Raise the banners. Sound the alarms. War is coming.
It was no secret that AEW would soon be in direct competition with pro wrestling’s chief promotion: World Wrestling Entertainment, more popularly known as the legendary WWE. WWE had its titanic grasp permanently fixated on the pro wrestling industry when they defeated WCW (World Championship Wrestling) in the Monday Night Wars.
Until recent times, Vince McMahon ran a tight ship where only WWE could provide the platform for pro wrestlers to reach the penultimate stage in their career. McMahon’s ultimate creation, WrestleMania, is the most quintessential example, as you nearly hear every pro wrestler exclaim what it would be like to have their WrestleMania moment.
But pro wrestling’s so-called utopia was not without its forsaken. Cody Rhodes, the son of the famous Dusty Rhodes, left his father’s breeding grounds of WWE with a bittersweet aftertaste. A man lost in the crazy world of the independent wrestling scene found his bearing within the new circle of The Elite, filled with the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega. Then the day came where a deliciously notorious plan hatched.
Dave Meltzer warned a fan on Twitter, and the entire wrestling world, in 2017 that Ring of Honor wouldn’t be able to sell 10,000 tickets. Cody Rhodes saw this as a challenge, and with the help of the Young Bucks and Bullet Club, he decided to showcase a platform and performance to prove Meltzer wrong.
To avoid rehashing the well-documented story of “All Out,” the first “All Out” was a PPV success (to say the least), selling out in a matter of minutes and slowly bringing together the concept of AEW as you see it today. In addition, the Elite added the missing piece of Tony Khan. In his own right, Khan was a seasoned veteran in managing/ handling day-to-day operations of professional teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars and Fulham F.C. Now, they could finally go into full gear (no pun intended).
CM Punk: The Warning Shot
The additions of Chris Jericho, Jon Moxley, Shawn Spears, Brodie Lee (R.I.P.), Sting, Paul Wight (aka Big Show), Mark Henry, Christian Cage, Matt Hardy, Miro (aka Rusev), Pac (aka Neville), Jake Hager (aka Jack Swagger), and FTR (aka The Revival) were all significant, but not big enough to cause a rumble in the jungle of pro wrestling.
There was a man whom the wrestling industry had taken in and adored, and just as he reached the top, that man was put in a toxic environment which killed his passion for the art of pro wrestling. That man’s name is CM Punk. Imagine you’re about to marry the woman of your dreams, and on that day, you find out that your only other love in this world is no longer a possibility on the world’s biggest stage at the time.
For all fans knew, that was the last of CM Punk in a pro wrestling ring. But the birth of AEW gave way to fantasies, which led to rumors, which then transformed into news reporting… and finally gave birth to pro wrestling’s version of the prodigal son coming home and receiving the industry’s most incredible pop to date.
Not only did he return to his hometown of Chicago, but he also called out one of the hottest prospects today, Darby Allin, who was currently under the tutelage of Sting to a match in Chicago on September 5th at “All Out“. And when that date came, the new-found veteran and maniacal prospect gave us a match worthy of a CM Punk comeback match. But if you thought AEW was firing warning shots, you must’ve missed the end of the night…
Adam Cole: The Critical Blow, Bay-Bay
Adam Cole was one of the hottest stars in WWE’s NXT brand. Moreover, he was the leader of the hottest faction in NXT, The Undisputed Era, which consisted of Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, and later feature member Roderick Strong. But some mishandling of his contract had him shockingly as a free agent.
Everyone expected Triple H to protect his “baby” in NXT by keeping one of his top stars. Still, unfortunately, Vince McMahon took more control, which seemed to usher Adam Cole to look elsewhere. Of course, no one mainly knew whether or not Cole would arrive at AEW, but the fact his girlfriend Britt Baker was there as well didn’t hurt the chances a bit.
