In 2019, if you were to look at the landscape of wrestling over the past 15+ years since WCW went out of business, you’d know that the only big game in town was WWE. It’s not like there weren’t other promotions or alternatives. There was Ring of Honor, TNA, New-Japan Pro Wrestling, and Lucha Underground. The thing is that none of these alternatives ever came close to getting into the mainstream or even had a consistent substantial TV presence.
For years, WWE was the only promotion you could go to get big in terms of name-value as well as pay. As I mentioned, their presence on TV is a huge factor in that with their shows being on networks such as USA Network and FOX. The closest anyone got during this time was TNA on Spike TV for a brief period but they fizzled down due to a plethora of different reasons. No one had the big television deals that WWE did, until 2019 that is.
AEW was formally announced in January of 2019 as a new wrestling promotion. The company is formally run by Tony Khan who is also co-owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. The company’s first show was Double or Nothing 2019 and by all measures, it was a complete success in every sense of the word. The biggest thing AEW had going for it, in the beginning, is its television deal. For its first few years, AEW aired on TNT for over 2 years and recently moved over to TBS and has had great success. AEW: Dynamite premieres for 2 hours every single week on Wednesday.
Over the past 2 and a half years, AEW has averaged anywhere from 800,000 to 1.2 million viewers. WarnerMedia has seemingly been happy with AEW’s performance based on their press releases as well as the fact that they’ve expanded with a second show in AEW: Rampage. Rampage is a one-hour show that premieres on TNT every Friday and admittedly doesn’t bring in the numbers that Dynamite does due to the day it airs and the fact that 95% of the time, the show is taped. Although, I’m certain it’s not supposed to and as a plus, it’s a quick watch that gives other wrestlers more time that they don’t always have on Dynamite.
The roster AEW has garnered isn’t anything to cackle at either. As of this writing, their roster consists of the following names.
- Kenny Omega
- Bryan Danielson
- Thunder Rosa
- CM Punk
- Hangman Page
- Adam Cole
- Jon Moxley
- Britt Baker
- The Young Bucks
- Darby Allin
- Jade Cargill
- Ruby Soho
- Hikaru Shida
- Chris Jericho
These are just the names I can think of off the top of my head and there are still tons of other names on their roster.
AEW isn’t just an alternative for the fans, it’s an alternative for wrestlers as well. I won’t go over the specifics for each wrestler but it’s no secret there were discouraged people in WWE. CM Punk left WWE and wrestling for 7 years and Jon Moxley wasn’t happy at all towards the end of his run with WWE. If anyone isn’t happy or simply wants a change of scenery, the option is always there.
This isn’t a post about WWE vs AEW, as I’m completely against the mindset. This is a post to appreciate the fact that for the first time in a long time, everyone has a true alternative. Since its inception, AEW has succeeded in a lot of ways. Ticket sales have been great, They have averaged between 100,000-200,000 buys for each PPV, and most recently they’ve announced a partnership with NJPW for a PPV in June next month.
I simply want to acknowledge that AEW has been around for 3 years and the wrestling industry has been made better for it. Having two companies on mainstream TV hadn’t been a reality for over a decade. Everyone can have their opinions on AEW and the product they put out as I do, but I think the majority can agree they’re happy to have them around.