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At the stroke of midnight Pacific time on New Year’s Eve, the official announcement of All Elite

Wrestling was made on Being the Elite, from a video taped 17 hours or so earlier in front of the Tokyo
Dome, where The Young Bucks, Cody and Adam Page were waiting with their cell phones for the
ticking to end.

At first nothing happened, but then they showed the AEW insignia on the phone and Page’s phone
had a graphic that read: “All In 2: Double or Nothing.”

Whether AEW succeeds or not is very much in the air, and this is a marathon, not a sprint. But this
has already in recent weeks and months changed the game for the wrestlers. A slew of people that
were free agents and those in the future whose contracts have and will expire able to cut far more
favorable financial deals because there is legitimate competition for top wrestlers with four viable
companies looking at the top upcoming and established stars, WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling, AEW
and ROH.

All four companies have had major wins and major losses at the negotiating table, and a number of
wrestlers, actually almost all in the discussion, were able to cut the best financial deals in their

AEW has strong backing financially, as the company is 100 percent owned by Shahid “Shad” Khan,
68, and son Tony, 36. Shahid is reportedly worth $6.5 billion and is listed by Forbes as the 65th
richest man in the U.S. and No. 217, in the world, far outdistancing Vince McMahon or the Fertitta
Brothers. It opened picking up sizable talent and there are very serious negotiations with two major
cable stations for a weekly two-hour live prime time television show, doors opened by the Khan
family’s business and personal connections, the value of WWE and other live sports programming
rights and the blueprint of the promotion, the success of the 9/1 All In show.

Tony Khan, a lifelong pro wrestling fan and an Observer subscriber for about 22 years, who in the
past has sent in live event reports and big show feedback, will be the President of the company. He
will also be the head of creative, in the Vince McMahon role, with a team that would include several
others working with him in that role. While he also

Matt & Nick Massie (Young Bucks) and Cody Runnels will all be Executive Vice Presidents. While
there will be basically crossovers in responsibility, Runnels’ focus will be singles wrestling and the
Young Bucks focus will be tag team wrestling. Because The Bucks come in as two of the key stars of
the promotion, there will be a much higher priority when it comes t tag team wrestling than in WWE.
Brandi (Rhodes) Runnels will be both the Chief Brand Officer (the Stephanie McMahon role as a
public face of the company–already marketed as Chief Brandi Officer) and also focus on the women’s
talent. Dana Massie, the wife of Matt, often called Mrs. Matt in social media, who has been credited
with building the Young Bucks merchandise brand, will be head of merchandise.

Ryan Barkan, who created and is the President of Pro Wrestling Tees, will also be part of the
merchandise arm of the company.

Chris Harrington, a stats whiz who has extensive knowledge of pro wrestling finances and business,
has been hired as the head of business development.

A number of other positions are in the process of being filled.

There is expected to be at least one more Executive Vice President added to senior management.

The Young Bucks and Cody all signed three year contracts with options on years four and five. The
contracts make them exclusive to AEW worldwide, although if AEW was to make deals with other
promotions, whether it be New Japan, Revolution Pro, OTT or others, that doesn’t preclude them
from working there.

Aside from Page, Britt Baker, Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky, who were
known to be part of the promotion, all the other talent currently under contract were announced and
appeared at the 1/8 debut rally in Jacksonville, FL. The rally, before more than 1,000 fans, took place
just outside TIAA Bank Field, the home field of the Jacksonville Jaguars that the Khan Family owns.

The newcomers were Chris Jericho, Pac, MJF (Max Freidman, 22), Joey Janela and Penelope Ford.
All are under contact and the different contracts vary in both time and stipulations.

