Obviously for those in the know this is a pointless question. Yet for the casual professional wrestling fan, or even the random person that knows nothing of the inner workings of the industry, AEW can stand for just about anything. Today we’ll be taking a deep look into just who owns AEW, how the company came about, and why it was absolutely necessary.
A brief history of the industry
The professional wrestling industry hit a boom in the eighties, and for the casual fan we mentioned above, I’m sure even he or she would remember who was at the helm of that aforementioned boom: None other than ‘The Hulkster’ himself, Hulk Hogan. The WWE (the WWF at the time) provided a platform for a bunch of characters to shine on what is now referred to as the grandest stage of the industry.
Vince McMahon of course had a lot to do with that, his vision coming through even back then. But it was stars like Hogan Macho Man, the Ultimate Warrior, Roddy Piper, and so many others that had the average person tuning in and trying to see what all the obvious fuss was about.
Vince McMahon and company enjoyed almost what can be considered a monopoly, but it was in the late eighties that Ted turner got into the game. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that but needless to say, WCW came about…both companies breaking away from the territory designation embodiment that was once the NWA—the National Wrestling Alliance. WCW and WWE broke off from that governing body and became their own thing, each finding mainstream success.
For a while they went neck and neck, at one point WCW gaining the upper hand with the audience, but it was in 2001 that that battle, known as The Monday Night Wars, came to a close, Vince McMahon buying out his competition.
It was at this point that the wrestling industry would take a hit, because by buying out his competition, he was pretty much the only game in town so to speak, and that rubbed the audience the wrong way, as there was nowhere else to turn and the WWE product was all pro wrestling fans had to rely on at a mainstream level at least. The independent wrestling scene was still going strong but at a teeter, as there isn’t big money at that level.
The era of ROH and TNA
Of course it was about a year after the purchasing of WCW by WWE that two companies that would shake the foundations of the industry would be unearthed. Both TNA and ROH developed for themselves a cult following since their respective humble beginnings in 2002, and they were responsible for the creation of today’s top stars.
Names that include CM Punk, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, the Young Bucks, Adam Cole, Eddie Edwards, Kenny Omega, Bobby Roode, and so many others would make it through those platforms respectively.
But this was low level, and at the top of the mountain was still Vince McMahon and the company was getting complacent, as were its fans, as the storylines put forth and the overall product was disappointing to many out there.
Soon enough though, because of a few professional wrestlers, that had wrestled in Japan and at these two aforementioned companies, would tire of having only one show in town, but these few would need the help of someone with deep pockets, and it would be in 2018 that the ball would start to roll down the hill…not an easy task but one that was executed impressively.
The Dawn of AEW
The name Cody Rhodes is one that brings along with its mention years of history in the realm of pro wrestling. He is of course the son of the late, legendary Dusty Rhodes. Cody made a name for himself in WWE but after growing frustrated with the direction of his character in WWE and a lowering of his salary, he deduced that hitting the independent circuit and building a reputation for himself there was in order. Being a homegrown WWE guy just wasn’t doing it for him anymore.
Well, he hit that independent circuit and in the process wrestled in Japan, in ROH and in TNA as well as making other stops on that circuit.
His legend status had grown and grown considerably. It was also on this journey that he met the Young Bucks and Kenny Omega, and they cultivated a relationship. It was in this way that the event known as All In was unearthed, and it was a huge success.
It was held in 2018 and backed by ROH. It was the biggest independent wrestling show ever…with an attendance of 11, 263 as per Wikipedia. It was so huge, it got the attention of someone with deep pockets after all, and what happened next changed the landscape of the pro wrestling industry.
So…Who Owns AEW?
That would be Tony Khan. He is the son of Shahid Khan, a billionaire tycoon. He is a Pakistani-American and is the owner of an American car company known as Flex-N-Gate; in soccer he owns Fulham F.C. in the British Premiere League, and in the National Football League owns the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also co-owns AEW, which stands for All Elite Wrestling with his son, Tony Khan.
Tony Khan serves as co-owner, president, CEO, general manager, executive producer of AEW.
Kenny Omega, the Young Bucks and Cody Rhodes all served as EVPs of the company, Cody until his departure from the company. He returned to WWE at last year’s WrestleMania and has since been injured, his return imminent.
Interestingly enough, Tony Khan now owns ROH (Ring Of Honor) as well.
A Lasting and Continued Impression
AEW made a statement when it was formed in 2019 and started the three-year journey they just celebrated an anniversary for…and that statement was there is no longer only one game in town. There is another company that puts forth big budget shows and offers a platform for huge wrestling starts to hone, cultivate and push their craft.
And in addition, they have pushed WWE to put forward a better product, a product that has steadily improved in recent months, and all because of the pressure put upon them by the looming presence of another big company…AEW. Overall that is good for the entirety of the industry…healthy competition is definitely good for an industry’s progression after all.
AEW reached huge numbers in recent years and that’s at the buy-in level, attendance records, ratings and income from merchandise and overall interest and exposure. Many stars wrestle for the company and we’re talking about huge stars.
Yes, they’ve hit a proverbial wall right now and are experiencing some issues because of the fallout from their event, All Out…an incident in which some of the aforementioned EVPs got into a physical altercation backstage—a real one—but WWE has had periods even worse than this in their checkered past.
AEW shall overcome and when they do, the industry will benefit even more from their continued success, as it already and evidently has.