Talent That Tony Khan Should Sign To AEW's Roster

Since 2019, All Elite Wrestling has been showcasing a roster that includes established veterans, exciting up and comers, and top tier performers from around the world from diverse backgrounds and walks of life. And though some may criticize AEW for bringing in too many former WWE stars, it's hard to argue with their hiring strategy when a number of their biggest stars get injured at the same time and they need other members of the locker room to step up.

Clearly, Tony Khan is always looking for more talent to join the ranks of his company. Plus, after he acquired Ring of Honor in March 2022, there's a whole other promotion that he needs to fill with wrestlers. But with so many performers out there on the independent scene, he can't possibly have time to keep track of all the hottest acts right now. To help him out, we here at Wrestling Inc have compiled a list of talent that Khan should consider for AEW — if only to pop ourselves.

To be clear, we're solely focusing on talent that should be All Elite. There are plenty of names that should be on Khan's radar, but they would probably fit in better with the ROH locker room. We've also chosen to keep the pool limited to performers that aren't signed with any company that have American television/high profile streaming deals like IMPACT, MLW, NWA, and technically NJPW. But with the Forbidden Door always in play, you never know who might show up where anymore. So in terms of wrestlers that could be mainstays in AEW, here are a few viable options.

Hallowicked

After making his debut in 2002, Hallowicked became a haunting presence in Chikara from their inaugural show until their unceremonious closure in 2020. The Nightmare Warrior also appeared in various promotions such as Evolve, Ring of Honor, and Dragon Gate USA, but his biggest accomplishments came in the family friendly company that made their home primarily in Pennsylvania. That's where he became the inaugural Young Lions Cup Champion, a Campeon de Parejas (tag team champion), a two-time Grand Champion, and the winner of both the 2003 Tag World Grand Prix and 2012 King of Trios tournaments.

The Broadsword of Nazmaldun didn't build up a resume like that without putting in hard work. Just like Sting was the franchise player for WCW, Hallowicked was the franchise player of Chikara and he never really got the recognition that he deserved outside of the Chikarmy. Now if he were given a chance in AEW, he could show the whole world his impressive arsenal of skills that he's built up over the course of his 20-year career — many of which he passed on to a number of wrestlers on the Indies today during his time as a trainer at the Chikara Wrestle Factory. Plus, with the recent introduction of the AEW Trios Championships, the spooky-faced brawler from Sleepy Hollow could join forces with any combination of his long-time partners Ultramantis Black, Frightmare, or Delirious.

Laynie Luck

There are countless people in the wrestling industry who work hard to hone their craft. However, it seems like Laynie Luck worked hard enough that she improved massively in a short amount of time. The Party Unicorn emerged on the scene in 2015, but it wasn't until 2017 that Laynie's party started to turn into a rager. Chicagoland promotions like Zelo Pro, RISE, and Freelance Wrestling started to feature her prominently on their shows, as well as Booker T's Reality of Wrestling in Texas. 

Eventually, Laynie put in such a considerable amount of time into her training that it paid off in 2019. She defended the Zelo Pro Women's Championship against Shotzi Blackheart and Kylie Rae on an Impact Wresting event. Along with her partner (in the ring and in life) GPA, Laynie has shown that she can have layers to her character, as she has gone from the fan favorite fun-loving party girl to one of the biggest heels in Freelance right now. And in 2021 and 2022, Luck received opportunities on ROH and AEW to show a larger audience how entertaining she can be. With such a deep well of talent in AEW to learn from, she has the potential to be the next AJ Lee or Bayley for Tony Khan if given the right storyline. But more importantly, she'll be the first Laynie Luck, and that's something that the AEW audience should see.

