AEW is the talk of the wrestling town and in some fans’ minds, including Mick Foley’s, the premier wrestling destination for up-and-coming wrestlers.
The wave of former WWE Superstars handed to them on a platter due to the Stamford promotion’s seemingly continuous slew of the releases. Stars such as Ruby Soho and Malakai Black made an instant impact upon debuting for AEW. But stars like Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole chose AEW as their next wrestling home because of the talent, atmosphere and buzz the young promotion has created. Even CM Punk, who famously quit WWE before going on record saying he was done with wrestling rediscovered his passion for professional wrestling because of AEW.
Speaking on Bloomberg Business of Sports, AEW President Tony Khan proudly stated that the promotion has established itself as a worldwide leader in wrestling.
“There were a lot of great wrestlers that weren’t being featured on television and there are a lot of wrestling fans that were looking for an alternative product. They weren’t satisfied with what they were getting on those shows. I do think there was definitely a great opportunity to come in and compete and I saw some vulnerability, frankly, in the market leader at the time and it’s opened up a lot of market share for us and for me to bootstrap a new business and build it up and again a lot of that market share where now, in a lot of significant business metrics, we are the worldwide leader.”
10. Cedric Alexander
Cedric Alexander is incredibly talented and criminally underutilized. His show-stealing performance at the Cruiserweight Classic in 2017 against Kota Ibushi led to him signing with WWE. His run with 205 Live saw flashes of brilliance as did his main roster run, but nowhere near what he is capable of.
In 2019 when Paul Heyman was put in charge of RAW creative Alexander featured heavily in his plans. Involved in headline spots and matches the “push” slowly ceased upon Heyman’s firing from the creative position.
Alexander floundered on the main roster and joined the 24/7 title-chasers. A team-up with Ricochet had promise but a heel turn from Alexander saw him join the Hurt Business and things started to look up. Along with Shelton Benjamin, they won the RAW Tag Team Championship.
The Hurt Business was on fire during much of 2020 but they were unceremoniously disbanded once Bobby Lashley became champion. Since then Alexander has once again floundered, which is such a waste of his talents. His skill and wrestling style is perfect for the AEW ring and its growing ravenous fanbase.
One could literally cut and paste all the above in this section as much of what is written closely relates to Ricochet.
Ricochet does things in the ring that make the viewer pause, rewind and try and work out what just happened. However, since leaving NXT he has only been able to show snippets of what he can do when given the chance.
His run as the United States Champion, unfortunately, didn’t amount to much and the feud with Brock Lesnar only existed to entertain the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia. An angle with Retribution did nothing for him and he is now a regular on Main Event.
As a hardcore member of the PWG crew Ricochet is fully indoctrinated into the style of wrestling that makes AEW so popular. Numerous dream matches and opponents await the One and Only if he were ever to make the jump and become All Elite.
8. Chad Gable
Chad Gable is one of the best technical wrestlers on the planet, a great physique and charismatic to boot. He is an Olympic athlete and immensely talented in the ring, yet WWE dressed him up in fluorescent basketball gear and named him Shorty G.
As on half of American Alpha with Jason Jordan, they tore up NXT’s tag team division and won NXT Tag Team Championships from the Revival in a great match at NXT TakeOver: Dallas. The duo complemented one another perfectly as their respective amateur wrestling background saw them as a force to be reckoned with. They continued their success onto the SmackDown winning the brand’s tag team titles but were soon broken up so Jordan could become Kurt Angle’s illegitimate son.
Gable found himself in an unforgettable tag team with Shelton Benjamin and Bobby Roode. Gable then participated in an excellent series of matches with Baron Corbin in 2019’s King of the Ring. Despite the great in-ring action, what happened out of it led to what has to be one of the worst gimmicks of all time, the aforementioned Shorty G.
Main roster limbo followed until starting the Alpha Academy, which turned him and Otis semi-serious. While he is getting more screen time it is an angle that exists for laughs. Therefore, a jump to AEW would allow Gable to do what he does best and wrestle.
7. Mustafa Ali
Mustafa Ali is one of WWE’s most mishandled talents in a long line of mishandled talents. He possesses a great look, good mic skills and a stupendous in-ring ability. Yet he wallows on Main Event or lumbered with unwinnable gimmicks such as the leader of Retribution.
Ali was a shining light of 205 Live. His feud with Buddy Murphy throughout 2018 was incredible and must-watch matches. He then burst onto the main roster with a win over then WWE Champion Daniel Bryan and was allegedly scheduled to take the title from Bryan at WrestleMania 35 but injury derailed in momentum and he is yet to get back on the tracks.
A move to the other promotion would give Ali the chance to really shine and show the wrestling world just what he can do. His breathtaking and explosive style would fit perfectly into AEW’s current crop of high-flying risk-takers that allows the promotion to stand out.
