• Matt Dod

AEW How It Started

For more on this topic and other wrestling related videos, check out my YouTube.

For more on this topic and other wrestling related videos, check out my YouTube.


So. What is it that makes All Elite Wrestling feel so special? Why are fans so excited to be a part of the genesis of the brand. And where did this explosive arrival on to the grappling scene begin?


Through this three-part series, I will take us through a journey of discovery, invention and reinvigoration, as part of the historic rise of the newest and hottest element in the pro wrestling world.


We will go step by step, chronologically through the first 3 years of AEW programming, to witness some of the most awe-inspiring matches, bind-exploding debuts and the formation of a pro wrestling company which in many fans’ eyes will be here to stay, at the forefront of the sports entertainment universe for good.


TONY KHAN


A die-hard wrestling fan since the age of 8, Tony Khan certainly understands what it is that he finds so delightful when he watches a show, and that knowledge has translated excellently into his role as owner and head booker of his very own production.


Tony Khan has proven himself quite the mastermind when it comes to writing gripping and entertaining storylines within the wrestling ring. He has the shoulders of so many great men to stand on within AEW and has the benefit of learning from the past century of professional wrestling in the United States.


He has surrounded himself


"My dad expected it to fail but I convinced him to take a leap. He gave me the money because he said I'd inherit it anyway so I might as well 'blow it now.” Tony Khan

BEFORE AEW


It was at this time that Cody joined New Japan and quickly announced his intentions to join the most formidable faction in Asia at the time. The Bullet Club.


NOVEMBER 2017


The seeds of AEW continued to be sown in Japan as Chris Jericho made his way across the Pacific to reinvent his character and face off against arguably New Japan’s biggest star in Kenny Omega.


And how right he would prove to be over the next 3 years. It’s true that not everything has gone right for this fledgling company, dare I say it, there have been times where things have gone objectively wrong. But each and every show feels crafted with a passion for the industry and a desire to deliver a memorable show each and every time the performers step between the curtains. Tony Khan has stated on numerous occasions how he doesn’t want to over promise with the companies marketing and promotions and how he feels it’s important to try to give the audience what they want in terms of big match ups and satisfying conclusion.



MAY 19 AEW DOUBLE OR NOTHING


The official announcement of AEW’s main title happened here, with the belt being presented by a man whose history within the business served to bring an instant level of prestige to the title. Bret Hart unveiled the AEW World Championship, a beautiful glistening nod to the legacy of pro wrestling and the new benchmark for performers within the company to strive to achieve.


A battle royal was held to determine who would challenge for the new belt, with Hangman Adam Page coming out victorious. He would go on to face the winner of the main event. Chris Jericho versus Kenny Omega. Alpha against Omega. The feud from Japan spilling out onto American televisions in a cross generational extravaganza. The best of the current generation, versus a man who has spent his whole career at or near the top.


When Jericho won, he was awarded with the second slot in the match to determine the first ever All Elite World Champion.


The entire event had that big fight feeling. Every segment. Every moment felt electric. A time which I am extremely lucky to have witnessed live and a night which will go down in history for the company. It proved to be both a financial and critical success for the new brand and a launch pad for A.E.W over the next 3 years.


JULY


July saw an announcement from Tony Khan and AEW that would solidify the companies position as more than just a flash in the pan. A headline on the variety website stated: “All Elite Wrestling to Launch on TNT Wednesdays in October. The televised show will take place in different cities across the nation each week, starting in Washington, D.C., at the Capital One Arena.”


This simple piece of marketing had my heart pumping hard. I could feel my inner child being physically excited by the very thought of what could be about to happen. Could there be a new contender for the top spot in the world of pro wrestling? At the very least, a successful and fairly large alternative weekly show would give wrestlers an opportunity that had not been a possibility for 2 decades. A way to become a mainstream wrestling star without signing with the monopoly. Thinking back on the moment when I heard the news, even now gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. One I will forever be grateful for.


It was at this time that Tony Khan set to work making concrete plans for AEW’s future. And what would the future of a wrestling company be, without a wrestling roster?



ORIGINAL ROSTER


And at this point it really did seem like the world was at his feet. Now, looking back we know that the path that lay ahead for the American Nightmare was far from straight forward. But as a corner stone of the company from the start, Tony Khan chose wisely when he aligned himself with Cody. A man whose years of experience in WWE, his knowledge of the business through his iconic family name and his desire to prove the haters wrong made him dedicated and driven to see AEW succeed. Cody brought with him a level of professionalism and a contact book as thick and full of important names as any in the industry at the time. Now he had left WWE, travelled the world and gained a better understanding of himself as a performer and as a man, would all of these attributes breed success? We will find out over the course of this story...