Jericho, who was one of the first people aware the Khans were interested in starting a promotion, was
still in negotiations with WWE as late as the end of December. His deal signed was for three years
exclusive, meaning no big show WWE appearances during that time frame. The only exemptions he
negotiated into his deal where that he can continue to work and make his own deal for New Japan,
where he is interested in continuing and where they are interested in his continuing, and he can do
anything he wants related to future Jericho Cruises. One would expect AEW to provide the talent for
the cruises going forward. While Jericho publicly said that he’s got money, and now he’s here to have
fun, the reality is that he was offered a significantly better contract by AEW than what he had ever
earned with WWE and still left him free for very lucrative big show New Japan paydays.
Janela, Ford and MJF signed deals that are not exclusive. Janela and Ford’s deals allow them to
continue working co-promoted events. MJF has other contractual responsibilities as he has a two-
year MLW deal. Court Bauer has noted that he has been in contact with AEW and he doesn’t expect
any problems and MJF would work for both promotions. At this point we’re told that AEW hasn’t
pulled any of its talent from any previously agreed upon bookings.

Deals with talent with vary from single date deals, three month deals, and up to three year deals.

Brandi Runnels made a statement about men and women being paid equally, which was then taken
to mean everyone would be paid the same, which is obviously not the case. The idea is that men and
women of equal pushed positions would make the same money.

The company’s debut show will be “All In 2: Double or Nothing,” on 5/25 at the MGM Grand Garden
Arena in Las Vegas, the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It will be done in conjunction with
Starrcast 2, a fan fest run by Conrad Thompson, similar to what took place in Chicago in September
for the first All In.

The original plan for the show was to run at the T Mobile Arena, which was booked for the date. The
Arena then contacted Khan and said that if the Las Vegas Golden Knights NHL team was still in the
Stanley Cup playoffs and had a home date scheduled for 5/25, they would have to move the show.
While the odds were slim of all of that happening, the decision was made that to avoid any potential
problems, they would run at the MGM Grand, which is smaller. Las Vegas was chosen because
Chicago was mostly a fly-in crowd and the feeling was Las Vegas would be a place where a fly-in
crowd would want to go. Memorial Day weekend had also been a historically successful night for UFC
in Las Vegas but UFC was taking that weekend off.

The show will also air on PPV, likely both streaming and television. The first All In did an estimated
50,000 to 55,000 total buys between streaming and television, with the highest percentage of
streaming vs. television of any PPV show in U.S. history. That number had two key factors involved,
including that is was available live on Honor Club and on a slight delay on New Japan World, plus
due to a late issue at DirecTV, the show didn’t air there, which cut down a significant percentage of
the PPV universe. The number is more than WWE PPV shows do these days, but obviously WWE
has far more of an audience base watching its network than Honor Club or New Japan World.

Of course, therein lies the entire story of the promotion, which is the great unknown. We know this
group of wrestlers has a very supportive fan base that will spend a lot of money on merchandise and
support the crew with passion. The merchandise per head at the first All In was through the roof. For
the weekend itself, it averaged close to $50 per head in just T-shirt sales. But there is a difference
now. Before they were hardworking guys who were independents and successful, but fighting their
way to the top. They are now executives and wrestlers, earning top WWE star main event level

Most people raved about how much fun they had between the convention and a very strong live
show. But the first show was a novelty and it remained to be seen if that was a building block number
that would get larger in time due to strong word-of-mouth and social media reaction, or it was the
peak of a long build on BTE and reached a one-time level due to that which would be difficult to reach
again. They achieved a level of success on that weekend that no company other than WWE had
done in the U.S. in two decades, but maintaining it is a very different animal.

And it’s still a base audience. The prelims did 196,000 viewers on WGN America, a solid number for
the station outside of the time slot, but the question is exactly how many fans are there for non-WWE
wrestling in the U.S. today who are willing to watch weekly when WWE already produces so much
first-run programming between television and the network each week.

It’s one thing to be able to be big draws for ROH and average 1,200 fans per show, but at this level,
the money and stakes and plans to run major arenas for tapings at a time when WWE didn’t even
turn much of a profit on live events last quarter, is a very different animal.

Ultimately, if this second All In show can do similar numbers, that’s a great sign. If not, it is what it is,
but the real game isn’t until they get television, which is expected to be later this year.