Sunshine Machine (Chuck Mambo & TK Cooper)

Currently the tag champs of the UK's Revolution Pro and PROGRESS, the Sunshine Machine is bringing the good times back to wrestling. Chuck Mambo and TK Cooper have spent a good amount of time in stables and other tag teams throughout the years, but since coming together in 2019, they have proven that they're a winning combination. Not only do they have the skills to form a championship-caliber tag team, but they've also shown that they each have their fair share of charisma and in-ring prowess. In other words, they're good at wrestling and they're fun to watch. In fact, they almost have a similar vibe to WWE teams RK-Bro or Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs.

While they haven't made their way to America as a team just yet, fans in the USA can watch their escapades on Peacock as the NBC streamer also hosts new shows from PROGRESS Wrestling. Tony Khan should take a peek and bring the Sunshine Machine over to AEW and test their mettle against some of the best tag teams in the world. After all, it's well-documented that his company highly values tag team wrestling. With teams like reDragon, Private Party, the Butcher and the Blade, the Lucha Bros, the Young Bucks, and Jurassic Express, there's plenty of competition for these young guns to step up to between the ropes. In fact, with a bit more seasoning, they could even make great opponents for FTR as they attempt to lighten Dax and Cash's load of title belts.

Bandido

After training at the CMLL school in Mexico City around 2011 and wearing the masks of Magnifico II and Cielito early in his career, Bandido adopted a mask and ring gear inspired by the bandits of the wild west in 2016. With this new persona, the fourth generation wrestler started making a splash with his partner Flamita in Japan and the UK. Then, after teaming with Rey Fenix and the legendary Rey Mysterio to take on the Golden Elite (Kota Ibushi and the Young Bucks) in the main even of All In, Bandido also started appearing in PWG, The Crash Lucha Libre in Mexico, and ROH. With these marquee moments happening in such quick succession, it was impossible for the wrestling world not to pay attention to this rising star.

Eventually, he made ROH his home base for a few years and participated in NJPW's Best of the Super Juniors in 2019. Bandido was the second-to-last ROH champion before Tony Khan purchased the company. Despite losing his title, Bandido could have still been an asset to the promotion, with his dynamic in-ring ability and natural charisma that translates through the mask that covers all but his eyes.

Janai Kai

All Elite Wrestling fans may recognize Janai Kai as Thunder Rosa's student who challenged Jade Cargill during the build up to the TBS Championship Tournament semifinals. But the Kick Demon has a lot more to offer Tony Khan's company than a five-minute squash segment and a few matches on "Dark" and "Dark: Elevation."

After making her debut in 2018, Kai spent most of her time in American Combat Wrestling and other indies in Florida. She started to blow up after her stint in RISE, where she faced off with the future Big Swole, Rosemary, and Ray Lyn. After a light 2020, she hit the ground running in 2021 by appearing at GCW, ROH, Beyond Wrestling, SHIMMER, Warrior Wrestling, and many more.

Similar to current AEW stars Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly, Kai incorporates mixed martial arts into her professional wrestling to take down her opponents. Her striking game is unparalleled right now, thanks to her proficiency in kickboxing and Muay Thai. With her level of violence and technique, she might be the perfect fit for the Blackpool Combat Club. Under William Regal's tutelage, she could face off with other literal heavy hitters like Marina Shafir, Leyla Hirsch, Nyla Rose, or even her former teacher Thunder Rosa. Either way, her bloodied smiling face after a knock down, drag out brawl would be the type of thing to make the BCC proud.

Besties In The World (Matt Fitchett and Davy Vega)

While they can work singles, Mat Fitchett and Davey Vega have proven to be a winning combination as a tag team for many years. The Besties In The World have collected nearly a dozen tag team championships in promotions like AAW, Black Label Pro, and EVOLVE. And whether there's friction between them or they're on the same page, the fans come together for one of the most wholesome entrances in professional wrestling today: A singalong to "Truly, Madly, Deeply" by Savage Garden complete with synchronized choreography. Who doesn't love a fan participation moment?

