As a loyal and dedicated Impact Wrestling fan, my question regarding this current situation with AEW is, “Why does it have to be an us versus them kind of thing?”
The answer is that it doesn’t. Yes there has been some light whispering and hints of the two companies maybe not necessarily going out of their way to openly share talent or cooperate with each other, but I have yet to see a confirmed report from a reputable source indicating that All Elite Wrestling and Impact are at odds with one another. If a situation arises in the future where AEW actually declares war on Impact or does something directly like that to hurt them, then, by all means have at it. Until then (and I don’t think that situation would even materialize anytime soon), I’m going to continue to wait and watch things unfold with All Elite Wrestling. While the amount of coverage and promotion that they get is annoying, it’s perfectly clear that their main target is the WWE, and frankly I’m all for that. I hope they take that TNT slot and do really well with it and force the E to “up their game”. Let them battle it out and tear each other apart. There’s very little drawback involved in doing that as top tier competition is good. Meanwhile, Impact just continues to do their own thing and focus on securing that coveted and potentially stabilizing U.S. TV deal.
It’s also worth pointing out that AEW’s present and future success does not need to translate into Impact being completely discarded. I can understand why AEW fans would want to take some of the pie that the WWE has been gluttonously gorging on, but why try and damage Impact also? Why would you want to burn that bridge when so many of us want to see AEW do well? I’ve seen some of the more crazy and delusional All Elite fans wishing for Impact to “go out of business”. I will never understand that mentality. Why exactly do you want to see wrestlers and a whole company fail and lose their jobs? Impact Wrestling succeeding is good for the entire pro wrestling industry. Any objective fan of professional wrestling would have to agree with that statement. Otherwise, it just comes across as a vindictive, agenda-driven pile of shit to hope that Impact dies and goes away. Pro wrestling is all about the wrestlers. The more secure places that they have to work and showcase themselves on a world-wide platform, the better it is for them.
In a very short amount of time, the perception out there has become that Impact is the #3 U.S. wrestling promotion. While I don’t agree with this assessment entirely as far as a big picture point of view goes, it does say something that Impact is still regarded to be ahead of Ring of Honor, MLW, the NWA and others. Yes, AEW has a nice U.S. TV contract but how many other countries do they have TV deals with besides those in the U.K.? Impact Wrestling is broadcast to 120 countries worldwide. Also, you can’t dismiss the fact that Impact has seventeen years of history as a company. Yes, All Elite seems to have some impressive drawing power so far and have shown good potential but actually executing a long-term plan and keeping this current momentum up is not going to be an easy task. Wrestling fans today are hard to please and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the interest level for AEW could diminish over time. Don’t get me wrong, most things look great and promising for them right now, but what about a year from now or 2 years from now? That’s a lot of arenas to fill and a lot of business to be done. At this time, they’re putting on special events without the demands and complexities of weekly programming. What happens if their ratings start tanking by sometime in 2020? There’s still a lot to prove so declaring them the next WCW is really premature.
As much as some people want to act like it doesn’t exist, it’s no secret that AEW and Impact have connections behind the scenes. I won’t pretend to know what exactly that all entails, but let’s examine what we do know.
Tommy Dreamer: He is one of the very few guys in pro wrestling that has the freedom to basically work for whomever he wants without being under contract. Dreamer has the trust and respect of so many movers and shakers in the industry. He was involved at All In last September. In Las Vegas he recently competed at AEW’s Double or Nothing PPV in the Casino Battle Royale. He’s also on the creative/booking team for Impact Wrestling. The amount of wrestling relationships that he has is insane. If there’s a chance in the future for these two companies to work together in some capacity, I imagine that Tommy would be involved somehow.
Don Callis: He has the strongest connections when it comes to the core group of All Elite Wrestling. Don has stated several times before in interviews that he is great friends with both Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho and was heavily involved with both of them in New Japan. Also, he is very familiar with the Young Bucks from his time in Japan. When this groups first event, All In, took place last year Don was on the announce team as Cody Rhodes welcomed him with open arms. I realize that at that time, AEW wasn’t officially formed yet but that pay-per-view was the beginning point of what it has become today. I don’t believe that Don’s friends would try and take down the company in which he is an essential part of. For God’s sake, Jericho personally advocated for Scott D’Amore and Don to obtain their current positions with Impact. Callis and Omega are so close that Kenny let Don pin him at an indy wrestling event earlier this year.
Starrcast in Las Vegas: There were several Impact Wrestling talents that made appearances during the Double or Nothing weekend at these various signings and other fan events. Even though this fan convention isn’t technically owned by AEW, it seems like the two entities will coincide at various events for the foreseeable future. I’d imagine that more Impact wrestlers will be at Starrcast 3 in Chicago over Labor Day weekend unless something drastically changes. Impact management allowing them to do so is a smart move. Anything that Impact’s talent can be involved in to get more exposure and promote the product is a good thing.
