The wrestling world has been buzzing since the announcement of All Elite Wrestling and Double or Nothing 2, but AEW’s “rally” in Jacksonville has only added to that buzz. There were some big signings, some monumental announcements, and some unanswered questions by the time everything was done. Here are the three biggest takeaways from AEW’s inaugural “rally”.
Equality is on the Agenda
One of the most positive bits of news to come out of AEW’s initial “rally” is that equality definitely looks like a priority. In one of the first speeches of the night, Co-Executive Vice President Nick Jackson spoke about the company’s commitment to diversity moving forward.
“All Elite. A promotion, a company that welcomes all gifted talent. We don’t care about race or gender or sex or religion. If you’re an elite athlete, we want you. Our doors are open to all,” Jackson said.
We also heard some huge news from Chief Brand Officer Brandi Rhodes, who spoke on AEW’s women’s division. Rhodes confirmed the company will have a women’s division and emphasized their desire to get talent from all over the world. While unconfirmed, she stated they had sat down with some of the best talent in Japan last week and implied a potential partnership with a women’s promotion from Japan.
However, by far the biggest news on the note of equality is CBO Brandi Rhodes confirming AEW will have equal pay for men and women on the roster. This is huge news not just for AEW but for the wrestling industry as a whole. With AEW committed to paying female wrestlers the same as male wrestlers, they’ve already sent a message to every other company in wrestling.
Talent Acquisition is in High Gear
One of the key questions a lot of fans still have about All Elite Wrestling is exactly who will be a part of it. AEW is just getting started and we surely have more names to come as the company establishes itself, but they’re already set the bar high with announcements at the “rally” in Jacksonville.
For the women’s division, news had already circulated that Dr. Britt Baker had signed with AEW. This was confirmed at the rally, and we also saw the appearance of Penelope Ford. That’s only three women so far if you include CBO Brandi Rhodes, but it is a fantastic start for a division that should be at the forefront of All Elite Wrestling.
AEW’s dedication to the stars of independent wrestling continued with the confirmation of So Cal Uncensored signing with the company. Maxwell Jacob Friedman has signed, and the 22-year-old is already set to be one of AEW’s biggest stars for years to come. Joey Janela joined the club as well, another indie veteran for the mix. However, two signings stood above the rest of today’s talent announcements.
PAC, formerly known as Neville, has already been lighting up the independent scene since his departure from WWE. He made his presence felt while Hangman Page was addressing the crowd at the “rally”. PAC made his statement and we look set to see Page vs. PAC as a marquee rivalry in AEW moving forward.
The biggest acquisition of the day, however, has got to be Chris Jericho. The 6-time WWE Champion and recently dethroned IWGP Intercontinental Champion is a true maverick of professional wrestling. Since parting from a full-time schedule with WWE, he’s been all over the wrestling world in 2018.
Now, Jericho has signed on with AEW and believes in the role it will play for the future of the industry. He’s a big name competitor, but he’s also a ringing endorsement about the potential future of All Elite Wrestling.
AEW Still Has a Lot to Prove
Today is going to be all about good news coming out of the “rally”. From big announcements about future shows, new talent, and the company’s beliefs moving forward, it’s a bit too easy to forget how unproven All Elite Wrestling still is. The signs are great. If all the hype is to believed, we could be watching the birth of WWE’s future competitor and one of the biggest moments in modern wrestling history.
However, there are a lot of big ‘ifs’ that come along with that potential. There have already been questions about AEW’s commitment to people of color and whether they will be accepting of all sexualities. EVP Matt Jackson’s statement is great, but these assertions remain only words until we see them represented in AEW’s full talent roster and storylines.
We know that Double or Nothing will be on May 25, 2019 at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. We know that AEW’s second show will be in Jacksonville and that a large portion of the proceeds of that show will benefit victims of gun violence. We know that AEW’s roster will include Cody, The Young Bucks, Hangman Page, Britt Baker, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky, Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Joey Janela, Penelope Ford, PAC, and Chris Jericho.
We know a lot of things about what the future of All Elite Wrestling will look like, but the best laid plans can change. These are wonderful promises and commitments, but AEW still has a lot of work to do if they want to change the industry like they talk about doing. AEW might become a true revolution in the wrestling business, but it’s still way too early to know what the future truly holds.