Tony Khan Included This As Part Of His Initial Presentation To Warner

When AEW was founded in January 2019, the intent was clear: competition. Now, Tony Khan's promotion is easily considered the second-biggest professional wrestling federation in the United States. In fact, one of his goals from the beginning was to provide an alternative landing spot to WWE — yes, for the fans but, even more crucially, for the wrestlers. Now any time a big name hits the market, the anticipation of where they'll land is palpable. In a recent interview with Uproxx, AEW's founder noted that was always part of the plan.

"There are always going to be free agents and big names that become available over time in pro wrestling, and I think that's one of the reasons that the launch of AEW was so exciting," Kahn said. "That was actually part of my presentation to Warner executives five years ago, was that we would be creating the first truly competitive free agent market in pro wrestling in two decades."

Of course, it helped to have the likes of Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks aboard as both wrestlers and co-Executive Vice Presidents from the beginning. It brought a sense of legitimacy right away. Boasting big "former WWE" names such as Rhodes, Chris Jericho, and Jon Moxley (fka Dean Ambrose) didn't hurt either. AEW quickly established itself as a place for all wrestlers to go; that leaving WWE was far from the end of the road. Having a major television deal also helps.

"I think now, with the rise of AEW, it's provided better choices and an alternative for the wrestling fans, but also for the pro wrestlers," Khan added. "And historically, particularly in the cable TV era, that free agent market and the excitement around it can generate a lot of buzz for a wrestling company."