The cleaner. The King Of Anywhere Match. Or The Best Bout Machine. Whatever moniker you know him by, it is undeniable that Kenny Omega is one of the best pro wrestlers on the planet. Bringing with him to AEW a legion of adoring fans from his eventful and success laden time in Japan. Kenny Omega already earned his cult following, through his unbelievable in-ring technique and ability to tell stories within a match which feel more like a beautifully piece of ballet or some exhilarating opera than merely 2 men facing off in tights.


With a flashy move set, pools of charisma and the industries most devastating knee strike Kenny Omega was the flagship signing at the start of AEW and over the next three years, showed us exactly why.

[And Le Champion hasn’t lost a step, in ring or out…


Adam Page had his best years ahead of him as he signed for AEW


You’ll find Brandon aiding the Young Bucks in matches, accompanying them to the ring for most of their matches. He serves as camera man for the Bucks’ long running YouTube series, bringing with him a camera to ringside allowing for not only the behind the scenes segments which the online show was so beloved for, but now a close up and personal look at what it feels like to enter into these rings around America in front of thousands of fans


PETER AVALON


A beloved indy darling, Peter Avalon was a fan favourite in PWG by way of his hilarious microphone segments and solid ring work. Pretty Peter continues a long running tradition in pro wrestling of a comedy character who clearly isn’t the most dashing or muscle clad, believing that in fact he is the most gorgeous man in the world. His moustache is also excellent.


Brandi begun her journey with the company as chief brand officer of AEW and a guiding figure to the younger talent on the women’s roster.



DARK ORDER


When Evil Uno and Stu Grayson were signed to AEW, they brought with them years of experience, some of which was spent as a tag team in PWG and Chikara Pro Wrestling. In the build up to Double or Nothing and leading into the event the pair were repackaged as the Dark Order and came to the arena in complete darkness to run rough shot over the wrestlers in the ring. With then came several masked henchmen known as creepers, leading to speculation as to what the motive behind the attack may have been. There is much, much more to this story as we progress through the next few years.


MARKO STUNT


Teaming up with Luchasaurus and Jungle boy to form the Jurassic Express is the third and tiniest member of the roster. Marko Stunt had been harassed backstage by larger members of the roster, as featured on Being The Elite on YouTube and found safety in numbers as he allied himself to the Jurassic pair. Stunt’s small stature may put off some online detractors, but from his time wrestling on the indies he has caught the attention of more than one promoter in the industry due to his incredible speed and agility in the ring.


MOX


Arguably the most recognisable name on the AEW roster that isn’t Chris Jericho, John Moxley had lived through 2 separate lives before making his way onto our screens at Double Or Nothing. First, the reckless, ultra-violent youngster who plied his trade in fringe promotions such as Dragon Gate and CZW under the name of Jon Moxley.


Then run through the rigours of WWE developmental before becoming a part of one of the companies biggest ever factions in the shield as Dean Ambrose. Financial success soon followed as Ambrose became one of the companies’ mainstays. However, the man behind the character was not happy. He was not himself. So, in a style which truly fits the man we’ve come to know as Jon Moxley. He walked away. Leaving behind security and mainstream fame to create a path of his own.


Soon New Japan were promoting the appearance of Mox and the wrestler had seemingly reached both his original and now final form. Exploding back into his ultra-tough and totally derange mindset Mox won the US title in Japan before appearing in AEW and making a definitive statement right off the bat.


Mox looked ferocious, heavier and ready to wreck whoever stood in his way in order to prove that for him leaving WWE was the right decision and that having creative control over his destiny was more important than the mega money he was pulling in under Vince McMahon.


"One of the reasons AEW is really popular is that it's a great blend of stars who have gotten experience from wrestling in other places and stars who have grown organically," Khan said. "It has to be a good blend of young stars and established stars." Tony Khan

AUGUST 19 ALL OUT


At Double or Nothing an announcement was made about AEW’s next pay-per-view. In August, almost a year exactly to the companies first show the aptly named All Out show took place and the foundations of what the company would become over the next 3 years were solidified on this night.


A moment for Tony Khan and the locker room to prove that the initial hype was warranted and the excellent outings last time were more than mere fluke.


