have to secure a major television deal, and they would also have to build up a larger roster. As talented as their core group is, the number of talents on their roster right now... doesn't make a roster.

This leads to another major issue for the promotion: who are they going to have on their roster that isn't already locked down to a WWE, ROH or NJPW contract? Again, drawing comparisons to IMPACT and Global Force Wrestling, it's difficult to have a credible wrestling promotion when you barely have a roster (IMPACT), or virtually no real roster at all (GFW).

The company is just getting started, so as of right now, I have to admit that I have absolutely no clue as to what their plans are for a roster. Are they going to have working relationships with other promotions like ROH, NJPW, IMPACT, CMLL, AAA, Pro Wrestling NOAH, AJPW, Dragon Gate, etc.? Are they going to wait for WWE, ROH and NJPW contracts to expire and try to lure talent away from those companies in the coming months and years? Are they going to try to sign people to exclusive contracts? Are they going to have more of an open-door policy? Again, I have absolutely no clue. All anybody can do right now is speculate.

AEW has the potential to do great things for the wrestling industry as an alternative to WWE. Realistically, they're not going to be the next WCW. It's just not going to happen. But as an alternative to WWE, they just might have the tools to be a longer-lasting and more financially successful version of what IMPACT used to be on Spike TV. Nowhere near the level of WCW in the Monday Night Wars, but still a solid number two company behind Vince McMahon's monster of an organization in Stamford, Connecticut.

If you're a true wrestling fan, you should hope for the best for All Elite Wrestling. As I said before, it's not going to be as big as WCW was, but AEW could be a great place for wrestling talents to make money, and for wrestling fans here in the United States to have another option besides WWE.

ROH, NJPW, IMPACT Wrestling, the NWA, Tommy Dreamer's House of Hardcore, even Lucha Underground on El Rey Network and Ring Warriors on WGN America, those are all alternatives that are available at the moment in one form or another, but All Elite Wrestling could very well turn out to have the largest presence of all the alternatives here in the United States. Or it could turn out to be a flop like IMPACT and GFW. Let's hope that that doesn't turn out to be the case. Let's hope for the best.

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