The professional wrestling landscape is changing in a way that has not been seen since the complete collapse of World Championship Wrestling in 2001.
While WWE has largely been able to control the industry with an iron grip for the last two decades, the impending announcement of All Elite Wrestling, in addition to the western expansion of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, and a major increase in Ring of Honor’s negotiating power, has created true competition in the bidding pool for the first time in a very long time.
Recently it was reported that Cody Rhodes, Hangman Page and the Young Bucks had all turned down major offers from WWE, with three out of the four rumored to have passed on “seven figure deals” in an attempt to stop them from signing with the Khan family’s AEW experiment, which would effectively kill it before it got off the ground.
Another notable name is lucha libre sensation Bandido, who reportedly turned down multiple offers from WWE and ultimately signed with Ring of Honor, despite nearly every major promotion including AEW wanting to lock him down.
This morning, Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer reported that a major name on the independent scene was actually offered a WWE developmental deal that was “way, way higher” than it would have been even a year ago, due to the suddenly competitive talent market driving up offers.
While Meltzer was unsurprisingly vague on precise details, he did indicate that the talent in question was “someone under contract with a company” that would be free to negotiate in “a couple of months”.
“WWE and another company — maybe even two other companies — were interested in this person. This would be a developmental deal, and I’ll just say the developmental money, compared to others at their same level, what WWE offered was way, way higher because the business has changed so much. There’s other negotiations I’ve heard about in the last couple days. They’re not breaking the bank for everyone, but — it’s a good time right now to be a really talented wrestler.”