World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is the most popular pro-wrestling promotion in the world with almost every top wrestler keen to be part of the company. But the emergence of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has given the athletes an alternate option to compete in front of large crowds in North America.
AEW is backed by Pakistani-American billionaire Shahid Khan and his son Tony, who is the founder, and they are willing to match or even surpass the contract offers made by WWE to its top stars. They are emerging as a genuine threat and the WWE management has been taking steps to ensure they do not lose members from their roster to the rival promotion.
WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon is said to have instructed management to hand out new contracts to superstars that are entering their final-year, with even double-your-money deals being handed out to wrestlers ready to commit on the spot. AEW is certainly ready to make their moves of WWE stars that are reaching the end of their deals and yet to sign new terms.
Even any association with brands involved with AEW is said to be making WWE management unhappy, with Hall of Famer Jim Ross reporting that ‘The Undertaker’ – real name Mark Calaway – is the latest to face fall foul of the WWE front-office. The Undertaker has not been seen in a WWE ring since November 2018 when he teamed up with Kane at the Crown Jewel pay-per-view in Saudi Arabia.
The ‘Deadman,’ as he is popularly known, has not been involved in any of the storylines despite being contracted to WWE. He is said to have begun booking events away from WWE and recently agreed to appear at the Starrcast event in Las Vegas on May 23 – the same weekend AEW is having their first major show ‘Double or Nothing’ in Vegas.
Ross revealed that the WWE front-office is not “happy” with the Undertaker for taking bookings outside of the WWE and especially with an event so closely connected to AEW. But the former WWE play-by-play commentator feels that his current employers need to be more understanding about the Undertaker’s need to earn money outside of the squared circle, especially given his age.
“They’re not happy in the front-office, apparently,” Ross said on the Jim Ross Report, as transcribed by eWrestling News. “How mad can you get at The Undertaker? And secondly, you’ve got a 50-year-old guy with young children, a son in college. His track record with marriages is much like mine. It takes a while sometimes to find the right one and he has.”
Ross continued, “But he has got to make a living and if he’s at a point age-wise where WWE doesn’t want to use him in the ring, or if he doesn’t feel able to compete in the ring, and you want to keep him around, then you’ve got to pay him something! But you might not pay him the same if you can’t get the one, two, three matches a year out of him.”
A recent report suggested that McMahon was quite incensed about the Undertaker’s commitment to the Starrcast event in Las Vegas. He is keen to ensure that AEW has no chance to tempt Undertaker and is said to be keen to bring him back to the WWE for WrestleMania – the pay-per-view event that created the Deadman’s legacy – in April.
According to WrestleVotes, it is almost certain that Undertaker will be at WrestleMania but there is no indication whether he will compete in the ring or if it will be just an appearance as part of a different storyline.