Neither the announcement of the Young Bucks and Cody signing, nor the All In rally were among the
top searches on Google. Sure, they trended on Twitter, a much easier metric that also means less,
but because of that, it’s a great but ultimately meaningless metric because there’s no correlation to
money. While Liddell-Ortiz was the major exception, Google searches are amazingly effective in
predicting PPV numbers, and in seeing what is hot among the masses. Over the past two weeks, the
only combat sports news that reached the general public to any strong degree were: UFC 232 with
2.4 million searches on 12/29; Floyd Mayweather Jr. with 500,000 on 12/31; Gene Okerlund with
500,000 on Jan. 2; Toni Storm (hacked and nude photos leaked) with 100,000 on 1/3 and Nikki Bella
(news she’s dating former Dancing with the Stars teammate Artem Chigvintsev) with 100,000 on 1/3.
In 2019, the big money has to be in television. In every major sport, that’s the key. The key to
television is garnering a large audience, not a small group of fans willing to spend more money than
in any other era on he product.

WWE itself is falling at a pretty rapid rate, but has become more valuable because cable is after
anything that will draw consistently good numbers. That’s why the success of All In opened doors for
at least two major U.S. stations to come up with deals as well as an even more significant
international deal in preliminary talks.

But no deal is finalized, no matter what anyone says, but at least two have reached the point of
money proposals because the value of wrestling is far more than even in the Attitude Era when it was
far more popular.

In the Attitude Era, wrestling did huge numbers but the key advertisers stayed away, and in the end,
television was about putting on shows that could make money through advertising. Now, the negative
stigma of wrestling fans and their purchasing power has changed somewhat (not completely), but
television is desperate for anything that will draw them consistent viewers. Live sports are thought to
be the future, and pro wrestling is viewed as live sports. In addition, streaming providers are paying a
premium for products they think can help draw them subscribers. In the wrestling genre, WWE is
taken, so in theory, if the numbers are strong enough there would be value in the PPV rights to big
shows to the sports streaming services looking for live unique content.

At the end of the day, the key is this. To be successful as a prime time sports property on a major
station, you have to be able to deliver more than hardcore eyeballs. T-shirt sales numbers are
impressive. The success of All In and the BTE numbers help in getting a TV deal.

But BTE in recent weeks has ranged from 149,000 to 322,000 (for an episode based around the
Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi match) YouTube views worldwide, and YouTube views count
anything clicked on for a few seconds, and are very different from average minute of the show.
Between an edited version and full version of the rally, there were 611,000 people who watched on
BTE and another 152,000 who watched a news report on the Jericho signing. Some argue that is
their fan base, and that’s far from numbers to be successful with a weekly major station television
Some will point to the YouTube numbers for BTE as a reason a television show will fail. The fact the
rally and the announcement didn’t trend on Google does say this much. Right now this news and they
are not mainstream.

Today with no publicity, there are probably not enough fans to draw a big number on a major station,
although TNA’s start on Spike in 2005 would say something different.

But the idea is that being on a major station with the promotion from the station will expand the
audience. Realistically, with today’s numbers and moved to Friday, Smackdown flops on FOX, but
that’s also short-sighted because the number of people who watch FOX beats USA and they will
promote is hard. Inherently, the value of television today is to reach a new audience that the nature of
streaming, which more fulfills the hardcore fan base, isn’t nearly as effective in when it comes to
making new fans.

TNA was doing 200,000 to 250,000 viewers on Fox Sports Net before Spike, and immediately jumped
to more than 1 million on Spike very quickly after starting, and that was out of prime time on a
Saturday night. Impact had nowhere near the underground support in late 2005 that this group has
coming out of the gate in 2019. But, television is also very different and a success at 11 p.m. on
Saturday night on Spike that eventually leads to an audience on prime time is very different from a
successful prime time audience on perhaps a much higher rated station. In addition, the talents costs
it took to get Jericho, The Bucks and Cody are gigantic compared to what TNA at the time was paying
even for Sting and Kurt Angle.

And Impact was a huge money loser for almost its entire existence except for a brief break-even
period. The risks here are higher. The person in charge is far more wrestling savvy and the major
executives are extremely social media and merchandise savvy, and far more knowledgeable and
open minded when it comes to the talent that is out there.

But the competition and price for that talent is growing greatly. Guys who would have made $250 per
match in 2005 are getting well over $100,000 guaranteed now because of the competition.

