As very difficult times have arisen for The Elite, including a hiatus for The Young Bucks and the end of Being The Elite being reported by Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer, it’s crucial to reflect on The Elite Way, a valuable and unique set of principles that led to the historic success of AEW. The goal of this series, Keeping It Elite, is to foster discussion that keeps these ideas at the forefront.
This episode of Being The Elite came at a difficult time and a turning point for The Elite, being plagued by injuries, leaving Brandon Cutler and Michael Nakazawa the only remaining members, with the hope of a triumphant reunification between The Elite and Hangman Adam Page on the horizon. In his promo that starts the episode, Cutler sought to answer the question “What do you do when the people who stand up to bullies are no longer here?,” referring to the absence of Matt, Nick, and Kenny as Cutler and Nakazawa were left to battle the Blackpool Combat Club on their own, a seemingly insurmountable challenge. BCC had persistently made claims that The Elite we’re really not “elite” in terms of their wrestling ability, that “nobody loves these men,” and that they were the ones who deserved The Elite’s place, amongst other assertions. The meaning of this episode and the words said in Cutler’s song endure beyond this feud. The Elite today remain plagued by bullies, with Hangman Adam Page having his home broken into by Swerve Strickland and Mogul Embassy, then losing to Strickland at Full Gear in Page's signature Texas Death Match, Kenny Omega dealing with the Don Callis Family's brutal attacks, leading to him tagging with Chris Jericho as the Golden Jets and becoming more distant from The Elite, which just fully re-formed earlier this year, and sadly many fans ignoring the fact that AEW would not exist without them, resulting in rumors of a heel turn. The heartfelt song in this episode was a perfect encapsulation of a difficult moment and now serves as a much needed reaffirmation of The Elite Way and by extension, the most authentic form of The AEW Way.
Like many others, I have been personally touched and inspired by The Elite’s storylines and this is no exception. I still frequently come back to Brandon’s emotionally moving anthem when I am facing a hard time, feeling like the odds are stacked against me, and need some motivation to “Stand Tall, Don’t Back Down, and Be Elite” in my own life. But what exactly do those words mean? The answer may well reveal nothing less than the foundational philosophy of AEW, a reaffirmation of which is absolutely crucial at this time as it seems The Young Bucks themselves are succumbing mentally to the “bullies” after their loss to the Golden Jets at Full Gear, in their own hometown of Los Angeles, which was the sad culmination of the disagreement between the Bucks, Omega, and Jericho. (And yes, you should read “philosophy” as “Philo-so-phy” like Matt would in the “Live. Love. Superkick.” episodes.)
Hence now more than ever, it’s time for a reminder to “Stand Tall, Don’t Back Down, and Be Elite.” This motto can serve as a North Star for the resurgence of The Elite and of the AEW movement that I hope will come soon enough, and perhaps even serve to inspire you to Be Elite in battles you face in your life as it has for me. I originally wrote the following, based on The Elite’s canon and borrowing words from it substantially, for my own inspiration, as my personal interpretation and operationalization of their philosophy.
Show a strong appearance with confidence in the face of opposition. Give your opponent the impression that you are as formidable of a fighter as they are, while maintaining your unique identity and culture. Nice sneakers, colorful outfits, and accoutrement that show who you are and set yourself apart definitely help. But this is ultimately a state of mind and a product of preparation. “You don’t need a hat to be a cowboy.”
Don’t Back Down:
Keep fighting against what is wrong even when the odds are far against you. When everyone has disappeared, you are still there riding solo. You have trained to last the whole fight. When you fall, get back up. Go All In and don’t hesitate. “Never look back, no, never say die, always attack with the warrior cry.” This also means living your Philosophy, being boldly and unapologetically different, not unquestioningly giving in to pressure to conform to what incumbent powers claim is “the only way.” Those who insult you and your community, or call you unserious only do so because they know your new way Kills their old way of doing Business. Do not lose heart. The Warrior Indie Is In Me.
Have a level of physical and mental performance, knowledge, effort, and excellence that can go toe to toe with the bullies, while still doing battle your way, in line with your values and ideas. Who you are is a key part of how you win. You’re Killing The Business, creating an entirely new paradigm by rising above those who oppress you by keeping strong ethics and integrity, mastering systems of power, not to become a part of them, but to get to a level where you can say “F off” and do what you want, having the strength and stamina to Superkick at any time, and still keeping the fun, high-flying attitude to throw a Party right after. Live. Love. Superkick.
Let's make it our goal to keep living Elite, even in hard times. The Elite Way is about sharing and creating in community. Join the Keeping It Elite Discord for discussions on wrestling and life, a book club (starting with The Young Bucks’ book Killing The Business), cultural study and analysis, and more ways to Keep It Elite in pro wrestling and beyond.
Greyson Peltier is the host of The Fixerpunk Podcast, a podcast seeking to Bridge The Divide Between Personal and Social Change, a communications consultant specializing in social impact and political advocacy, and founder of consulting firm Off Speed Solutions. He has a strong interest in the unique potential of alternative sports cultures to create social change. Peltier holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Southern California with honors, where he also completed the first-ever U.S. university course in Skateboarding and Action Sports Business, and has been featured in media outlets like Vice, ESPN Radio KLAA, USA Radio Network, Sportskeeda, and Street Fight Radio.
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