This week’s episode of AEW Dynamite saw the debut of Paul Wight, formerly known as The Big Show, as the seven-foot superstar joined Tony Schiavone to discuss his new role with All Elite Wrestling.
Just last week, Paul Wight shocked the wrestling world by becoming All Elite. The former Big Show joined the company as a commentator for new show AEW Dark: Elevation, as well as an in-ring talent – signing on a long-term contract. A week is a long time in professional wrestling, though, and it turns out Wight won’t be the company’s hottest new signings for very long at all – with the giant bringing an announcement of his own to the table and teasing a “scoop” that will see a “Hall-of-Fame-worthy talent” sign with AEW at this weekend’s Revolution.
“Just so you know that I’m taking my colour commentating job seriously Tony, you’re not the only one that gets the big scoops buddy. I have the biggest scoop ever! This Sunday at [Revolution], AEW is going to hire – put in contract – a Hall of Fame worthy talent that is a huge surprise and a huge asset to AEW. Yeah, but listen: It’s not who you think. But this Sunday, you’re gonna find out who it is and I want you to know I knew who it was first. Tune in to find out who we get!”
“A major star in the world of wrestling—a huge, huge star—is going to come and sign a multi-year contract with AEW on Sunday at the Pay-Per-View. So I can confirm what Paul [Wight] said is true.”
So, who could this surprise “Hall-of-Fame-worthy” talent be? Well, Inside The Ropes has compiled a list of the ten most likely surprise signings ahead of AEW Revolution.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEW) March 4, 2021
When it comes to “Hall-of-Fame-worthy” talents, the first thing that comes to mind is an actual Hall of Famer. While there are a few on the market AEW could pick up – several of which are mentioned later on this list – it’s arguable that you couldn’t do much better than bringing a talent like Bully Ray on-board. Not only is the former ECW man a certified WWE Hall of Famer as part of one of the most decorated tag teams in the history of the business, but Bully Ray has also made his name as one of the most despicable heels ever to grace both IMPACT Wrestling and Ring of Honor.
While it’s been over a year since Bully Ray last laced up the boots, and he’s more prolific when it comes to being the voice of Busted Open Radio these days, if there’s one thing we’ve learned from AEW, it’s to expect the unexpected.
While X-Pac would definitely fall under the category of “Hall-of-Fame-worthy” having been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of D-Generation X, and also having a pending induction as part of the nWo, the capacity at which he could perform is currently up in the air as, well, he’s completely fresh out of surgery.
That being said, it’s worth noting Wight said the talent would “sign” at Revolution, and didn’t mention competing any time soon – or at all. Sean Waltman, though, recently signalled his intention to return to the ring after the incredible news that he’s cured of hepatitis. The main problem where the pitch of Waltman appearing to sign a contract falls down is that he actually has recently undergone surgery in late January to fix a torn ACL ahead of trying to get fit for an in-ring return – but recruiting someone who was on both sides of the Monday Night Wars, and praised by Eric Bischoff as the most integral member of DX, would be a huge coup for AEW.
When you think of the World’s Largest Athlete, the World’s Strongest Man is never far behind. The Big Show and Mark Henry are two of the most colossal figures across the past two decades of professional wrestling and, while Henry’s last match was way back in 2018, the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion has recently expressed his desire to return to the ring “within the next six months” – saying he HAS to wrestle in 2021 to keep up with Paul Wight’s record of wrestling across four decades.
The one downfall, of course, is that Mark Henry mentioned Randy Orton as a potential opponent, but with Paul Wight’s arrival in AEW, you never know what could happen. As stated above, a week is a long time in professional wrestling.
Rob Van Dam
Well, if you’re looking for a signing that truly would be one of a kind, look no further than Rob Van Dam!
Having recently departed IMPACT Wrestling following the expiration of his contract, Mr [Insert Weeknight Here] may very well look towards Wednesdays to ply his trade after admitting the only thing he’d rule out is going back on the road full-time. While the ECW legend isn’t currently active or signed anywhere, IMPACT fans will know just how loud those “you still got it” chants will ring out around Daily’s Place if RVD arrives in IMPACT Wrestling.
One of professional wrestling’s hottest free agents? Most definitely. The only sticking point would arguably be RVD’s residence in Las Vegas being about as far away from Jacksonville as possible to travel on even a once-a-week schedule.
When it comes to name value, they don’t come much bigger than Batista!
Interestingly, Batista was scheduled to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2020, but that class would be postponed with the event’s disappearance when a global pandemic determined that WrestleMania Week would simply become a two-night event in the Performance Center. While Batista, who has gone on to become a global acting phenomenon under his real name of Dave Bautista, would retire one year previous in a No Holds Barred Match against Triple H, The Animal has recently said the word “retirement” has “zero credibility” in wrestling.
One interesting note with regards to Batista and the announcement by Paul Wight is that AEW’s latest signing called the pay-per-view “Evolution” as opposed to “Revolution” – but it’s more likely that was nothing more than a slip of the tongue.
Now, Brock Lesnar arriving in AEW would truly change the landscape of professional wrestling, there’s no doubt about that. If you look at free agents who could bring eyes to a product if money weren’t an object, The Beast Incarnate comes in just about top of that list.
While cash-flow most definitely doesn’t seem to be a problem for All Elite Wrestling, talk of Brock Lesnar’s arrival in any squared circle will always be met with the question of value. It’s no secret that Brock Lesnar isn’t the type of talent you’ll see wrestling, or even being around, for 52 weeks of the year and Jon Moxley was very dismissive of his former foe potentially joining him in AEW when we asked recently if he’d like to see Lesnar in the company.
