World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. (also known as WWE) might finally be challenged in its ring for the first time in decades by a rival wrestling entertainment company. The newest professional wrestling organization, All Elite Wrestling (AEW), is an up-and-coming company that has poached many of WWE's talents, including WWE legend CM Punk, who recently came out of retirement.
Confused wrestling fans are curious if AEW is part of WWE, and if not, what the differences are between the two organizations. Read on for everything we know about this wrestling group smackdown.
Is AEW a part of WWE?
Contrary to popular belief, AEW is a brand-new company to the world of wrestling. As Complex states, the organization is more focused on the athletic aspects of wrestling versus the entertainment emphasis that WWE has. AEW is funded by multimillionaire Pakistani-American Shahid Khan and his son Tony Khan, who serves as AEW's president and CEO.
AEW also has four executive vice presidents who participate in the wrestling in addition to their duties to the board. These vice presidents are Nick and Matt Jackson, better known as the Young Bucks; Kenny Omega, widely considered the best non-WWE wrestler; and Cody Rhodes, formerly of the WWE and currently known as "Cody" until he straightens out his legal drama with WWE. Cody's wife Brandi serves as the company's chief brand officer.
The differences between the classic WWE and the up-and-comer AEW don't stop with the brand's focus. John Oliver did a segment on his show about WWE's decades-long mistreatment of its employees, whereas Cody promised that AEW will cover 100 percent of medical costs and treatments for its employees. AEW has also increased the amount it pays employees, and it doesn't do scripted promotional material.
Brandi Rhodes explained to Complex in 2019, "AEW is all about the bell to bell action. You’re going to get more wrestling and less soapy backstage drama. Of course, we have compelling characters that people will love and identify with. But the actual athleticism and action, the diverse roster, the fresh faces mixed with the familiar—that is what you will truly appreciate."
AEW inked a deal to appear on television in a weekly television show on TNT. The show airs at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesdays and 9 p.m. ET Fridays, but AEW content is also available for streaming on Hulu.
In 2019, Adam Silverstein of CBS Sports wrote that thanks to this new television deal, AEW is "the first company with major financial backing to take a swing at the beginning to compete with WWE on a major level in nearly two decades."
How does the WWE feel about AEW?
The last time WWE had a rival in the wrestling entertainment industry, it led to a years-long feud that eventually ended when WWE bought its competitor company, WCW. While many WWE members are jumping ship for AEW, WWE has little to fear because it's so established. However, if it wants to continue to stay afloat, it must maintain its current roster, and it's off to a good start.
In 2019, Complex reported that WWE offered performers raises of $100,000 and more. Sometimes, this has worked in WWE's favor, but other times, as with Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder, they turned the offer down. AEW members have said to Post Wrestling (per the Bleacher Report) that they're not looking to compete with WWE, but that might not be the case for all members.
Either way, it sounds like there's plenty of opportunity for wrestling in the future. Let the games begin!