The world is still trying to find ways to anticipate for-and adjust to, the new normal. Pro wrestling is not immune to that and has been no different in figuring out how to continue to produce their product under these unprecedented circumstances. Operating with a fragmented section of their roster, AEW has been creative with how they are filling spots on the card, and all-in-all, it’s been paying off. Week after week now familiar indie faces including Shawn Dean, Alan Angels, Jason Cade, Dani Jordyn, and others, have appeared on the brand on both AEW DARK and Dynamite, and several have begun to receive serious name recognition as a result.
Fans are responding positively to being able to see new wrestlers regularly and discovering their talent. Of course for the wrestlers themselves, AEW DARK’s open slots have also led to opportunity, one which these individuals have certainly not taken for granted. Each match is a chance to show the world where the future of professional wrestling lies and for these individuals, they never know when their DARK showcase will come to an end so each match has also meant making the most of this situation.
— All Elite Wrestling (@AEWrestling) May 18, 2020
This week, in yet another stacked episode, AEW DARK’s card featured several names from the group that can now be referred to as DARK staples as of late. But it also featured a new name as well as a wrestler working under a different gimmick, ready to be introduced to the AEW audience for the first time. Let’s take a look at the 10 men and women from the May 19th edition of AEW DARK.
Hailing from Atlanta, Dani Jordyn, a student of QT Marshall‘s at the Nightmare Factory and AR Fox at World Wrestling Alliance 4, has been wrestling for just over three years. Known as the “Real Mean Girl,” Jordyn has worked for World Wrestling Network, Berwyn Championship Wrestling, Queens of Combat, ACTION Wrestling, and Southern Honor Wrestling, which has served as her home promotion for the last two years. In November 2019, Jordyn made her televised wrestling debut with AEW, facing Nyla Rose in a squash on Dynamite. A month later, she took part in a match on NWA The Circle Squared. On May 6th, 2020, Jordyn returned to AEW for her DARK debut, taking on Kris Statlander. This week, she faced another top female name in the company in the form of Hikaru Shida. Jordyn is still green, having worked just over 50 matches in her career, but has a high ceiling, one that AEW will certainly look to capitalize on as she continues to grow and train.
Just 26 years old, New Jersey’s Clutch Adams began his wrestling career six years ago, training with Danny Cage at the highly respected Monster Factory. Known as a tag team and singles wrestler, Adams, who calls himself, “the hidden gem of professional wrestling,” has found success wherever he’s gone, having already won nine titles, including at his home promotion, Pennsylvania Premiere Wrestling where he is the current heavyweight champion. One half of Factory’s Finest alongside Mike Spanos, Adams is also a two-time Monster Factory Pro Wrestling tag teams champion and World Xtreme Wrestling Elite Tag Team Champion. In his career, Adams has also wrestled for Game Changer Wrestling, Combat Zone Wrestling, Northeast Wrestling, Beyond, ROH’s Future of Honor, and ECWA. He made his televised debut in match that resulted in a title change as his team, Arrogance of Excellence, defeated then-PPW champions, South Philly’s Finest, to win the tag titles at IMPACT/PPW One Night Only: New Beginnings in January 2019. Adams has successfully defended his PPW heavyweight title twice on co-branded shows with IMPACT since. Tuesday night marked Adams’ AEW debut, where he faced a familiar foe in QT Marshall, who he’d previously wrestled in singles matches on two separate occasions, in MFPW and GCW.
Wrestling out of New York, the 29-year-old Jason Cade has been on the scene since 2012. Trained by longtime NXT trainer Norman Smiley, who himself was a product of Karl Gotch and Dean Malenko, Cade began his career wrestling for RIOT Pro Wrestling, Southern Championship Wrestling Florida, and I Believe in Wrestling. In 2013, Cade began working for the World Wrestling Network family of promotions, debuting in Full Impact Pro. A year later, Cade began a regular for FIP and started working for WWN and Evolve Wrestling as well. An emerging/rising name of late, Cade has worked for Premiere Wrestling Xperience (where he is the current heavyweight champion), NWA, GCW, SMASH Wrestling, FEST Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, AAW, the Crash, CZW, where he took part in Best of the Best 16, and more. In August 2017, he made his televised debut with IMPACT Wrestling and has since worked for every main television company (he worked a match in WWE and ROH in 2020) including Major League Wrestling, where he was a regular in 2018 teaming with Jimmy Yuta. Winner of nine career titles, Cade made his AEW debut last week against Orange Cassidy before facing Marko Stunt on May 19th. He’s no doubt a guy AEW is keeping a close eye on as far as their prospects for the future.
Lee Johnson and Musa
Trained by Fox, and Marshall at the Nightmare Factory, Lee Johnson is another example of an exciting young wrestler on AEW’s radar as he’s already made seven appearances for the promotion across both DARK and Dynamite. Johnson has also wrestled for IWA-MS, Absolute Intense Wrestling, and WWN. Upon his match against Brodie Lee, Johnson received praise from Tony Khan for his performance as much like many of the names on this list, he’s someone AEW has their eye on to develop into a future star. Johnson made his debut for the promotion in April for AEW DARK against Marshall, and since then has wrestled thrice on Dynamite against Lee, MJF, and Wardlow, and another three times on Dark, teaming with Musa, where the two have faced Best Friends, Private Party, and this week, the duo of Jimmy Havoc and Kip Sabian.
