Chris Jericho recently came out and said his new home of AEW (All Elite Wrestling) shouldn’t be viewed as a free pass for disgruntled WWE Superstars. In other words, just because you’re not happy where you are doesn’t mean AEW is opening its doors to any and all former WWE talent.
In fact, Jericho said in AEW’s effort to build new stars and create its own identity, there may be a handful of stars AEW wouldn’t want, even if they were free and clear from their WWE commitments.
It begs an interesting question: Who would AEW take?
Below is a list of WWE Superstars that either just left WWE or are rumored to be looking to leave. Will Jericho consider them AEW worthy? Or, are these stars who would make Jericho’s list? And, we know what happens when you make Jericho’s list…
Take: Dean Ambrose
On Sunday night, Dean Ambrose is rumored to have wrestled his final televised match for WWE. He’ll be leaving his fellow Shield members and either taking a break, trying something completely different or looking to a company like AEW to stretch his creative muscles. Would AEW take him?
The answer is, of course. yes.
Ambrose is arguably the biggest star to shake free from WWE in years. He’s bigger than Cody Rhodes was before he reinvented himself and bigger than PAC (Neville) who simply out-waited WWE. AEW would have to do very little with Ambrose to pop him in the main event match on any card the company can put together.
In fact, AEW would be nuts not to take Ambrose if he makes it known he’s interested. A talent known as someone who isn’t in the business for the money, he wants to be somewhere he feels useful. And, if AEW is lucky, Renee Young winds up there too.
You Just Made The List: Sasha Banks
There’s something interesting going on with Sasha Banks. She took her ball and went home after her tag title loss at WrestleMania 35 and since that night, the Internet has run wild with speculation that she’s trying to whine and annoy WWE just enough to get released from her contract. Reports are WWE would like her to stay but isn’t about to kiss her ass to keep her and the more whining she does the more fans seem to be turning on her.
If stories of her laying on the ground and b-itching about her spot in the company are true, you have to think AEW is paying attention.
While Banks is a star and it would be big news for AEW to land her, she’s also potentially an entitled headache. Never seemingly happy, a new upstart like AEW doesn’t need talent like Banks thinking she’s bigger than the promotion. Wiser minds might choose to stay away.
Take: Luke Harper
Harper is an under-utilized talent. WWE dropped the ball with him and if they do the right thing and let him take another shot somewhere else (he’s not young), AEW makes sense.
Harper is a draw but obviously not a big enough draw to matter in WWE’s eyes. But, he’s also an interesting character who seems to be able to reinvent himself and he might land on the kind of character that becomes a massive star. He could be the signing that gets away and has WWE regretting they didn’t make better use of him while he was around.
The combination of WWE possibly letting him walk, AEW taking advantage and Harper finding an idea that’s a winner makes him an important talent to watch.
You Just Made The List: Lana
Maybe AEW has some interest in Rusev, but it’d be hard to imagine they have much time for Lana. Someone who isn’t well-known to be proficient in the ring, AEW is likely looking for female talent who can wrestle. Immediately promoting that they treat women’s contracts the same way they do the men’s, Lana simply doesn’t deserve the pay that comes with what others would earn in AEW for what they bring.
Lana is “celebrity” of sorts and that’s worth something but she’s not really AEW’s style. Like Banks, she’s also a potential social media issue.
Sometimes her presence on Twitter or Instagram can help, but when a sex video gets leaked on Snapchat (whether it’s her or not) that might not be the kind of press AEW is looking for at the moment. They want female competitors who bring positive media attention because their matches are excellent, not because their social media lives are the talk of the day.
Takes: The Revival
Are The Revival happy? Are they not happy? It appears they are often miserable, but it’s hard to tell these days.
The last time the duo whined, they were given the Raw Tag Team Titles. They whined while they were wearing them and now they’re not the title-holders any longer.
This team has been interesting to watch for a couple of reasons. First, the storylines that involve them and how those storylines seem to be connected to their chatter on social media is fascinating. Second, they are quite a talented tag team that reminds fans of the old school style of tag team wrestling. That could be an ideal acquisition for AEW.
