AEW: What WWE Claims to be on Paper
How the wrestling industrusty is changing with competetion
October 2nd, 2019, marked the day that changed the landscape of modern-day Pro Wrestling. Eighteen years since WCW went off the air, TNT finally got back in the Pro Wrestling game with AEW Dynamite's debut. Soon the company led by Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Tony Khan proved its legitimacy as a major contender against the juggernaut WWE and all of Pro Wrestling benefited from it.
For years Vince McMahon and WWE had been the uncontested prime-time wrestling promotion. If you were a wrestler and wanted to make it to the big times, you aimed for WWE. There was really no other option. And once you made it, you did whatever Vince said and prayed he kept you on. With the insertion of AEW, that has all changed. Not only does the new promotion provide an equal opportunity as the WWE, but it also gives far more room for freedom. Creative freedom and ownership is almost a foreign concept in WWE, but in AEW, all talent is granted these privileges. In WWE, it is rare for talent to own the rights to their characters. This is why, for the most part, when someone gets future endeavored, they have to reinvent themselves completely. Another thing AEW talent is allowed to do that WWE superstars arent is working in other promotions. They have relationships with AAA, NJPW, NWA, and now Impact Wrestling talent can still wrestle in any other indie promotion as well. Another more recent difference is that a WWE contract means that you can not indulge in third party services such as Twitch and Cameo.
WWE went as far as firing Zelina Vega to enforce the new rule. The termination brought back up the true controversy of WWE employment. Before Vega was released, she made comments on her Twitter regarding unionization in WWE. This is a topic that has been discussed before. Just last year John Oliver spoke on the issue on Last Week Tonight. The issue is that WWE claimes their talent as independent contractors for tax purposes but treats them as full-time employees, as I've discussed heavily in this text. If WWE talent were, in fact, independent contractors, they should be treated more like AEW's talent. I think the fear is that they would lose their superstars' reliability, but as AEW has proved the freedom only strengthens the product.
AEW's approach helped every other wrestling promotion other than WWE alive during the pandemic, using and building upon other promotions talent when they could not. Even having tittle matches for both the AAA championship and the NWA women's title. These moments did not take away from AEW but instead made it stand out as unique and different. The recent storyline of Omega taking the AEW championship to Impact has brought a lot of attention and viewership to both Dynamite and Impact, proving the working benefits even further. Though very unlikely, WWE should take a play out of AEW's book and allow more freedom for their talent as it would most likely benefit them.
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