Today was a historic day in the world of professional wrestling as it was officially announced that AEW will be airing in prime time on TNT later this year. With the deal, AEW has become the first wrestling company outside of WWE to secure a television deal in the U.S. on a top 25 cable network since WCW folded.
At today’s WarnerMedia upfronts in New York City, AEW Executive Vice President Cody Rhodes and Chief Branding Officer Brandi Rhodes spoke with WrestlingNews.co spoke about the big announcement.
“This is serendipity how this is coming together,” Cody said. “My family moved to Atlanta 20+ years ago because WCW was going to Turner. Here we are talking about All Elite Wrestling in 2019 going to Turner. It’s just wild how it works and the number 1 thing I discovered is we build the best team. That’s what led to all of this. All In happened, me, Matt and Nick, Kenny joining and then Tony Khan being the guy to say ‘hey, I believe in you guys. I’ll invest in you guys, I believe in wrestling outside of one company.’ That has put us here so I’m really excited.”
AEW plans to offer a real alternative to WWE programming. One of the major criticisms about WWE has been their scripted promos. Cody claimed that “you might not see one scripted promo” on their television.
“When it comes to promos, if we invested you, we already know your voice,” Cody said. “We just want to put the voice out there for more people to hear. There’s great coaches we have, great collaborators. Guys like Jim Ross, guys like Billy Gunn, a bunch of guys I can’t name. We have these great collaborators, plus all of us who want to make this work. Collaboration yes, micromanagement no, scripted no, that’s the best.”
“We’re honest when we say that we want it to be very sports-centric,” Brandi added. “In order to do that, it has to be focused on the bell-to-bell, the actual matches, less of the drama and the behind-the-scenes.”
Brandi also said that the company plans to keep their roster active and not sitting on the sidelines.
“We’ve obviously been cautious in building our [women’s] division because we don’t want people to be sitting weeks and weeks out of the year not being active, not being used, not being having stories, not having reasons for you to like them,” Brandi stated. “So we’ve been very careful to pick and choose competitors that we think we are gonna be able to keep moving in some sort of sense.”
Despite all of the major developments, AEW has yet to run their first show. AEW’s first pay-per-view, Double Or Nothing, will take place next Saturday night in Las Vegas. Cody said that the company plans to make the event a great one.
“Jim Ross has been really good about saying ‘it can’t be good, it’s gotta be great.’ He’s right and everyone in the group shares that sentiment,” Cody said. “We gotta make this great and it’s just the beginning. It’s the perfect jumping in point for a brand new fan. There’s nothing before this, just jump in now and you’ll love it.”