Opinion: AEW can force WWE to pull out all the stops
It all started a couple of years ago when Dave Meltzer stated that an independent wrestling (specifically ROH) promotion couldn't sell more than 10,000 tickets. This comment offended many professional wrestlers on the independent scene, but there were three individuals who were very keen on proving Meltzer wrong. These three were Bullet Club's Cody Rhodes and the Young Bucks.
The three talented stars put together the All In pay-per-view in September 2018. World-class stars took part and tickets were sold out in under an hour. Cody and the Young Bucks proved Meltzer wrong as All In became the first-ever non-WWE (or WCW) event to sell more than 10,000 tickets.
Coming off the heels of their success, The Elite (Cody and the Young Bucks) left ROH in late 2018, and on the first day of 2019 announced the inception of AEW. AEW was founded by Tony Khan and Shahid Khan (both entrepreneurs) and all three members of the Elite, with Kenny Omega and Brandi Rhodes taking up in-ring and backstage roles. On the same day, its inaugural event, Double or Nothing, was announced to take place in May.
Over the course of the next few weeks, AEW created some serious buzz as top-notch performers like Chris Jericho, Pac (formerly known as Neville in WWE) and Adam Page officially signed with AEW. Cody's real-life brother, Dustin Rhodes, also joined the list, opening the door for multiple stars to get interested in the venture.
Meanwhile, WWE was experiencing a decline in viewership, reflective of the spiraling quality of their product. Ratings were plummeting and not much was working for the WWE. In addition, morale backstage was at an all-time low and numerous stars wanted out of the company. The Revival, Luke Harper, Tye Dillinger and Dean Ambrose made it clear that they wouldn't re-sign once their contract expired. Dillinger requested for his release, which was soon granted, whereas Harper's was rejected. The Revival were subjected to poor story-lines and sub-par booking as WWE humiliated the duo on television. Stars like Sasha Banks were so upset with their position in WWE that they refused to show up. A recent report suggested that countless stars backstage have contacted AEW and tensions are escalating.
Then, on May 1, Ambrose's contract expired and he left WWE, despite lucrative offers made to him to stay. There were hopes that he just needed a hiatus, but that was not the case.
At Double or Nothing, Shawn Spears, f.k.a. Tye Dillinger, appeared; later in the night, after the main event, Jon Moxley, f.k.a. Dean Ambrose, stunned the world as he arrived to AEW, attacking Kenny Omega to close out the show. On top of that, Double of Nothing was a tremendous event and the reviews were very good.
AEW is still in its developmental stage and has only been around for half a year, but what's surprising is the amount of interest it has generated in such a short period of time. With WWE struggling to satisfy its audience and personnel, one can start questioning where their strangle-hold on the professional wrestling market will last much longer. AEW is forcing WWE to pull out all the stops, which is something we haven't seen in a long time.