The point is that the two promotions are indirectly involved with each other already. They aren’t officially working together (as far as we know) but they aren’t completely sequestered away from one another either. They’ve proven to be cordial towards each other so far to a certain degree. There are talents that appeared on Double or Nothing that have since worked for Impact on Twitch and Impact Plus events. Also, I don’t know how legit the report was that Cage apparently wanted to wrestle at Double or Nothing, but if it was true, it makes you wonder if he wasn’t injured what could have happened there. That would have meant that Impact’s World Champion would have been featured on AEW’s pay-per-view. Again, who knows if this scenario was even realistic but it’s definitely food for thought.
When looking at Impact’s current talent roster and comparing it to AEW’s roster, there really isn’t a huge disparity in overall star power. Yes, All Elite has some bigger names and the backing of the media and fans to a much higher degree than Impact has, but are their wrestlers from top to bottom really that much better? I would put Impact’s Top 5 male wrestlers up against the Top 5 from AEW any day of the week. Also, Impact’s KnockOuts Division is definitely the best women’s roster in North America by far. I guarantee you that the members of All Elite’s inner circle are licking their chops at the thought of possibly signing some of Impact’s wrestlers once their contracts run out. I imagine that this “grass is greener” type of stuff factored into Eli Drake leaving and we’ll see if that’s true if he shows up on one of their shows soon. Also, when Jordynne Grace was deciding on where to sign recently, it makes a lot of sense that AEW would have made her an offer, even though that’s not confirmed. Remember that at All In, Tessa Blanchard was heavily featured and won her match so she is definitely on their radar for the future. And last but not least, that brings us to the Killer Kross situation.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you know about Killer Kross and his controversial “request for release from Impact” story that was leaked. After listening to his interview with The Wrestling Perspective Podcast I came away from that being very skeptical of the role that AEW may have played in this as it seemed clear to me that going to AEW is his intention. It’s obvious that Kross wants to make more money and Tony Khan has a lot of it. Killer Kross is also lobbying to fight Jon Moxley as he has made a YouTube video portraying that potential situation. Kross was sitting on the third row at Double or Nothing. He mentioned in that notorious interview that he believes he has major drawing power, especially when it comes to battling Moxley. It also was insinuated that he has talked to Jon Moxley about this scenario. So, if Killer Kross has indeed been tampered with, that might just be my personal breaking point where AEW could already lose me and others as casual fans. Right now, I’m planning on watching their product when it debuts on TNT, but if they start pulling underhanded stuff like this and stealing Impact’s contracted talents then I will not go out of my way to support their promotion. Not to mention that it’s just bad business if they are possibly meddling like that.
I think a key indicator for how AEW and Impact might coexist with each other will come into play regarding their respective relationships with AAA. A major landmark pay-per-view is on the horizon with AAA’s September 15th Madison Square Garden event. A recent report on ticket sales indicated that the PPV is nearly sold out. This historic show will take place two weeks after All Elite Wrestling’s All Out event in Chicago and their regular TNT shows should be starting shortly after that. Just look at the picture above which was taken at the initial press conference during Wrestlemania Weekend at MSG. The Lucha Brothers are seemingly going to be working exclusively for AEW come September but I’ll believe that when I see it as they plainly still at least have a role with AAA. The Lucha Bros were very happy with their Impact run and I can definitely see them working with the company again in the future. Konnan has a lot of sway with AAA and Impact and he’s very underrated by the fans and media when it comes to his influence on this whole situation, especially when it comes to luchadores. Tessa and Taya both seem primed to compete at this event in NYC and figure to be heavily featured. So… do the Young Bucks compete at this show? Who else from AEW will be on the card? We’ll be paying attention closely to these developments.
And finally, on a somewhat unrelated topic, if you want a good laugh regarding how dumb Mike Johnson from PWInsider acted earlier this week, check out our new episode of Spark the Discussion where we break down our recent interactions with Mr. Johnson (starting at the 40 minute mark). I must say, for someone like Mike who claims to be a “pro wrestling journalist”, he sure acted like an 11-year-old brat here at DiscussPW and on Twitter. He may have deleted most of it but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have the screen shots. This is a grown man with a huge readership who makes a living from his website and who is allegedly respected in some circles. That being said, how paranoid and insecure do you have to be to come here seeking validation on our small fan site? I mean, why are you wasting your time with us? Our opinions mean that much to you? What exactly is your agenda? Seriously, it all reeks of self-doubt and fragility on his part. I honestly was amazed that he took things so far as to threaten legal action on us on Twitter. Other bullshit that he brought up was pretty revealing too, such as the Chris Regal stuff. Some people might think that we are being somewhat petty but given the circumstances of the situation, and Mike’s reputation for “exposing people” in the pro wrestling industry, we’re not going to just let this shit go. Mike Johnson will never forget DiscussPW as we are going to hold him accountable from now on.