The countdown continues to Double or Nothing this weekend. If anyone wondered whether or not ITV was ‘all in’ on AEW, their brand new ITV Wrestling channel has just released a great Before The Bell documentary that details the rise of All Elite Wrestling.
The 45-minute documentary delves into the creation of the promotion and the steps it has made to become one of the most talked about stories in the modern wrestling era. It features exclusive interviews from Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Raven, Scott Hall, Diamond Dallas Page and many more.
The story begins at AEW Rally last January, with Cody stating, “I think it was about four months ago, I was standing in the ring at All In and I was surrounded by the best fans in the entire world. I felt like I was trapped in this literal wall of sound. It was your belief and your passion, it started a fire.”
The Young Bucks adds, “The three of us and a cast of our banded friends disrupted the very way that professional wrestling functioned. We broke all of the rules. We were eventually approached by the Khan family and they had a question for the three of us. The question was, ” do you guys really want to change the world?” We said yep. They said we can help.”
The recipe was so simple. The passion of the fans, the fire of the wrestlers and the Khan family support, that was everything All Elite Wrestling needed to be born. Like Tony Khan states, “We have the best performers in the world, we have the best minds, that’s what’s going to set us apart.” A revolution was about to start.
Cody than explained how he had to grow up in front of TV eyes, as Dusty’s son, and how long it took for him to be a part of the business and be a part of the best. His brother Dustin is pushing forward, “When you’re so hungry and you’re sitting behind WWE stage and they’re not utilizing you properly and your hands are tied because, creatively, it’s bullshit when you’re as good as he is.” So Cody left WWE, in 2016, “I thought it was my time.” When Dustin is talking about passion, Cody unveils his fear about not being World Champion, like his Dad was. And when the fear was over, Cody was unafraid, and he left WWE.
Now outside of any kind of bubble, Cody contacted The Bucks, the hottest tag team in the business. Like Raven states, selling t-shorts when you’re not even on TV is huge and that’s what Kenny Omega and The Bucks were doing. Cody confirms, “those are two people you can make not just a friendship with, but a partnership with. Kenny is a really out-of-this-world thinker, he’s just a really special artist and professional and performer. He put so much into those outings, he leaves it all out there.”
Unlike Cody, Omega understood quickly he would be successful outside of any bubble. Adam “Hangman” Page notes he “genuinely believe in the vision for wrestling that Matt and Nick and Cody have and it’s the same idea that (he has) about what wrestling.”
During his time with Ring of Honor, Cody told the Bucks they could “run a big arena, actually sell it out and do (their) own thing.” Ring of Honor allowed them to do it but they also helped them. All In was born. But, like Cody says, “the idea to do our own show, to do a show for wrestling fans by wrestlers sounded very romantic and most industry experts were dooming it to fail and the amount of pressure that came with us we built to September 1st was monumental.” The show was sold out in 30 minutes. Scott Hall noted the Chicago crowd was the best they could have.
Now it was time to go to work and build the show, from beginning to end, which means production meetings, choosing a set, booking matches, etc. And the magic happened, All In was a huge success. Fans were happy, wrestlers were happy. Cody won the same NWA title his father won years before. And the group of wrestlers involved decided to stick together.
Double or Nothing announcement had the same effect that All In had on fans, business, and wrestlers. Doing it May 25th in Las Vegas, Nevada, at the MGM Grand Garden, would draw people, like states Diamond Dallas Page. Chris Jericho got attached to it, The Lucha Brothers, a bunch of young talents. It was a momentum building buzz, says DDP. Of course, Double or Nothing was sold out in 4 minutes, which was unprecedented in Las Vegas history.
Talents from all other the world now wanted to be in. Jim Ross was sure he had still a lot of things to offer. “I don’t know else I could do right now in my life that would make happier than what I’m about to start. I want to be able to be a role model, the mentor of this young roster. I want to be involved in a physical athletic presentation.” Jim Ross is timeless, Cody states, and that has never been more true.
Brandi Rhodes was committed to creating a Women’s division because they are being taking much more seriously than they’ve ever been taken before. Britt Baker is proud to say she’s the only girl to return to compete from All In. Kylie Rae and Nyla Rose are ready to square off with her. In the Tag Team Division, The Lucha Brothers were opponents of choice for The Young Bucks. Matt and Nick Jackson know Penta and Fénix are one of the best teams in the world today. They’re not afraid. The AAA World Tag Team belts will be on the line.
Dustin Rhodes has always loved his brother. Cody says at one point he was his hero anytime. But at Double or Nothing, it will be brother versus brother. “I don’t know what it’s going to take for one to beat the other right there, I know it’s personal and there’s nothing better than a personal issue in a pro wrestling match”, says Dustin. “Cody is facing his reckoning,” adds Dustin, when Cody says, “I am NOT here to kill Dustin Rhodes, I’m here to kill the Attitude Era.”
“Omega and Jericho are two of the biggest pieces of the foundation that this company is going to be built on”, states Jim Ross. “I’m Chris Jericho, I’ve destroyed all the boundaries, I’ve broken down all the walls when I signed my name on the AEW contract. I’m the greatest wrestler, period, in the world today, with the longevity of almost 30 years of being on top and nothing is going to stop me from getting the thank-you that I deserve.” Jericho may think he made AEW the hottest wrestling company in the world, Kenny Omega has also pathed his way through the business.
Omega respected Chris Jericho, they’re from the same city. “He always found ways to stand out and, whether it be through his sheer, wrestling ability his physical presence, he was a guy with a very complete tool chest, much like a Madonna. He is able to find ways to reinvent himself whenever he wants, whatever he wants, to be relevant,” Omega notes, “but I see the man that he’s become and, as much as I could give him credit for being someone, I don’t respect what Chris Jericho’s become.” Omega is decided to show the world and Jericho he’s the best. He wants to make a statement at Double or Nothing in defeating the man he names the Greatest of All Time.
Meanwhile, Chris Jericho is training with his old friend Dave Bautista. He knows “Kenny Omega is one of the best performers, if not the best performer in the world today.” Which means Jericho can’t lose, something he’s fully aware of. “Failure is not an option, losing is not an option. This is the most important match of my life, it’s the most important match in AEW very short history.” The Judas Effect, his new finisher, may be the key to his success.
“We don’t care about race or gender or sex or religion. If you’re any lead athlete, we want you”, said The Bucks at AEW rally. Fans are ready, wrestlers are hungry, so let the show happen on Saturday night. Cody and The Bucks may be nervous, Cody is sure, “We want to set a new standard for all of pro wrestling, for all pro wrestlers, and for all pro wrestling fans, and we get the chance to do it.”
Double Or Nothing airs live on ITV Box Office from 1 AM, Saturday night, May 25th. Head to https://www.itvboxoffice.com/ to purchase.
All pics and videos courtesy of ITV Wrestling and AEW.