2019 is shaping up to be the comeback year for pro wrestling. We have not seen this much attention since the hey day of the Attitude Era and the Monday Night Wars which featured WWE, WCW, and ECW competing for the mainstream audience.
In recent years, WWE has been losing much interest from the mainstream audience and pro wrestling fans alike. The switch from pro wrestling to sports entertainment has failed to keep fans many interested. We have seen a slight uptick in the current WWE Universe since the creation of NXT, and the signing of much smaller, more exciting wrestlers. Gone are the days of the big man ruling the sport.
To fill the void, there have been many independent companies step up and provide alternatives. New Japan Pro Wrestling has now expanded to the US and gained the attention of the world. TNA Impact failed to give WWE serious competition, but are still alive and making a huge comeback as Impact Wrestling. Ring of Honor has been one of the biggest draws outside of the WWE. We have seen many other smaller promotions push pro wrestling back in the spotlight, to include: Major League Wrestling, Defiant Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, Bar Wrestling, and many more.
We began to see the magic happen when New Japan Pro Wrestling created a wrestling stable that rivaled the great NWO of the WCW days. This stable was called The Bullet Club. This stable has produced many stars over the years such as Kenny Omega and current WWE stars Fin Balor and AJ Styles. It also hosted one of the greatest tag teams of all time, The Young Bucks.
The story begins when WWE star Stardust, aka Cody Rhodes, son of the legendary NWA Champion, Dusty Rhodes, left the WWE. He was not happy following in his brother Dustin's Goldust footsteps. He's the son of a legend, and could have been pushed as such. Sure, he was secured a job in the WWE making 7 figures for the rest of his career if he liked, but he chose to challenge himself, and make his own name on the independent wrestling scene.
Cody could not use the last name Rhodes, but went by simply Cody as he had an excellent run in Ring of Honor. He eventually got the offer to come to New Japan and management and The Young Bucks gave him a choice that may have changed the history of pro wrestling. He accepted the offer to join The Bullet Club. However, he still kept his moniker as "The American Nightmare" Cody. Together with The Young Bucks, Kenny Omega, Adam "Hangman" Page, Marty Scurll and SCU, they became YouTube internet sensations with their weekly video series "Being The Elite."
As their friendship and popularity grew, they began to change the industry. They proved that you can find success in pro wrestling outside of the WWE. They were booked and selling out shows all over the world, and growling wildly in popularity. You began to see Bullet Club shirts everywhere, which meant they were gaining mainstream interest. With companies like Pro Wrestling Tees, once again, they proved that you can find great success selling merchandise outside of the WWE. They even inked a deal with the popular chain Hot Topic to sell their tees. These guys were more than pro wrestlers, they were great business men, and it was beginning to show.
In mid 2018 the rumors began to fly that thanks to a bet by the popular pro wrestling writer, Dave Meltzer. The statement from Meltzer was that despite their popularity, they could not sell out a 10,000 seat arena and compete with the WWE. The Being The Elite crew begged to differ. They planned the biggest pro wrestling event outside of the WWE in North America. They dubbed the show "All In," and it featured one of the best cards on paper the industry has seen in years, to include an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match between Cody and Nick Aldus. The NWA had been dead for years, but the recent purchase of the NWA by The Smashing Pumpkins lead singer, Billy Corgan, and also another successful YouTube series, "The 10 Pounds of Gold," was used to help push the event, giving it the credibility of the famed NWA Championship.
The event was a smashing success, and sold out over 10,000 seats in less than 30 minutes. It took place in Chicago, IL, and even had a surprise appearance from former WWE star Chris Jericho, as he attacked Kenny Omega from behind after a great match with rising Mexican star Pentagon Jr. This was hot of the heels of the most talked about match of the year between Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega in New Japan Pro Wrestling. This had the feeling of the old territory days, and the Monday Night Wars, where you just never knew who could show up at any time.
After the success of the "All In" show, we noticed on episodes of "Being The Elite" there appeared a countdown timer that ended on New Years 2019. Everyone speculated the announcement could be different things, but everyone also knew that the Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling contracts were coming to an end for most of the "Being The Elite" crew. Rumors said that Chris Jericho and famed pro wrestling announcer Jim Ross were going to start a wrestling promotion. The guys also worked social media with such angles as Chris Jericho appearing at a Jacksonville Jaguars game on Instagram.
Enter Shahid Khan and Tony Khan; businessmen, owners of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars, owners the London-based soccer club Fulham F.C., billionaires involved in many industries including sports and entertainment. They are ready to give WWE a run for their money. Now they have the team to do it.
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