The card for the event promised magic and as has become a trend for AEW, it more than delivered. With matches that had no weekly show to create storylines, it was clear that this was an event based off of pure in-ring wizardry from some of the most distinguished performers outside of WWE.


Kenny Omega and Pac showed that fast-paced, full-throttle action can still have a narrative. The two men lived up to their auras of wrestling prowess in bout which showed the pair letting loose and delivering to us fans a victory for Pac in an exhilarating contest.


The Young Bucks had spent most of the year sporadically facing off against the Lucha Bros, so by the time All Out came around, the chemistry was oozing from every pore.


The four men put their bodies on the line in a ladder match which used said elevating devices in inventive and brutal fashion. Gasps could be heard around the arena as Pentagon Jr collapsed Matt Jackson off of the ladder and through a well-placed table with one of the most impressive and dangerous looking Canadian destroyers ever attempted.


The lucha bros were victorious in the end, but in a match where all four wrestlers shone so brightly, it’s hard to say that anyone came away from the ring a loser.


SANTANA & ORTIZ


At the end of the match, 2 masked assailants made their way into the ring and attacked the Lucha Bros and Young Bucks, making a monumental splash onto the scene. Once the disguises had been removed, the crowd exploded when they realised who had just made their debuts. Santana and Ortiz, two men who had earned much respect during their time in Impact Wrestling, were now here in AEW to put the tag team division on notice.


The main event pitted Chris Jericho against Hangman Adam Page in the companies first ever AEW Championship title match. The two men serving as a perfect metaphor of the brands ethos. A knowledgeable and war hardened veteran, going toe to toe with one of wrestling’s hottest young talents. The match itself found it hard to follow such a adrenaline fuelled card, but with the energy of the crowd constant throughout, it still served to solidify the importance of the belt.


Chris Jericho’s hand was held high at the end with the brand new AEW belt over his shoulder. Adam Page was dejected in his defeat, this moment serves as the start of his own personal journey, one which will lead Hangman on a path of self-reflection, loss and improvement over the next 3 years.


The aftermath saw Jericho’s ego explode to new heights. He grabbed bottles of champagne backstage and gave himself the moniker of Le Champion. Pushing away those who sought to congratulate him on his new title and sending a clear message to the rest of the wrestlers in the back.


AEW TITLE BELT STOLEN


So, Chris Jericho carried on celebrating, one bottle of bubbly then a little more. Another cork pops and before he knew it, he was suddenly sozzled and sitting with his beloved new AEW Championship belt, enjoying some well-earned dinner at a Long Horn Steak House. Life couldn’t get any better. And then Jericho realised, where was his belt?


As per the report by the BBC: “Yet just three days later, the 48-year-old no longer had his newly won title belt in his possession and reported it to Tallahassee police. Local police confirmed they are investigating the alleged theft. AEW had posted a response on their Instagram page, telling worried commenters that "authorities are working on it as we speak" and thanking them for their concern. But a few hours later Jericho released a video, calling the perpetrator a "low life scumbag" and promising to "launch a worldwide investigation" to find his missing belt.”

OCTOBER 19 DYNAMITE

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All Out was a triumph. A huge success by anyone’s standards and it had the pro wrestling community buzzing. At the show, fans were reminded that AEW would be coming to weekly television and would begin to air in October. Through the end of August and the whole of September the anticipation continued to build. There were so many unanswered questions from fans like me. Would the show be PG or continue on with it’s slightly more adult feel that we’d seen from the previous outings? What would the roster look like and who would be the shows top stars? Were we about to enter into a new generation of Monday Night Wars, with AEW’s weekly show going directly opposed to WWE’s Raw? It was an amazing time to be a wrestling fan, whilst we waited to find out the answers.


On October 2nd AEW’s first ever episode of weekly television aired. Dynamite colourfully splashed onto our screens and served as a way to hook lapsed WWE fans as well as to continue to build on the good faith earned from hardcore fans over their first year.


Tony Khan admitted in an interview that the reason for the name, DYNAMITE for his AEW flagship weekly television show, aside from the explosive and energetic connotations of the word. Is that as a young boy, Tony would sit around and dream up his very own wrestling shows, pitting his favourites against one another on a programme called Dynamite.


The show was presented by the commentary team of Jim Ross, Tony Schiovone and Excalibur. And it was clear that the chemistry was there right from the start. All three men, especially JR were a little rusty. But Excalibur’s enthusiasm and deep understanding of these former indie wrestlers proved to be the glue which held the trio together. JR fumbled a few lines and struggled to find his flow, to the point that many fans felt extremely negative about his involvement at the time. However, was just the beginning for the new commentary unit and before long all three men were firing on all cylinders and over the next 3 years have become integral to the programme’s presentation.


