AEW WrestleDream 2023: 3 Biggest Winners And 3 Biggest Losers

AEW delivered its first WrestleDream pay-per-view from the Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle, Washington as a tribute of sorts to the late Japanese legend Antonio Inoki. But that doesn't mean everything worked out for the best. As usual, some in Tony Khan's company came out of the night looking a lot better than how they came whereas others may have seen their stock drop due to effort, creative choices, or a few other things in-between. 


So who are the biggest winners and losers of the first-ever WrestleDream? Let's roll through some of my thought processes and figure out who's up and who's down after this West Coast trip.

Winner: Jon Moxley -- Color Commentator

Move over, Excalibur. Step aside, Jim Ross. Thanks for playing, Taz and Tony Schiavone and everyone else that's been put on the AEW broadcast desk. There's a new player in town who was absolutely phenomenal on the mic for long stretches of WrestleDream, and you probably never saw it coming. 


Jon Moxley found something else he's good at beyond bleeding on command, and that was wearing a headset on commentary — where he was truly brilliant. Moxley brought a unique blend of blunt honesty and wrestling insight to the table tonight, and his ability to credibly put over the events transpiring inside the ring to the viewers at home called attention to just how much good commentary can add to the presentation of a match. Whether he was waxing poetic about Bryan Danielson reading about tantric sex, downplaying the contribution of Big Bill in Ricky Starks' victory ("He ran into the pole"), or trying to explain the medical risks of Danielson wrestling with a steel rod in his arm, Moxley was a pleasure to listen to. I hope we get more Moxley in the booth, as he adds a very different element to the mix — and a badly needed one at that. 


Loser: Edge... I Mean, Adam Copeland

I know everyone finds themselves on such a high when a big new surprise shows up in wrestling, and it's understandable why there's a buzz of excitement upon the arrival of Adam Copeland (formerly known as Edge in WWE) in AEW — but I'm not feeling it. 


Let's not dance around the obvious: Adam Copeland leaving WWE behind and going onto AEW at this point in his career is a step down. That's not a knock on AEW. It's just the reality of the wrestling landscape at the moment. WWE is still a global phenomenon, and AEW is having trouble drawing fans anywhere that's not Wembley Stadium. So to make this call is a bit puzzling.

Adam Copeland is 49 years old. He is a WWE Hall of Famer. He lost nine years of his career to a neck injury that was supposed to end it for good. He has earned the right to do whatever he wants for whatever reasons he so chooses — whether it's the ability to work together with Christian Cage again or a whole lot of zeroes on his new contract — and I hope he finds happiness in it. But that doesn't mean I have to like it. 


Plenty of big names have come into AEW, only to get lost in the shuffle, so there's a track record there that doesn't cement Copeland's arrival as a slam dunk. I also don't believe he's a good fit for AEW's style. He's long been built on character and storyline work (things AEW doesn't do well) and, at this stage of his career, shouldn't be aiming for five-star spotfests in the squared circle. I just don't get it.

Winners: Everyone Less Edgy

WrestleDream was not one of AEW's best pay-per-view efforts. Nothing of any particular consequence happened throughout the show. Many of the matches just seemed to be there, in order for Tony Khan to hit his target of having 14 matches on the card. And yet none of that will matter, because Adam Copeland showed up and gave cover to everything and everyone that came before his debut. 


WrestleDream 2023 will forever be known as "The Edge Show," and that's to the benefit of this sleepy event. So much of this show never seemed to get out of first gear, but it won't matter as everyone shifts their attention to AEW's latest shiny new toy. People always remember the last thing they saw, and with that being the "Rated-R Superstar," it's easy for fans to now forget what was already forgettable while believing they now saw something memorable and special. For once, AEW realized it wasn't about the matches but the moments.

Loser: Nick Wayne

I know it feels like a lot of focus is being put on the main event, but there was so much to unpack in how overstuffed and overbooked it turned out to be. I haven't even gotten into the stupidity of tearing apart the wrestling ring — only for none of those high-risk, high-impact maneuvers to even matter. However, the forgotten piece of all of it is Nick Wayne and his heel turn toward Christian Cage. 


Guess who cares that Nick Wayne has forsaken his widowed mom and violently broken away from his friend Darby Allin? Nobody. Because it was quickly overshadowed by AEW's newest addition. Don't worry though — at least he has a mentor to overtly hit on his mother in front of him. Wayne's big moment was rendered meaningless, hardly what you'd want for something that should have been a breakout moment for him. 

Winner: Julia Hart

So you're telling me that if you put some time and effort into developing a character and storyline for a woman on the AEW roster that fans will actually care and become emotionally invested in what she does? No way!! Never would have seen that coming. 


Julia Hart has been a breath of fresh air for the AEW women's division, truly growing as a wrestler in recent months while also putting on her best matches in the last few weeks with game competition. However, to see those in attendance at Climate Pledge Arena not treat a women's match on an AEW PPV as a bathroom break and to actively cheer and chant for the action in the ring was a welcome change. 

As the one women's match on the card, Hart carried so much of the weight of building this match to feel as important as it was. Kris Statlander may be the TBS Champion, but it was Hart who has really captured the attention of the fanbase lately. Even though she suffered the defeat in the title bout, tonight was just the latest stop on the Julia Hart Being Awesome Tour. And if she can keep this up, she may just be the future of the women's division. 


Losers: The Young Bucks

Could the naming of the Young Bucks as the new No. 1 contender to the AEW World Tag Team Championship have been met with any more of an underwhelming response? Nope, I don't think so. Nobody seemed to care. 


Under normal circumstances, the prospect of FTR vs. the Young Bucks IV might have been exciting, but the AEW tag division has grown stale these days — and to see more of what already feels awfully familiar is hardly the way to change that. Support of the Young Bucks seems to be wavering among the AEW fanbase. They'll always have their core die-hards. However, whether it has been their role in the CM Punk situation or people have just grown tired of their antics (as evidenced by their TV segments losing large chunks of the audience in quarter-hour ratings), something is off with the Jacksons. I'm not sure more of them is the solution to that problem, especially putting them in the title picture.