From The Outside: A Non-Indie Fan’s Look at AEW

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All Elite Wrestling has been around for almost a year now despite it starting television just a month ago. Of course, fans will read this and say “no, Double or Nothing was not until May!” And sure, that’s true, but it was on New Year’s Day as the clock turned over that the special “Being The Elite” came out and introduced the idea of AEW to the whole world. With all their champions crowned, two PPVs behind them, and plenty of TV in hand, it’s time to do an evaluation of sorts of how these new wrestlers are coming off to a fan. However, not just any fan.

I will be giving my own personal opinion about as many of the men and women on the roster, as many of them are completely new, fresh faces to me and have given me some of the best fan moments of the year, and others have made me turn the channel. In no way do I expect everyone to agree with me, but as a rather “fresh, newer” fan who went in cold with a lot of these amazing talents, I can surely tell you a lot of people may feel this way. Let’s get started.

Note: As a longtime fan of the WWE and a fan of other major companies like NJPW and ROH, plenty will already be known, but the opinion will be there of how they are coming off in my eyes now that they are under the AEW banner. It’s only right to kick off with the champions.

Champions
AEW World Champion, Chris Jericho: “Le Champion” has once again completely recreated himself, which has made him the perfect inaugural world champion of All Elite Wrestling. Many believed he could take time off here and there due to commitments to Fozzy, but he has been all in and you can feel it. The addition of his first group ever in The Inner Circle makes it even better for him as the pompous, full-headed champion he is.
Chris Jericho
Photo: AEW
AEW Women’s Champion, Riho: Far and away the best wrestler of the women’s division so far in my eyes. There isn’t always such thing as “perfect”, but that is what Riho is as the first women’s champion. She seems to already be a crowd favorite and the more time they give her in matches, the better off she will be in the future. She’s made a fan out of me since first seeing her at Double or Nothing.
Riho
Photo: AEW
AEW Tag Team Champions, SCU (Frankie Kazarian, Scorpio Sky, and Christopher Daniels): Scorpio Sky is a main event star that is right now performing in a tag team. Originally, before the legitimate injury of Christopher Daniels, it was to be Daniels and Frankie Kazarian showing that the veterans could get it done. Since the injury, everything has changed but for SCU it does not seem to matter. Sky has caught my attention more than anyone in SCU, as the sky seems to be the limit (no pun intended). Kazarian and Daniels are great complimentary pieces to the tag division for what I have seen.
Photo: AEW
The Elite
Kenny Omega: It seems people are going rather easy on Omega due to many of them being fans. He is still one of the best wrestlers in the world, but his best match thus far has been on AEW DARK. Needs a signature Kenny match to win the fans back. Not the top babyface like I assumed, but still a fan favorite a remains must-see in my eyes.
Cody: AEW’s most polarizing figure, but also its most beloved by far. Week in and week out, Cody has been a megastar for the brand. Of course, that could all change with a win at Full Gear, but he has proved all the doubters wrong and shown his believers are right. Still seems he has the best match in AEW to date with his brother Dustin Rhodes and continues to be the biggest pop in the company.
Hangman Page: Miscast from the start but just doing “cowboy shit” can help turn him around and slowly become a fan favorite. A talented guy who is still certainly raw in some aspects, but has all the potential in the world to be the top star for AEW down the line.
Photo: ROH
The Young Bucks: Still one of the best tag teams in the world. Fan favorites and have yet to have a bad match. Making fans isn’t difficult for them and they should remain at the helm of the tag division as it’s difficult to be better than them in any way when it comes to tag team wrestling.
The Young Bucks and the Road to AEW
With The Elite and the champions out of the way, we can really dig into to the newer guys, at least in my eyes.
The Women

The division as a whole still needs work but with the names they have signed, it just takes giving the right women opportunity which has been AEW’s biggest fault to this point.

Allie: Haven’t seen much of her to give a solidified opinion just yet. From the little she has been involved to this point, she shows she is very capable of performing at a top level.
Allie
Credit: All Elite Wrestling
Awesome Kong: Legend. There has not been much of her on television yet but her presence is unlike any other signed to the company.
Bea Priestley: The self proclaimed “Top Gaijin” has had just two matches in AEW plus being apart of the Casino Battle Royale at All Out. She has a certain presence around her that can bring her a long way in AEW if she were to ever go full-time. She is clearly championship material in the long-term as a former World of Stardom Champion.
Bea Priestley
Photo: @BeaPriestley
Brandi Rhodes: Everyone knows when it comes to her in-ring ability, she is trying. She is working to get better more and more, but right now she should continue to work on her in-ring. Great skills on the microphone and has always been fantastic by the side of Cody. Not a hate fest here by any means, she just still has a ways to go before being a serious part of the division.
Britt Baker, D.M.D.: Not ready for this spotlight just yet. By all accounts, she is the woman at the center of all advertisements and the most pushed woman not named Riho. Her best match came against Jamie Hayter a couple of weeks ago, but she still has room to improve. Don’t rush the title on her.
Emi Sakura: I’m told she can bring it. Was impressed from her tag match this past week on Dynamite where she picked up a win alongside Sadie Gibbs over Riho and Shanna. Interested to see her match at Full Gear. Doesn’t do much for me so far, however. I need to understand why she is Freddie Mercury.
Hikaru Shida: By far my favorite when it comes to the women in AEW so far. This has been my first time seeing Shida, as I was pulling for her in her match with Riho at All Out. One of, it not, the most talented and impressive talents on the entire roster. She is not only my personal pick to uncrown Riho, but also to open the most eyes as time goes on. Can’t get enough. She and Riho should be at the center of the women’s division in AEW.
Leva Bates: Boring. I guess that goes along with being a librarian?
Nyla Rose: “The Native Beast” has had some up and downs so far in terms of what her direction is. She was just seconds away from winning the AEW Women’s Championship and has since taken a back seat. She is the monster of this division and should continue to show dominance when given the opportunity.
Penelope Ford: Has she been included on an official show once? Give “The Bad Girl” a shot.
Sadie Gibbs: Been impressed in her limited appearances since signing. She had a good showing alongside Sakura this week that I do look forward to seeing more.
Shanna: The most recent signing has blown me away in her two matches so far, despite both being losing efforts. By all accounts, it seems this is the signing to help get the division to another level. The Portuguese wrestler has impressed me more in two weeks than most of the women on this list. Start building her up.
Yuka Sakazaki: Yet another women with plenty of potential by all accounts but incredibly limited showings which is rather upsetting.
In result, AEW needs to give far more focus on the women’s division like I said to start. These women need to be known.
Tag Teams

The best tag team division in wrestling and most weeks has been the best part of the show.

Best Friends (Trent & Chuck Taylor): It’s difficult at times to understand Best Friends’ place on the show. Both are good talents for different reasons, as I believe Trent has potential as a singles but they’re rather lackluster when it comes to the rest of the teams in the division.

The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Stu Grayson): They don’t work. Entertaining matches recently, but what they were supposed to be does not work for these two. Not a fan. Boring television most of the time.

The Hybrid 2 (Angelico & Jack Evans): Impressive combination but they’re really all in-ring athleticism. In a division where a lot of the talent can do what they can but better, they get lost in the shuffle. Enough with the neon.

Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy & Marko Stunt): A boy and his dinosaur was the best part of the early shows. Since then, Luchasaurus has yet to appear on TV due to his hamstring injury and the combo of Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt do not work as much together. Jungle Boy is going to be a star, as is Luchasaurus, which made them such a fun awesome tag team. When it comes to unknowns prior to the beginning of AEW, these two have made one of the biggest and best impressions.

Lucha Bros (Pentagon & Fenix): Future world champions. Future tag team champions. Pentagon and Fenix are awesome together and even better as singles. Pentagon brings the devastating side with one of the most lethal move-sets in pro wrestling and on AEW television. Fenix on the other hand can do things I have personally never seen inside the square circle which is far more impressive. They have swagger, they have talent, and they are just among the best in All Elite Wrestling. When the time comes for them to break up and go their separate directions, the AEW main event scene will become even better.

Private Party (Marq Quen & Isiah Kassidy): If you didn’t catch on to AEW until they started on Dynamite, I could understand if you said Private Party was your favorite to this point. The secrets that came out of House of Glory has proven that they are really one of the best up and coming teams in wrestling and will be the tag team champions one day, just not yet.

Photo: AEW

Proud N Powerful (Santana & Ortiz): The resident tag team of The Inner Circle was one of the best surprises, as they made their debut at All Out when they made waste of The Young Bucks and Lucha Bros. I went out of my way to watch some of their work and my goodness are these two talented. I expect them to have a classic with The Young Bucks at Full Gear and really show they should be at the center of the division.

#StrongHearts (CIMA, T-Hawk, & El Lindman): The #StrongHearts have one match all together in AEW, and in that one showing impressed. Hopefully AEW can give more than just the legendary CIMA as the OWE relationship needs more work.

Tag team wrestling is alive and well. If there is anything to give AEW a ton of credit for, it is their utilization of the tag teams.

The Men

Good and bad when it comes to the building of the tag division and women’s division in my eyes. How have the men faired in terms of AEW time?

Brandon Cutler: He is friends with The Young Bucks. That’s about it. Could be a good story in the long run, but winning no matches to this moment doesn’t help his cause of becoming a fan-favorite.

Darby Allin: There is not a single wrestler, man or woman, in this company that I have become a bigger fan of in such a short time more than Darby Allin. The realness behind Allin is what makes him an incredible performer. He has made the world know he will take risks to move further ahead in his career. The only fault in the world of how AEW has handled Darby Allin is not showing the videos he made in his build up to his championship match with Chris Jericho. The man is a talent in all ways, from in-ring to on the microphone and just his character overall. Strap the rocket and let him fly. His match with Cody got him on the map and he has only ran since then. He needs to be on TV as much as everyone else, the man is a star.

Dustin Rhodes: Knowing Dustin Rhodes from his days as Goldust, I knew he was one who could take a character and make it his own. Well, the 50-year-old veteran has found new life and by all accounts is nowhere close to being done. There is a story here, and if it’s just him standing with his brother or having one last ride, I am here for it.

Jake Hager: He doesn’t talk. He is Jack Swagger who has since been in Bellator as an MMA fighter. Maybe he will have a match someday.

Jake Hager
Photo: DAZN USA

Jimmy Havoc: A psychopath who’s role in AEW is rather confusing. From what we have learned about Havoc, he is an extremist who is in a company that has held him back for the most part in that aspect. It’s quite strange. I hope he gets a shot in one of the unsanctioned matches. Havoc vs Moxley? Yes, please.

Joey Janela: “The Bad Boy” had an awesome match with Kenny Omega on AEW DARK but out of the crazy, hardcore wrestlers on the brand, I definitely care least about him. He’s just kind of there.

Jon Moxley: When Jon Moxley signed with AEW, he named it a “paradigm shift” in pro wrestling. That is exactly what it is. Moxley has been slightly stalled from his injury, but any time he is on TV you can feel the intensity that he has been wanting to show for years. His match with Omega is not only exciting, but the official match to make it clear that Mox is back and Dean Ambrose is dead. He is back to what made him so great.

Photo: AEW

Kip Sabian: “Superbad” has been super decent in his matches to this point. He had a really long match with Hangman Page at Fight For The Fallen but hasn’t done much since. Overall, there is potential but not too much to go off of.

MJF: It’s hard to hate the best heel in the company. MJF is a complete jerk but the man drips entertainment and potential. He is the future of this company and needs more mic time. Maybe all of the mic time. Regardless, MJF is someone that needs to be on TV as much as possible. If I’m Cody though, I got eyes in the back of my head for the eventual double cross.

Michael Nakazawa: He fought some video game guy in a rather dreadful match. Not much of a real opinion or understanding of his point here.

Orange Cassidy: Lets keep it simple much like Orange Cassidy would want. Phenomenal. Instead of worrying about when this popularity will end, let us enjoy it instead as fans.

Photo: AEW

PAC: “The Bastard” has been on a mission to prove the world wrong since he left the WWE and that is exactly what he has done. His care for actually winning matches and being a professional is what makes him so great. Sure, he is willing to be a little cheap along the way, but PAC is one of the biggest gets for AEW and will be a world champion because of how great of a talent he is.

Peter Avalon: Get rid of the librarian schtick. Peter Avalon has to have so more to offer than just walking down the ramp and telling everyone to shush. At least I hope.

QT Marshall: I have nothing to say.

Sammy Guevara: Before joining the Inner Circle, I didn’t “get” Sammy Guevara. More and more since he has shown that he is not only talented in the ring, but has the charisma to be a big star like Chris Jericho has told us he will be. Time to get winning though for Guevara.

Shawn Spears: “The Chairman” seems determined to turn around his career following his many years in WWE. Spears, like Cody has said, is a great hand to AEW and has been fine to this point.

Sonny Kiss: Few matches, but an overall good time. Sonny Kiss has had some excellent matches as he has displayed incredible athleticism while being himself. Appreciated in this world we live in today and should be involved more moving forward.

After going through all these, it is shocking how many men have signed but are not utilized much to this point. A bright future is ahead however with all of these up and comers, plus the main event talent they already have.

I personally wonder what everyone is thinking, but heading into Full Gear, I do believe this is their most exciting PPV to date. Hopefully the wrestlers that are not connecting can, and the ones who have been incredible to this point can only continue to move forward and make AEW remain an overall success.

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