Last week on AEW Dynamite, Tony Khan gave Sting a “historic” retirement present in the form of two-time WWE Hall of Fame inductee Ric Flair. During his debut appearance in an AEW ring, The Nature Boy clarified that he intends to be by Sting’s side leading into his retirement match at AEW Revolution next year, likely in early March. Flair’s appearance in AEW raised some eyebrows among fans as Khan recently went after Vince McMahon for alleged bad behavior outside the ring, something Flair has been accused of as well. Despite the mixed reaction, AEW proved their commitment to Flair by announcing he has signed a multi-year deal with the promotion.
Fightful reports that AEW’s decision to sign Flair appears to have come down to one thing: Money. As noted in the press release announcing his signing, Flair’s new Wooooo! Energy Drink will become the official energy drink of All Elite Wrestling. The drink will be stocked in the AEW locker room weekly and presented prominently on the commentator’s desk during shows.
The deal is being compared to “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s deal with WCW in the 90s, following his exit from WWE. At the time, Savage had a lucrative sponsorship deal with Slim Jim that he brought with him when he left. When WCW landed Savage, they also landed a major sponsorship deal with Slim Jim that helped cover the bulk of what they were paying for the former Mega Power.
Beyond the money being made off of their new energy drink sponsorship deal, there are other streams of revenue that AEW believes will be created with Flair in the fold. Action figures, t-shirts, video games, and other general merchandising opportunities were identified as potential new revenue streams. Whether or not the negative publicity that comes with the allegations against Flair delivers a blow to AEW in other ways, possibly financially, has yet to be seen.