Asuka is one of WWE’s most decorated Superstars and well-respected competitors. Ever since her arrival, she was treated as a special attraction. The Empress of Tomorrow is the longest-reigning NXT women’s champion and a Grand Slam Champion.
She has achieved everything there is to achieve in WWE and it would be great to see her end her illustrious career in a promotion that would allow her to relive some of her Kana-esque qualities.
She is an explosion of charisma, a splendid wrestler and a bona fide legend of the business. Her star power would bring some much-needed gravitas to AEW’s women’s division.
AEW is seemingly building a division of veterans and legends that can help train and mentor the stars of tomorrow. Serena Deeb, Emi Sakura and Ryo Mizunami are all influential members of the roster and Asuka as both a wrestler and coach be a masterstroke.
5. Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is a one and only talent. Extremely gifted in the ring, on the mic and his character work is highly entertaining. Yet despite all of his impressive attributes, the much-loved WWE Superstar’s booking leaves a lot to be desired.
Since leaving NXT and making his main roster debut he has only won two championships, which were only short runs and has never been put in prominent positions on the card. Zayn’s situation in WWE has many yearning for his past glory as one of the best wrestlers in the world.
His revered run as El Generico on the independent scene featured some classic matches and moments. Best known for his excellent longtime feud with Kevin Owens. The two Canadians have fought throughout multiple promotions and put both wrestlers on the map.
As a member of the Ring of Honor and PWG roster, Zayn has crossed paths with the Young Bucks before and if he were to do so again in AEW it would be a pleasure to see.
4. AJ Styles
AJ Styles continued his already glowing legacy when he arrived in WWE back in 2016. As a surprise entrant in the Royal Rumble of that year, the Phenomenal one took the promotion by storm. Multiple championships and marquee matches followed as Styles established himself as one of WWE’s biggest Superstars.
Styles remains a permanent fixture on WWE programming but holds strong links with AEW. As a former member of the Bullet Club Styles has a lot of history with The Elite. Two of Styles’ best friends in real life are Doc Gallows and Karl Anderson, who are a big part of AEW right now. But the narrative runs deeper. It was Kenny Omega who replaced him after unceremoniously throwing him out of the Japanese stable with the help of the Young Bucks.
For AJ Styles to join AEW would be yet another major coup for the young promotion and reunion with the Good Brothers could cause severe rifts in the Super-Elite and dig up some painful memories for Omega and the Bucks. The history, storyline and angle are all there just waiting for Styles to make the jump.
3. Sasha Banks
Sasha Banks has done it all and more in WWE. She has proven herself to be one of the best wrestlers on the planet during her illustrious wrestling career.
She is a Grand Slam Champion, WrestleMania headliner and bona fide megastar. Her role in the Star Wars spinoff The Mandalorian further heightened her stardom.
After overcoming every challenge put in front of her, Banks could very well be looking for a new one. AEW possesses such a challenge. It is a new promotion with a different way of operating, a host of new wrestlers to work with and the freedom to explore extracurricular activities, which Banks may find very pleasing.
Having Banks in AEW would be incredible as her star power and status would elevate the entire promotion and her want to continuously exhibit herself as the best could see her jump over to the hottest wrestling promotion in years.
2. Finn Balor
Finn Balor is one hell of a talent. Always an enthralling wrestler he re-established himself as an aggressive and ferocious athlete in his second NXT run. Since re-debuting on the main roster he was thrust into the spotlight against Roman Reigns, a feud in which has the Demon emerge once again.
Balor has enjoyed success in WWE but he is the founding member of the Bullet Club and therefore the connection with the Elite runs deep.
The option of AEW must be extremely enticing to someone like Balor. Compared to WWE, AEW seems to have much more freedom in the ring and on the mic. Plus the pull to hang out with his former running buddies must also be incredibly enticing.
Just imagining Balor, Omega and the Bucks all in the same faction or as warring parties is enough to make your head spin. As is the multitude of breathtaking matches and opponents he could face in AEW.
1. Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens is a staple on WWE television and a hugely popular Superstar. However, despite being a multi-time champion his WWE career has been turbulent, to say the least. Often used in high stake matches and angles but he is nowhere near portrayed as the star he should be.
Owens is a wrestler that boasts an enviable list of attributes. His mic work is exceptional, his wrestling brilliant all combined with his look makes him an impeccable and unique performer who needs to reach his potential and AEW is the place to do that.
Owens has a long history with The Elite. As Kevin Steen, he was a founding member of Mt Rushmore along with the Young Bucks and Adam Cole.
As speculation surrounding his contract status grows there is a real possibility that the fun and freedom he sees his former comrades having on television every week is an opportunity far too good to pass up.