“What is AEW? Is it like WWE?“
These are two of the most common questions you’ll from fans trying to get back into professional wrestling. Whether they are lifelong WWE fans, lapsed fans from WCW or TNA or simply brand-new potential customers for the product, the name AEW constantly comes up in topics of conversation.
This is not unjustified. With Tony Khan at the wheel, All Elite Wrestling has become one of the best wrestling companies in the world, with some of the top wrestlers from the US and abroad wrestling on a weekly basis.
It may be overwhelming to try and get into a TV show that is celebrating its fifth year in 2024. Well, you’re in luck! This page will be your ultimate guide to All Elite Wrestling, teaching you exactly what AEW is, the history of the company, which wrestlers you need to watch out for and how you can watch all the top wrestlers in the world.
What Is AEW?
AEW stands for All Elite Wrestling, and is one of the biggest professional wrestling companies in the world today.
Founded in 2019, the company has grown from a pipe dream from a fanatical owner, to a multi-billion dollar company that has drawn the biggest crowd in wrestling history.
AEW presents professional wrestling matches on a weekly basis, on three separate TV shows – Dynamite, Rampage and Collision – broadcast to millions of viewers in the United States alone.
Since 2019, AEW has focused on being an alternative product to the WWE, rather than a direct competitor. Due to the WWE’s monopoly over the wrestling world since purchasing WCW in 2001, a number of wrestling fans have felt left out and walked away from watching wrestling entirely.
AEW managed to carve out its own niche as being a company where the fans can watch fantastic wrestling matches from some of the best wrestlers all over the world. This includes stars from the USA, Mexico, Great Britain and Japan, as well as multiple other nations.
How Did AEW Start?
AEW was started by Tony Khan, the Senior President of Football and Analytics of the Jacksonville Jaguars and vice-chairman and director of football operations of Fulham FC.
His business experience was mainly in the two variations of football, but Khan had always been a lifelong wrestling fan. He was a huge fan of ECW as a child, begging his dad to take him to as many matches as he could.
Tony Khan always wanted to start his own wrestling promotion, and after seeing the huge success of All In (2018), he managed to convince his father (The Billionaire, Shahid Khan) to invest in a brand-new promotion, named “All Elite Wrestling”.
Tony Khan contacted four men that he needed to build his promotion around at the start, and admitted that without them the creation of AEW would never have taken place.
Three of these men were part of The Elite stable in New Japan Pro Wrestling, a subsidiary of Bullet Club. The other was a former WWE Champion who had left the WWE two years prior, and was considered one of the biggest stars in the world. These men were:
- Cody Rhodes
- Matt Jackson
- Nick Jackson
- Chris Jericho
These wrestlers were key to the company getting off the ground, albeit for very different reasons.
Cody Rhodes, Nick & Matt Jackson (also known as The Young Bucks) were the key players behind the All In show, which was the precursor to AEW.
After a Tweet from a fan claimed that no company could draw 10,000 fans in the United States, outside of the WWE, Cody Rhodes replied that he would take on the bet, and joined up with The Young Bucks to plan their big show, built off their own backs.
As it turns out, Cody Rhodes was right about his ability to put on a show. All In sold out in 30 minutes, and ended up being the biggest wrestling event not organized by a major promotion since 1993, drawing 11,263 fans to the Sears Center Arena.
This was the show that helped Tony Khan convince his father that professional wrestling was a viable business outside of the WWE, and the billionaire soon invested a multi-million dollar sum into a new wrestling company called “All Elite Wrestling”.
However, having a company was not enough – they needed a TV deal. This is where Chris Jericho came in.
Jericho had recently left the WWE after nearly two decades with the company. He was one of their biggest stars, being a former WWE, WCW and World Heavyweight Champion in the promotion, with millions of fans all over the globe rushing to see him in the ring, and in concert with his band Fozzy.
Without the addition of a big star like Chris Jericho (although commentator Jim Ross was also a big get for the company), AEW would not have achieved a deal with TNT to broadcast AEW Dynamite on their TV channel in October 2019.
Before they began their TV show, AEW put on four different pay per view events, which were:
- Double or Nothing 2019
- Fyter Fest 2019
- Fight for the Fallen 2019
- All Out 2019
These shows helped established AEW as a top brand in wrestling, as well as introduce the fans to some of the wrestlers that they may not have been fans of before.
While WWE were the dominant brand in wrestling, almost unchallenged for the past two decades, the business was thriving outside of their closed ecosystem.
Companies like NJPW in Japan, Ring of Honor in the US and Rev Pro, Progress and ICW in the UK were flourishing, and AEW brought the best talent from all those promotions together onto their extensive AEW roster.