Also currently training at the Nightmare Factory, Musa has wrestled for New Era Wrestling, Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment, Pro Wrestling Bushido, and more. He made his Dynamite debut a week after Johnson, also in a losing effort to Wardlow. His DARK debut came on April 28th and he’s been partnered with Johnson ever since. It could very well be that AEW is looking at these two as a potentially exciting up-and-coming team especially given they have trained at Nightmare Factory, which unofficially operates as AEW’s training school. Their showcase on Wednesday proved no exception as despite getting just a few minutes to shine, Musa and Johnson showed why they are guys to watch out for in the future.
Trained by the WWA4 Pro Wrestling School and AR Fox and currently working with Marshall at the Nightmare Factory, the Chicago native is still getting his feet wet in the world of pro wrestling. A lifelong wrestling fan, Dean is known for his vlog series on Twitter as well as for his role as a former contributor to FanSided’s Daily DDT. A pro wrestler since 2018, he’s wrestled for ACTION Wrestling, WWN, Evolve, and more. Dean made his DARK debut on March 25th against Shawn Spears and has been featured on the show each of the past four weeks now, facing off against Jimmy Havoc, Sammy Guevara, Colt Cabana, and on Tuesday night, Fenix. It’s clear that this DARK staple is someone AEW is keeping a close eye on given the frequency for which they have tapped him, in particular, to take part in the DARK tapings.
Wrestling out of Puerto Rico, the 36-year-old Cruz has been in the industry for 13 years and is certainly a name that many people recognize. Originally trained by Bubba Ray and D-Von Dudley at Team 3D Academy, Cruz spent his early career wrestling for Vintage Wrestling, American Combat Wrestling and FIP. In 2010, Cruz debuted with TNA Wrestling, taking part in a series of dark matches before making his televised debut with the company in May 2015. In addition to TNA/IMPACT, Cruz has wrestled for all of the U.S. majors, taking part in matches for NWA, TNA, ROH, MLW, and WWE. Recently, Cruz has primarily been with PWX and FEST Wrestling. Winner of the Florida J-Cup in 2018, Cruz, primarily a tag team wrestler, has also claimed nine tag titles in his career. On March 18th, he made his AEW debut on DARK before returning two months later. On Tuesday, he wrestled his third and fourth matches with the company as Cruz faced Luther as himself, and again in the night’s main event, took on Darby Allin as his alter-ego Serpentico. Cruz first wrestled as the masked Serpentico in July 2015 and has periodically donned the mask ever since including in matches for FEST, WrestleCircus, The Crash, Wrestling Revolver, RONIN, MLW, ROH and more.
Mike Reed and Ryan Rembrandt
Wrestling out of Orlando, the 38-year-old Mike Reed made his AEW debut in March on an episode of DARK. Trained by Larry Sharpe, the 16-year indie veteran high flyer and technician, Reed, has been a part of the East Coast indie scene since 2005. Primarily known as a tag team specialist, five of Reed’s seven career titles have come alongside five different partners and in four different promotions. Reed has spent time with ECWA, New York Wrestling Connection, Chaotic Wrestling, NWA, I Believe in Wrestling, and NXT, where he teamed with Robbie Grand for a match against TM-61 in 2018. In AEW, Reed has now wrestled three matches on DARK, two of which came alongside partner Ryan Rembrandt.
Teaming with Reed was another Marshall/Fox trainee in the “Remarkable” Ryan Rembrandt, who made his pro wrestling debut in 2017 and his AEW DARK debut two weeks ago. Rembrandt has wrestled for WWA4 as part of his training with Fox but not much else is known about the young star. He’s definitely someone who is benefitting from his training with Marshall however and looks to have a very bright future as he continues to pick up experience in the wrestling industry. Given he’s been paired with a longtime vet in Reed, it seems AEW is hoping the two will be able to teach each other along the way.
Just 22 years old, Alan Angels is another trainee from the Fox/Marshall tree as he’s spent time in WWA4 and the Nightmare Factory. Wrestling out of Georgia, Angels primarily wrestles for ACTION Wrestling and Southern Fried Championship Wrestling, his home promotion. He’s also wrestled for ACW, Peachstate Wrestling Alliance, Scenic City Invitational and is a former champ in Southern Honor Wrestling. Despite having wrestled for just four years, Angels is on the rise and already starting to build a name for himself as evidenced by his two most recent showcases on AEW DARK. Angels first debuted for AEW in a squash against Lance Archer on the April 8th edition of Dynamite but in his last three DARK appearances, Angels was given over six minutes of ring time each, to showcase his skills against Kenny Omega, Fenix and Sammy Guevara. Both matches were stellar as Angels displayed some of the assets that make him such a rising young star and one who no doubt has a bright future in this industry.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world. You can catch AEW Dynamite Wednesday nights at 8PM ET on TNT and AEW DARK Tuesday nights at 7 PM ET on YouTube. Catch Double or Nothing this Saturday on PPV for even more All Elite Wrestling action!