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New startup is looking to take on the WWE

A new player has emerged to take on the pro-wrestling industry’s resident giant — the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) — and it comes in the form of a startup All Elite Wrestling (AEW). It’s the brainchild of former WWE superstar Cody Rhodes, son of WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes and half-brother of Dustin Rhodes, better known to fans as Goldust.

NEW YORK, NY - August 31: Cody Rhodes attends the Press Conference for the sold out "All In" event at the Sears Center Arena in Chicago, Illinois. August 31, 2018. Credit: George Napolitano/MediaPunch /IPX

While Cody Rhodes may be the mastermind behind AEW, he’s certainly not the bank behind it. That, along with the official title of creator, goes to Jacksonville Jaguars senior vice president of football technology & analytics Tony Khan, whose father Shahid owns the NFL franchise. The father-son duo are investing $100 million to get AEW off the ground, and that money has definitely been put to use.

NFL Football - Philadelphia Eagles v Jacksonville Jaguars - NFL International Series - Wembley Stadium, London, Britain - October 28, 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan before the match Action Images via Reuters/Paul Childs

AEW may be new, but it is already competing with WWE when it comes to talent. The startup has signed major talent from across the pro-wrestling world. Those names include former “Ring of Honor” and “New Japan Pro Wrestling” tag team Matt and Nick Jackson, known as The Young Bucks, and former WWE legend and world champion Chris Jericho. Both companies are actively trying to sign the biggest free agent in the wrestling world, former “NJPW” star Kenny Omega.

TOKYO,JAPAN - JANUARY 4: Chris Jericho holds the belt of IWGP Intercontinental championship during the Wrestle Kingdom 13 at Tokyo Dome on January 04, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

Though it’s a new promotion, AEW is making big plans. The company has already announced its first Pay-Per-View event — “All In: Double or Nothing,” will emanate from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 25. Khan and AEW are also reportedly in talks with “a number of interested parties” to secure a TV deal.

Whatever deals AEW strikes, they will most likely pale in comparison to the WWE’s recent 5-year $1.025 billion deal with Fox (FOX) for “Smackdown Live,” but having a weekly on-network show would be huge for a company that hopes to compete with the WWE.

WWE has been around for decades and crushed competitors before — so the odds are long against AEW overtaking the company in terms of dollars and cents. However, if AEW’s goal is to bring a quality WWE alternative to wrestling fans, then it might just be well on its way.

Reggie Wade is a wirter for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade


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