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By Dave Scherer on 2019-01-15 10:00:00

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I am reading your coverage of the AEW rally and it sounds like they are taking shots at the WWE...but aren’t they really hurting ROH. Those are a lot of people leaving ROH to start/join AEW. And ROH helped with the All In event. At the end of the day, it’s all business, but do you think AEW will work with ROH in the future?  

There is a lot to digest there so let’s take it in order.

First off, at this point in time I don’t see AEW as even being close to being a threat to WWE.  The latter is an established, international conglomerate with decades of history behind it and extremely impressive revenue streams, which will only get better when the new TV deals kick in later this year.  WWE is an established monster with worldwide reach, not to mention the “dream job” of most wrestlers, which gives them an advantage in recruiting talent.  Honestly, at this point in time the only real comparisons I see between WWE and AEW is that they are in the wrestling business and they are owned by billionaires.  That is where the comparison ends, at least at this point in time.

Where AEW will be a competitor is to the non-WWE companies that are running on a national (or at least semi-national) basis, ROH, New Japan, MLW and Impact.  That is who, for the most part, they will battle for talent and probably on the live event circuit as well.  As we have seen so far, their signings (other than Chris Jericho) have come at the expense of the above mentioned companies.  

That doesn’t mean they won’t reach out to WWE talents when their contracts come due, but every talent will have to weigh the repercussions of leaving WWE and signing with AEW, if they choose to do so.  And there will be some repercussions, for sure.

Another issue could work against AEW where talent is concerned is the newness of the project.  The Khan family has said that they are committed to getting AEW off the ground, and I don’t doubt them in the least.  But, I also know that rich people don’t get and stay rich by pouring unlimited funds into a project that isn’t showing the potential to become a success.  At this point, no one knows for sure how long AEW will be around.  No one knows what will happen if, say by year’s end, the promotion is only doing 25% of what they projected it would do.  Will the Khans stay invested?  We don’t know.  In the case of Cody, it made sense for him to take the chance.  He has already seen how WWE used him and he has a chance to be a major part of a new company.  It makes sense for the Bucks too, given their size and how WWE books smaller guys.  Jericho is older and at the end of his career.  Adam Page will probably be fine too, given his size and potential.  But for someone in the system of another company, they will have to think long and hard before making the jump.

Now, onto ROH.  All I can tell you is if I were Joe Koff, I would see AEW as the enemy, for a few reasons.

Obviously, they ARE the enemy.  They have already raided ROH’s talent (which obviously was their right to do).  They will probably be booking a similar product to ROH, certainly more so than a promotion that is comparable to what WWE does, so they will be in direct competition with ROH.  I think there is room for both of them, but they will be in competition for consumer dollars.

Beyond that, if I were ROH I would also feel used.  When The Bucks and Cody decided to put on All In, ROH provided incredible infrastructure support for them.  That made running the event so much easier for them. I think it’s fair to assume that ROH did it because it was “their guys” running the show and they wanted to help and support them.  Obviously, they also knew it would be a positive for ROH as well but still.

Then ROH decided to run Madison Square Garden with New Japan and I think it’s also fair to say that they were doing so with Cody, The Bucks and Hangman Page in tow.  Now?  That will not be the case.

So like you said, it’s all business.  If I were Joe Koff, I would look at the moves that AEW has already made.  I would look at the fact that they are owned by a billionaire.  I would look at the fact that they are an upstart while I am running an established promotion.  I would not do a thing to help them get stronger and pose a bigger threat to my business.  No way, no how.

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