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The signs all point to All Elite Wrestling, the reported wrestling organization founded by The Elite, opening it's doors in 2019. Outside of the fact that the members of The Elite (except for Marty Scurll) are free agents and that Tony Khan, the son of billionaire Shad Khan, has filed for trademarks for the name All Elite Wrestling, we don't know much about the supposed promotion.
If The Elite do start a promotion in 2019, who else will join them? They can't have a promotion without other talent joining them, so what names are out there? WWE and Ring of Honor lately have been very aggressive in snatching up unsigned talent, but there is still a lot of talent out there, and they could be interested in taking part in The Elite's new promotion. As an exercise, I came up with a 24-man roster for All Elite Wrestling, composed of some of the best talent in the world. Maybe none of these guys end up working in the promotion, or maybe the promotion never takes place at all, but I figured it would be fun to see what potential wrestlers could be a part of this new promotion.
First, a few rules:
- No talent currently signed to WWE, New Japan Pro Wrestling or Ring of Honor is eligible to be drafted. Everyone else is fair game. I believe that especially in Year 1, AEW will not be looking to be the sole contractor for each talent, so just because a wrestler is signed with AEW, they could still work for other promotions, such as Impact, Major League Wrestling, or other indie promotions.
- For the sake of the roster, tag teams count for one spot, since a majority of the time they will be wrestling together in matches. So this is more of a roster of 24 ACTS, as opposed to just straight-up 24 guys.
- I didn't include women on this list, only because the contract status of so many women's wrestlers is confusing right now, particularly regarding who has signed a WWE deal and who has not. I fully expect AEW to have a women's division, but outside of Brandi Rhodes I don't have a clue who that might include. Perhaps Tessa Blanchard, Britt Baker, Viper, and a few others; which would be a great division, by the way.
In alphabetical order:
AR Fox: Veteran high-flyer who has been around the indies forever. Takes a ton of risks in the ring but is an incredible athlete with good size for his style. Has never really gotten a shot with a major promotion, but has been a standout in EVOLVE for a number of years.
Austin Aries: Aries has as much natural talent as anybody in wrestling, but for whatever reason has never been able to maximize his ability. He's been in WWE and had multiple stints in Impact and ROH. Aries could be one of the biggest stars in the promotion, or he could end up leaving after one match; anything is possible.
The Best Friends (Chuck Taylor and Trent): Chuck Taylor and Trent have been a tag team for years and have worked mainly for ROH and NJPW in 2018, but remain freelancers as far as I know. Both men are capable of have very good matches, but also do a lot of comedy. They have been featured on Being the Elite, which is a sign they are friendly with The Elite.
Brian Cage: Cage has one of the best physiques in wrestling but is also a good athlete that can wrestle a lot of different styles. He's been a name in Mexico, Impact and Lucha Underground and a staple for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla for years. He's also appeared on Being the Elite.
Chris Jericho: Obviously he would be the biggest name in the company from a mainstream point of view, and he's clearly tight with Being the Elite. It's unclear where Jericho stands, since going to AEW is something WWE would obviously get upset about and I'm not sure if he wants to burn that bridge completely. Clearly he's enjoying his freedom outside the company, and AEW would give him greater creative license over his character than any other promotion; for all we know he could end up being the booker.
Christopher Daniels: The members of SoCal Uncensored are no longer under contract with Ring of Honor and have become cornerstones of Being the Elite, so it's extremely likely they'll be apart of The Elite's next project. Daniels is highly respected and outside of Jericho would be the most experienced wrestler in the company.
Cody Rhodes: As a member of The Elite, he's a slam dunk to be on the roster. Cody's consistent message of empowering talent to take control of their careers could attract a lot of talent from other promotions to join AEW.
Flamita: It feels like he has been around for forever, but the Mexican high-flyer is only 24. Flamita has wrestled all over the globe, including in PWG and Dragon Gate, and is one of the best workers on the indie scene.
Hangman Adam Page: Another member of The Elite; out of the five members of the group he is the only one that probably hasn't hit his prime yet. He's had a great 2018 and his stock would be on the rise in no matter what promotion he wrestles in.
