Tonight, All Elite Wrestling held their Double or Nothing rally, the first official event of the brand new promotion. Coming into the rally, very little details had been revealed about AEW but at the night’s conclusion, a lot of those questions were answered. History was made on Tuesday night. Here is everything you need to know about All Elite Wrestling.
Double or Nothing has a date and a venue: May 25th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The arena is one of two major sporting arenas in Las Vegas and has an average capacity of 16,800. A second show was also announced for Jacksonville, FL. According to Cody, a large portion of the gate will go to benefit victims of gun violence.
There will be a women’s division and they will be paid equally: While many would have guessed that a women’s division would have been a foregone conclusion for AEW, Brandi Rhodes confirmed it at the rally. But more than that, she confirmed that there would be no sliding pay scale and that the women’s wrestlers would be paid as much as their male counterparts. That’s a huge announcement to make and one that shows that AEW is already committed to their women’s division as much as they are the males in the company.
AEW will be working with OWE, the top Chinese promotion: Oriental Wrestling Entertainment (OWE) is the Chinese wrestling promotion that everyone is talking about. From the exciting Gifs to the legendary CIMA, it has perfected a high speed, high-intensity style of wrestling never seen before. Represented by Stong Hearts (led by CIMA) they have invaded companies around the world and are now on their way to AEW.
It came as no surprise that the first five talents to sign their AEW contracts were Cody Rhodes (talent and executive VP), Matt and Nick Jackson (talent and executive VPs), Brandi Rhodes (talent and Chief Branding Officer) and Hangman Page (talent). For months, this group talked about sticking together no matter what and they certainly stayed true to that promise. But a promotion can’t exist with just five people and at tonight’s rally, AEW confirmed some of the other top talents they’ve added to their roster.
SCU is All-Elite
When the first poster for Double or Nothing came out, the members of SCU (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) were front and center leading many to speculate that the trio would be headed to All Elite Wrestling. It was then reported that the group had in fact signed but just a few hours prior to the rally, Daniels took to Twitter to add a little fuel to the fire saying that their status would be cleared up tonight. And sure enough, that’s exactly what happened as Daniels, Kazarian and Sky were all announced as the newest roster members for AEW within the first five minutes of the rally.
While Daniels and Kazarian especially had incredible recognition on their own, it wasn’t until Sky came to Ring of Honor that SCU was born. Together, the three became one of the hottest acts in ROH, bringing their “this is the worst town I have ever been in” gimmick everywhere they went. The trio started off as heels, threatening to destroy ROH before being given an ultimatum that forced their backs against the wall. Over the last year, SCU became fan favorites as well as babyfaces, even winning the six-man titles once and the tag titles another time, as well as working All In.
Christopher Daniels’ legacy in ROH and within independent wrestling is truly unmatched. As one of ROH’s founding fathers and the only person to win the company’s grand slam, the 48-year-old Daniels, in his 25th year in the business, is someone who won’t easily be replaced. Both as an in-ring presence and an incredible mind for the business, Daniels, who is a 44-time champion and one of few people to have won titles in ROH, NWA, TNA/IMPACT and NJPW, is such an asset to AEW as it looks to get off the ground. Additionally, in 2017, he was named PWI’s Most Inspirational Wrestler of the Year, a testament to his work ethic and continued ability to tell compelling stories in the ring.
At 41, and as a 20-year pro himself, Frankie Kazarian also brings with him a great resume, having worked for some of the country’s top promotions, most of which came alongside Daniels. Together, the two have been one of the best tag teams on the indies for the past decade or so. Overall, Kazarian is a 24-time champion, including the inaugural Pro Wrestling Guerrilla world champion and a five-time X Division champion in TNA.
The youngest member of the trio, the 35-year-old Scorpio Sky has been wrestling for 16 years, much of which has been in the Southern California indies, specifically PWG. He’s also known for his work in the NWA, where he is a former International Television Champion, as well as having won several of the territory titles. Overall, he’s won 19 championships and most recently served as the assistant coach to Katsuyori Shibata at the NJPW dojo in Los Angeles, though it is unclear if he’ll continue in that capacity now that he’s with AEW.
Britt Baker is All-Elite.
Joining SCU as a member of All Elite Wrestling is the 27-year-old Britt Baker, who was the first non-Elite talent signed to a contract, as reported on by Dave Meltzer. Baker, who is known for her time in Stardom, RISE, Shimmer and recently Women of Honor, also competed at All In and has found herself on the rise, despite having just three years experience under her belt. As the first woman, again outside of the Elite, to be announced for the new promotion, Baker is certainly not a bad choice at all to start to build a division around.
Other All Elite Wrestling Signing Announcements
MJF – Also known as Maxwell Jacob Feinstein, MJF is just 22 years old and has only been wrestling since 2015, but he’s better than you and you know it. In three short years, MJF, who has spent time with Create A Pro Wrestling Academy, Five Borough Wrestling and Major League Wrestling, is perhaps best known for his time in Combat Zone Wrestling, where is a two-time CZW Wired Champion and former CZW World Heavyweight Champion. MJF has also won titles with Alpha-1 Wrestling, Dramatic Dream Team, Maryland Championship Wrestling, Inspire Pro and Rockstar Pro Wrestling.
Janelope – Janelope is the intergender tag team featuring indie superstar Joey Janela and Penelope Ford, that many have called the heir apparent to the World’s Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae). Originally rivals in CZW several years ago, the two first teamed up in a multi-person tag match at a CZW/WSU event in November of 2015. They officially teamed up as a tag team the following year at H20 Wrestling Christmas Classic, where they defeated the team of Maria Manic & Jimmy Lloyd. The team, now called Janelope, became regulars with Beyond in 2017 and exploded into 2018, with matches in CHIKARA, Bar Wrestling and Women’s Wrestling Revolution.
On their own, Penelope Ford is a 26-year-old wrestler who has been wrestling for five years and who is currently both the Queens of Combat and Women Superstars Uncensored tag team champion. Joey Janela, the hardcore king, has made a name for himself throughout the indies over his 13-year career. He’s won 20 titles, including most recently the WWN Championship. Janela may be on the shelf right now but as soon as he’s back in ring shape, he’s a great guy for AEW to have on their roster.
PAC – Perhaps the biggest get for AEW is the one that seems the most unexpected. After leaving WWE in 2017, the former Neville shocked the world when he showed up in Dragon Gate for his first match in over a year. The 32-year-old wrestler of 16 years, PAC is one of the biggest draws on the indies right now, lining up dream matches left and right with top British wrestlers. PAC has won 22 titles in his career including as a two-time WWE Cruiserweight Champion and NXT champion, as well as the Open The Dream Gate Championship, which he currently holds. He’s eyeing at least one more however as PAC made his presence known at the rally to challenge Hangman Page’s claims of becoming AEW’s first champion.
Chris Jericho – Back when AEW was first rumored to be happening, Chris Jericho was rumored to be involved. He shot down the rumors, making a joke about how he’d be opening up a bakery or something else silly, but there he was, taking part in the rally and announcing that he was “All in on All Elite Wrestling.” While this might come as a surprise to some, for the past year, Jericho has certainly changed his tune regarding his place in wrestling. He went from a WWE loyalist to someone who wants to be at the front of this new revolution and he certainly has his place in it, especially now. Jericho has been wrestling for 27 years and is a 41-time champion. He brings a wealth of experience to the table and has shown in his most recent NJPW run that he still has a lot left in the tank.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) January 8, 2019
Billy Gunn – Known for his time in WWE as one half of the New Age Outlaws and a member of DX, Billy Gunn took part in All In, wrestling in the battle royale alongside his son. The 55-year-old Gunn, who has 30 years experience under his belt, has also served as a road agent and trainer in his career. An 11-time tag team champion in WWE, Gunn bring incredible experience and knowledge of the business to AEW, where he’ll serve as one of its producers.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) January 8, 2019
BJ Whitmer – Another guy with a vast amount of experience in the industry is the 40-year-old BJ Whitmer. A wrestler of 17 years, Whitmer is most known for his time in ROH, where he’s been a part of since 2003. In addition to being a wrestler, Whitmer has served as a color commentator, trainer and producer, most notably for All In. While he was not announced at the rally, Whitmer tweeted an AEW graphic a week or so ago, leading many to believe he’ll take on the same role with the company that he did for All In.
AEW doesn’t have a TV deal…yet.
Fans have already created this scenario where AEW and WWE are set to bring back a version of the Monday Night Wars. While this may come to pass, a large piece of the puzzle ultimately rests on the kind of TV deal AEW gets and what night their programming will air. We can piece some of that together as due to trademarks filed by the company for “Tuesday Night Dynamite” it would seem AEW is targeting Tuesday nights. This would be a smart move as starting this October, Smackdown will be moving to Friday nights when it debuts on FOX. Looking to fill an open void as opposed to stepping into direct ratings competition would be just one of many ways AEW is setting itself up for success.
But in order to have a night to air, AEW needs a network to air it and rumors have swirled that TBS/TNT could serve as that home. Of course, these networks are part of the Turner Broadcasting collection, which as most probably know, were started by former WCW mogul Ted Turner. Wrestling returning to a Turner network is certainly interesting from a nostalgic standpoint but again, it doesn’t mean there will be this weekly ratings battle. That said, if AEW is able to ink a deal right off the bat with a top network that is seen in close to 90 million households nationwide, that will only mean good things for the new company.
NJPW and AEW will NOT have a working relationship.
When All In took place, Cody and the Young Bucks relied on their two home promotions at the time, Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling, in order to help run things smoothly. NJPW allowed its talent to work the event, including Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega, both of whom very rarely make appearances outside of the company. ROH was also instrumental in getting the event off the ground from an infrastructure standpoint. The company also allowed its talents, commentators and backstage producers to take on roles in the show, as well as had their world championship defended on the card. They were the only promotion involved in that capacity.
But when AEW was announced, there was no pretense that ROH would be involved. In fact, it was just the opposite. As a U.S.-based indy, AEW is direct competition to ROH from a talent standpoint and otherwise. But that competition didn’t directly apply to NJPW and it was believed that due to the relationship with Cody and the Bucks, that talent could work AEW and NJPW. That won’t be the case however as NJPW has chosen to stick with its ROH relationship, at least for the time-being. This shouldn’t come as a huge surprise as the two companies are co-promoting an event at Madison Square Garden during WrestleMania Weekend. It’s likely even if NJPW is mulling working with AEW that it can’t happen until after the G1 Supercard in April. Unfortunately for them, however, that might mean losing Kenny Omega. More on that below.
AEW has merch and it’s selling incredibly well.
— OneHourTees (@OneHourTees) January 5, 2019
It should come as no surprise that All Elite Wrestling, despite being just eight days old, already has its fair share of merchandise available on Pro Wrestling Tees. In fact, the tweet announcing said merch was the third one to go up on the brand new AEW account. The merch includes baseball caps, hoodies and t-shirts, with either the AEW or Double or Nothing logos on them. Again, this should come as no surprise given the way the Elite have always done incredibly well with merch sales, but in just five days, the AEW logo shirt had become the best-selling item on PWT.
AEW is following just 33 accounts on Twitter. 13 of them are arenas.
When looking at AEW’s official Twitter account, which has over 84,000 followers despite being just eight days old, there are a lot of usual suspects on there in terms of who the account itself follows. Of course, AEW follows Cody and Brandi Rhodes, the Young Bucks, Mrs. Matt, Hangman Page, Tony Khan, the Jaguars, “FAT ASS” Masa, PWT and the old ALL_IN_2018 account that was created last year. AEW also follows all three members of SCU as well as BJ Whitmer, adding to speculation of his involvement.