Finally, as the “All Out” show main event ended and Kenny Omega enjoyed the spoils of his victory, he announced that he no longer had to worry about anyone coming for his gold, alive or dead. Cue Adam Cole’s new AEW music. No one spotted the fact Adam Cole and Young Bucks were wearing Jordans. And that led to the swerve of Adam Cole joining Kenny Omega and his squad in the baby-face beatdown.
Omega laughed and mocked the AEW faithful for expecting Cole to come in as a baby-face, explaining that this was their friend and Cole would never turn on them. But AEW seemed to want to go in for the kill in this battle with its super-heavyweight promotional opponent, WWE. It seemed as if AEW activated… the kill shot.
Bryan Danielson: The Decisive Kill Shot
Daniel Bryan, uh-hum, correction Bryan Danielson was the biggest mystery coming to date. No one truly knew where he would be calling his wrestling home. But, WWE had taken care of him, gave him some of his greatest wrestling moments, and even helped him find love and build a family.
Unfortunately, It seemed as if they couldn’t help him keep his passion for the art of pro wrestling. After saving Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Christian Cage in the main event post-match attack, Daniel Bryan took to the mic and addressed the crowd as Martin Luther King Jr. once had his famous “I Have A Dream” speech.
CHICAGO!!!… I just wanted to say something really really quick… and this is about the reason why me and “other people” want to come to AEW. One, the incredible talent that’s here in AEW. One of the reasons why it makes it so appealing to come to AEW is because of the work these men have done for the last three years. It’s because of the people who have been here since day one, from the people who came here early and believed in AEW. I’m talking about Chris Jericho, who came here from day one. I’m talking about Jon Moxley, who came here. I’m talking about young men and women who were busting their asses on the independent circuit; that AEW gave them a chance, and boy, HAVE THESE GUYS DELIVERED!! So when you see me here, and when you see CM Punk here, and when you see Christian here, and when you see Ruby SoHo here, when you see all these people here, who I really want you to thank is the original members of AEW. The second reason I came here, is because goddamn, you guys are the best fans in the world! Which brings me to the third reason I’m here. I am a wrestler. I never left wrestling, I took wrestling wherever I went, and now I am here to goddamn WRESTLE! And there are some people around here who call themselves elite. I’m gonna be here to see if they truly are. SO AEW… LET’S F*CKING GOOO!!Daniel Bryan addresses the AEW audience post-match after saving Jungle Boy, Luchasaurus, and Christian Cage on AEW’s “All Out” PPV
The Aftermath: Rebuilding WWE’s Hierarchy
Let’s call a spade a spade. Vince McMahon is out of touch with his audience and only delivers content that pleases him and makes him money. He doesn’t give the fans what they want. McMahon only presents what the billion-dollar businessman thinks they want. He is out of touch with how modernized pro wrestling has become. The old standards and old regime are crumbling.
Can Vince McMahon save his crumbling castle and kingdom?
It’s true. WWE has the money, the sponsors, the global outreach, the history, the pedigree, and the wherewithal to survive in this industry. But a slow decline is what spelled the start of the fall of WCW. If Vince McMahon can’t truly adapt to the modernization of pro wrestling, the sad truth is: It’s time for him to step down.
Paul Michael Levesque, better known as Triple H, has been doing outstanding work heading the WWE developmental brand, NXT. Building stars like Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, Neville, Finn Balor, Andrade, Aleister Black, Robert Roode, Tomasso Ciampa, and Johnny Gargano, to mention a few. But the same success that Triple H had never translated when Vince took over their creative control on the main roster.
The general public and WWE universe have already made their voice heard with how displeased they are with the product. Jim Ross once admitted on his podcast Grilling JR that Vince McMahon is the guy who will die on the job rather than hand the reins over. WWE needs to react, but if they respond too hasty, the decline rapidly increases.
The last thing WWE needs is Kevin Owens leaving the company and joining AEW. His recent experiences would lead you to believe he would have some things to say when appearing on the rival brand’s platform. Triple H has been well-groomed to succeed Vince McMahon, but will this be the story of the mad king who won’t give up his throne, only to watch his kingdom suffer and burn in despair?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.