- WWE has dominated the wrestling world for nearly two decades, but it may soon have some legitimate competition.
- Shahid Khan, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars football franchise, is backing his 36-year-old son Tony’s new promotion, All Elite Wrestling, or AEW.
- The company has already lured world-class talent like Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks. It also recently signed famed former WWE commentator Jim Ross to be the voice of its broadcasts.
- We talked to pro-wrestling insider Conrad Thompson about whether or not AEW poses a threat to WWE’s market share.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
After nearly two decades of dominance, WWE might finally have some legitimate competition.
The company has already lured world-class talent like Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks ahead of its debut event “Double or Nothing,” scheduled for May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
We talked to pro-wrestling insider Conrad Thompson about whether or not AEW poses a threat to WWE’s market share, and how the promotion could finally offer a new option, not only for wrestling fans but for talent seeking to work for a billionaire-backed company other than WWE.
Both WWE and AEW declined to comment for this story.
Following is a transcript of the video.Narrator: The world of professional wrestling has a brand new battle of the billionaires. In one corner, Vince McMahon. He’s chairman of WWE, and according to Forbes, he’s worth $US3.2 billion. In the other, Shahid Khan. He’s worth $US6.9 billion. Khan made a fortune in the auto parts industry. Today he owns the Jacksonville Jaguars NFL franchise and the Fulham Football Club in England. And it turns out his 36-year-old son, Tony, is a huge wrestling fan. With his dad’s backing, Tony Khan is starting his own promotion: All Elite Wrestling, or AEW.Tyler Lauletta: All Elite Wrestling is a new wrestling promotion that is slowly and steadily growing an interest in America and has the potential to challenge WWE as, like, the next big thing in wrestling.Conrad Thompson: Are you guys ready for a revolution?Narrator:AEW announced its formation in January. Their upcoming live event, “Double or Nothing,” sold out in four minutes, and they have since signed some major names in the wrestling industry.Lauletta: AEW has some of the most impressive talent in the world right now.Announcer: Your questions have been answered!Lauletta: We have Kenny Omega, the most desired non-WWE talent for, I dunno, three or four years now. Cody Rhodes, who’s the son of Dusty Rhodes, “The American Dream,” WWE Legend.Announcer: The most dominant tag team of this past generation.Lauletta: The Young Bucks. They’re high flyers, they’re super fun to watch.
Crowd: Thank you, Young Bucks! Thank you, Young Bucks!Narrator: AEW could finally give WWE some legit competition. For almost 20 years, WWE has ruled the pro wrestling landscape.
Announcer: And there’s a wet spot where Eric Bischoff was sitting because Sting is out here!Narrator: Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling, or WCW, gave WWE a run for its money in the ’90s, known as the Monday Night Wars. But WWE prevailed, and since WWE bought WCW in 2001, the company has reigned supreme. So, does AEW even stand a chance?Thompson: Well, hopefully, it’s the answer to a lot of wrestling fans’ prayers. You know, I think a lot of wrestling fans have been disenfranchised with really just having one option.Narrator: If you’re a pro wrestling fan, odds are you’ve heard of Conrad Thompson. He’s one of the world’s foremost pro wrestling insiders. He hosts three hugely successful pro wrestling podcasts. He’s also buddies with Tony Khan, who invited him to be part of the AEW announcement. Oh, and wrestling legend Ric Flair is Thompson’s father-in-law.Thompson: The idea that there is a new player in the game, someone who’s well funded and has a big vision of what wrestling could be. I think a lot of people believe we are at the beginning of a giant boom, and a lot of that is because of AEW.Narrator: In addition to stars like The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, AEW also signed WWE legend Chris Jericho who could be the first of many WWE superstars with contracts up for renewal to sign with the new promotion.Chris Jericho: We are gonna change the whole universe! [Narrator] After the announcement that Chris Jericho would be joining the AEW roster, the wrestler sat down for an interview with Tony Khan on his “Talk is Jericho” podcast.Tony Khan: Advertisers can see there’s a huge base of wrestling fans all over the world. They are really passionate. When you’ve got all these great talents with their contracts coming up, we’re in a market where there’s TV money to be had. It’s the right climate for a number of reasons.Pac: I am already a champion!Narrator: At the time of this report, AEW still hasn’t announced the television deal.Wrestler: Los Lucha Brothers!Narrator: But the company filed for a trademark last fall that could reveal its plans.Thompson: They applied for the trademark “Tuesday Night Dynamite.” My country maths says they’re probably looking at a Tuesday night show.Narrator: “WWE Smackdown” currently airs on Tuesdays on USA, but the company just signed a five-year deal with Fox worth a billion dollars that will move the show to Fridays, leaving Tuesdays wide open.Thompson: I do think if you’ve preconditioned wrestling fans that wrestling is on Tuesday nights, maybe that’s a smart play. Just slide in that same spot, and then it’s just a matter of when they launch and where they launch.Narrator: So is AEW really going to be competing with WWE?Thompson: WWE’s revenue’s never been higher. I think WWE being concerned about AEW at this point is maybe a little silly. They have such a lead on everyone. The idea that they’re concerned about losing that spot to someone who at this point hasn’t even ran a show. There’s been no revenue created yet. Maybe what they don’t wanna do is they don’t wanna lose talent to AEW. But the idea that they’re going to lose market share, that’s a different thing. So if I’m Vince, I wanna protect my investment and I don’t want those talents to leave. But losing market share? I don’t think they’re worried about that right now.Tony Khan: Vince McMahon is one of my all-time idols in terms of building a brand and sustaining a great company.Jericho: Now you’re at war with him.Khan: I don’t think that’s the case.
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