With the launch of the brand new All Elite Wrestling coming later this year via All In 2: Double or Nothing, the professional wrestling landscape has already changed, as Vince McMahon is no longer the only billionaire in the game.
AEW, which will be owned an operated by Jacksonville Jaguars owner Tony Khan (who has been a pro wrestling fan for his entire life), is looking to make a huge splash when the brand kicks off later this year. In order to do so, they need to have their own stars who haven't yet been exposed to the mainstream wrestling audience, which they already have, mixed in with established names that the people recognize.
The brand has already signed WWE legend Chris Jericho, and while they shouldn't make the same mistake TNA did, which is sign every ex-WWE guy and give them a world title push, they should still look to sign some of Vince McMahon's guys when they become available.
So with this in mind, here are five WWE stars that AEW should sign, and five they should avoid.
It's amazing to think that Jeff Hardy, who is 41 years old, is even still able to walk at this point after everything that he's done in the ring.
At some point in the near future, it's likely that the former WWE World Heavyweight Champion will begin to break down physically due to the amount of high-risk bumps he's taken in his career. In recent weeks, we've seen what the effects of a long, physical in-ring career with Kurt Angle, who is no longer as versatile as he used to be. It probably won't be long before Jeff Hardy is in the same boat, which means that AEW should avoid signing the tag team specialist.
It's pretty safe to say that WWE has missed the boat on Cesaro time and time again, and at this point, it'll probably be difficult for the company to convince the fans to have faith in the "Swiss Superman" because there have been so many start-and-stop pushes with him. One thing you can be sure of is, if the former United States Champion ends up in AEW, that he'll end up being one of the biggest stars in the company. He has everything it takes to be a legitimate main event guy in the business, but WWE has never used him correctly during his run there.
While No Way Jose might be talented, the fact is that he's done absolutely nothing of note in WWE, and if AEW were to sign him, it's probably likely that no one would take him seriously there as well. Signing undercard WWE guys and giving them a noteworthy push is part of what hindered TNA when it was trying to compete with Vince McMahon, so Tony Khan should avoid this man at all costs, with one caveat: if he can gain momentum on the indie scene away from WWE, then maybe they should look into signing him. But, if he doesn't, then they should stay away from No Way Jose.
At this point, every wrestling fan knows that Dean Ambrose is set to leave WWE after WrestleMania 35, and his destination seems rather obvious, as most are predicting that he'll end up in AEW.
Aside from his original push when The Shield debuted, WWE never was able to use Ambrose correctly, as he was given a wacky character who you couldn't take seriously. But everyone knows he has the potential to be one of the biggest stars in all of pro wrestling, and AEW will more than likely help him reach that potential upon his debut with the company.
WWE veteran Big Show is clearly on his last legs, as he's nearing the end of his pro wrestling career, and while he'll likely have his final match in Vince McMahon's company, you can't rule out that he'd be interested in jumping to another company, especially if he feels like he has a bit more to give in the ring. But bringing in a guy who probably has less than ten matches left in him isn't a good move. If he were still in his physical prime, then AEW probably should sign him, but he's long past being in his prime, so this would likely be a waste of a signing.
Even though he's almost 50 years old, Goldust is still in fantastic shape, and he can clearly still be an effective performer in the ring.
WWE never gave the Rhodes brothers (Cody and Dustin) a long term push as a tag team, as Cody was quickly changed into Stardust after they began teaming. In AEW, the two sons of the legendary Dusty Rhodes could have the run they deserved to have in WWE, and on top of that, Cody could - and should - be the one to wrestle Dustin (Goldust) in his final pro wrestling match, which will probably happen sooner rather than later.
Sure, Jinder Mahal is a former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, but he was also one of the least effective Champions that the company has ever had during his one and only title reign. Moreover, he's not exactly the most skilled guy in the ring or on the microphone, so there's really no reason for AEW to bring him in, as he probably wouldn't add all that much to the company. So, if and/or when Jinder becomes a free agent, Tony Khan should let Mahal seek employment elsewhere, because he just wouldn't be a good fit for the upstart promotion.
If there's anyone who would greatly benefit from leaving WWE and joining AEW, it's Randy Orton. Of course, he is one of WWE's top stars, and he has been there for almost two decades, so it's hard to imagine him leaving. But, AEW does have a ton of money to spend, which means that they can afford to bring in the third generation pro wrestler.
While Orton has been an incredible heel in WWE, he'd be even more spectacular in AEW, which is promising to be a more creatively satisfying environment for the wrestlers, as it'll have far fewer restrictions. He'd be the perfect guy to bring in as one of the company's top heels.
If this were 2013 instead of 2019, then this would be a different story. But, the fact is, there really isn't that much of a demand for Dolph Ziggler in pro wrestling at the moment. He's been off of WWE television for quite some time now, so it's not too crazy to think that he'll be a free agent sooner rather than later. But, it might be the right move for AEW to let Ziggler pursue a career in stand up comedy, which is something that he's very passionate about. As a wrestler though, it just doesn't seem like he'd have the impact that he would've five or six years ago, when fans were begging for him to be pushed to the top.
This one might be the most polarizing of all, because WWE fans are clearly sick of Brock Lesnar. While he might be valuable to Vince McMahon, he'd be even more valuable to Tony Khan and AEW. In fact, signing him could be similar to when WCW signed Hulk Hogan in the '90s, as the former UFC Heavyweight Champion would greatly increase the popularity of the new company. Moreover, Chris Jericho has expressed interest in working with Lesnar under the AEW banner, which would be a gigantic match that would undoubtedly get the attention of the mainstream wrestling audience.