Shad Khan in a statement said: “I am the lead investor, a supporter and backer of All Elite Wrestling,
and I anticipate great things today and into the future for AEW and everyone who has worked
passionately on this week’s launch. I know AEW will be welcomed by wrestling fans here in the U.S.
and throughout the world who are ready for something new and authentic. AEW will work hard to
deliver on that promise. As important, I am the father–the proud father–of Tony Khan, who will serve
in a leadership role a AEW during the 2019 launch and in the years ahead. Tony will assemble a
great team to take AEW over the top, for the benefit or everyone who loves the wrestling industry,
while continuing to serve in his current capacities with the Jaguars and Fulham. AEW will operate as
an organization completely independently from my other interests. It will not deter attention or divert
resources from any of my businesses, teams, projects or investments. At the same time, AEW will
enjoy the same full commitment I give to everything and everyone in my life–my family and friends,
my business, and in recent years, to sports, hospitality and now entertainment.

Tony Khan said: “Wrestling fans are a community unlike most others. I’ve been a part of this
community since I was 7 years old, and I can tell you that wrestling fans see the world every day
through a special lens. We see wrestling in Hollywood films and TV shows, we see elements of
wrestling in the presentation of sports and in the marketing of grandiose star athletes, and we
certainly see wrestling in politics. The wrestling community is a constant; its members are diverse, we
are physically located on all corners of the planet, yet we are constantly connected. Recently, a new
family has formed, bonded by love and respect for wrestling but armed with a vision and resources
that have never before been available to the wrestling community. Our objective is to connect our
community closer than ever before through All Elite Wrestling, or AEW. AEW does not mean any less
of a continued commitment to existing obligations and duties that I have, or my family has, to our
business and sports interests. That will never be the case. What’s important is that every individual
decision we make as a family, whether it’s ownership or investment in a team or property is 100
percent beneficial to those special interests. I will always welcome that accountability and
responsibility, as nothing is more important than serving our supporters and friends. AEW will launch
with a roster of the top wrestlers in the world. While they’ll clash in what will be some of the most
intense and fast-paced contests ever sanctioned in the squared circle, they’ll also share a common
goal: to make this the true golden age, to make this the greatest time ever to be a wrestling fan.
Likewise, as a business, by treating our wrestlers with respect and warmth, we also seek to make this
the golden age for the performers themselves. I urge everyone who believes in what we’re dong, or
wants to believe in dreams coming true, to support AEW by spreading the word and passing the
wrestling bug onto someone else. My message: Get in on the ground floor with AEW today and help
lead our movement to grow the wrestling community and ensure that the voices of the wrestling fans,
their creative minds and their remarkable ideas, will always be heard.”

The second AEW show will be during the summer in Jacksonville, with a large percentage of
proceeds going to benefit victims of gun violence. There is still a lot to work out for the show, but it will
most likely be in July or closely related to that.
The third show, as yet unannounced, is likely to be in Chicago, possibly back at the Sears Center,
over Labor Day weekend with the idea of being the anniversary of the first All In, and would also be a
PPV show.

Chicago was a huge success as a live event, but circumstances are very different. This is not the
Young Bucks and Cody promoting the show on their own, but the debut of a new promotion. They
won’t have access to ROH and New Japan talent most likely, although that could also change. A lot
of the talent from the first show has since signed with other promotions. The first show was a unique
novelty and nobody knows how a follow-up show would do, but the first show was also far more
successful than anyone expected, selling 10,541 tickets in 30 minutes and having a secondary
market roughly as strong as SummerSlam in Brooklyn–the strongest for any pro wrestling event in the
U.S. of 2018 including WrestleMania (where because of the stadium, there were so many more
tickets available that the scarcity didn’t create the higher prices that the other two shows did).