Perhaps of most interest however is that AEW is following 13 arenas, and yes, I mean arenas. AEW follows several of the NBA’s biggest venues including the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, OH. (20,562 capacity for basketball), Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, MI. (20,491), Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA. (20,328), Target Center in Minneapolis, MN. (19,356), Pepsi Center in Denver, CO. (19,155), Toyota Center in Houston, TX. (18,055), Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA (16,867) and Fiserv Forum (17,500) in Milwaukee, WI. They also follow the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (17,500 capacity for hockey), PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. (18,680 capacity for hockey), Seattle Center Arena (17,072 for basketball) and The Forum in Los Angeles, CA (17,505 for basketball). Capacity for wrestling events tends to be about 1-2K smaller than for basketball but that should give everyone a good idea of the shows they are trying to book. All In was the first-ever independent show to sell out over 10K tickets. If AEW works any of these venues, 10K will be low-balling their potential to fill seats.
Both Tony Khan and his father Shad are involved in the venture.
When rumors of All Elite Wrestling first began to circulate a few months prior, the Khans were connected from the start. Now, it has been confirmed that not just Tony, who as mentioned will serve as the president, but also his father Shad, who is the lead investor, supporter and backer, will be involved in the company. The father-son duo released statements prior to the rally explaining their roles. While perhaps not involved in the day-to-day, Shad said that “AEW will enjoy the same full commitment I given to everything and everyone in my life – my family and friends, my business and, in recent years, to sports, hospitality and now entertainment.”
Tony, a lifelong wrestling fan, released the following statement:
Wrestling fans are a community unlike most others. I’ve been a part of this community since I was 7 years old, and I can tell you that wresting fans see the world every day through a special lens. We see wrestling in Hollywood films and tv shows, we see elements of wrestling in the presentation of sports and in the marketing of grandiose star athletes, and we certainly see wrestling in politics.
The wrestling community is a constant; its members are diverse, we are physically located on all corners of the planet, yet we are constantly connected. Recently, a new family has formed, bonded by love and respect for wrestling but armed with a vision and resources that have never before been available to the wrestling community. Our objective is to connect our community closer than ever before through All Elite Wrestling, or AEW.
AEW does not mean any less of a continued commitment to existing obligations and duties that I have, or my family has, to our business and sports interests. That will never be the case. What’s important is that every individual decision we make as family, whether it’s ownership or investment in a team or property, is 100 percent beneficial to those specific interests. I will always welcome that accountability and responsibility, as nothing is more important than serving our supporters and friends.
AEW will launch with a roster of the top wrestlers in the world. While they’ll clash in what will be some of the most intense and fast-paced contests ever sanctioned in the squared circle, they’ll also share a common goal: to make this the true golden age, to make this the greatest time ever to be a wrestling fan. Likewise, as a business, by treating our wrestlers with respect and warmth, we also seek to make this the golden age for the performers themselves.
I urge everyone who believes in what we’re doing, or wants to believe in dreams coming true, to support AEW by spreading the word and passing the wrestling bug onto someone else. My message: Get in on the ground floor with AEW today and help lead our movement to grow the wrestling community and ensure that the voices of the wrestling fans, their creative minds and their remarkable ideas, will always be heard.
Kenny Omega is expected to join AEW despite not being announced.
In a move that shouldn’t surprise anyone, Kenny Omega is expected to join his Elite buddies in AEW. While WWE put up a good fight and an even better offer, Dave Meltzer is reporting that AEW officials are confident that he’ll be signing with them. However, even if Omega does sign or has agreed to sign, it’s not an announcement you should have expected at the rally tonight due to his current contract status with NJPW.
According to reports, NJPW found out Omega was planning to leave at the end of his deal thanks to the interview he conducted with Tokyo Sports and they weren’t too pleased. Still, though, Omega’s deal with the company doesn’t officially expire until the end of this month, meaning that he can’t legally announce signing with another company until February 1st unless NJPW were to let him out of the deal early. It’s possible they could, especially as if Omega doesn’t sign with AEW he’d be a surefire bet to debut in the Royal Rumble on January, but it’s also possible they don’t. And in that case, don’t expect to find out where Omega is going until next month.