When AEW came about in 2019, several pieces had to fall into place at just the right times to get the ball rolling the right way. The Elite being the hottest thing in wrestling at the time, signing Jericho to bring in less familiar fans, bringing in young, new talent who were just ready to hit the big time, like MJF and Darby Allin were key. But the keystone of all this, I believe, and the part that makes sure the whole thing doesn’t crumble, was the debut of Jon Moxley. What separates Moxley from the others here is that he A: isn’t part of the core Elite group who started this thing and B: he is neither a new prospect nor an older established star. Moxley came into AEW in the prime of his career, not looking to establish himself or continue a legacy. A main event draw who had world champion written all over him.
Now, AEW have signed so many incredible wrestlers in the time since Moxley joined the company, but not many have filled a role similar to Moxley. It’s wonderful to bring in older stars that people love – I nearly hit the ceiling when they brought in Christian Cage. I love that he’s getting a shot at Kenny Omega but I can’t say my hopes are high that he’s the next champion. Likewise it is good if not better that they continue to promote young and upcoming performers. AEW have their sights set on the future and they seem to be going about it well. Like I said, what feels lacking is the signing of folks who can go right now. For quite a while, the only new hire that seemed likely to hit the main event scene quickly was Miro, but evidently AEW felt the need to build him back up first. In fairness, he is a hell of a TNT champion, and he’ll make an even better world champion.
However, things are changing. The cup of main eventers may be about to run over. AEW has recently signed Tommy End, now Malakai Black, and Andrade El Idolo. If rumours are to be believed, we could be seeing CM Punk and Bryan Danielson in AEW sooner rather than later. Two NXT champions and two WWE champions in such a short space of time. It’s early days for Andrade and Black, at time of writing they have had one match a piece. Andrade is being given more of a gradual introduction it seems, whereas Black got the full Moxley treatment of a surprise entrance and attacking a top star. Either could be destined for the AEW championship – probably both. However, could they both be overshadowed before any of that happens?
It is genuinely hard to imagine two bigger signings for AEW than Punk and Danielson. Honestly I think the only bigger surprises possible would be Roman and Cena. As shocking as it has been to hear over and over that they are both AEW bound, it also makes quite a bit of sense. It’s been known that Bryan Danielson has wanted to get back out into the wider world of wrestling for a while now, and he made no bones about his desire to go wrestle elsewhere should he be let go from WWE. As for Punk, the most surprising part of this news is that he wants to wrestle at all. He has made it abundantly clear that he does not want to work for WWE again, certainly not without some dramatic changes to how they do things and how they treat people. So if he was going to come back, it was either going to be AEW or a tiny indy, and he already did that at least once.
Like Moxley, it is hard to imagine Punk or Danielson coming into AEW and not entering the title picture almost immediately. AEW are a bit conservative about their handling of the world title, there’s been three champions in two years and the current feud between Omega and Hangman has been ongoing for most of this year, their storyline going back much longer than that. While I would be hard-pressed to consider Punk or Danielson “older” in the same way Matt Hardy or Christian are, they’re not exactly spry either. Both men are just north of forty, not the death knell on a career that it once was, but being over forty generally means it’s time to start winding things down. Neither of these men are going to carry this company for the next ten years, we should be lucky to get a couple of years of fun matches and dream encounters we’d have never thought possible otherwise. Despite their trepidation so far, I think AEW will have no choice but to put pedal to metal with both of these guys.
From here and now, it’s hard to see how so many people can fit in AEW as it is. The timing of Rampage couldn’t be better, hell it might even be time for another AEW. With everything going on in WWE lately there’s just too much talent in the wrestling world and not enough shows to put them on. It will take time for things to settle with a new show, huge new signings, and the ever revolving forbidden door. Hopefully, we are set for a bright future where all these incredible talents get the time and space they need to be everything they can be. Also, maybe we could get some more women’s matches? Just a thought lads, maybe give the ladies some more time.
For right now, we have four potential prospects for a top spot in AEW, on top of the plethora of talent who will happily and comfortably enter into the main event space. It’s funny, in many circumstances it would be concerning to not quite know who the next top star could or should be. Right now, AEW has a lot of doors open in front of them, including that forbidden one. It’s exciting to see which one they’re going to choose.