To hell with Kenny Omega. Forget about a television deal. Some of the ways that All Elite Wrestling is looking to change the world don’t necessarily have to do with what we see in the ring or on a screen.
By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
The views and opinions herein are those solely of the author and may not necessarily reflect those if the rest of the human race.
The much-ballyhooed All Elite Wrestling is in the books. While the media and fans hotly debate what was announced and what wasn’t, what may be the most important takeaway happened afterward.
Far as the talent and shows announced, that seems to be what everyone is focusing on. They’ve got some impressive talent already and there’s more to come.
That’s what people don’t seem to get. Lot of folks thinking that the rally was underwhelming due to what wasn’t announced – Kenny Omega, a TV deal. People apparently wanted AEW to blow their was right out of the gate. If they do, what’s left to be excited about?
The business itself is what the company seems to want to change the most. And while everyone else is convinced that this means “TV deal or it didn’t happen,” there are other facets they seem to be concentrating on (though television may be happening sooner than later, so you can all relax).
Both Brandi and Cody alluded to more financial opportunity for those on the roster, male and female. With terms like “no sliding pay scale” and “wins and losses meaning more than ever,” it’s tough to tell how those statements will play. The way they were phrased is somewhat vague, but the heart looks to be in the right place in so far as taking care of talent…
Just like this. Right here.
According to our onsite correspondent, Tony Khan also said during a press interview that healthcare for AEW is something they hope to iron out soon. The hope is for employees to gain full-time employment with their company.
— Pro Wrestling Sheet (@WrestlingSheet) January 8, 2019
The real “change the world” moment apparently happened off camera.
How many people – wrestlers, specifically – have been talking about healthcare and unionization for performers? Here’s a hint: Talks about it have been circulating for at least 33 years.
Many in the industry, let alone those of us watching at home, may not be aware of how big a deal this is. Think about this – every injury we see happen on television and in the arenas, everything from getting a concussion to blowing out your knee to taking a cinder block to the back of the head – all of those medical expenses are incurred by the performer and no one else. Ever wonder why you see so many “GoFundMe”s for pro wrestling performers?
Almost every other job in the country comes with benefits such as healthcare costs mainly covered by the employer. Traditionally, wrestlers and other in-ring talent are not considered employees, but rather quote independent contractors and quote – meaning that they do not work for a specific company but rather for themselves.
Even WWE, whose “independent contracts” may well be the most restrictive anywhere. To its credit, that company will absorb medical costs for performers injured on their watch. But that does not insure those performers. It is not a company given benefit, as those performers are not considered company employees.
What I am taking away from Tony Khan is that he seems to be willing to do what no other company has done before him, and that is to offer benefits – such as healthcare – to its performers. It may be a work-in-progress but at least Khan is looking at making it happen.
There is your world changer. To hell with Kenny Omega. Forget about a television deal. Some of the ways that All Elite Wrestling is looking to change the world – as they collectively stated in the rally several times – don’t necessarily have to do with what we see in the ring or on a screen. The boldest statement made by AEW was not made during the public stream.
While many are looking at AEW in terms of talent or product visibility, the real game changer may be in their business practices. Changing the world means more than what the fans see – it’s how the performers are treated and how the company does business as well.