AEW mixed established talent like Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes and Jon Moxley (who played Dean Ambrose in WWE) with more unknown wrestlers from across the globe, like Kenny Omega, CIMA, Adam Page and Orange Cassidy.
How Is AEW Different To WWE?
Apart from the different wrestlers on each company’s show, there are a number of differences between AEW and WWE.
AEW focuses more on the sporting aspect of wrestling, with its stories told mainly in the ring, as opposed to in backstage skits on in-ring segments on the microphone. This differs from the WWE approach, where the match is usually the end goal of a storyline, rather than a continuation of a story.
WWE also markets itself more as an overall brand, promoting the “WWE brand” instead of its individual wrestlers. It sees them more as part of the WWE ecosystem, rather than individual wrestlers whose popularity can be utilized. Meanwhile, AEW promotes shows on the back of their stars, with wrestlers being at the forefront of promotion when it comes to shows held in their hometowns (like CM Punk in Chicago, or MJF in New York).
AEW also gives the wrestlers much more freedom in their matches. While WWE usually gives very specific and rigid instructions to their superstars, AEW and Tony Khan puts their trust in the wrestlers to perform in a more relaxed, freeing environment.
You can look at the difference between wrestlers when they have wrestled in WWE and AEW. Wrestlers like Bryan Danielson are given much more freedom to wrestle the way they want to, and wrestle a much wider variety of matches to better present their art in the ring.
Are AEW Matches Predetermined?
AEW matches are predetermined, with the winner of the match decided before the wrestlers step into the ring.
Just like in the WWE, one man decides who wins and who loses in AEW matches. That man is Tony Khan, who works as the “booker” of AEW, as well as the President of the company.
The booker decides who wins the match, so that the wrestlers do not fight to try and win every match, potentially ruining storylines when the “wrong” wrestler win.
Some wrestlers, like Hulk Hogan and CM Punk, have had “creative control” clauses in their contract where they can refuse any creative decision they dislike. This includes the ability to reject any match outcome, effectively giving them the chance to decide if they win or lose a match.
Sometimes in AEW, the winners of the matches have to be changed mid-match. This could be due to injury (such as what happened with Jon Moxley vs Rey Fenix at Grand Slam), or because a crowd is not reacting the way the booker intended to a certain AEW Superstar.
How To Watch AEW?
In the United States, you can watch AEW on either TNT or TBS, depending on which show you want to watch.
AEW Dynamite is broadcast on Wednesday evenings on TBS, being the flagship program for the company since its debut in 2019.
AEW Rampage is broadcast on Friday’s on TNT, which is always where you can watch AEW Collision on Saturday Nights. Pay per views are made available on Bleacher Report, as well through your local pay per view provider.
In the UK, you can watch AEW on ITV4. However, the shows are not shown live on ITV, with the times to watch AEW Rampage, Dynamite or Collision are as follows:
- AEW Rampage – Tuesdays’s at 11:30 pm GMT/BST on ITV4
- AEW Collision – Wednesday’s at 9 pm GMT/BST on ITV4
- AEW Dynamite – Friday’s at 9 pm GMT/BST on ITV4
Who Are AEW’s Biggest Stars?
In their short history, AEW have had some of the biggest stars and best wrestlers in the world, wrestling under their banner.
Some of these fantastic wrestlers that have helped carry the company over the past five years include:
- MJF – The current AEW Champion was signed as one for the future by AEW in 2019, but soon established himself as one of the best wrestlers in the world. He has made the crowd hate him more than anybody in history, as well as love him more than any wrestler they’ve ever seen. MJF made history in 2023 by main eventing the biggest wrestling show of all time, battling Adam Cole in Wembley Stadium.
- Kenny Omega – One of the most important signings (outside of the original four) in AEW history was Kenny Omega. He was rightly labeled as the best wrestler in the world for his work in NJPW, prior to signing for AEW, and turned down a multi-million dollar deal from the WWE to join up with his fellow Elite teammates in All Elite Wrestling.
- Jon Moxley – The former WWE Champion was one of the first shock signings AEW made in 2019, with fans jumping off their seat when he debuted at Double or Nothing 2019. Jon Moxley has gone on to win the AEW Championship three-times, and has been the most reliable man in AEW (despite missing some time due to his alcohol addition in 2021).
- The Young Bucks – Bringing tag team wrestling into the main event for the first time, Nick and Matt Jackson have become the highest paid tag team in wrestling history. The Young Bucks became incredibly popular after starting the web show “Being The Elite”, as well as winning the AEW Tag Team Championships twice in their careers so far.
- Orange Cassidy – Coming out of nowhere to become a huge star in AEW, Orange Cassidy turned from a comedy wrestling joke to one of the best wrestlers in the company. His lazy wrestling style originally drew jeers, but he quickly became a fan-favorite wrestler by millions of fans all across the world.