Pac vs. Page, stemming from their confrontation at the rally, will be one of the key matches on the
first show. They pushed the idea that they would be two of the top contenders for their world
championship. There is a major main event scheduled that is likely to be announced around the time
tickets go on sale, which looks to be in February. The other angle at the rally saw Janela hit MJF with
his crutch, which would theoretically lead to a match. Janela is aiming to be ready after major knee
surgery on 5/25, but won’t know for sure for at least another month if he can make it back by that

Also announced was an affiliation with the Shanghai, China-based Oriental Wrestling Entertainment
group, notably the Strong Hearts group headed by Cima, T-Hawk, Lindaman and Takehiro
Yamamura who started with Dragon Gate and Chinese trainees of Cima and Skayde of Gao Jingjia,
who has been compared to Tiger Mask and Rey Mysterio Jr., for his potential in changing the
business, Duan Yingnan (who has worked for DDT) and Seiki Yoshioka (who started with Wrestle-1).
Dezmond Xavier, Zachary Wentz and Trey Miguel are also part of the group, but they are currently
working for Impact.

Women wrestlers from Stardom and other promotions have been contacted. One of the key ones was
Mayu Iwatani, who is unlikely to come. ROH, which also has an affiliation with Stardom, paid for
Iwatani’s three-year U.S. visa so unless ROH and AWE make a deal, which will be difficult because
they are competitors, Stardom feels it would be wrong to have her work against ROH, which also has
booked Iwatani for its Madison Square Garden show.
Several Japanese women have been talked about for at least certain dates, including Hall of Famer
Aja Kong, but that deal is not believed to be completed. But the Japanese women are being heavily

Cody Runnels stated that their goal is to be friends with other promotions. It’s been made clear that
nobody is looking at becoming the enemy of WWE, particularly since Paul Levesque was heavily
praised by the key people in regard to attempted negotiations. Still, there’s also a reality of
competition and unless things change from WWE, they will be the enemy whether they want to be or

On 1/8, WWE held Smackdown in Jacksonville, shortly after the end of the rally. At first, fans with
AEW T-shirts on were turned away at the door. WWE immediately told us that this wasn’t the case,
but several fans contacted us saying it happened to them including one with video proof, including
one who said he’d buy a WWE t-shirt to put on over his AEW shirt. Fans with Young Bucks or Bullet
Club shirts were not turned away. But as soon as those stories hit social media, smartly, WWE
rescinded and let everyone in and there were no disturbances or AEW chants at the WWE show.
While banning T-shirts from other promotions happened at TV tapings in the 80s, and perhaps early
90s, that was before social media, and while banning certain signs happened more recently, social
media and the immediate reaction of making you seem like the “bad guy” to fans, which nobody
wants to be, has largely ended that, as it did here very quickly.

They brought 1,000 towels to hand out at the rally, which was the number they expected of fans to
attend, and ran out so the total crowd was said to have exceeded that.

Conrad Thompson and Alex Marvez hosted the event. Marvez, currently working as an NFL Insider
for Sporting News and hosts a Sirius XM radio show covering the NFL, is a former President of the
Pro Football Writers of America and one of the leading NFL reporters in the country. He has been a
wrestling fan since childhood, including doing a newsletter while he was a teenager. Marvez, who is
close friends with Khan from the football world, and they attended New Japan events together in the
U.S., is expected to be part of the television broadcast team. Television broadcast team brings up the
obvious name in Jim Ross, who will be a free agent at the end of March when his WWE contract
expires. Ross was listed as coming here in early stories that were premature, but it is a possibility.

HBO Vice was filming a segment at the rally, but HBO is not in negotiations and it’s just a news story
on those involved and the formation of the new promotion.
They had pyro. Those there were enthusiastic but the crowd wasn’t mic’d well or really shot well at all.
You never got the idea there were that many people there. The production could have been better.
Really, if there wasn’t the Jericho payoff at the end, I think people would have been more negative
about it. Then again, the press conference right before the All In tickets went on sale in Chicago
looked low-rent, and then tickets sold out instantly.

Khan already has significant outside wrestling duties, as the General Manager and Senior Vice
President of Football Technology and Analytics for the Jaguars, the Vice Chairman and Director of
Football (soccer) operations for Fulham as well as heading the team’s statistical research

He’s also the owner and Chairman of TruMedia Networks, a Boston-based engineering firm
specializing in sports analytics solutions for leagues, franchises and media partners across the sports
industry, with clients that include ESPN, the NFL, Zebra and about 60 percent of Major League
Baseball teams.

He also has an ownership stake in Activist, an entertainment management company.

