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AEW Makes “Brands That Matter” List, Tony Khan on Fans Finally Having a “Legitimate, Competitive Alternative to Mainstream Wrestling”

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AEW has made Fast Company’s second annual “Brands That Matter” list.

AEW issued a press release today to tout how they made Fast Company’s 2022 “Brands That Matter” list, which recognizes companies leading on social action, sustainability, inclusivity, and fun.

Fast Company noted the following on the list: “Fast Company’s Brands That Matter awards program aims to get beyond corporate vision statements and management talking points, celebrating a company’s connection with its audience through cultural relevance, social impact, and clear, authentic communication. Now in its second year, Brands That Matter has grown from 95 honorees last year to 144 in 2022. While judging applications, editorial staff looked for a clear synthesis between how the brand presents itself and how its customers perceive it. This year’s honorees are divided between 70 brands in 22 categories and our main list, which contains 74 brands that broadly fit into five themes—Community-Minded Business, Elevating the Everyday, Fun and Fandom, Mind and Body, and Spreading the Word. All of the honorees clearly generated enthusiasm among their customers, offering a model of what other brands should be aiming for, and what a brand, at its best, can achieve.”

AEW was included in the “Fun and Fandom” category. Fast Company wrote the following on AEW:

“As discussions around mental health, and diversity and inclusion take place throughout the business world, professional wrestling might seem like an unlikely sector for them to take root. But All Elite Wrestling is adding a new dimension to a sport that historically hasn’t been the most progressive. For starters, AEW’s wrestlers have openly discussed their offscreen battles with substance abuse, depression, and anxiety—even working them into their on-screen storylines. AEW has also built an inclusive roster, signing Nyla Rose, the first openly transgender wrestler in a major American company, as well nine wrestlers who are openly LGBTQ. In addition, AEW empowers its wrestlers financially by being the only major U.S. wrestling company to allow its talent to take independent bookings. AEW’s approach to what a wrestling brand could be—while, yes, delivering high-octane matches—has clearly resonated with fans: Dynamite, AEW’s flagship show, saw an 11% increase in viewership among audiences 18 to 49 over 2021. Also, purchases of AEW’s pay-per-view events have grown 86% in the past year, with more than 850,000 PPV events sold.”

AEW President, CEO, General Manager & Head of Creative Tony Khan issued comments in the press release to tout AEW’s spot on the list, noting that for the first time in more than 20 years, pro wrestling fans have a legitimate, competitive alternative to mainstream pro wrestling.

“The distinction of being a brand that matters perfectly describes the rise of AEW in 2022. For the first time in more than two decades, professional wrestling fans have a legitimate, competitive alternative to mainstream wrestling, and we’re not only reviving the interest of lapsed fans, but also generating the fans of tomorrow with a world-class roster of incredible athletes and creative minds. This is an award earned by every wrestler on the roster, every producer and coach, everyone backstage making our shows run seamlessly, every fan in the arenas and every viewer watching around the world,” Khan said.

Below is AEW’s full press release touting the spot on the “Brands That Matter” list for 2022:


AEW Named to Fast Company’s Second Annual “Brands That Matter” List

— Fast Company’s newest recognition honors companies providing compelling reasons for people to care about them and offering inspiration for others to buy in —

Oct. 25, 2022 – Fast Company announced today that All Elite Wrestling (AEW) was named in its second annual Brands That Matter list, honoring brands that communicate and demonstrate brand purpose. The award honors companies and nonprofits that have achieved relevance through cultural impact and social engagement, and authentically communicated their missions and ideals.

AEW was honored among 145 companies, including large multinational conglomerates, startups and nonprofits that give people compelling reasons to care about them, offer inspiration for others to buy in. All 145 have found an ability to forge an emotional connection with customers, whether leading on the environment or pop culture, engaging B2B customers, or responding meaningfully to current events.

“This year, we’ve expanded the Brands That Matter program to evaluate honorees in the context of how they matter within the category in which they compete for people’s attention or loyalty. The result is a wide-ranging list of honorees that are making their mark on culture, and through social impact,” said Brendan Vaughan, Fast Company’s editor-in-chief.

“The distinction of being a brand that matters perfectly describes the rise of AEW in 2022,” said Tony Khan, CEO, GM and Head of Creative of AEW. “For the first time in more than two decades, professional wrestling fans have a legitimate, competitive alternative to mainstream wrestling, and we’re not only reviving the interest of lapsed fans, but also generating the fans of tomorrow with a world-class roster of incredible athletes and creative minds. This is an award earned by every wrestler on the roster, every producer and coach, everyone backstage making our shows run seamlessly, every fan in the arenas and every viewer watching around the world.”

This year has been another banner one for AEW, recently cementing a run of 18 out of consecutive 19 weeks in the top two Wednesday cable shows in the 18-49 demographic, as well as a massive consecutive stretch of pulling more than 1 million total viewers. Earlier this year,

Tony Khan announced that he purchased independent wrestling promotion Ring of Honor, preserving the legacy of a promotion that launched some of professional wrestling’s biggest names and incorporating decades of history into AEW’s programming. AEW debuted in new markets in 2022 including Los Angeles, Toronto, Detroit and Atlantic City, among others, and produced the unprecedented AEW x NJPW: Forbidden Door PPV that sold out the United Center in Chicago. “AEW: Dynamite” is seen every Wednesday on TBS and attracts the youngest wrestling audience on television. The fight-forward show “AEW: Rampage” airs every Friday on TNT.

Top talent from across the world debuted in AEW this year, including Saraya, Claudio Castagnoli, William Regal, Samoa Joe, Swerve Strickland, Keith Lee, Toni Storm, Athena, Renee Paquette, Danhausen and more. Additionally, AEW’s first-ever console video game, AEW: Fight Forever, won “Best Sports/Racing Game” at Gamescom 2022 in Germany ahead of its upcoming release. New titles were also launched this year, including the AEW TBS Championship, the AEW All-Atlantic Championship and the AEW Trios Championships.

Fast Company editors judged each brand on relevancy, cultural impact, ingenuity, and business impact to compile the list. Click here to see the complete list. The November issue of Fast Company magazine is available online now and will be on newsstands beginning November 1, 2022.

About Fast Company

Fast Company is the only media brand fully dedicated to the vital intersection of business, innovation, and design, engaging the most influential leaders, companies, and thinkers on the future of business. The editor-in-chief is Brendan Vaughan. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, along with our sister publication, Inc., and can be found online at fastcompany.com.

About AEW

Founded by CEO, GM and Head of Creative Tony Khan in 2019, AEW is offering an alternative to mainstream wrestling, with a roster of world-class talent that is injecting new spirit, freshness and energy into the industry. “AEW: Dynamite” airs every Wednesday from 8-10 p.m. ET on TBS and attracts the youngest wrestling audience on television. The fight-forward show “AEW: Rampage” airs every Friday from 10-11 p.m. ET on TNT. AEW’s multi-platform content also includes “AEW Dark” and “AEW Dark: Elevation,” two weekly professional wrestling YouTube series, “Being the Elite,” a weekly behind the-scenes YouTube series, and “AEW Unrestricted,” a weekly podcast series. For more info, check out Twitter.com/AEW; Instagram.com/AEW; YouTube.com/AEW; Facebook.com/AEW.

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