While we’ve talked about the fact AEW doesn’t want a bunch of whiners and that might exclude Sasha Banks and Lana/Rusev, The Revival might be an exception to the rule. They seem to be whining because they want good matches and opportunities in the ring. They don’t seem to care if they’re title holders or main event players.
There was some speculation WWE was thinking about breaking up the team but at the Superstar Shake-up, it didn’t happen. It probably won’t. That doesn’t mean the team won’t continue to try and work their way out of WWE.
You Just Made The List: Alexander Wolfe
There are two questions when it comes to Alexander Wolfe. First, is the goodbye he said on social media to WWE a goodbye to the main roster or a goodbye to the company? That makes a big difference because the latter indicates WWE has released him.
Second, is he a big enough star that AEW would be interested in him?
SAnitY never got much of a chance in WWE so it’s hard to know what they could do if given an opportunity somewhere else. Because Wolfe wasn’t much of a factor (even when SAnitY was popular in NXT) he may not get the look he deserves. He’s now seemingly out on his own with Eric Young having been moved to Raw. Maybe Killian Dane is gone as well and they form a tag team but that’s probably a long shot at this point.
Take: The Good Brothers
I’m not one of those people who believe the Good Brothers will get their WWE releases. I also don’t think WWE intends to let either Karl Anderson or Luke Gallows walk to any other promotion. Vince may not be using either one, but something suggests he sees potential there and it’s a matter of ‘when’ they get a shot to really do something.
If I’m wrong, expect AEW to scoop these guys up if the opportunity presents itself. They have a history in Japan and that’s a place AEW seems to be grabbing a number of its talent pool from. And, while their history with Kenny Omega (an official AEW executive) isn’t as direct as it would have been with someone like Finn Balor and AJ Styles, there is a link to the Bullet Club and by association a storyline that might write itself.
You Just Made The List: EC3
He’s getting the big-time shaft in WWE and the last time we saw him he’d just debuted on Raw and subsequently got destroyed by Braun Strowman. He signed with NXT out of Impact Wrestling, figured he’d probably get a better look during his second stint with Vince and co. and was wrong. This is exactly the type of treatment that makes someone want to jump ship.
I’m not sure that will happen with EC3.
His history with Impact, WWE and lack of connection to guys like Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega don’t suggest he’s got an “in” and while he’s probably not happy in WWE right now, the grass might not be greener elsewhere.
The key to remember for some of these guys is that they’re working live events, making decent money and part of the WWE machine. There may come a time where an opportunity presents itself and EC3 could be one of those guys who comes out of nowhere and finds a fan in Vince. It might not be wise for him to give that up until it’s been shown over a long period of time that he’s not going to get a good look.
Takes: Tye Dillinger
Dillinger is already out of WWE. He was granted his release some time ago. He’s also quite close with Cody Rhodes. All that could mean he shows up in AEW sometime soon.
People under estimate just how popular Dillinger was in NXT and WWE as The Perfect 10, but AEW probably understands the kind of pop he would bring as a surprise entrant into a Battle Royal or on a pay-per-view. Buzz is what AEW is all about and if it came to be that Dillinger joins the upstart wrestling promotion, news that they’d snagged Dillinger while WWE was silly to let him walk is the kind of WWE acquisition AEW and Jericho would be happy to make.
He’s a strong in-ring competitor, he’s got charisma and, most importantly, the fans are on his side. AEW is the promotion that die-hard fans want to see succeed. Dillinger being part of that movement just makes sense.
Just Made The List: Hideo Itami
Hideo Itami’s run in WWE was so bad, he may have unintentionally blacklisted himself from landing a full-time deal with any major wrestling promotion that isn’t located in Japan. Considered the biggest free agent acquisition in NXT’s young history, when he signed, big things were expected. None of them happened.
Due to injuries and a lack of fan support, Itami just couldn’t gain any momentum and he’ll probably need to go back to Japan, build his name back up and become an attractive free agent again.
That could take some time.
AEW does have some names on its roster that many WWE fans aren’t familiar with. But, at least they aren’t names that bring with them a negative association. If AEW were to grab Itami at this point, they’d have to convince WWE fans he’s not washed up.