Cody Rhodes, the scion of a legendary wrestling family who had asked for his release from Vince McMahon’s clutches in 2016, has worked hard to create what could be the biggest competitor the WWE has ever faced, All Elite Wrestling. Fans have been eagerly awaiting more announcements about the fledgling company’s roster—especially after All Elite pledged that race, gender and sexual orientation would not be a barrier in its hiring. Until last Thursday, it was unclear if this statement was just an empty promise, but All Elite Wrestling’s latest batch of signees proves the company is making good on its word, putting itin sharp contrast with its increasingly out-of-touch rival.
The biggest news of the most recent rally was the signing of mega-star Kenny Omega, a performer so consistently excellent he broke prominent critic Dave Meltzer’s five-star scale. Omega, who made his name as Japan’s top gaijin (foreigner), rose through the ranks to become one of the most beloved icons of the entire industry.
When rumors began to circulate about his contract expiring with New Japan Pro-Wrestling, many speculated that he wouldn’t be able to turn down offers from the WWE, which was practically salivating at the prospect of bringing him aboard. But with the WWE’s reputation of stifling stars’ creativity, it was unclear if Omega, a firm believer in the art and theatricality of the genre, would play along with the McMahon family’s hyper-corporate ethos. It became clear that Omega would not be re-signing with NJPW when he dropped his heavyweight belt to Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom in January, but it wasn’t until last week that his fate was officially revealed.