That’s Not Wrestling #18: Cutting the Dead Weight

AEW Roster, AEW television shows, Tony Khan, and more!

Welcome, and thanks for joining me at Geeks + Gamers! This week, I discuss the AEW Roster, all four AEW television shows, Tony Khan, and more!

A couple of years ago, the planets looked to be aligning for a fantastic shift in the realm of pro-wrestling. Talk of a smashing new promotion with a television deal and “serious, sport-based wrestling” was on everyone’s lips. Finally, the modern wrestling fan’s life of “eating shit and learning to love the taste” was over. Or was it? Meet me here every Thursday to pick apart the actions of the daft, the dangerous, and the desperate in pro-wrestling…well, in AEW.

<Last Week’s That’s Not Wrestling!

wrestling, WWE, AEW, AEW roster

The AEW roster hasn’t been sticking to its diet of “We’re looking for fresh” at all. It’s gobbled up so many ex-WWE wrestlers that it’s developed a new chin and had to gouge a new hole at the end of its belt.

There are over 100 members on the roster found on the official AEW website, and it’s beginning to get a little bothersome to get up and waddle down the aisle four times a week. New viewers are starting to trickle in now, and AEW needs to get in shape and look its best. Unless, of course, AEW is happy making a bad first impression, potentially never getting a second chance.

Fortunately, I’m here with a few little lists to sort things out, and as per usual, I’m making sure there are grey areas, and there’s some balance. It’s not as simple as putting a line down the middle and keeping some and firing some. So, please, indulge me as I fantasy-book Tony Khan and AEW out of the corner into which they painted themselves.

So Long, and Thanks for All the Botches!

Someone needs to break the news to Tony Khan that he can’t be everyone’s friend all the time. Despite the fun Tony’s having with his toy chest of life-size wrestling figures, AEW is still a business at the end of the day. In addition to that, other people’s well-being is at risk from many on the list below. I don’t think I’m being harsh in suggesting that most should probably just go ahead and hang up their boots.

  • Big Swole
  • Brandi Rhodes – She tried the Stephanie McMahon cosplay costume on for a while; nobody bought it, but she got her foot in the reality TV door anyway.
  • Brandon Cutler
  • Brian Cage – He’s been doing this for a while now; I don’t think he’s going to learn or offer anything new here.
  • Chuck Taylor
  • Codi RhodesThe Triple H to his wife’s Stephanie McMahon attempt. Hopefully, they both settle with their new Miz & Mrs. fancy dress/reality TV deal instead.
  • Dustin Rhodes – It was initially nice to see Dustin see out his career with some creative control. Hating on/blaming the fans instead of accepting fault is where I drew the line.
  • Emi Sakura
  • Joey Janela
  • Luchasaurus
  • Luther
  • Marko Stunt
  • Michael Nakazawa
  • Nyla Rose

Well, never say never! Most of these problems can be fixed with training, guidance, and a little self-awareness in the Rhodes family… but people need to want to get better. Digging your heels in to suit yourself to the detriment of everyone else is just going to poke holes in the boat and sink it over time.

Fodder & the “Keep it on YouTube” Gang

The majority of this next barmy bunch was lined up on the chopping block before I had a change of heart. Although they’re not the mistake-making machines listed above, they’re not trained/polished/interesting enough for television yet. I mentioned not so long ago that Tony Khan was trying to run before he could walk by forcing four weekly shows into the AEW schedule in less than two years. I still stand by that, but since he’s got a needlessly swollen AEW roster and two low-budget YouTube shows, two birds can be taken out by one stone here.

  • Aaron Solo
  • Abadon
  • Alan Angels
  • Alex Reynolds
  • Angelico
  • Anna Jay
  • Austin Gunn
  • Colten Gunn
  • Evil Uno
  • Excalibur – He’s not on the active AEW roster, I know, but he’s as much use as tits are to a bull on television, and the only problem I have at the commentary table… other than it being crowded.
  • Fuego Del Sol
  • Griff Garrison
  • Isiah Kassidy
  • Jack Evans
  • John Silver
  • Kenny OmegaNot a top guy, at least on the main roster.
  • Kip Sabian
  • Kris Statlander – She’s got potential, but she’s been rushed. She’s orbiting sloppy and dangerous territory at the moment.
  • Lee Johnson
  • Leva Bates
  • Marq Quen
  • Matt Jackson – Spot monkey, Hardy Soyz tribute act.
  • Nick Jackson – Not as bad as his brother, but they’d never cut the cord.
  • Orange Cassidy – The joke stopped being funny a while ago.
  • Penta El Zero M – Banished to YouTube until he learns how to tag-team properly, and not just ignore the referee and spam the special moves button.
  • Pres10 Vance
  • Peter Avalon
  • QT Marshall
  • Rey Fenix – Banished just like Penta. If the Lucha Bros. can’t figure it out, leave them on Dark/Dark Elevation and let ’em have tornado-tag matches all the time.
  • Riho – Yeah, I know she kinda looks like she knows what she’s doing, but all her offense looks as devastating as someone throwing a pristine sheet of A4 paper at someone.
  • Shawn Dean
  • Sonny Kiss
  • Stu Grayson
  • Tay Conti – Complained about WWE giving her a “Look at me and my judo/jiu-jitsu belt” gimmick, has since had a “Look at me and my bikini/IG photos” gimmick in AEW.
  • Yuka Sakazaki