Khan’s theory is to treat pro wrestling more like a sport. Cody Runnels, at the rally, noted that wins
and losses will matter more than they ever have in the past. It is expected to be a cross in
presentation to like what UFC and Bellator do, as well as taking aspects of what many of the more
serious and successful regional offices from another era did.

The other underlying story from AEW and the past week revolves around New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Every AEW wrestler, Jericho, The Young Bucks, Cody and Page lost at WrestleKingdom. For obvious
reasons, AEW wants to work together with New Japan. For obvious reasons, being the Madison
Square Garden show, New Japan is happy with its partnership with ROH. AEW offers a far better
group of foreigners. ROH offers a longstanding relationship that has greatly helped NJPW get into the
U.S. market. All the key talent in AEW worked with ROH and was generally happy in ROH, but the
stakes were raised by All In creating the opening.

From the ROH standpoint, they greatly helped The Bucks & Cody, allowing them to do the show
which technically was in violation of their contract, helped them with building negotiations, production,
and Cody went so far as to call Gary Juster of ROH one of the unsung heroes of All In. Four months
later, they are competition. There are those in ROH who weren’t happy, feeling they had made all four
significant offers and they really never considered them.

The problem was the success of All In changed the value structure. Paul Levesque worked hard at
getting all four into WWE. Page was offered main roster money to work NXT, where he’d have been
pushed as one of its top stars. The Bucks & Cody were offered strong deals. The Bucks deal was for
money roughly the same as WWE champion A.J. Styles, which would have also included BTE being
made a regular weekly show on the WWE Network, as well as something I’ve never heard WWE
concede on, which was a six-month window where they could have left their three-year contract if
they wanted and weren’t happy with their push.

Of course, WWE was fully aware of the Khan deal as this was going down, which was one of the
reasons they went so hard in locking up talent of late. The great offer with the six-month window was
with knowledge that Khan was not doing the promotion without The Bucks & Cody and signing them
would keep them from being opposition. Without them, Khan wouldn’t have the star power and stars
of All In, meaning he’d likely not have the openings to everything from television to top talent that was

Those who work in WWE with knowledge of the deal were certain they wouldn’t turn it down, and
outright told me that they would be debuting at the Rumble, and had a Rumble-to-Mania significant
storyline. When they made the decision to go to AEW, they remarked that it was mind-boggling that
they would ever get an offer at that level, and even more that they were turning it down. But they did
roughly 12 hours of talks with Levesque, who they heavily praised in how he handled everything, in
particular seeing the comedy aspect in the skit they did where they superkicked Kazarian dressed up
as him over-and-over in what was the public turning down of the offer on BTE.

A lot of WWE and NXT talent have been aware of this and have adopted a wait-and-see aspect.
Several, who figured to be frustrated with their spots have been given more television time on Raw
and Smackdown instead of being ignored. There are those in NXT and the main roster, who are
talented but aren’t sure of their plight on the main roster who figure, especially tag teams because
with the Bucks, the division will be more high-profile, who are interested. Those who went through
PWG and ROH and are friends with the people in charge are obviously the ones the most open-
minded. Others, who haven’t, are waiting for the TV deal announcement. The ones who are the
luckiest are probably the ones whose contracts run out toward the end of this year, either just before
TV starts or shortly into it since AEW will need fresh faces. And at the end of the year, it will be more
obvious what level AEW will be at and is the mass number of consumers, whether they be casual or
lapsed fans, or teenagers who for whatever reason WWE isn’t cool to, are giving it a chance or not,
which is the unknown and biggest question.

A few more notes.

While Tuesday Night Dynamite was trademarked and that obviously meant Tuesday was the plan at
that time, it is up to the station they sign with and right now Tuesday looks highly unlikely, but two
hours of live prime time is still the plan with either deal.

As far as health insurance goes, the executives will have the same health care that executives for the
Jaguars football team has. The executives as far as the wrestling people go would be the Young
Bucks, Cody, Brandi, Dana Massie, producers Daniel Covell (Christopher Daniels), Monty Kip Sopp
(Billy Gunn) and Benjamin “B.J.” Whitmer, as well as anyone else hired as an executive to come.
Right now there is nothing when it comes to the wrestling talent, and a lot depends on revenue
generation in the future as to what kind of benefits make economic sense or don’t.

