Tony Khan has been signing virtually every WWE release he can get his hands on. The AEW head man brought in major names as well as minor ones like Bryan Danielson, CM Punk, Adam Cole, Tony Nese, and more. The tide is now shifting back towards WWE in the battle for wrestling talent.
Kevin Owens recently signed a huge money deal that AEW was unable to match due to budgetary constraints. Sami Zayn followed shortly after. It was believed that the two were sure things to sign with Khan’s group.
Tony Khan has been waiting for a new and more lucrative TV rights deal that he expects to start in 2024. AEW has been working within a budget when it comes to signing talent until then. In this week’s Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Dave Meltzer spoke of talk in the WWE locker room that there could be budget problems in AEW.
“On the WWE side, talent was talking like AEW had a budget issue, noting that two WWE names who were both great workers had deals up, with Kevin Owens being one and the other not being Sami Zayn, but someone whose contract situation has not been public, and there was at least interest in them as far as seeing what AEW had. Legally neither one could be negotiated with and Owens signed a new deal before his old deal expired.
The other is still with the company appearing regularly on television. AEW didn’t make a play and the word was that AEW had a talent budget and were not going to match the WWE’s high offers unless or until they got a new and higher paying television deal, and that won’t be until the start of 2024. Khan has also talked about signing more new talent with Keith Lee signed and Shane Strickland and Jeff Hardy both expected to be coming at some point and other ex-WWE names have been talked with, such as Buddy Matthews.”
AEW has continued to sign released WWE superstars like Keith Lee. They haven’t been so keen to get involved in high-priced bidding wars with Vince McMahon’s company. Some WWE employees are wondering if AEW will be able to compete for top names.
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