Yesterday (June 26), we learned All Elite Wrestling and WWE will be competing on July 13. The new company has Fight for the Fallen streaming on B/R Live from Jacksonville, Florida. WWE Network will air Evolve 131 from Philadelphia. AEW’s show starts at 7:30PM eastern. Evolve’s 10th anniversary 30 minutes later.
This resulted in a not so little skirmish between stakeholders on each side. AEW’s Kenny Omega is offended that WWE will run a show featuring top NXT talents Adam Cole & Matt Riddle, and 205 Live’s Drew Gulak & Akira Tozawa opposite one of AEW’s seemingly second-class PPVs, which will donate proceeds to charity. I’m not one to call Mr. Omega insincere — the rest of the internet does that for me — but there’s a lot I don’t get about why any of this is bad.
First off, to those people saying Evolve and WWE booked this show in the last months in response to Double or Nothing? You don’t have the receipts. I do. Evolve announced the show at its April 4 show during WrestleMania week, and confirmed it on April 8 in the WWN Newsletter:
Next? That this is terrible for WWE to live stream an event against a charity benefit show? Does Omega think a Philly show will hurt the gate for another in Florida? That’s the only way they could be earning less money for the charity in question, because Fight for the Future is streaming live and for free.
Like, I’d want to say that I feel anything about WWE being anti-competition, but what did you expect the company to do, not counter-program? Additionally, yes — WWE live streaming one of its affiliated promotions for the first time is huge — but I’m kind of shocked to see Omega acting shook because of Evolve. Isn’t AEW supposed to be an alternative to WWE? Then how is Evolve something for AEW to be afraid of? As much as I enjoy Evolve shows, AEW’s PPVs feel like they’re competing with NXT, and not a company seen as a feeder promotion to the WWE, that needs to be bolstered with WWE talents on the card.
So, here’s why this is all actually awesome:
The ratcheted up tensions are so very, very good. No, I don’t love Will Ospreay and Seth Rollins’ tweets, and I could do without the head-ass behavior of superstans, but when you look past the ignorami on Twitter, you’ll see this is the closest thing to the Monday Night Wars we may ever get.
AEW doesn’t seem to have plans to run on Monday evenings, but take July 13 as an example. AEW can’t take Saturdays all for itself, and it’s not too hard to have a two screen experience at home. I’m betting most of you have at least two of the following: a phone, a laptop and a set-top streaming box. This means, thanks to the WWE Network and B/R Live being ubiquitous, you can have two shows at once, muting and un-muting as necessary.
Back during the heyday of the Attitude Era, I had only one screen and had to channel surf between Nitro and Raw. Now, you can have eyes on both at once, and talent will know. Competition will push everyone to make the best show they can. It will rule.
Also, we’ve finally reached a long awaited and rumored moment in WWE’s worldwide expansion: live-streaming one of the indies that the company works with. And as the relationship between WWE and Evolve comes into focus, we’re getting closer to someone actually talking about WWE’s partnerships with indie promotions on camera.
These ties that unite the McMahon empire and the indie world have been long rumored and haven’t been turned into storylines or promos yet. But when Mr. INDEPENDENT David Starr is stepping on the WWE United Kingdom Championship, calling WALTER a sell-out, and infuriating Pete Dunne, there is a lot of tension in the room that can be explored.
There’s also the inarguable fact that Saturday night is a great night for wrestling. The specter of the work week isn’t looming. If you’re lucky enough to attend a show live, you can do so without worrying about getting home late and getting too little sleep and have it screw up your Monday morning. If AEW and WWE decide Saturday night’s their night for fighting, I say just bring it.
It’s gonna be wild, and I’m so excited.