The early success of All Elite Wrestling is already providing a positive change for the wrestling industry. AEW has already shown more upside than promotions like TNA and Ring of Honor when it comes to having a second major company. The first three television dates in October have all sold out within hours due to the high demand to witness the promotion’s early start live for the exciting events to air on TNT.
Jon Moxley having such strong success after making the bold move to leave WWE will influence other unhappy talents in the company to make the same decision. Cody Rhodes claimed that the names known so far only make up about 40% of what the roster will eventually shape into. That means talents wanting to ditch the WWE will have a fair chance of joining the new company.
AEW must be very selective with the hiring process to ensure only people the fans want are booked. We will look at five current WWE stars AEW should sign when their contracts end along with five to avoid.
10 Sign: Matt Hardy
The biggest issue for AEW will likely be getting new fans to give the company a try. Chris Jericho, Cody Rhodes and Dustin Rhodes are the only relatively known wrestlers to the mainstream audience. Another known talent that could join would be Matt Hardy.
Hardy has gone out of his way to praise his friends involved in running AEW during his time as a WWE star. Given WWE is doing little with him, Hardy may make the call to leave the company once his contract expires. Matt’s history with the Young Bucks and name value makes him a wrestler AEW would want.
9 Avoid: EC3
EC3 has seen his name value diminish after returning to WWE. A prior failed run in WWE as Derrick Bateman would lead to him becoming EC3 in Impact Wrestling. The run there made him a top player in the wrestling world and a hot free agent when joining WWE.
Unfortunately, the main roster run has seen EC3 do nothing of note aside from taking part in comedic segments involving the 24/7 Championship as a background player. Even at his best, EC3 was never known as a great worker which would make it hard to fit him into the AEW lineup.
8 Sign: Chad Gable
Chad Gable is one of the most underrated wrestlers in WWE today. Both his work as a tag team performer and singles act would showcase the potential in his skills. Gable makes the most of his opportunities, but he rarely gets noteworthy television time or matches.
WWE doesn’t view him as a hot prospect like some of their other talents which leaves him getting lost in the shuffle. Gable would likely have a bigger opportunity to showcase his full potential in AEW. The company will need new talents to phase into their mid-card and main event scenes with Gable being an ideal fit.
7 Avoid: Mojo Rawley
Mojo Rawley has teased introducing a new character over the past few months with no reveal. In fact, he has continued to appear in the 24/7 division which shows WWE doesn’t intend to use him any time soon. Rawley’s football background made him a top prospect in NXT, but the main roster has done him no favors.
AEW would not be the right place for a performer like Rawley. The matches of Mojo have yet to be impressive and often show his biggest weaknesses. AEW fans would not be too pleased to see a performer like Rawley getting television time unless he improves.
6 Sign: Sasha Banks
The return of Sasha Banks to WWE television attacking Becky Lynch does not mean she has changed her stance. Wrestlers to sit out the remainder of their contract like Luke Harper may be punished by having extra time added to prevent them from joining another promotion.
Banks could be looking to work through her contract before jumping ship when it ends. AEW should offer her a massive contract to add instant credibility to the women’s division. Most of the women in AEW are not well-known, but a big name like Banks will raise everyone’s stock.
5 Avoid: Curtis Axel
Curtis Axel is rarely on television for WWE these days after his tag team run with Bo Dallas peaked. They won tag titles together as the B Team and achieved success during their run as the Miztourage, but the duo fails to get much attention in the current WWE landscape.
Axel used to have great potential with fans hoping he could follow in the footsteps of his legendary father Mr. Perfect. Enough time has passed to know Axel is only a solid worker that will be in the lower card tier for a promotion. AEW would not benefit much from signing him to a deal.
4 Sign: Cesaro
The incredible in-ring talent of Cesaro can see him become one of the best wrestlers in the world if he’s allowed to showcase it. Cesaro has stepped up during his matches with main event performers like Daniel Bryan, John Cena, and Randy Orton throughout his career.
WWE typically only uses Cesaro well when he’s involved in a tag team. The lower ceiling for Cesaro will likely never see him become a main eventer for WWE if it hasn’t happened yet. AEW will present more opportunities for a talent like Cesaro that could find more success with him.
3 Avoid: Dolph Ziggler
One of the first rumored names to potentially jump ship from WWE to AEW was Dolph Ziggler. His friendship with Cody Rhodes along with WWE never booking him as a top star made fans wonder if Ziggler was going to make the drastic decision.
WWE has Ziggler under contract for the foreseeable future and his name value continues to diminish. Recent PPV matches would see Ziggler get destroyed by Kevin Owens and Goldberg to further damage his credibility. Ziggler even appears to have regressed which is a bad enough sign to make AEW avoid him at all costs.
2 Sign: Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn is one of the most realistic wrestlers to potentially leave WWE when his contract ends. His time away from WWE from 2018 to early 2019 due to injury featured Zayn enjoying his time away from the schedule, as was discussed in his talk on Jericho's podcast.
Zayn can’t be thrilled to be back working full-time for WWE as a glorified enhancement act. WWE has used Zayn to put over other talents like Aleister Black or get destroyed in seconds by Samoa Joe. Zayn is a good friend of the Young Bucks and showed in NXT how valuable he can be. AEW would be a perfect fit for Sami to rebuild his career if WWE chooses to continue doing nothing with him.
1 Avoid: Rusev
The recent rumors have revealed that Rusev and Lana are missing from WWE television as they are exploring what’s next for their careers. Rusev did nothing of note for months before taking the official break with Lana to have some time off the road.
Despite having a lot of talent, Rusev struggled to truly break out in his opportunities when feuding with John Cena and AJ Styles. The couple of Lana and Rusev also appear to have outside interests that may put wrestling second. AEW is better off avoiding performers looking to transition out of wrestling.