Ricky Havlik | AEW

All Elite Wrestling debuted to a great reaction last Saturday night with their first pay-per-view, DOUBLE OR NOTHING. The show was great from top to bottom. Could the card have been more spaced out instead of top-heavy? Sure. But you’d be hard-pressed to find any sane individual with any other bad take regarding the show. [Okay, maybe the quick reunion of Cody and Dustin wasn’t as believable as some would portray it as, but I still liked it, so I’ll look past the weird story arc].

Yeah, a couple months ago, Triple H took a shot at Cody and AEW…

WWE has a problem, and it seemingly doesn’t know how to fix it.

Kofi Kingston is WWE Champion.

Becky Lynch is RAW Women’s Champion.

Bayley is SmackDown Women’s Champion.

Seth Rollins is the Universal Champion.

Finn Bálor is the Intercontinental Champion.

Samoa Joe was the United States Champion when I started this draft. Since, Rey Mysterio is the new titleholder.

Seemingly every smark’s dream wrestlers are title holders in WWE. With arguably its deepest talent pool ever, WWE should be knocking it out of the park every single week on television and on all of its pay-per-views, right? There would be no reason for the fans to not be invested in what they’re…


WWE backed into one of the greatest storylines in recent memory just five years ago, when Daniel Bryan overcame the odds to defeat 3/4 of Evolution — Triple H, Randy Orton, and Batista — in just one night.

Yes, WrestleMania 30 certainly was memorable due to Bryan’s ascension to the top, and many thought we wouldn’t see quite a push like that ever again, much less in the near future.

Fast forward to now, with Bryan yelling at Kofi Kingston, “B+ player!” as SmackDown Live went off the air Tuesday night, and we’ve almost come full circle. Now, Bryan’s on…


It had been rumored for quite some time, but finally on January 1, 2019, Cody Rhodes and co. officially announced the birth of All Elite Wrestling, a new wrestling promotion that would have the financial backing of Tony Khan, the Senior Vice President of Football Administration and Technology of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Khan, reportedly a huge wrestling fan, is dipping his toes into the wrestling industry and must be pretty optimistic his investment will pay off eventually.

Ever since WWE bought WCW in 2001, the advent of wrestling promotions was usually met with a heightened sense of optimism that there would finally be real competition for the biggest wrestling [yes, wrestling] company in the world.

But in the years since, it’s been clear that — at least in North America — really going head-to-head with WWE isn’t that easy. TNA tried to recreate the Monday Night War and failed miserably. Ring of Honor — the second-largest wrestling company in the U.S., doesn’t really compete with WWE on a grand scale. Even New Japan Pro Wrestling, which began finding a niche in the American market in 2017, isn’t at the level to compete with WWE on a global scale just yet.

So while the news of a new wrestling promotion in 2019 is highly anticipated by the hardcore wrestling fan, myself included, it would make sense to look at what exactly Rhodes and co. will do to really make All Elite Wrestling different than any of the promotions that have been around or tried to be around. In fact, do Rhodes and co. even want AEW to be much different at all than what they’re used to? Than what we’re used to? I mean, wrestling is wrestling and if you care enough, you’ll seek it out. So it’s up to the brass behind AEW to create a way for wrestling fans to not have to work very hard at finding their product.

That means a television deal. A national television deal. AEW isn’t going to work on syndicated television the way ROH has. ROH is perfectly fine with the way things are going and aren’t trying to change the landscape of wrestling, which is smart. Now, AEW probably won’t change the landscape, either, and likely one of the company’s first goals won’t be to compete with WWE in the first year. But with Tony Khan backing the venture with a ton of money, it may not be entirely out of the realm of possibility that AEW could lure away some household names from WWE. Who that exactly is remains to be seen.

Sean Ross Sapp of Fightful.com suggested WGN America is a logical landing spot for an AEW television program.

I like the idea, because I get WGN America on Xfinity and wouldn’t have to really work at finding it on television. Even in 2019, a television program is the easiest way to push a wrestling product, despite the YouTube and Twitch channels online. And that’s just one step to the equation for AEW. They’ve got to find talent. They’ve got to find talent that would make wrestling fans in North America say, “Wow.” Talent that hasn’t been seen on a grand scale before. New concepts. New matches. And they have to sustain it. They can’t do one thing for five months, see it’s not fitting their goals, and then give up. That’s happened far too often with pro wrestling companies over the last 15+ years.

