After a pair of successful pay-per-view events, All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has become one of the most talked about start up promotions in recent memory. At present, AEW’s roster features an excellent combination of established names and some red hot stars on the verge of breaking out.
As the promotion continues to grow, they will likely add plenty of new names to the roster in the coming months. With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at some past WWE stand-outs who might wind up signing with the upstart organization in the next year or so.
10 CM Punk
Chicago’s CM Punk was one of WWE’s biggest stars during his tenure with the promotion. He has won countless titles and remains one of the most talked about names in the business... even though he hasn’t wrestled since 2014, the year in which he announced his retirement. For over five years, wrestling fans have been eagerly awaiting Punk’s return to the squared circle.
He left WWE under controversial circumstances, with the company having fired him on his wedding day. Adding his tremendous star power to the AEW roster would be an excellent way for Punk to get back at his former employer. While he’s resisted the urge to return thus far, the cries from fans (and the hefty paycheck) will eventually become impossible to ignore – even for CM Punk.
9 Big Cass
During his time with WWE, Big Cass was perhaps best known as one half of the tag team Enzo and Cass. He also had a notable singles run in World Wrestling Entertainment, having feuded with the likes of Daniel Bryan and the Big Show. However, in 2018, he was released from the company due to issues with his behavior.
AEW doesn’t have a ton of big men on that roster and adding a 7-footer like Cass could be a nice score. There’s some risk given his backstage issues in the past, but he’s 32, still in his wrestling prime, and is a classic example of a guy who hasn’t reached his full potential. At some point, AEW will likely decide that Cass is a chance worth taking.
8 Hideo Itami
After a successful career in Japan and with Ring of Honor wrestling, Hideo Itami (aka Kenta) decided to sign with WWE. Despite coming in with a great deal of hype, Itami was never able to get things going during his time with WWE. After a mostly forgettable run in NXT that lasted from 2014 to 2017, the Japanese sensation was sent to 205 Live and became more or less an afterthought – prior to requesting his release in 2019.
As talented as Itami is, his lack of mic skills hurt him in WWE. The promotion tends to push wrestlers who can eat up television time with long-winded promos and participate in skits which tend to require more talking. AEW fans appreciate outstanding in-ring performers like Itami. He’s been a major star in organizations that focus more on wrestling – thus making him an ideal signing for AEW.
Emma, who also wrestles under her real name Tenille Dashwood, signed with WWE back in 2011. She has the distinction of being the first Australian female to wrestle for the company. During her time in WWE, she was arguably best known for working with Santino Marella. She also appeared on the E! Reality series Total Divas.
In truth, Emma was a talented wrestler who ended up getting lost in the shuffle when Charlotte Flair and the other Four Horsewomen joined the main roster. She’s a solid in-ring performer who has a good look and plenty of name recognition. Given that she’s one of the top free agents on the market, it’s a little surprising AEW hasn’t picked her up already.
6 AJ Lee
AJ Lee is a former WWE star who had an outstanding run with the organization, having signed with company back in 2009. During her time there, she became one of the top female performers and captured the WWE Divas Championship three times. She also had a stint as Raw’s (on-screen) General Manager. She left the company and retired from wrestling in 2015, following WWE’s falling out with her husband, CM Punk.
Everyone talks about CM Punk signing with AEW. If and when he does, expect his wife to join him on the road as a member of the All Elite women’s division. Lee is still only 32 years of age and has always been an extremely well-rounded performer – thus making her an ideal signing for the new promotion.
5 Wade Barrett
Wade Barrett spent several years in WWE as an upper-mid card act. During his time there, he rose to prominence as the leader of a faction known as The Nexus. He is perhaps best remembered for portraying a character known as Bad News Barrett from 2013 to 2015 – just prior to his departure from WWE the following year. He most recently appeared on Lucha Underground television.
Though he has been wrestling since 2004, Barett is still only 38 and likely has plenty of good years left. He was a solid in-ring performer with good mic skills and natural charisma – the kind of guy who could be a main event–level talent if booked correctly. He’s a star who has flown under the radar a bit, but Barrett is too talented for AEW to forget about entirely.
4 Enzo Amore
During his time in WWE, Enzo Amore established himself as one of the best talkers in sports entertainment. Along with his partner Colin Cassady (aka Big Cass), Amore received an NXT Year-End award for best Team of the Year in 2015. As a singles star, he would win the WWE Cruiserweight Championship on two separate occasions. In 2017, he was fired from WWE due to some legal issues.
Given his past history, signing Amore might be a bit of risk for AEW. However, if the organization isn’t afraid to gamble a bit, Amore could wind up on the roster and would make an excellent manager or authority figure.
3 Tessa Blanchard
Despite the fact that she’s still only 23 years of age, Tessa Blanchard has already made her presence felt in the world of professional wrestling. She is the daughter of the legendary Tully Blanchard and wrestler Joe Blanchard’s granddaughter – thus making her 3rd generation superstar.
Blanchard is currently signed with Impact Wrestling until 2020. However, she has a good relationship with AEW and performed in their inaugural pay-per-view. The former knockouts champ is an outstanding all-round performer who is only getting better. As soon as her current contract with Impact expires, expect Tessa Blanchard to quickly become a major player in AEW’s women’s division.
2 John Morrison
John Morrison is a wrestler who has used many ring names over the years. Fans may also know him as Johnny Nitro, Johnny Mundo, or even Johnny Impact. Regardless of what name he is using, the high flying superstar is known for delivering incredible matches. He made his WWE main roster debuted in 2004 and was with the company until 2011.
He has gone on to become a top star in other promotions, including Impact Wrestling and Lucha Underground. He’s consistently been a top act outside of WWE for years, and AEW would likely grab him in a heartbeat – depending on how his contract situations with Impact and Lucha Underground play out.
1 Killer Kross
Killer Kross is currently one of the biggest stars in Impact Wrestling – both literally and figuratively. He has also had success in Lucha Underground performing as The White Rabbit – a member of a faction known as The Rabbit Tribe. The 33-year-old has used his physical style and somewhat underrated mic skills to make a name for himself in professional wrestling.
He recently asked to be released from his Impact contract, which could mean AEW has already expressed interest. If All Elite it is looking for talented wrestlers who still haven’t been given the opportunity to reach their full potential (as seems to be the case), then Kross is a guy who very much fits the bill.