- Chris Jericho – Signed after leaving the WWE, wrestling legend Chris Jericho proved to be the key signing AEW made in the early days. He won the first ever AEW Championship and helped establish the company in its early days, while now he regularly helps put over young talent, helping to build for the future.
- Adam Page – Also known as “Hangman”, Adam Page has been according to some fans, the “main character” of AEW. He has grown from a shy, depressed cowboy and become one of the best wrestlers in the world, and one of the biggest stars in AEW today.
- Saraya – The English star was forced to retire from wrestling in 2018, and even had a movie made about her life starring The Rock. This made her AEW debut in 2022 an even bigger shock, and Saraya has quickly established herself as the top female wrestler in AEW – winning the AEW Women’s Championship in 2023.
- Bryan Danielson – Better known as Daniel Bryan in the WWE, Bryan Danielson is considered perhaps the greatest wrestler of all time (at least on pure wrestling ability). He signed for AEW less than a year after main eventing WrestleMania, and has proved a consistently brilliant wrestler whenever he steps into an AEW ring.
- Sting – WCW legend Sting was a shock signing to AEW in 2020, and has quickly established himself as the most beloved wrestler in the company. He has forged a fantastic partnership with Darby Allin, and even at age 64 puts on a fantastic show for all the fans in AEW.
Other stars, like Cody Rhodes and CM Punk, have wrestled for AEW, but left the company in 2022 and 2023, respectively. Rhodes left to rejoin the WWE after his contract expired in January 2022, while CM Punk was fired in September 2023 after a backstage fight with Jack Perry at Wembley Stadium.
AEW’s Biggest Events
Traditionally, AEW has presented four large-scale pay per view events per year. This tradition began in 2020, where they held the following PPV events for fans from all over the globe to enjoy;
- Double or Nothing
- All Out
- Full Gear
Since then, they have added even more pay per views to the calendar, becoming a yearly fixture for the company. These include;
- Forbidden Door (a joint pay event with Japanese promotion New Japan Pro Wrestling)
- All In (AEW took the name from the Cody Rhodes/Young Bucks produced show for their yearly show in the United Kingdom)
There are allegedly plans for even more shows to be added to the calendar, although they have not been announced by AEW or Tony Khan quite yet.
AEW’s Biggest Moments
Fans have been incredibly impressed by AEW since their debut in 2019, and continue to have some fot he mo
Some of the best moments in AEW history include:
- CM Punk’s AEW Debut – Seven years after walking out on the WWE, CM Punk made a shocking return to wrestling with All Elite Wrestling. They sold out the United Center in Chicago simply on a rumor of his return, with one of the loudest crowds ever going horse chanting for their returning hero.
- Adam Page wins the AEW Championship – At the end of a three-year journey towards the top of the mountain, Adam Page finally won the AEW Championship at Full Gear 2021. He defeated longtime friend and rival Kenny Omega to win his first world title in wrestling, in one of the most emotional moments in AEW history.
- Jon Moxley’s debut in the company – At Double or Nothing 2019, Jon Moxley shocked the world by jumping from WWE to AEW, being the first man to do so. He debuted by attacking Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho, and would go on to defeat both those men in AEW.
- Orange Cassidy vs Jon Moxley – The main event of AEW All Out 2023 saw Orange Cassidy finally rise to the top of AEW, wrestling in his first pay per view main event. While he didn’t walk out the event as the AEW International Champion, he won respect from all over the wrestling world.
- AEW All In 2023 – AEW made history in August 2023, when they put on the biggest wrestling show of all time. On their debut in the United Kingdom, they sold 81,035 tickets to London’s Wembley Stadium, which saw MJF defeat Adam Cole in a fantastic main event match.
AEW’s Biggest Controversies
Despite being one of the most beloved wrestling promotions of all time, AEW is without its controversies.
The untimely death of Brodie Lee notwithstanding (AEW handled his death as well as anybody could have imagined), AEW has had a number of controversies in its history that has threatened the livelihood of multiple wrestlers, and even the fate of the company itself.
Some of these major controversies in AEW history include:
- CM Punk’s “Brawl Out” – After winning the AEW Championship at All Out 2022, CM Punk went on an expletive-laden rant, where he accused “The Elite” (Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks and Adam Page) of leaking backstage information about him to the press. He then had a fight backstage with the crowd, which saw all the men suspended, while Punk was kept off TV for ten months following the fight.
- Sammy Guevara Injuring Matt Hardy – During their match at AEW All Out 2020, Sammy Guevara tackled WWE legend Matt Hardy from the top of a scissor lift, sending him crashing through a table. However, Hardy hit his head on the concrete below, suffering a concussion. For some reason, the referees allowed him to continue the match, leading to one of the worst matches in AEW history.
