The year is 1994. Eric Bischoff is on the verge of signing "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan to a deal that will put World Championship Wrestling on the map. With a future primetime slot and Ted Turner's billions behind the project, Hogan's arrival in WCW would cement the company as a true competitor to the WWF. More talent, likely disgruntled with McMahon for one reason or another, would likely soon follow from Titan Towers.
But one thought kept Bischoff up at night before making the signing official. He obsessed over this concern until the very second Terry Bollea signed on the dotted line and inked his WCW legacy.
"My God, what if WCW fans think Hulk Hogan is a WWF reject?!"
I'm kidding. Bischoff never had that thought, because such a thought is completely ridiculous.
Did Vince McMahon hesitate to sign Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Dean Malenko for fears that his fanbase may see them as “WCW Rejects?” Did McMahon squirm in his office chair after signing the likes of Taz and the Dudley Boyz because they weren't homegrown talents and were from ECW? What about Jeff Jarrett and Dixie Carter when they brought in Sting, Kurt Angle and Christian Cage to TNA?
We need to stop calling professional wrestlers 'rejects' of any kind. Yet all too often on social media pages we see this over and over again, especially when it comes to All Elite Wrestling. Jon Moxley, Miro, Brodie Lee and Cody Rhodes are trained athletes trying to continue to find success at their craft in their own way, but that doesn't stop fans from calling them 'WWE Rejects'.
Whether it's All Elite Wrestling, WWE, or Impact, talent can come from many places. As a promoter you want the best available talent to help create the best possible product. Wrestling IS a business after all. But why is WWE the golden exception to the reject rule?
Aside from Roman Reigns, Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton, there's not a lot of big-name homegrown talent in Vince's Universe. Most of it came from elsewhere, be it Ring of Honor, TNA/Impact, etc. If you look at WWE Survivor Series 2020, out of the 40+ featured on the show, more than half the card had prior homes before life in Greenwich, be it Impact, Ring of Honor, Dragon Gate, AAA, or finding fame in the Indies. If you look at AEW's Full Gear show from the same month, out of 22 featured talents, only 7 could carry the 'WWE Reject' label.
But why should any of this matter? It doesn't.
Think of this like the NFL: You're not going to hesitate to sign a big-name player to your team just because they played for your rival squad.
You want to win games, not please your diehard fanbase before said player even steps foot onto the field. It's the same mentality with professional wrestling. Khan, Cody and The Elite want to put asses in seats (as much as possible during the pandemic) and create a unique pro wrestling alternative and take it to new heights -- they're not too worried about marks on the internet complaining about 'rejects'.
Stop calling them rejects. These are real human beings trying to make a living from something they love, and whether that's in AEW, Impact, New Japan, or a local Indies promotion, they should never be called rejects.
This reminds me of one of life's easiest rules to follow, yet for some reason it's so hard for so many: