AEW Needs to Trim Its Roster NOW
There are at least 15 wrestlers AEW doesn’t need and while the bloated roster is in need of some Nick Khan-level purging, these 15 will have to do for now.
15 Wrestlers AEW Doesn’t Need: Why They Aren’t Needed
All Elite Wrestling is a much different promotion than when it launched in 2019. At the time, AEW featured several big-name talents such as Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes, Kenny Omega, Jon Moxley, and the Young Bucks as well as rising stars like “Hangman” Adam Page and veterans such as Dustin Rhodes. AEW also featured a mix of untested but promising talent like MJF and Sammy Guevara and favorites from the independent scene.
That’s no longer the case as AEW has brought in even more established stars, so much that it needs to get rid of wrestlers who 1) haven’t grown during their time in AEW; 2) are past their prime and no longer necessary to help younger wrestlers in the ring; or 3) are no longer a good fit with the current product.
Despite some impressive showings on Lucha Underground, Triple A, and Pro Wrestling Guerilla, Angelico falls into the category of a wrestler who hasn’t outgrown AEW. Instead, AEW has outgrown him as the promotion has so much talent that there are better wrestlers to serve as enhancement talent.
Aqa (Angela Quentina Arnold)
Aqa is an example of how big AEW’s wrestler is because she’s still listed on the roster, despite stepping away from the company. At the rate AEW’s roster is growing, it will soon be like WCW, which had hundreds of wrestlers signed, but only used some of them. While this was convenient for wrestlers like “Leaping” Lanny Poffo who cashed paychecks every week without wrestling, AEW shouldn’t strive to repeat WCW’s financial failures.
Being a second-generation wrestler is a blessing and a curse. Arn Anderson’s son has a decent look and skills, but he’s failed to break out as anything more than enhancement talent. Currently, he’s in no position to grow as there are too many established stars ahead of him. Anderson would benefit from working in a smaller promotion such as MLW or IMPACT, somewhere he could continue improving while building up his reputation.
Brian Pillman Jr.
Is Brian Pillman Jr. this generation’s David Flair? No but he still has yet to prove himself on Dynamite as anything but one of the show’s many talented wrestlers who stand out. You can’t blame Pillman for jumping to AEW when he was offered the chance, but he’s clearly not ready for the national level and the fans aren’t buying his limited push.
Frankie Kazarian is a savvy ring veteran who was ideal for AEW’s first two years when the promotion was still forging its identity (or losing its identity on how you feel about its surplus of signings). Kazarian can still go but at age 45, he should be training younger wrestlers behind the scenes.
Griff Garrison is so bland he makes Brian Pillman Jr. look like Brian Pillman Sr by comparison. The Varsity Blonds have suffered, not so much because they’re portrayed as an “up and coming” team but because they get so much prime-time exposure on Dynamite in redundant matches. Their ideal role right now would be to win matches on Elevation and Dark, with occasional appearances on Dynamite in tag team tournaments, gauntlets, or battle royals.
No promoter with any integrity would put Jeff Hardy into a ring given his repeated failures at sobriety, his recklessness in the ring, and the legitimate question as to whether he’s capable of executing the daredevil moves he attempts every match.
While fans know that it’s hard to find a promoter with integrity, only a complete money mark would continue booking Jeff, oblivious to the liability of what happens if something goes wrong in the ring. Jeff needs to retire and if he refuses, AEW needs to release him.
Kris Statlander made a smart move in ditching her “Space Alien” character, which got her over initially but failed to take her into the main event. Statlander has two problems. The first is that she is injury prone, having suffered two serious knee injuries. The second is that she’s sloppy in the ring, a trait that should make any promoter hesitant to use her, especially in the upper-card or main event. WrestleLamia isn’t advocating that AEW dump an injured wrestler, but there’s no reason to keep her around once she’s 100%,
Leva Bates is the type of eclectic character who seemed perfect during AEW’s early days when she could incorporate her skills with social media into advancing her character. The problem is that AEW never seemed to do much with her, focusing too much on her as a wrestler rather than as a talent. At this point, there’s no reason to keep Bates around as she seems too much like an indie wrestler to stand out on AEW’s programming.
Luther is the type of wrestler where you ask yourself what he brings to the table that guys like Nick Comoroto, Brian Cage, and Lance Archer can’t do twice as well. Luther isn’t a hack but when guys like Comoroto, Cage, and Archer are one step away from catering, it’s ridiculous to justify keeping him around.
Like so many other wrestlers on our list, Michael Nakazawa is a former indie darling that seemed like a good fit during AEW”s formative years. The company has moved on and it’s time for this 46-year-old to take his AEW rub and milk it for a few bucks on the indie circuit.
Ortiz and Santana
What went wrong with Ortiz and Santana? The former LAX members made a spectacular debut at AEW’s 2019 Double or Nothing show and were immediately inserted into Chris Jericho’s main event faction, The Inner Circle. This talented tag team got over with the fans but never seemed to make it into the main event as a team. It wasn’t through a lack of trying but for whatever reason, it seems pointless for them to stay in AEW or for AEW to keep them.
Like Leva Bates, Peter Avalon missed his chance to get over during AEW’s early months and it’s surprising that he’s even left in the company. Like Leva Bates, he never found his groove and there’s no justification for keeping him around.
Tony Khan’s decision to replicate the failure of the WWE’s push for the Great Khali by bringing in big man Satnam Singh shows that no booker has a 100% success record. Singh may have seen too good not to sign but so far, he hasn’t shown any value to the company and he’s turned off AEW’s fans who seem to see Signgh as representing what they disliked about Vince McMahon’s WWE.
15 Wrestlers AEW Doesn’t Need: Should It Release Even More?
All Elite Wrestling has a fantastic roster packed with established stars and wrestlers who just need the right push to break out. However, the 15 wrestlers we mentioned aren’t going to go any further in AEW and they’re taking spots other wrestlers can use.
In a rare case where conventional wisdom is spot-on rather than just groupthink, the problem is that AEW doesn’t have enough TV time to showcase its stars.
There’s also the problem Tony Khan has created for himself by booking Rampage like he’s in some sort of scenario like the film Major League where he wants the show to tank.
Khan doesn’t need a roster as big as he currently has and it’s time to release these 15 wrestlers. I’d argue the promotion could drop at least another 15 but then I’d have to watch Dark and Elevation to see what lesser-known wrestlers are filling up the air.
Do you think AEW should release any wrestlers? Are there any wrestlers on the list who should stay? Let us know in the comments below.