AEW declared their intentions to put more emphasis on women’s wrestling and pitted the diminutive Riho against her stories version of Goliath in Nyla Rose. The two displayed such different approaches to wrestling, their styles so opposed that the match flowed like a fine wine. I just wanted to drink more as I watched this tiny underdog attempt to fell the monster in front of her. Nyla proved to be more than just strong in the match, with the bout displaying both fighters’ positives expertly. When Riho managed the victory, her face told you all you needed to know. Just how much this meant to her and to all the other women on the AEW roster. At 22, she became the very first AEW Women’s champion in a match fitting of the newly minted belts future prestige and would go on to hold the belt for 133 days.


The main event saw Kenny Omega teaming with the Young Bucks to take on Chris Jericho and his newly aligned teammates in Santana and Ortiz. But for me the most memorable part of the match was the sudden appearance of Jon Moxley.


In one of the most beautifully shot moments in all pro wrestling history he manifests behind Omega and the pair continued their feud as they fought to the back. We will discuss my favourite matches of the year later, but for me this has to be the most memorable image of the entire 12-month period. The end of the match came when Jericho hit the code breaker on Matt Jackson for the pin. Sammy Guevara made his way out and joined in the continued beat down of the bucks.


Then Cody and Dustin Rhodes make their way to the ring to save the Bucks and it all devolves into a mass brawl. This is when the tide shifted, and another debuting wrestler was about to side with Chris Jericho’s newly forming faction. Jake Hager smashed his way through the men in the ring and stood tall at the end of the show. He didn’t need to say anything because his history speaks for itself.


With Chris Jericho at the helm, with Jake Hager, Sammy Guevara, Santana and Ortiz to back him up, the inner circle was born and became a dominant faction within the company, whom as individual members and as a unit featured heavily on almost every AEW show.


The launch of Dynamite coincided with WWE’s decision to take the NXT brand off of the Network online streaming service and put it on television to compete with AEW’s main show. WWE were confident in the appeal of NXT and knew that the same demographic of their fans who tuned in on a Wednesday to watch on the WWE network, would largely be the ones who would be interested in AEW’s Dynamite. It seemed like a simple way of clipping their competitors wings and at the same time give more exposure to it’s fantastic roster. However, as the weekly ratings would prove over the next year, this would serve as the beginning of the end for the current and most beloved version of WWE’s developmental brand.


DARK

It was around this time that AEW announced it’s very own Tuesday night developmental show, to be known as AEW Dark, where performers who weren’t featured regularly on Dynamite and pay-per-view would have a chance to improve and capture the audiences attention. The show would air for free every week on YouTube and became a place where lesser-known starts begun to emerge.


November saw the re-emergence of the Dark Order. In the weeks that followed, cryptic video messages brought to us via a nameless spokesman confused and hooked AEW fans. Was this a new pro wrestling cult? What were their intentions and how did the Dark Order intend on fulfilling their own prophecies? Over the coming weeks John Silver and Alex Reynolds were recruited into the group as the four men and their mysterious spokesman begun illuding to the Exalted One. Their all-knowing and all-powerful leader. But who would that turn out to be?


November also saw MJF and Adam Page as co-winners of the Dynamite Dozen Battle Royal and pitted against one another the following week on Dynamite to determine a single victor. MJF proved the winner and was awarded with the first ever AEW Dynamite Diamond ring. The ceremony was presided over by who else but WCW and WWE legend Diamond Dallas Page and saw the veteran appear more frequently on AEW programming as a manager and advisor sporadically.


JANUARY


On January 15th AEW started the year off with more proof of it’s intentions for the future, with the announcement of it’s contract being extended with the TNT television network until 2023. This moment served to reassure fans that it was indeed worth investing your time in the long term storylines AEW had to offer, because they weren’t going away anytime soon. It also proved that whatever the company was doing behind the scenes was more than enough to satisfy the finances of their corporate overlord at the TNT offices.


Along with the announcement, many may have missed what was arguably the more exciting part. That at this point AEW had been green-lit by TNT to produce a second weekly TV show, which would begin to air on Friday nights and would be known as AEW Rampage.


