With news of CM Punk and Daniel Bryan possibly migrating to AEW after both established careers in WWE—epic careers I might add—there have been criticisms regarding AEW’s recent tendency to hire former superstars from WWE. Essentially AEW has been condemned by some for hiring too much former WWE talent. Jim Ross weighed in and made some comments in defense of AEW’s hiring of former WWE talent.
He had this, as well as other things to say on a recent episode of Grilling JR:
“…It’s a weak argument…I don’t agree with that, I’m not knocking WWE, it’s not my charge in life to criticize the WWE, I had 26 years there in WWE. I don’t feel like we’re in a wrestling war, the war is AEW vs. itself. Getting our young guys to continue to evolve and get better. I think we are seeing that. Some of our home grown kids are starting to find their way. It’s a big difference in working in PWG or an indie show or working a match on a national television show. It’s a different mindset, it’s a different ball game and a lot of our guys never had that, never played in that ballgame…”via Grilling JR /WrestlingInc (Transcription)
He also stated:
“…Malakai is a big acquisition for us and I’m glad he’s on our team. I’m very surprised that WWE let him slip away; I don’t know all the back story for that stuff. I don’t know, but I know we’re lucky we have him, he’s a unique talent. Looks like his first dancing partner is going to be Cody, and they’ll have a hellacious run I think. Both are young and hungry, Cody is one of my favorites in and out of the ring and that’s because I was so close to his father, I feel compelled even though he’s never asked me to, to look out for him a bit. That will be a hell of a run whenever it is. I think Tony Khan has some other surprises I hear coming up. Tony’s been very aggressive, much like the Trevor Lawrence draft pick. He’s shooting for the moon with a lot of guys and I think we’re going to be loaded up for Summer and Fall and keep getting stronger…”via Grilling JR /WrestlingInc (Transcription)
At the end of the day, the point is: most wrestlers had to have their start somewhere. If suddenly AEW starts to hire guy after guy from the International Wrestling Syndicate in Montreal, does that mean that they’re stealing IWS guys, or does it mean that they are giving a chance to a lesser known promotion to gain some steam as well as its talented roster? Personally, I prefer the latter to the former. And maybe this is Ross’ point in a nutshell, as well as to state that they also have a crop of younger wrestlers that they themselves are bringing to the audience for the first time too.
AEW started on the basis of having former WWE stars. Cody, Mox, Jericho, Pac and so many others who passed through New York, so to speak. And they were at AEW to begin with since its inception, and at the end of the day, AEW is merely giving wrestlers a different place to wrestle…perhaps a place where their creativity will be given a chance to flourish and not be stifled by upper management.
Booker T weighed in as well, according to WrestlingInc, stating that AEW has to essentially be careful of not having history repeat itself, referring to WCW’s penchant for having gobbled up so many WWE wrestlers before and during the Monday Night Wars.
WCW was its very own animal and one that eventually imploded because of bad management decisions. Bischoff’s idea to get as many WWE guys did end up hurting them in the end, but this is not AEW’s plan. Tony Khan seems very much interested in hiring the best of the best, no matter where they come from. Is it his or AEW’s fault that there so happen to be way too many disgruntled superstars form WWE who need a job?
I say no way.
CM Punk’s plight was made very public and Daniel Bryan’s unhappiness with his recent storylines was equally rumored.
The comments made by J.R. second these feelings and thank you for bearing with me as I editorialize, but in the end, this is what happens when a single company no longer enjoys the monopoly it once had, and for the business of pro wrestling, it’s perhaps the greatest gift of all.