I haven’t said basically anything about All Elite Wrestling here, because I’ve learned not to get my hopes up about there ever being real competition for WWE again. Everything that’s tried to fill the void left by WCW and ECW has either died before it ever got going, been mismanaged into oblivion or not had the resources pumped into it that it would need to truly make a go of things. But I’m starting to think we might actually be getting somewhere here.
— TNT Drama (@tntdrama) May 15, 2019
Yes, AEW somehow managed to score a deal with TNT. Not bad for a promotion that’s ran literally one show that didn’t even use the All Elite name and sold out one more that hasn’t happened yet. I’m sure to some that last sentence sounds like I’m belittling them, but in fact it’s just the opposite. What AEW has done here is a credit to the wrestling names involved and to what seems like the solid commitment of the money people. Nobody else could have made this deal, I don’t think. Impact, which is better now from a content standpoint than it’s been in years, sure couldn’t. They just finished taking a significant downgrade from a deal that already wasn’t very good, and the only reason they even landed that is because their parent company owns part of the station they settled for. (See into oblivion, mismanaged.)
There are a lot of smart people behind this project and they seem to be taking the time to get things right. And with so many indies doing so well and WWE’s ratings dropping further and further all the time, it does seem like they could be the right people coming along at the right time to create a solid second major company. WWE is worth so much money right now thanks to TV deals and selling shows to Saudi Arabia that it would take incompetence on a scale heretofore unseen for AEW to pass them in the next few years, but they certainly appear to have enough going for them to make WWE at least sit up and think that maybe it’s time to change some things before the rights deals come up again. People aren’t going to want to pay billions of dollars to a company that nobody watches forever, after all.
May 15, 2019 – WarnerMedia announced today that it is partnering with All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the new professional wrestling promotion featuring a world-class roster of diverse male and female wrestlers, giving fans a new wrestling experience for the first time in 20 years. WarnerMedia and AEW together will build this powerhouse sporting league from the ground up and will begin airing weekly matches later this year. With this league, AEW is introducing a new generation of wrestlers to fans, offering fun, gripping and authentic athletic matches that will make wrestling more accessible to a broad audience. WarnerMedia will utilize its position as a next-generation global media company to build this league into a global pro-wrestling franchise.
Founded by President and CEO Tony Khan, AEW is headlined by members of The Elite, which includes all-star wrestlers The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and Hangman Page, and a roster that includes the legendary Chris Jericho. Omega, Cody and The Young Bucks also serve as executive vice presidents of the company in addition to in-ring talent, and Brandi Rhodes also serves as Chief Brand Officer.
Later this year, WarnerMedia will provide exclusive multi-platform access for fans to watch AEW events, airing live weekly matches on TNT in prime time, as well as streaming them through WarnerMedia’s B/R Live and on pay-per-view. A leading digital sports enterprise, B/R Live’s high fan engagement will provide an invaluable opportunity to build AEW’s audience.
I’m curious where the shows will end up airing in Canada. The obvious choice is TSN, assuming that all those years of attitude era Raw that gave them so many headaches aren’t still leaving a bad taste in their mouths. They did air a Kenny Omega documentary not long ago, which could either be a complete coincidence or a subtle hint. They also have five stations to fill now instead of one, so the issue of shows being constantly preempted shouldn’t need to ever crop up the way it used to for Raw.
But if it’s not going to be TSN, things get pretty dicey.
Bell wouldn’t buy the rights to wrestling and then stick it anywhere but TSN, which rules out CTV, I suspect. But even if it doesn’t, where do you put it? CTV does well in prime time, so there’s no way AEW would fit in anywhere that isn’t a complete death spot, something like 2 in the morning on a Sunday.
Ditto for Corus. Global used to air WWECW, but it was Saturday morning at one and there’s no reason for things to be any different now.
Rogers is firmly locked up with WWE, so unless there’s something we don’t know, Sportsnet or anything else Rogers-owned is out of the question.
That basically leaves the Fight Network, but even that one gets complicated since Anthem already owns Impact and has a broadcast deal with Ring of Honor.
These are some interesting times all around. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens and to hopefully not being disappointed for once.