FEBRUARY


In early February, on an episode of Dynamite Nyla Rose finally got revenge for her loss in the first ever AEW Women’s championship match, getting the better of Riho to capture the belt. In a contest that was just as fast paced and action packed as the initial meeting, we saw a more aggressive style from Riho which saw her use more than just speed and agility to out manoeuvre her larger opponent, but also a level of aggression not before seen from her in AEW. This still proved to be not enough however as Nyla Rose claimed the victory to become AEW’s second Women’s champion and the first transgendered woman to hold a world title belt in any US based wrestling promotion.


What I liked most, is that the story of the match was not about how Nyla was born a different gender, or how hard her life must have bee. Yes those ideas are important sure, but Nyla rises above that as a performer. She shows that at the core she is a fantastic pro wrestler and a force to reckon with inside of AEW.


ACTION FIGURES RELEASED


There are countless milestones which a pro wrestler may strive to achieve throughout their career. Making a debut on the show which they grew up watching or winning a major belt perhaps. Some dream of main eventing Wrestlemania or standing tall inside of the Tokyo Dome.


But for me, when you know you have officially made it in the pro wrestling business, is when a toy company takes a photo of your head, casts it into plastic and puts you into one of those ooh so tempting see through boxes. In February, it was the chance for some of the AEW roster to achieve this illustrious milestone as the Wicked Cool Toys company produced their very first range, including Chris Jericho, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and both Cody and Brandi Rhodes. Setting off a whole new niche of pro wrestling collectibles as fans of action figures across America clambered to get their hands on them.


AEW REVOLUTION


Another first for AEW occurred on February 29, 2020, at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago. The AEW Revolution pay-per-view saw the inner circle as a major driving force behind many of the stories going into the show, with Jake Hager making a victorious debut against Dustin Rhodes. Sammy Guevara competed in an excellent and brutal losing effort against Derby Allin on the midcard. The show also featured in the main event, the culmination of a feud between Jon Moxley and Chris Jericho, during which Mox had suffered a horrific eye injury at the hands of the inner circle.


At the end of the match, Moxley revealed that the eye patch he had been forced to wear was a trick all along and that his vision had perfectly recovered. Leading to a heart pumping sequence, ended with a paradym shift from Mox and the declaration of a new and second ever AEW Champion.


The most memorable moments of the night came during a heated match between Cody Rhodes and his former protege MJF. Leading into the event, Maxwell Jacob Freedman had avoided confrontation at every turn, hiding behind he henchman Wardlow. Cody was so desperate for a match at Revolution, that he agreed to MJF’s sickening terms. Cody was forced to receive 10 lashes from MJF in the middle of the ring. A segment which is still hard to watch to this day. Suffice to say, the story leading into this match was far more than sheer sports competition.


The pair’s hatred and distrust felt palpable as Rhodes made his way to the ring accompanied by the live version of his theme played by Downstait. MJF played the role of the villain expertly, showing why so many in the wrestling industry see him as one the businesses biggest future stars. He worked to quash any momentum gained by Cody and drew hatred from the crowd with every precise and evil move he made. Cody fell into a fit of anger during the fight and removed his leather weight belt, delivering retribution for the lashings he had received at the hands of his former ally. MJF put the heelish cherry on top when at the conclusion of the bout when he grabbed his Dynamite Diamond Ring and landed a crunching blow on his adversary and the pin.



MARCH JAKE THE SNAKE ROBERTS DEBUT


In March another former WWE legend made their way onto our tv screens. This time, the immortal Jake The Snake Roberts interrupted Cody Rhodes on an episode of Dynamite and received an overwhelming reaction from wrestling fans, old and young alike. Cody had been complaining about his recent loss to MJF and the veteran Jake The Snake came out to give Rhodes a dark slice of reality.


DAILY’S PLACE & PANDEMIC ERA


As the world continued to lock down at the start of the pandemic, it became clear that large crowds at entertainment shows, including pro wrestling events were to be temporarily banned. This meant that AEW and all other wrestling companies were forced to make a decision on how to proceed. Tony Khan made the decision to move the companies television tapings and eventually their pay-per-views into Daily Place and only allow other wrestlers and those running the show to be allowed to participate.


For many, this looked as if it could have signalled the end for AEW. The company had only just begun to really start gaining traction as it’s viewership slowly increased. Fans and the atmosphere of the event are such an integral part of my and so many wrestling fans enjoyment of a show, surely without that element, AEW would fizzle out. But no. With wrestlers and backstage staff sitting ringside, banging on the protective plastic shielding and doing their utmost to retain a positive atmosphere, the pandemic era of AEW saw the company handle the inevitable about as well as it is possible. In hindsight, yes there is no comparison between a wrestling show with thousands of rabid fans singing and chanting their way through the evening, but when faced with the alternative of not running any wrestling shows at all, AEW made the right choice.