If AEW’s YouTube universe was entirely independent of what they put on TV and PPV, that’d probably work nicely. The only time I’d expect to see any of this B-roster (that’s being VERY polite in some cases) on television is if they’re getting the absolute piss battered out of them in a handful of moves/minutes. Things may change for some of them. If there’s evidence of growth and/or maturation, I’d happily revisit my opinion in the future.

Holding Pattern

This group can offer more than most if dealt with correctly. Mismanagement/lack of direction seems to be commonplace.

  • Adam Page – I’m pretty sure that he’s missed the boat now. He’s at least moonsaulting on thin ice.
  • Chris Jericho  – Thank you very much for helping the promotion get started and warmed up. Please piss off on a Fozzy tour and let us miss you… and try to ease off on the cake and cola.
  • Jon Moxley – Wrestling Japanese guys and teaching the newbies how to hardcore match isn’t that valuable, in my honest opinion.
  • Jungle Boy – Like re-playing level 1 of a good game for two years.
  • Matt Hardy – He came in and tried to be too many things at once. He needs a soft reset with a break and then to clearly reestablish himself.
  • Red Velvet – Loads of potential and a great attitude. However, I wouldn’t have rewarded her with a title match for hitting her finish for the first time in 100 attempts.

Top Picks

Here it is! Here’s your top-tier AEW roster. Even if I’ve just tossed your favorite AEW novelty act in the trash or on YouTube, I think you’ll find it difficult to disagree that the talent that’s left automatically makes AEW appear ten times more professional. If everyone on this list had their worst day and worst match all on the same show, it still wouldn’t be as bad as some of the crap AEW has subjected us to over these two years. Enjoy!

  • Adam Cole
  • Andrade El Idolo
  • Anthony Bowens
  • Anthony Ogogo
  • Brian Pillman Jr.
  • Britt Baker D.M.D.
  • Bryan Danielson
  • Cash Wheeler
  • Chavo Guerrero Jr.
  • Christian Cage
  • Christopher Daniels
  • CM Punk
  • Colt Cabana
  • Dante Martin
  • Darby Allin
  • Darius Martin
  • Dax Harwood
  • Eddie Kingston
  • Ethan Page
  • Frankie Kazarian
  • Hikaru Shida
  • Jade Cargill
  • Jake Hager
  • Jamie Hayter
  • Jeff Parker
  • Lance Archer
  • Leyla Hirsch
  • Mark Henry
  • Matt Lee
  • Matt Sydal
  • Max Caster
  • Miro
  • MJF
  • Malakai Black
  • Nick Comorotto
  • Ortiz
  • Pac
  • Paul Wight
  • Penelope Ford
  • Powerhouse Hobbs
  • Rebel
  • Ricky Starks
  • Ruby Soho
  • Sammy Guevara
  • Santana
  • Serena Deeb
  • Scorpio Sky
  • Shawn Spears
  • Sting
  • The Blade
  • The Bunny
  • The Butcher
  • Thunder Rosa
  • Trent?
  • Wardlow

I sent the rest of The Mark Order to YouTube; Colt Cobana isn’t as terrible as that lot. Hopefully, in this fantasy promotion I’ve created, Cabana and CM Punk could finally reconcile on the first show!!!

*ahem*

I make that 55 members on this trimmed-down roster. That’s almost half of the official roster list. I don’t believe AEW is at the point where they can justify having an (albeit YouTube) broadcast developmental program like WWE has in NXT, let alone two of them! But, since Tony Khan has thrown enough money in the air to make it happen, we’re just going to have to eat shit and learn to love the taste of it.

Hopefully, something similar to what I’ve outlined will begin to naturally form in time. I’ve noticed that people are on their best behavior with legitimate stars like CM Punk and Bryan Danielson hopping on board. I’m not just talking about talent backstage, either. Punk put a bit of graft in on the commentary table recently and showed Ugly Bob Excalibur how it’s done. Punk even made a little joke about Excalibur’s constant use of non-English names for wrestling holds; fantastic!

That does it for this week. Thanks for stopping by. If you like videos about wrestling, help yourself to PUTTING IT BLUNTLY: AEW All Out, NXT Takeover 36, & WWE SummerSlam 2021 reviews on my YouTube channel.

Background Artwork Designed by Rachael Hope.

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