AXS TV could also be a logical landing spot for a television program, as the station has already been airing New Japan Pro Wrestling for a couple of years. Yes, NJPW’s AXS shows haven’t been your typical television wrestling show as it’s been highlights of their bigger shows, but with AXS TV garnering more traction because of NJPW and the airing of other MMA cards less UFC and Bellator, AXS TV absolutely can be a viable contender to land a television show.

That, to me, can be the biggest hurdle between the long-term success of AEW and just another pipe dream of serious competition to WWE.

I think a legitimate company that can compete financially with WWE is extremely overdue. Working less dates is great for overall health of talent, but if that’s the only thing a company can offer comparably better to WWE, we’ve still got a long way to go. AEW will absolutely need to poach some of the bigger names from WWE to make a real splash.

As I said on The Straight Shooters Podcast on Wednesday night, a guy like Kevin Owens could be the key if AEW were somehow to land him. I don’t know anything about his contract situation — for all I know, he may never want to leave WWE due to financial security. But if AEW offers him a similar deal with less dates — and with Khan’s financial input, AEW has a ton of money they could throw at stars — it’s not out of the realm of possibility Owens would take that deal.

Again, Owens could be signed to WWE through 2024 for all I know. But if AEW wants to make a splash, that’d be the type of star I think they’d want to lure away from WWE.

It’s entirely possible Rhodes and co. just want to make a living by wrestling and running a wrestling organization as long as they can. AEW doesn’t necessarily have to compete head-to-head with WWE to survive. ROH, Impact Wrestling and New Japan Pro Wrestling are three great examples of how wrestling companies can survive in 2019 without going head-to-head with the biggest company in the world. Sure, Impact may be the lowest of those three, but the fact that this company, despite being sold multiple times, is still trotting out weekly shows in 2019 is a testament to the industry as a whole. Good things await AEW if everyone involved exercises a little patience.

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When Braun Strowman made his WWE main roster debut in December 2014, many fans pegged him as another huge guy with little athletic talent that was probably going to get a push based on his sheer size.

After all, Vince McMahon’s track record of pushing big guys with little talent is pretty vast.

At that time, I didn’t exactly blame the fans for reacting that way. …


It’s about damn time.

That was my first reaction to waking up on Tuesday morning. I had fallen asleep at some point after the 10 P.M. hour while watching Monday Night RAW — and no, it’s not because I thought the show was boring. When you’re physically and mentally exhausted, you can actually fall asleep at any point whatsoever. Even during the 8th inning of Game 7 of the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians.

Yeah, I’m still annoyed by that.

Anyway, I had missed Stephanie McMahon getting out of the limo backstage… a point to which…

Growing up, one of my favorite pay-per-views of the year was Survivor Series. It being on Thanksgiving Night, then eventually Thanksgiving Eve, was probably the biggest reason I looked forward to it, regardless of what the card was. I didn’t have to go to school Thursday or Friday, so I could tape it, stay up late, and watch it again and again all weekend.

In a way, I miss that. Maybe it’s because the responsibilities of adulthood make it me yearn more and more for the days of relative little to no responsibility at all. The biggest adversary in my…


523 days.

523 days of being the NXT Women’s Champion.

That’s really all you need to know.

But let’s delve into Asuka’s WWE main roster debut for this particular piece. It’s been a hot-button topic for wrestling fans — well, everything almost always is — because of how WWE has booked her in her first two main roster matches.

No, Asuka didn’t lose. She won convincingly over Emma this past Sunday night at the TLC pay-per-view and then again on Monday Night Raw the next night. …

This past week on SmackDown Live, WWE Champion Jinder Mahal laid out a challenge to the Univeral Champion, Brock Lesnar. The rumors had been brewing since the end of last week that this potential match would take place at Survivor Series in Houston at the Toyota Center.

I mean, it’s Champion vs. Champion. Who doesn’t want to see a match like that? It’s not like we haven’t seen that match multiple times on Raw and SmackDown during the previous brand extension, and even when the roster merged into one again with two champions. …


A few weeks ago on an episode of The Straight Shooters, I went on a bit of a diatribe explaining why I believe John Cena vs. Roman Reigns was a bit of marketing genius employed by WWE to get people talking.

I mentioned the fact that a majority of wrestling fans — or at least that’s what it seemed like — were pretty much up in arms over the fact that WWE was “hotshotting” this match between two of the biggest names in the industry seven months before WrestleMania 34.

Given the fact that on the SmackDown side, WWE “gave…

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