Move over WWE, there’s a new professional wrestling league coming to broadcast TV, streaming video and pay-per-view — backed by WarnerMedia.
The media company May 15 announced it is partnering with All Elite Wrestling (AEW), an upstart professional wrestling promotion featuring male and female wrestlers, to begin airing weekly “authentic” wrestling matches later this year.
With a goal of making pro wrestling less scripted soapy drama and more real sports legitimacy, WarnerMedia aims to build the league into a global franchise.
Wrestlers will be given more freedom to explore their characters and highlight their athletic abilities. The league will include statistics to wrestling to help fans deepen their engagement by tracking each competitor’s wins and losses as the wrestlers pursue championships, analyzing their moves, assessing damage to their opponents, and providing insights into their winning streaks.
Founded by CEO Tony Khan, AEW is headlined by wrestlers The Young Bucks (Matt & Nick Jackson), Cody and Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega, and Hangman Page, and a roster that includes former WWE star Chris Jericho.
Omega, Cody and The Young Bucks also serve as EVPs of the company in addition to in-ring talent, and Brandi Rhodes also serves as chief brand officer.
WarnerMedia will provide multi-platform access for fans to watch AEW events, airing live weekly matches on TNT in primetime, as well as streaming them through WarnerMedia’s Bleacher Report Live (B/R Live) streaming service and on pay-per-view.
“All Elite Wrestling is a talent-forward, fan-first league whose inclusive approach to creating high-quality athletic wrestling competitions is already making waves with fans and attracting top-tier wrestlers,” Michael Quigley, EVP of commercial operations, content strategy and monetization at TBS and TNT, said in a statement.
B/R Live will serve as the exclusive digital streaming partner in the U.S. for AEW’s inaugural event, “Double of Nothing,” on May 25, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The event, which reportedly sold out in under 30 minutes, features a fight card including headliners Omega and Jericho; Cody taking on his brother Dustin Rhodes; The Young Bucks battling the Lucha Bros for the AAA World Tag Team Championship; Hangman Adam Page clashing with PAC; and Britt Baker, Nyla Rose and Kylie Rae competing in a three-way match.
Additionally, the hour-long live pre-show special, “The Buy-In” will stream on WarnerMedia and AEW’s social media channels.
The show includes the first ever “Casino (Battle) Royale,” which will see 21 competitors, including Jimmy Havoc, Billy Gunn, MJF and Jungle Boy entering the ring in waves of five wrestlers every three minutes followed by one final entrant, lucky number 21, all fighting it out in the ring until there is one winner, whose reward will be a future title shot against the first ever AEW World Champion.
“Wrestling fans have wanted — and needed — something different and authentic,” said Khan.