Last week on Dynamite, MJF and Ricky Starks had a match that tore the house down. The storytelling was fantastic, the action was great, and the build up leading into the match made me very emotionally interested to see what was going to happen. This was Starks’ breakout match, and I hope it leads to him being a main event player in AEW for a long time.
However, as I was watching the show the last week, I realized something very, very important. And it’s something that could be the foundation for how AEW operates in the future.
In my opinion, the future of AEW does not involve ex-WWE talent, but rather the stars it is creating on its own.
I’ve said for a long time that Tony Khan has relied too much on talent from other promotions that were either released, or decided to leave, because they thought the grass would be greener on the other side. As we’ve seen with AEW’s booking, as well as how the superstars have been used, nothing could be further from the truth. We don’t know what we are going to get week-to-week on television, and often times these major stars have been booked in meaningless feuds or used in horrendous ways.
I understand why these stars decided to join the company as I’m sure Khan gave them lucrative contracts. He has a ton of money to play with and wants to play wrestling booker, just to fuel his own ego.
If you think about it, though, who are the most entertaining stars each week? And who is the future of the company? It’s the folks that got their first major break in AEW and have made themselves some of the most talked about names in professional wrestling.
Allow me to plead my case:
What more can we say about MJF? He is, without a doubt, one of the greatest superstars in professional wrestling and I believe he is going to go down as a Hall of Famer by the time his career is over. He never misses on his promos, his look is fantastic, and he knows how to make me emotionally invested in the story that he is telling me in the ring. Hell, I think he’s going to go down as one of the top 10 of all time when he finally hangs up his boots. He is that good.
Ever since his feud with Powerhouse Hobbs, I’ve thought that Ricky Starks is one of the best wrestlers in AEW. His look is fantastic, he is great in the ring, and now we know he can cut an incredible promo. How he has not been given the opportunity to be a main event player until now blows my mind. This is just another example of the inept booking of the so-called “booker of the year.” Starks can overcome this, and I think he has an incredible future in this business.
I have to admit, I was not a fan of The Acclaimed for a long time. However, they have slowly won me over and now I look forward to seeing them almost as much as MJF each week. Their raps are hilarious, they know how to work a match, and they have gotten themselves over with the crowd. I am all in on The Acclaimed, and I hope that they have a wonderful future.
I love Hook. It’s a shame that he has not been used in more prominent storylines, as the crowd goes ballistic for him every time he comes out. He’s one of those guys that, despite his size, has the “it” factor. Combine that with his wrestling pedigree, and I think he could go far in the industry. He knows how to work, wants to get better and I think he has a very bright future. I hope we get to see more of Hook in 2023.
Honorable mention goes to Sammy Guevara and Jungle Boy, if they can just overcome their horrible booking. I had high hopes for Darby Allin, but it’s obvious he just wants to be a stunt show clown. His career will be over sooner rather than later after he takes an unnecessary bump that goes wrong.
Compare that to the ex-WWE talent that they have brought in. What have they done of any relevance? I think of talent like Matt Hardy, Jeff Jarrett, Athena, Ruby Soho, Toni Storm, Keith Lee, Swerve Strickland, Lance Archer, Claudio Castagnoli, Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole and Samoa Joe, just to name a few. These are all just examples of folks who sought greener pastures, but have just been relegated to useless feuds and absolutely meaningless storylines.
The Jericho Appreciation Society is a joke and Chris Jericho has become one of the worst talents on the planet. He is straight up awful. WWE was right to either release or not try to convince Jericho, 2.0 or Jake Hager to stay with them. They all suck.
The Elite is, by far, the most overrated professional wrestlers of all time, particularly Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks. All they can do is stunts; they cannot tell a story to save their lives and are cringe-worthy on the microphone and their demeanor. They bore me every single time they wrestle and how they have such a cult following, I have no idea.
The exception to these claims are Jon Moxley, PAC and The House of Black. Moxley has been doing great work for a long time, I think that PAC should be in the world title picture, and The House of Black has incredible potential. I hope that AEW continues to use them properly in the future and helps them build up other stars, while carving their own legacy.
The purpose of this soliloquy is to highlight the fact that AEW needs to concentrate on building their own stars. There’s a reason that Khan brought in from other promotions couldn’t cut the mustard, or decided to leave their previous stops to join AEW. If Khan can realize this, and hire people who can train their homegrown stars properly, then they have the potential to be a true alternative to WWE.
I hope that AEW succeeds; if they do, it’s good for professional wrestling. However, their only chance to grow their own stars and not rely on ex-WWE talent. He keeps bringing them in to get one major pop, and then be relegated to Dark or Elevation. I hope Khan is smart enough to realize this, but I don’t have high hopes.
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