With All Elite Wrestling establishing its presence on TNT with its weekly prime-time show Dynamite and further standing out as a threat to WWE‘s popularity, it appears that the latter promotion is doing what it could to curb AEW-mania among its live fans, as alleged in recent reports.
According to WrestleZone, multiple fans who showed up for this week’s episode of Monday Night Raw at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio, were told by members of WWE’s security team that they would be “thrown out of the arena” if they were spotted wearing AEW t-shirts or holding up signs inspired by the newer promotion and its wrestlers. The outlet cited its own contributor, John Clark, who said he was in attendance when WWE sent fans this “stern message” about giving the rival company visibility on one of its flagship shows.
“It’s a move that shows just how seriously WWE is taking their competitor,” WrestleZone stressed.
A separate report from Wrestling Inc. on Tuesday cited one of its readers, who told the publication that he was allowed into the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse even if he was apparently wearing an AEW shirt. He was, however, allegedly asked to cover up the merchandise by wearing a friend’s sweater.
Reports of WWE asking fans to, at the very least, conceal their AEW merchandise, are nothing new. As pointed by Wrestling Inc., something similar happened in Jacksonville, Florida, when AEW held its Double or Nothing launch rally in January and WWE’s SmackDown Live tapings were scheduled to take place a few hours later in the same city. As alleged at that time, some fans were also told to cover up their AEW shirts in order to be allowed into the arena.
I’m so happy today. We had an important win for @FulhamFC at the Cottage, I’m thrilled for the squad + supporters! And the @Jaguars had a great team win this past weekend! And tonight in about 2 hours at 8pm ET we have an amazing #AEWDynamite on TNT, will be a great show tonight! pic.twitter.com/2dPslbUr8c
— Tony Khan (@TonyKhan) October 23, 2019
A few fans took the accusations further, including one who claimed that WWE refused to sell him a ticket because he was “representing AEW,” per Wrestling Inc. A separate audience member claimed that security kicked him out of the venue for bringing an AEW towel with him.
Based on all the aforementioned incidents, it seems that WWE is taking AEW and its rising popularity very seriously, especially since the latter company has hired several performers who used to work for the former. Aside from current and inaugural AEW World Champion Chris Jericho and co-executive vice president Cody Rhodes, the newer promotion has hired ex-WWE superstars such as Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose), PAC (formerly Neville), Shawn Spears (formerly Tye Dillinger), and most recently, Jake Hager (formerly Jack Swagger).