“Sure. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but sure.”
Meanwhile, Miro would seem slightly more open to the idea, but also stated AEW does not need Brock Lesnar.
I mean, Brock is great. Brock, wherever he goes, he’s an entity, right? He’s THE show himself. He can be his own show himself, but I think… Would we benefit from it? I absolutely think we would. Do we need him? Absolutely not.
The arrival of The Beast would undoubtedly be a statement of epic proportions from AEW, but apprehension is understandable when it comes to value for money. That said, a bigger “name” in wrestling isn’t quite possible… Or is it?
One man whose potential arrival in AEW, or return to any squared circle, would match or even surpass the excitement of a Brock Lesnar would undoubtedly be that of CM Punk. While the Best in the World hasn’t wrestled since 2014, the former WWE Champion’s name would still blast throughout arenas up until the moment fans where no longer able to attend shows.
Having transitioned to UFC, been involved in the creation of graphic novels, and made many television and film appearances, the likelihood of seeing CM Punk involved or invested in the professional wrestling industry again diminishes by the day. For anyone who has even watched the sport for a substantial time, though, we know that you truly can never say never. One of wrestling’s most popular figures of all time would recently also fan the flames ever so slightly by naming several AEW talents he’d like to work with.
While CM Punk and AEW’s mutual affiliation with Chicago-based Pro Wrestling Tees and the company’s emotional tether to running shows in the former WWE Champion’s hometown initially saw fans clamour for an appearance, the passage of time and semi-permanent move to Florida has silenced those calls – but maybe that provides the perfect opportunity to truly shock the world…
While the ‘Forbidden Door’ has well and truly swung open, it would be silly not to mention any NJPW talent in the list. While “signing” would immediately conjure thoughts of free agents, and “Hall-of-Fame-worthy” makes us think of current Hall of Famers, Kazuchika Okada ticks every single box possible – and would seem to slot right into the AEW World Championship picture due to Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega’s respective tenures with NJPW and their respective histories with Okada.
While Okada isn’t a Hall of Famer by name, there’s no doubt the career of the five-time IWGP World Heavyweight Champion is worthy of the accolade, while the “signing” of Okada to an AEW contract wouldn’t necessarily mean said signing was exclusive, with both Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley having been simultaneously signed with both companies.
Might the Forbidden Door be kicked off its hinges at AEW Revolution?
Now to a more conventional, literal choice. WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle, much like Sting, has been vocal about his dissatisfaction about how his in-ring career ended in WWE. While Angle knew when his last match would be with the company going in, the Olympic Gold Medalist has been open about how his final match had been nothing but “filler” and how he felt like he had more to give to the industry.
While the former WWE Champion has found success in the podcast world of late, several of his AdFreeShows comrades actually appeared on AEW Dynamite just this week – with Conrad Thompson and Eric Bischoff making guest appearances to ask questions of Chris Jericho and MJF.
While Kurt Angle’s final match was almost two years ago at WrestleMania 35, the Olympian would undoubtedly be an immense acquisition if AEW were looking to add a true legend to their ranks.
“Hall-of-Fame-worthy” is an interesting statement. To be “Hall-of-Fame-worthy” doesn’t actually mean you’re in the Hall of Fame and, if anything, may even suggest the opposite and be a statement towards the lack of WWE Hall of Fame ring for Christian.
Of course, when you ask wrestling fans which one name should be in the WWE Hall of Fame, but currently isn’t, the majority would likely mention Christian. While the two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion was medically disqualified until recently, a Royal Rumble return would shock everyone with Christian, his last official match – aside from an Unsanctioned Match with minimal physicality – was in 2014.
Interestingly, Christian definitely has one supporter in AEW – in a former AEW Champion. While speaking with Inside The Ropes recently, Jon Moxley named Christian as the one signing he would love AEW to make. If Captain Charisma were to make the switch while being heralded as a Hall of Fame-worthy talent, it might be seen as a subtle jab towards WWE who have yet to answer the many, many calls to put the former Brood man into their own Hall of Fame.
“I’ll tell you, a guy I’d like to see here is Christian. I don’t know if that was a one-off for him in the Royal Rumble but he looked frigging good to me, looked like he was in great shape, he looked sharp, man. I tell you, he’s one of the guys that’s – the wrestlers know it more so than anybody – Christian is so good. Like, his brain and his execution, and his mind for wrestling is just like next-level.”
At the beginning of February, Christian had been touted for a part-time role with WWE, but we haven’t yet seen that come to fruition through a subsequent appearance or any official announcements. While entirely speculative, it certainly wouldn’t be outside the realms of possibility for the former WWE Superstar to make the switch to AEW following a one-off appearance.
“There’s no hindrance on anything creatively here, obviously, we’re having a frigging Exploding Death Match, so the things Christian could do at AEW, I would be extremely excited to see that. That would be that would be my number one dream guy.”
Interestingly, back in 2014, Christian’s final run with WWE was a live event run where he faced Paul Wight four nights in a row, before retiring following a Fatal 4-Way. Might the Royal Rumble have been just the start of one final run for the “Hall-of-Fame-worthy” Christian?
One thing is for certain, AEW fans around the globe will now be perched on the edge of their seats until Sunday night when Paul Wight introduces the latest individual to become All Elite. Who will it be? Only time will tell.
AEW Revolution takes place on March 7th. Viewers outside the United States can watch the pay-per-view via Fite TV.