5:00am PT by Rick Porter
TNT Jumps Back Into Pro Wrestling With Launch of New Promotion
TNT is getting back into the pro wrestling business.
Nearly two decades after rival WWE brought an end to the Monday night wars by buying out World Championship Wrestling — which was backed by then-TNT owner Ted Turner — the WarnerMedia-owned cable network is partnering with startup promotion All Elite Wrestling for weekly primetime shows and pay-per-view events.
TNT has also greenlit a docuseries starring NBA Hall of Famer (and TNT commentator) Shaquille O'Neal.
WarnerMedia and All Elite Wrestling are partnering to build the new promotion from the ground up, the two companies say. Warner's B/R Live will be the streaming platform for All Elite's first pay-per-view event May 25, and live weekly matches will begin airing on TNT later in the year (a date will be announced later). All Elite is headlined by former WWE stars Cody Rhodes and Chris Jericho, along with tag team the Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), Brandi Rhodes, Kenny Omega and Hangman Page.
“All Elite Wrestling is a talent-forward, fan-first league whose inclusive approach to creating high-quality athletic wrestling competitions is already making waves with fans and attracting top-tier wrestlers," said Michael Quigley, executive vp commercial operations, content strategy and monetization at TBS and TNT. "It is high-adrenaline, gripping entertainment and we can’t wait to bring it to fans everywhere with this game-changing new business."
All Elite will try to set itself apart from the WWE and other pro wrestling outfits by offering "less scripted, soapy drama," as the company puts it, and introducing analytics to the sport by tracking each competitor's wins and losses and analyzing signature moves.
As for O'Neal, the docuseries Shaq Life will follow him on his summer break from TNT's Inside the NBA to offer a glimpse into the day-to-day business of being Shaq. That includes DJ gigs in Las Vegas and in international locales, filming commercials, speaking appearances, hosting the NBA Awards, shooting a film, running his Big Chicken restaurant in Las Vegas and spending time with his five kids.
"Shaq is the ultimate example of living your biggest, best life," said Michael Bloom, senior vp unscripted and specials for TBS and TNT. "Shaq Life will be the first time viewers will get a fly on the wall look inside his extreme ambitions and the nonstop fun he brings to everything he does."
The series is produced by Steve Michaels, Jodi Flynn and James Macnab of The Content Group. Perry Rogers, Colin Smeeton and Mike Parris are executive producers. Shaq Life doesn't have a premiere date yet.