The worst-kept secret in pro wrestling has become official: All Elite Wrestling is coming, as announced in Jacksonville, Florida this Tuesday. The nascent promotion grew out of The Elite, which itself grew out of NJPW’s Bullet Club. The Elite’s Cody Rhodes and Young Bucks Matt and Nick Jackson will serve as the company’s executive vice presidents as well as premier in-ring talents, while the company will be financially backed by Shahid and Tony Khan, billionaires who also own the Jacksonville Jaguars and the English Premier League’s Fulham FC.
Whether or not AEW will have the money and clout to take on WWE remains to be seen, but one thing’s for sure: they aren’t messing around. At Tuesday’s press conference, the company vowed to be the best wrestling promotion both for fans and for wrestlers, offering health insurance — something WWE notoriously doesn’t offer, as their wrestlers are classified as “independent contractors” — as well as equal pay for male and female talent.
AEW will also feature a women’s division, Chief Brand Officer and Cody’s wife Brandi Rhodes announced. Britt Baker has been announced as the first signed female talent besides Brandi. Baker wrestled at ALL IN, a supercard precursor to AEW, and has also made appearances on WWE’s Raw and NXT brands.
The biggest names to be announced, however, were two former champions in WWE: Pac, formerly known as Neville, and six time world champion Chris Jericho. Jericho is rumored to have signed the best contract of his career with AEW, a strong indicator of the kind of money AEW is working with considering Jericho has previously signed contracts with the likes of Vince McMahon and Ted Turner.
Conspicuous by his absence was Elite founding member and now former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega, who is expected to sign with AEW, but has also fielded offers from NJPW and WWE. He remains under contract with New Japan until February 1.
AEW’s followup to ALL IN, Double or Nothing, will emanate from Las Vegas, Nevada on May 25th. Their next show has no announced date as of yet, but will take place in Jacksonville, Florida, which also serves as the promotion’s home base.
As of now, All Elite Wrestling’s full roster is as follows:
- Chris Jericho
- Christopher Daniels
- Cody Rhodes
- El Lindaman
- Frankie Kazarian
- “Hangman” Adam Page
- Joey Janela
- Matt Jackson
- Maxwell Jacob Friedman
- Nick Jackson
- Scorpio Sky
- Takehiro Yamamura
- Brandi Rhodes
- Britt Baker
- Penelope Ford
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