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DID VINCE KNOW ABOUT JERICHO SIGNING?, KHAN ON GOLDBERG, THE REACTION WITHIN WWE TO AEW FORMING AND MORE NOTES

By Mike Johnson on 2019-01-11 08:35:00

As the dust settles from the announcement of the All Elite Wrestling rally, here are some news and notes:

*Chris Jericho noted while he was on Busted Open yesterday that he had conversations with Vince McMahon that were amicable, and that Vince was aware he was going to sign with All Elite Wrestling.  Jericho declined to go into further details on the show, but his podcast next week will be built around signing with AEW and he’ll probably give more insight then.  You can listen to the complete interview below:

*The Being the Elite YouTube series featured a tease of a countdown clock for Kenny Omega.  He’s said he’s leaving New Japan Pro Wrestling, which was the right move for him if he wants to get the best deal possible.  There is an assumption that will he join his friends at AEW when his NJPW deal expires in the first week of February (which would give AEW another big event to stage if they go that route to unveil his signing).   Jericho referred to Kenny during his Busted Open appearance.  In speaking to sources in WWE yesterday, there didn’t seem to be any expectation that Omega was heading their way, but anything can happen until the moment his NJPW deal officially expires, but everyone did make a pact to take the next step together.  Obviously, New Japan would want Omega (and Jericho for that matter) as they continue to run more dates in the United States.

*Joey Janela announced on his Facebook page that he signed a contract with AEW on Wednesday 1/9.   I would assume that means Penelope Ford, who recently had a WWE tryout, has signed as well.

*MJF has also intimated that he signed on social media.   MJF had a deal with Major League Wrestling, but that deal didn’t restrict him from wrestling anywhere but WWE, so he can work for both entities.

*In regard to rumors of WWE Hall of Famer Bill Goldberg being involved, AEW President Tony Khan appeared earlier this week on Sean Waltman’s podcast and commented, “I have spent some time will Bill, I really like Bill a lot and he’s one of the greatest drawing cards ever in the business, he’s a huge star, a household name...and yeah if the situation was right obviously.  I haven’t agreed to anything with Bill or anything, but I like Bill a lot.”

*Khan also told Waltman that he was open to partnerships with other promotions.  Given the core group he’s signed and given New Japan’s push into the United States this year, one would think that’s what he was inferring.    AEW having the ability to offer Jericho or potentially Omega would be a positive for them in forging a relationship with New Japan or anyone else internationally.  We have been told by several wrestlers that Khan was at the Revolution Pro event in the UK last week, which featured the former Neville, once again known as Pac, appearing several days before he was announced as signing with AEW.  Whether there is anything deeper to that visit, we have not confirmed.

*Khan will lead the creative team.  He's got a long knowledge and passion for professional wrestling dating back to when he was a kid.

*Based on comments Tony Khan made on the Waltman podcast, the product will be sports-oriented, which makes sense given his background in the sports world and as someone who grew up a fan during a time where there was WCW, ECW, WWF, tape trading of territories, etc..  When asked about the plans for AEW's product, Khan commented, "It {Pro Wrestling} hasn’t been taken seriously as the true athletic competition it is, in other sports wins and losses matter and I feel like wins and losses are a huge part of the equation. I really want a win and a loss to be taken seriously and the win/loss component should be a huge part of the competition to build up to the championship. Something we will take very very seriously. In my background in sports, I am huge believer in statistics and I think that’s one area where in wrestling we've seen some cool stuff get over...To me I think there's real opportunities to do some interesting things just in terms of building up athletes the way UFC has as legitimate competition."  

*No word yet when tickets will go on sale for the 5/25 Double or Nothing event.  One would think they will use Being the Elite to build to the on-sale date and it will be interesting to see if they can match the immediate sellout that “All In” did last year.  That was a special event that meant something to the audience in an “us vs. them” way against the establishment.  To me, the real key here is to keep that “us vs. them” vibe to get the audience to rally around them as they build towards presenting consistent events.  There’s a big difference between ECW One Night Stand and WWE ECW.  All In felt like the former on an emotional, fun scale.   In my opinion, they need to find a way to keep that as they build their plans.  It’s not an easy balance and everyone involved has a lot of work ahead of them.  This is going to be a long, long race.

*The Jacksonville, Florida event that was announced this week but has yet to be officially dated will be titled “Fight for the Fallen” with a portion of the gate being donated to the victims of gun violence.   

*Billy Gunn and BJ Whitmer will be working behind the scenes as producers.

*Alex Marvez will be in as an announcer in some form.  He and Khan go back forever.  Not sure on Conrad Thompson.  They did a good job as the emcees for the rally.

*During a media call for the debut of WOW, Women of Wrestling,  AXS TV FIGHTS CEO Andrew Simon said there were currently no plans or talk to add AEW to their network and that they were focusing on their partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling and WOW.

*For those who have asked about the million dollar question about WWE’s response to all this, obviously they have been watching but not much has been said and I suspect nothing will.  If you know WWE, you know they aren’t going to react to anything publicly and wouldn’t unless they were in the type of position they were in during the early days of the Monday Night War and with billion-dollar TV deals and a publicly traded company, they are nowhere close.   The implication I got is that it was business as usual, so if you were hoping the AEW announcement was going to lead to a rash change in WWE creative or plans, that's not the case.  So, don't suddenly expect wins and losses to matter on Raw!

*As far as WWE Talents, based on the ones we've spoke with under condition of anonymity, there's a hope because of the knowledge that the money behind this is real, so there's less scrutiny than there would be for any other similar company.  The reality is this, if AEW gets a TV deal that pays them a lot of money, this leads to a place where pro wrestlers would have numerous places to try and get the best competitive contract for themselves.  That means they end up making more money for themselves, whether they stay or go when push comes to shove.   WWE had been offering some talents five-year, long-term deals to talents to lock them in over the last year because they knew the reality of their new TV deals.  For talents who have deals expiring, this technically puts them in a catbird seat in a way they never were, even with Impact, ROH, etc.  The expectation here is completely different because of the involvement of the Khan family and Tony Khan's obvious passion for professional wrestling.  If you are an underutilized WWE act (let's use The Revival for example, since they go back and forth with The Young Bucks on social media) and you aren't happy with your current WWE spot or your current salary, all of this could potentially make you more in demand when its time to negotiate, because you know there is another potential destination for you.

*On the Waltman podcast, Khan commented on health care for AEW talents, commenting, "Some of the people working with us are still independent contractors. And what I am doing is a lot of people are doing full-time office jobs. The people doing full-time office jobs have similar benefits to other sports executives and I have a lot of sports executives that are currently working with us here in Florida at the Jaguars so what I’ve said is ‘Okay, well you’re sports executives so I can set you up with healthcare packages’… but at the end of the day a lot of people are doing office jobs so a lot of wrestlers are gonna end up with healthcare out of this."

*As I said on an Elite audio a few days ago, the rally was the prologue to this story.  It was their coming out parade and they did a great job at getting fans excited and showcasing the players involved.  They will obviously have a  first show with a lot of potentially great wrestling.  The real story, however, begins now and it may very well develop into the biggest thing in professional wrestling since the death of WCW brought about the end of the Monday Nights Wars, but there are a lot of expectations and benchmarks to make for that to become the reality a lot of fans are hoping to see happen.  2019 is already a hell of a lot more interesting than 2018 was.

You can listen to the entire Khan appearance on the Waltman podcast below:

Thanks to Denise Salcedo for her assistance with transcription.

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