It was quite a sight when Cody Rhodes arrived at WrestleMania 38, complete with his AEW entrance, look, and feel. A former All Elite Wrestling Executive Vice President arriving on Vince McMahon‘s biggest show of the year wasn’t just a great moment for all involved, but it couldn’t have felt good for the higher ups at AEW. The only thing potentially worse? Having the other EVPs do the same thing less than two years later.
While no one quite knew when the contracts of AEW originals and founding members Kenny Omega, Hangman Adam Page, and Matt and Nick Jackson expired, the rumors were that they were ending soon. And it looked like WWE was interested.
Avoiding the Unthinkable
Having The Elite leave All Elite Wrestling would have been detrimental to the company in many ways. First, from an in-ring standpoint, the four competitors are some of the biggest stars in the company. They’re responsible for some of the best matches in AEW history and among the most popular guys on the roster.
Having four main event talents leave a wrestling promotion all at once isn’t something that would be easy to come back from. Omega and the Bucks are also company EVPs. Their exit from the promotion would have left a huge hole backstage and in the company offices as well.
Also, the group is named “The Elite.” From a public perception standpoint, having the Elite leave All Elite Wrestling would have been bad. Having the Elite from All Elite Wrestling show up in WWE would have been devastating.
Which is why it’s so important that the Elite re-signed multi-year contracts with AEW.
Keeping The Elite
According to Sports Illustrated, Omega and the Bucks will remain Executive Vice Presidents in addition to their work on-screen.
Losing the Elite seemed like a possibility mostly due to Rhodes leaving and because of the backstage situation with CM Punk. The “Brawl Out” incident has been discussed and debated and analyzed to death, but there was a real potential issue there. If CM Punk and the Elite couldn’t get along, and if CM Punk wasn’t going anywhere (which it seems like he’s not), then there was a chance the Elite would head out the door instead.
Thankfully for the company, they did not.
“The Elite are the main characters of this company,” says Matt Jackson. “No matter how different AEW is now from its original inception, we are the DNA. And if you lose the foundation of your home, it eventually collapses. It’d be a lie if I said that didn’t weigh on us, when making the decision.”
In addition to recognizing how critical the group is to AEW, all four also talked about how the reduced schedule and flexibility of the company were a big part of the decision.
“AEW not only allows me to continue doing what I do at a high level, but allows the freedom to pursue some other passions I have in life–which, after nearly 25 years in the ring, have become more and more important to me,” says Omega.
The freedom and flexibility also mattered to the rest of the group.
““I have a wife and three young children and seeing them as much as possible was a big factor,” says Nick Jackson. “At this point of my life and career, I just couldn’t see myself being on the road half of the year or even more than that.”
“Ultimately, I made the best decision for my family. Working in AEW will allow me the most time with my children, and they’re still at the young age where they need their dad home as much as possible,” says Matt Jackson. “Having the strongest marriage possible with my wife Dana is so important to me as well. When wrestling is finished, I want to come home to a full, healthy home.”
“At this stage of my life the selling point was the schedule,” says Page. “AEW’s schedule allows me to be home with my family for the majority of the week and will ideally help my body hold up better in the long run.”
Another important point is that the group seemingly made the decision together, with Matt Jackson saying “The entire Elite was going to make the decision of where we were going, together. And that’s what we did. We stuck together.”
As Dynamite celebrates 200 episodes tonight, the company has something else to celebrate as well: the E is staying in AEW.
More From LWOS Pro Wrestling
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. As well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8 PM ET on TBS and AEW Dark: Elevation (Monday nights) and AEW: Dark (Tuesday nights) at 7 PM ET on YouTube. AEW Rampage airs on TNT at 10 PM EST every Friday night.