The other big story relates to Kenny Omega, who may be finished with New Japan and appears not
to be signing a new deal when his contract is up on 1/31. Omega hinted at such in a Tokyo Sports
interview shortly after losing the IWGP title to Hiroshi Tanahashi.

New Japan was still expecting Omega would stay as primarily under contract to them until the story
broke. With New Japan having such ambitious plans for the next year, including two straight nights at
the Tokyo Dome in 2020 on 1/4 and 1/5, three straight nights at Budokan for G-1 on 8/10 to 8/12 (the
same weekend as SummerSlam and a big Takeover show), the opening night of G-1 on 7/6 at the
American Airlines Center in Dallas, as well as MSG on 4/6 and an 8/31 show at the Copper Box
Arena in London, Omega is hugely important to the company, as was Jericho.

While nothing is signed and can’t be until 2/1, when his New Japan contract expires, he is expected
to be with AEW as the word was that he had already turned down the WWE offer.

Omega’s situation is such that many feel it’s inevitable AEW and New Japan make a deal, when the
day earlier New Japan’s view was to continue with ROH and take a wait-and-see attitude toward
AEW. All AEW and NJPW talks went well, but NJPW was not interested in any business dealings at
this point in time. But the value of Omega and Jericho to them is such that it’s actually expected that
changes. What this means for ROH and NJPW is unknown. If Omega makes the deal, as expected, it
is fully believed that Kota Ibushi will at least be working major dates for AEW, although he is expected
to continue to work for New Japan as well.

The free agent market in recent weeks looks something like this, with every company having its
successes and failures in garnering new talent.

*Young Bucks, Cody, Page, Jericho and Omega as the key people with AEW and not WWE or New
Japan, although New Japan is still up in the air. Still, Omega is unlikely to be working as much of a
New Japan schedule under any circumstances as the belief is AEW will be his priority. AEW has
talked of the idea of not running weekends of major New Japan shows, with the idea TV would be
weeknight and thus the talent would be available for the major NJPW big shows. Because of that, it’s
very important for New Japan to elevate Jay White, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr., Juice Robinson and
Jeff Cobb in particular in 2019, both for Japan and the overseas expansion. Another unanswered
question revolves around Michael Elgin, who they’ve yet to use in the U.S.

*Kushida is going from New Japan to WWE, expected to be for NXT, which combined with other
departures is a strong loss for the NJPW junior division, particularly since Hiromu Takahashi’s injury
was so serious. It was known Kushida was in talks with WWE, but while he’ll do well in NXT, that’s a
big step down from NJPW, and 205 Live is purgatory, and the plight of Hideo Itami and Akira Tozawa
makes a guy of his size, regardless of talent, questionable in the world Vince McMahon controls. But
he’s also at the age of either do it now or don’t do it, and he was heavily recruited.

*Juice Robinson, who WWE had interest in (but not negotiations between the sides took place) and
AEW had more interest in, signed a three-year contract with NJPW. Robinson never had an NJPW
contract previously, even when he was U.S. champion. The landscape of competition led to him
getting a significant bump in pay. Rocky Romero (three years) and Chase Owens also signed with
NJPW. For both Japanese and international talent, NJPW is now signing almost everyone to multi-
year deals so Gedo can book his two years in advance main storylines without fear of the talent
leaving in the middle.

*Viper, who is under contract with WOS, which will expire soon, is expected to sign with WWE, for
NXT, rather than AEW, which both made offers.

*Kay Lee Ray, also under contract with WOS, is also expected to sign with WWE.
*Bea Priestly, also with WOS, and currently with Stardom, has gotten a WWE offer. At last word, her
future was undecided but she and Will Ospreay have talked about getting a place and moving full-
time to Japan.

*Bandido had offers from WWE, AEW and ROH and went with ROH because of a strong guarantee
and the ability to continue working internationally, as well as ROH being expected to open the door
for him to New Japan.

*PCO had offers from a number of groups and also went with ROH.

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