- Jon Moxley Gets Knocked Out – During a match at AEW Grand Slam, Jon Moxley suffered a concussion early on while wrestling against Mexican star Rey Fenix. The referee, AEW regular Rick Knox, did not notice Moxley’s concussed state, allowed the match to continue and even botched the finish of the match by failing to count a pin, when Moxley’s shoulders were clearly down for more than three seconds.
- The Suzuki Incident – One of the more amusing controversies for AEW was “The Suzuki Incident”. Japanese star Minoru Suzuki wrestled Jon Moxley in the main event of AEW Dynamite, with the fans excited to sing the final line of his iconic theme song. However, due to time constraints, the music was cut off before they could yell “KAZE NI NARE” in time with his song.
- Sammy Guevara and Sasha Banks – In 2020, some comments from 2016 made by Sammy Guevara were uncovered by journalists, where Sammy Guevara claimed he would “rape” then-WWE star Sasha Banks. The young star was suspended, and Sasha Banks eventually forgave him after a heartfelt apology.
What Does The Future Hold For AEW?
The future of AEW is looking very bright, although 2024 could be a make-or-break year for the company. With the change from four PPV’s per year to twelve, and the addition of AEW Collision to their TV shows, 2024 could be a big gamble for AEW.
In addition, stars like MJF have their AEW contract running out next year, so we could see a change in the roster in the very near future. However, WWE stars like Drew McIntyre are rumored to be joining AEW next year, so could become a huge part of AEW next year.
AEW’s Biggest Show
AEW has had some huge pay per view events in the past, although what metric you consider them the biggest can vary.
If we want to look at the biggest crowd, then AEW All In 2023 is the biggest AEW Pay Per View. 81,035 fans bought tickets for Wembley Stadium, as AEW made their debut in the United Kingdom. This is the biggest crowd in wrestling history, outside of the WCW/NJPW shows in North Korea (which you can read more about here).
When looking at the biggest buy rates for AEW PPV’s, then the largest so far is All Out 2021. This show played host to CM Punk’s first match in AEW, and his first match since walking out on the WWE after the 2014 Royal Rumble.
The show sold 215,000 pay per views, the largest number in AEW history. As of 2023, this is still the record, although All In is said to have come close.
AEW Best Matches Ever
AEW has had some of the best matches of all time, featuring some top wrestlers like CM Punk, Kenny Omega, Will Ospreay and Jon Moxley, to name but a few.
Here are some of the best matches in the history of AEW:
CM Punk vs MJF – AEW Revolution 2022
The match was arguably the best match on a show that featured 4 matches that could be argued to be five star classics. This bout was a brutal and bloody dog collar match which took both men to depths of depravity which we have not seen for a long time.
Both men used weapons, strangled each other with the chain and threw each other on thumbtacks as they tried to kill each other inside the ring. The canvas was stained with blood by the end of the match with CM Punk looking like he might pass out from the blood loss.
The match was an incredible story-driven affair despite the barbaric nature of it. Wardlow finally turned on MJF when he handed CM Punk the Dynamite Diamond Ring to seal the Chicago-born wrestlers victory and hand MJF the defeat.
Adam Page & Kenny Omega vs The Young Bucks – AEW Revolution 2020
One of the best AEW match in history is the historic match between Adam Page & Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks.
The two teams were all part of the same faction, The Elite, but had fallen into some disagreements in recent times. Hangman Adam Page felt isolated by the Elite, and wanted out of the group.
The Young Bucks refused and wouldn’t let him leave, which caused heavy arguments.
Kenny Omega was the man in the middle, trying to keep the peace between his while also trying to keep hold of the AEW Tag Team Championships. This led to an explosion of emotions, where both teams gave it their all to try and defeat, both physically and mentally, the other team in the ring at AEW revolution.
The match was an instant classic, combining supreme in ring work with extraordinary storytelling and emotion.
Inner Circle vs The Elite – Stadium Stampede – AEW Double or Nothing 2020
This match main evented Double or Nothing 2020 over Jon Moxley vs Brodie Lee. That left it with pretty big boots to fill, and it did so in spades.
The match was fun. It was ridiculous, it was hilarious, it was simply fun. You had Matt Hardy being reincarnated in former gimmicks as he’s dumped in a swimming pool. You had Chris Jericho pretending to be a witch with a cone on his head. It even had Matt Jackson suplexing someone the entire length of the pitch. It was simply fun.
The match also ended with a ridiculous One Winged Angel off the stand through a table, slamming Sammy Guevara 30 feet in the air.
It’s long, but it is incredible. It is much better than the second Stadium Stampede, between the Inner Circle and the Pinnacle.
How To Watch AEW In The UK
Click here to learn how to watch AEW in the UK.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.