AEW Dynamite is in hot water with top sponsor Domino’s Pizza stemming from its expectedly violent main event this past Wednesday between Chris Jericho and Nick Gage at AEW Fight for the Fallen. Amid a series of gory spots in a Death Match during Part 2 of MJF’s Five Labours of Jericho, Gage used his signature pizza cutter to lacerate the legendary 50-year-old former AEW champion.
Domino’s is now speaking out against the graphic match, issuing a strong statement threatening to pull its ads from AEW television:
“We share the concerns expressed about this incident and the content of this TV-14 rated program, and are assessing our advertising presence on it going forward,” said Domino’s spokeswoman Jenny Fouracre-Petko in a statement to Front Office Sports.
Domino’s, in particular, felt compelled to speak out due a combination of its advertising presence on AEW and the graphic use of a pizza cutter, as the pizza giant may look to distance itself from the rising blood and guts in AEW.
Wednesday was hardly the first gory main event in AEW. Its most famous women’s wrestling match to date saw Thunder Rosa defeat current AEW women’s champion Britt Baker in an instant classic that saw both women bleed profusely. Despite ratings success for the match, which gained 119,000 viewers during its quarter-hour, Baker vs. Thunder Rosa has also been cited as a possible reason for the recent decline in women’s viewership for AEW Dynamite.
“As far as the women declines go, in asking around with women that are AEW fans, the one thing mentioned is the blood and the tables over-and-over. The Britt Baker vs. Thunder Rosa match was huge as far as drawing male viewers from NXT over, but not with women coming over from NXT,” said Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t WrestleTalk).
“One longtime female fan who I’ve known since childhood who loves AEW surprised me saying that she didn’t like the match, and it was the blood and the weapons that were the reason why because she respected how hard they were working.”
Typically a staunch supporter of AEW, to the point of being (understandably) accused of bias toward the rising promotion, Meltzer has been openly critical of AEW’s use of high-profile violence. Meltzer even forecasted this very scenario of top sponsors backing away from All Elite Wrestling due Wednesday’s main event.
“If I was a sponsor of this show, I’d run like hell,” said Meltzer on the latest broadcast of Wrestling Observer Radio.
“(Top AEW presenting sponsor) State Farm is, like, a real reputable company [sic]. Maybe they won’t care, but when push comes to shove—the thing is, when you’re running a wrestling company, and this would be the same with WWE too—when you’re running a wrestling company that’s high profile, you’re going to have a lot of enemies. You try your best not to give your enemies ammunition, and boy did they give their enemies ammunition.”
Meltzer went on to note AEW President Tony Khan discussed the match with TNT ahead of time to ensure they didn’t get pulled off the air.
In a now-famed criticism of AEW, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon called out AEW during a Q&A with investors, stating TNT would not tolerate “the blood and guts and gory things that they have been doing.”
AEW responded by naming its WarGames adaptation “Blood and Guts,” which delivered on its promise during a brutal cage match between The Inner Circle and The Pinnacle on the May 5, 2021 broadcast of AEW Dynamite.
Though AEW’s moxie, in leaning into televised violence, has now come back to bite it, Pabst Blue Ribbon has made light of AEW coming under fire with a top sponsor. The beer company has offered to partner with AEW in place of Domino’s.