It has been brought up over and over again since AEW has broken onto the wrestling scene as a company if they would be legitimate competition for WWE. In previous interviews, Vince McMahon has stated that he does not see AEW as competition. AEW’s Chris Jericho has expressed the same. It now looks like we are getting input on the same issue from WWE’s biggest star.
While speaking with Mike DeStefano of Complex, Roman Reigns was asked whether he considers AEW as their competition, and he had a very blunt answer.
“No. I mean, not for me personally. This is one of those subjects that’s very subjective and there’s a lot of passion and tribalism that really sways and creates an unbiased opinion. But I can only speak from my perspective. I’m one of those guys who will compete at anything. Like, ‘I bet you I can eat that cookie faster.’ I want to be the best at anything that I choose to do. We pull up on lawn mowers, we cut the yard in half, I’m going to beat you. My side will look better than yours.”
“So me, I don’t see the real competition [with AEW] because I think their fan base legitimately is a hardcore fan base. So there’s like a ceiling and a built-in ground to that viewership. [The WWE is] trying to connect with everyone. We’re trying to connect with the mainstream. We’re trying to pull in the casual fan. We’re trying to engage the new viewer, while also servicing our hardcore fan base and give them compelling stories to fulfill them as well. I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but I’ve said it before, when the audience is probably the biggest character in your show, that’s strange to me. You’ll hear it all the time, the reviews and the comparisons. I think because they are the new kids on the block, they’re the cool kids in town I guess because of how premature and how novel it kind of still is, I think there still being babied by these hardcore wrestling fans. Which is fine. That’s great. I don’t think anybody’s going to ever, especially from a performance standpoint say, ‘Oh no, there’s more opportunities out there? That sucks.’ So it’s not a bad thing. It’s a great thing for professional wrestling. It’s just a weird argument because there’s so much bias and there’s so much, ‘I’m on this side and I’m not gonna open my mind to the other side.’ And it goes both ways.”
“As far as competition, not to me. There might be some other people on our roster who maybe think they need to dig deep and get better as a performer and what they do out there at the art form, but there’s nobody in the whole world, any other promotion, in WWE…I’m better at this art form than everybody else. And I stand on that. That’s the totality of it. I’m not just talking about, ‘Oh, his spots are so good and he counters real well.’ That stuff don’t mean anything to me. When you tally it all up, nobody touches me in this business.”
It’s no secret AEW has been super successful in their first two years as a company, and they have been beating the WWE in key ratings. It will be interesting to see what happens tonight when the WWE and AEW will go head to head for the first time on primetime tv since AEW’s Dynamite beat NXT for consecutive weeks eventually leading to WWE pulling the show and putting it on Tuesdays instead.
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