Joey Janela: Currently out hurt after blowing out his knee in September, but up until then Janela was one of the biggest unsigned talents in wrestling. Janela has a ton of charisma and character and should still be a great talent even if athletically he isn't the same when he comes back. Wrestled a singles match against Page at ALL IN.
Joey Ryan: Also out hurt but Ryan has been a name on the indies for years with his unique gimmick and charisma. Was a major part of Being the Elite earlier this year.
Kenny Omega: Omega is very interesting because he clearly loves working in Japan, he speaks the language and became a Japanese citizen in 2018. I don't know if he is going to move back to North America to work in AEW full-time; which is why I still think he could be wrestling for NJPW in 2019. He'll definitely be a big part of AEW, but I don't see him leaving Japan completely.
Kota Ibushi: I'd imagine Ibushi, famously a free agent, would go wherever Omega goes, which will include matches for AEW in 2019. Ibushi is one of the best in-ring performers in history and is a huge asset for AEW from a talent standpoint.
The Lucha Bros (Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix): The Lucha Brothers have become one of the biggest acts in wrestling since bursting onto the scene in Lucha Undergrond; becoming main event attractions in Mexico and key players on the US indies. Penta and Fenix can be a great tag team, or they could each be main event talent on their own. They'd be a huge addition to AEW.
Matt Sydal: Currently on Impact, Sydal has been one of the most underrated wrestlers for years. Versatile performer that can wrestle multiple styles and is in tremendous physical shape.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman: Otherwise known as MJF, Friedman has had a breakout 2018, wrestling Matt Cross in the opening match at ALL IN and a main event talent in MLW. At 22, he has a lot of upside and should be on every promotion's radar.
Michael Nakazawa: Most people probably don't recognize Nakazawa's name, but he is a comedy wrestler from the DDT promotion in Japan and is also one of Omega's favorite wrestlers. Omega went to bat for Nakazawa and got him on the NJPW show he promoted in the United States earlier this year despite the fact that he didn't work for the promotion. Speaks perfect English, and would be something different for AEW.
Monster Mafia (Josh Alexander and Ethan Page): Toronto-based tag team that have worked in PWG and are a good team with good size. Page used to work in EVOLVE and seemed to be going places before he left the promotion and mostly works around Toronto today, although he did do a tour with DDT earlier this year.
Nick Aldis: Current NWA World Heavyweight Champion and wrestled a prominent singles match against Cody Rhodes at ALL IN. Billy Corgan and the NWA have been trying to land a TV deal with a network to get that promotion back on the air, but they may have to settle for getting their world champion into AEW.
PAC: The former Neville has made it clear Dragon Gate is his home promotion, but is open for bookings outside of Japan in 2019. PAC is a great heel and one of the most athletic wrestlers in the world; he could be a huge star in AEW.
The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz): The Rascalz had a good run in Dragon Gate this year and had a good feud with The Young Bucks in PWG over the tag team titles. Easy call for them to be part of the tag team division in AEW.
SoCal Uncensored (Scorpio Sky and Kazarian): Like Daniels, Sky and Kazarian are pretty much locks to end up in AEW due to their close relationship with The Elite.
Timothy Thatcher: Thatcher wrestled all over the US before moving to Europe and making Westside Xtreme Wrestling in Germany his promotion. Thatcher is a mat wrestler whose modeled himself after Billy Robinson and would be a nice change of pace from most of the smaller, faster wrestlers in AEW.
The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson): The tag team that started all of this with their flair for self-promotion and creativity. The Young Bucks are probably the best tag team of the new millennium.
ROH Final Battle Match Ratings
Kenny King vs Eli Isom: ***
Jeff Cobb vs Hangman Page: ****1/4
Sumie Sakai vs Kelly Klein vs Karen Q vs Madison Rayne: ***
Zack Sabre Jr. vs Jonathan Gresham: ***3/4
Matt Taven vs Dalton Castle: ***1/2
Christopher Daniels vs Marty Scurll: ***1/2
Flip Gordon vs Bully Ray: ****
Cody Rhodes vs Jay Lethal: ****
The Young Bucks vs SoCal Uncensored vs The Briscoes: ****1/4