The Besties have faced Jay Lethal and Satnam Singh on "Rampage" and Swerve In Our Glory on "Dark: Elevation," but the real money feud here is against Best Friends. Tony Khan could call in a favor from Savage Garden, then determine who the bestest friends are in pro wrestling once and for all. Both teams have been known to employ shenanigans in the past, but they're also incredibly underrated wrestlers. Many have underestimated them throughout their careers, so if TK brought them both together in an AEW ring, they could end up blowing a lot of people away — or at the very least, deliver a match that's entertaining as hell on multiple layers. Then, when it's all said and done, the two teams could join forces after showing the world the power of friendship. As Excalibur always says, "You've got to give the people what they want!"

AR Fox

It is absolutely criminal that no wrestling company has been able to get AR Fox on our screens on a weekly basis since the end of Lucha Underground. Known as Dante Fox, he showed everyone what he was made of in a blood-thirsty feud with Killshot (AKA Swerve Strickland) that culminated in the notoriously brutal Hell of War match and a run with the Trios Championships. Since then, while still appearing in promotions around the world like CZW, EVOLVE, and GCW, he hasn't signed on the dotted line for any major promotion as of yet.

When the pandemic hit, it seemed like Fox was content to lay low as the head trainer of the WWA4 wrestling school in Atlanta, Georgia. But little by little, the fox has emerged from his hole for some intense and exciting matches against some of the hottest names on the indies right now, like Alex Zayne, Nick Wayne, Blake Christian, and Ninja Mack. Recently, the Whole Foxin Show appeared on "Dark: Elevation" alongside his students Adrian Alanis and Liam Gray against Private Party and Angelico. 

If Tony Khan were to sign Fox, he could bring the house down with so many opponents. The roster is filled with fellow high flyers that could pull off death-defying spot after spot with each other, but also we could see all the creative offense Fox might bring to a variety of people. Different styles clashing creates some of the most dynamic matches and AR Fox has shown that he is a master at adapting to a variety of opponents.

Max The Impaler

AEW currently has an eccentric, eclectic group of talent on their roster. What else do you call a locker room with the likes of the Living Dead Girl, a wrestling dinosaur, a number of spooky perverts, and a cowboy, among others? However, there's nothing like Max the Impaler on AEW TV right now.

Hailing from the Wasteland, the Non-binary Nightmare has been a dominating force on the independents since making their debut in 2018. Like the Legion of Doom before them, Max has borrowed some aesthetics from the "Mad Max" franchise and carved a path of destruction from IWA Mid-South to OVW to RISE, as well as other promotions. But the imposing Max took their talents to a larger stage when they started appearing in ROH's Women of Honor division. That propelled them to opportunities in NWA, Pro Wrestling Eve, and PROGRESS in the UK, and soon TJPW in Japan.

As their wrestling journey takes them around the world, they had the chance to don their armor and war paint for an AEW crowd recently. They faced Nyla Rose in a good old hoss fight and teamed with their Wasteland War Party companion Heidi Howitzer to challenge Nyla and her recent cohort Marina Shafir. Though Max was on the losing side of those contests, it seems like there's a lot more that they could do against the former AEW Women's Champion. There aren't many competitors in the AEW women's division that could match size and strength with Nyla, so hopefully Tony Khan brings Max the Impaler back to expand this rivalry a bit more.

The Hex (Allysin Kay and Marti Belle)

Allysin Kay and Marti Belle have been dominant forces in women's wrestling for some time now. Separately, they each have an impressive resume of championships across multiple promotions. They also have plenty of televised wresting experience thanks to Impact and NWA, so countless fans have had the opportunity to see them work over the years. But when they came together as The Hex and won the NWA Women's Tag Team Championships, they brought each other to the next level and elevated everyone they stepped into the ring with.