The pandemic era has such a strange feel. We’ve never lived through anything like this before and the crew, camera people, those in charge of the lighting and the sound engineers had to work miracles to still present the weekly shows in a way which wasn’t just a stark reminder of the pain that was being felt by everyone around the globe at that time.


THE EXALTED ONE


The first show of the pandemic closed arena version of Dynamite saw two huge arrivals on March 18th. Talk of the Exalted one had continued to circulate as the Dark Order continued to promise their leaders arrivals. Fans around the wrestling community were certain of the role being played by Matt Hardy, so when rumours arose that Hardy had been seen around the arena before the show, it was all but confirmed.


However, in an excellent piece of expectation subverting, Matt Hardy did indeed appear on the show, but in his own quirky way via a message sent by drone to announce his arrival. But no mention of being exalted or indeed the Dark Order.


This is because the leader of the group was revealed to be Brodie Lee. Former Wyatt family member in WWE under the name of Luke Harper, this twisted and powerful presence was the perfect choice for the Exalted position.


Brodie Lee was terrifying to look at. A powerhouse in the ring with years of experience on the big stage and the indies. He cared deeply about the business and clearly wanted to be a large part of the potential he saw in AEW. He was eloquent and charismatic, and all of this played into his role as cult like leader from the start.


FANS


As this part of the story comes to a close. I want to take a look at the one thing that stood out most to me over the year. Through all of the spectacular in-ring action, the gripping and satisfying storylines and the monumental championship victories, there was so much to be thankful for as a fan of All Elite Wrestling at this time.


As I pondered over the best matches and most memorable debuts, I was left constantly reminded of what brought it all together. The fans.


The title victories would mean so much less if there wasn’t a crowd there to magnify the atmosphere. A surprise debut is elevated to iconic status only when the audience reacts with gasps and cheers. As a life long pro wrestling fan, I’ve always had a strong emotional bond to this mad cap world of glitter and violence and in huge part thanks to the way in which crowds react to special moments. Wrestling fans get a bad rep nowadays, losers and geeks like me who argue on the internet about a form of entertainment which reached it’s prime almost two decades ago. But with the success of AEW in it’s infancy period, I believe that pro wrestling fans reputation should already have changed. The way in which those who attended these shows brought every ounce of enthusiasm, celebration and hatred with them to the events only served to make them more memorable and for that I believe the fans should gain more recognition.


We end this period of time with AEW in a position that most detractors would have never believed possible. I have been a fan since the early seeds were beginning to be sown, but even I was doubtful that this young upstart could explode in the way that it has. We have Jon Moxley as AEW Champion heading up a male roster with an unbelievable mix of talent.


Over the past year the likes of Derby Allin, MJF and Hangman Page have all made massive strides towards meeting their future potential. Chris Jericho and his band of merry men have kept us entertained and frustrated with their antics in pursuit of collective glory. Nyla Rose is dominant as the AEW Women’s champion and looks to be leading the charge for female athletes within the company.


Veterans have maintained composure and guided the younger generations through to huge improvements behind the scenes, whilst drawing in older fans to their new home inside AEW on screen. Every pay-per-view has been both financially and critically successful and even heading into the depths of the pandemic, the company looks set to continue to go from stride to stride.


Tony Khan initially promised a more sports like feel to the presentation of AEW, which is something which many fans felt was lacking in their first proper year. The company assigned wins and losses to all competitors and regularly reflected these wins when deciding who should act as number one contender for a title shot. However, beyond this, most of the way in which AEW feels on television is still very much sports enertainment first and real sports contest second.


The company feeling more similar to WWE in it’s melodrama and action, than New Japan and it’s unbridled realism. But for me, it felt like the perfect blend. I feel like my time and attention is being rewarded each and every time I tune in. I feel like the in-ring displays are some of the best I have ever been lucky enough to witness, with some of the most captivating and inventive matches blowing my mind during this period.


But at the same time, I love to sing along to Chris Jericho’s theme and Orange Cassidy was a stand out. The man is the very definition of fourth wall breaking. But I don’t care. I love it. This is why I watch pro wrestling. And it is in my opinion the perfect foundation as this story progresses over the next 2 years.


"When we started, we were a challenger brand and an alternative. Now we're just a large wrestling company.” Tony Khan

For more on this topic and other wrestling related videos, check out my YouTube.