Today’s announcement that AEW will be airing on TNT later in the year was a groundbreaking moment for wrestling and perhaps the most important thing to happen for the state of the overall business since WWE purchased WCW in 2001.
Quite rightly, those in AEW are extremely excited about the potential the promotion has in reaching a new audience, especially on a platform comparable to Monday Night Raw’s home USA Network.
Fans worldwide should be rejoicing, as for the first time in almost 20 years there is a true major league alternative to WWE. Cody, speaking with Variety, shared his thoughts on the deal:
“The term people are using is ‘alternative’. For many years throughout my youth and plenty of other fans’ youths, pro wrestling has been essentially just one company and that’s not really the case. I want to be the sports-centric alternative in the pro wrestling world and I think we’re on a good path to get there.”
Expanding on that sporting element, Cody once again noted that in AEW wins and losses will matter, with a strong emphasis to be placed on the sporting and statistical element of wrestling, something which is very much an alternative to the way WWE currently does things, where wins and losses could not mean less:
“We’re talking about percentage of times someone loses to this particular maneuver, percentages against somebody of this height, a whole by-the-numbers approach that really intrigues me. It’s not a cornerstone of AEW necessarily but it’s a great peripheral element we’re working on and that’s going to be exclusive to us.”
Although Cody rarely speaks negatively towards his former employers WWE, who he says gave him the opportunity to learn from some of the greats, including WWE boss Vince McMahon, he says that what WWE is doing and what AEW will be doing are very different beasts:
“As much as I say it was a wonderful job, it [WWE] wasn’t wrestling. That’s something I’ve learned a lot about, the grittiness and the sports-centric element of the industry that doesn’t exist really anywhere else currently. We have the opportunity to seize that.”
AEW announcer and WWE legend Jim Ross also spoke to Variety, and attempted to temper fan expectations of AEW taking over WWE as the number one wrestling promotion in the world, saying that the aim is not for AEW to usurp WWE but for the promotion to become profitable and successful in its own right:
“Competition raises everybody’s game. It will raise the wrestlers’ game, the creative people’s game, everybody. Everybody feels a sense of urgency when someone is competing with them.
Competitive means being profitable, it doesn’t mean, ‘We have to have this to beat the WWE.’ Our job is not to worry about what WWE is doing, not their TV clearances, not whose in the main event, nothing. With a growing company there are a lot of growing pains. It’s a mix of creative and athletics and a lot of different things. Our focus has to be us, period”