Ideally, these women would sign with a company with a thriving women's tag division to continue to assert their dominance as one of the top teams out there today. However, a number of teams are starting to form in the AEW women's division since there are strength in numbers. ThunderStorm, TayJay, Jade Cargill and her Baddies, Marina Shafir and Nyla Rose, and Penelope Ford and the Bunny have all shown that the boys don't exclusively rule the roost when it comes to tag team wrestling. With the addition of The Hex, maybe Tony Khan could kickstart a proper women's tag division in his company complete with title belts and everything. Plus, with the addition of a women's tag division, maybe it could be the final push the company needs to finally get more women's matches on "Dynamite" every week.

Jervis Cottonbelly

Professional wrestling is a lot of things. It's an art form, it's a sport, and it's entertainment, but it's also supposed to be fun. And few people know how to have fun like Gentleman Jervis Cottonbelly. Another mainstay of CHIKARA during its heyday, the World's Sweetest Man would engaged with the audience by politely shaking hands and using good manners in between delivering a thumping to his unsuspecting opponents. His whole act with the bowler hat, British accent, and bright yellow mask with a monocle could be somewhat cartoony to some, but like Bayley and Kylie Rae, he proved that you don't need to hardened and cynical to succeed in wrestling today. Like Cottonbelly said to ESPN in 2017, "I think being nice is punk rock, and I am Sid Vicious."

But if vicious is what you need, another side of Jervis has emerged over the past few years. He recently revealed himself as Kevin Condron under the mask. Rather than maintaining the illusion that these two polar opposite characters were separate, he shared that they're just two sides of the same coin. So if Tony Khan were to add Jervis to the AEW roster, he'd be getting two excellent performers for the price of one. As Cottonbelly, he could be a sweet comedic presence on the show and could even renew his rivalry with Orange Cassidy. As Condron, he could be a detestable pest as a wrestler or a manger, just as he did in WrestleCircus for a pre-SCU Scorpio Skye. Either way, this man could bring a whole lot to the AEW table.

Nixon Newell

After making a name for herself in UK promotions like ATTACK!, Fight Club: Pro, and What Culture Pro Wrestling/Defiant, Nixon Newell joined the ranks of WWE as Tegan Nox. However, she was plagued by a series of injuries early in her run. When she returned to NXT in 2019, Nox had a great run that included a spot on a Survivor Series team, feuds with Dakota Kai and Candice LeRae, and great matches with champions Kay Lee Ray and Io Shirai. After another ACL injury in late 2020, Tegan briefly returned to NXT before getting called up to team with Shotzi on Smackdown. Unfortunately, the Girl With The Shiniest Wizard's main roster stint didn't last long, as she was released in November 2021 without making a single appearance on Raw after being drafted.

Since then, Newell hasn't been involved with anything wrestling-related. That said, she did name a number of dream opponents, which included a bunch of AEW competitors. But one name she hasn't mentioned (yet) is Jade Cargill. Newell is the type of underdog babyface that fans could get behind as she dethrones the undefeated baddie and dominate in the TBS Championship picture. But above all, especially after everything she's gone through in WWE, it would just be nice to see Nixon Newell have nice things in the world of professional wrestling.

Matt Cross

Matt Cross is another ring veteran that should have been featured on weekly television after Lucha Underground closed its doors. The former Son of Havoc is a pioneer of the independent wrestling scene that thrived in the early days of promotions like ROH and CZW. Logging over 1000 matches on his Cagematch profile, Cross has been so good for so long and he's not done yet. Even after a 20+ year career in wrestling, Cross is still going strong. He's even working on one of the longest world title reigns of all time thanks to his run in Ohio's Olde Wrestling that's currently sitting at 3,225 and counting. Another important milestone he holds is that he was part of the first match on the first show for the company that would become All Elite Wrestling. 

Cross has history with Tony Khan's promotion, but he has even more history with some of AEW's competitors. He can reignite old rivalry, create new ones, and win even more championships if given the opportunity. He can also be a valuable resource for the younger talent that are still learning the ropes of the wrestling business. With his many trips up and down the open road, Matt Cross is tough enough to be utilized by AEW in many ways.

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