Since leaving WWE and debuting with AEW, Jon Moxley has not been holding back on sharing his thoughts about his former employer. The man once known as Dean Ambrose has given numerous interviews lifting the lid on his frustrations, both with the creative process at WWE and how he was handled during his time there.
With TNA, ROH and NJPW never quite reaching the level to mount a proper challenge, WWE has sat unopposed atop the wrestling world since the demise of WCW almost 20 years ago. But the birth of AEW looks to be offering a new outlet for frustrated and underused talents. Such a platform might be a welcome respite to some of WWE’s more frustrated stars. Here are some wrestlers who might put the WWE on edge if they share their thoughts.
The man once known as El Generico has been making waves with his promos in WWE already. His recent run has seen him denouncing the audience and even dropping AEW’s name on Monday Night Raw. Imagine if Zayn turned that vitriol on the company itself!
He would not be without his reasons. Zayn has worked hard through his time in WWE, but apart from a brief run with the NXT Championship he has never been rewarded with much in the way of accolades or pushes. Building frustration coupled with strong delivery is a recipe for something special, as Moxley proved.
The man once known as Derrick Bateman – and once called TNA World Champion – has not just been misused by WWE once, it has happened twice. EC3 was a part of the original NXT, back when he was Derrick Bateman, and crashed out of the company after a lackluster run. He became a star in TNA and appeared in WWE and NXT on a hot streak. Then, nothing.
He has been lost in the shuffle since his return, now reduced to raising a red cup in a lackluster manner in Raw backstage segments. We all know the man can talk when given a mic and is not lacking in self-confidence. He has twice the reason to be frustrated, which could make him twice as dangerous.
In a company where big men traditionally flourish, there is no excuse for WWE’s failure to capitalise on Luke Harper. The former Wyatt Family member broke out into a lukewarm singles run, spending most of his time with the company waiting for tag team partners to show up.
It's a crying waste of talent. Harper, who was a popular name on the indie circuit at Brodie Lee prior to his WWE run, would make a killing cutting loose on both opponents and the microphone, if he decided to set out on his own again.
It may be easy to forget, but the smiling Irishman we see on WWE TV from week to week is not Finn Balor’s only persona. Nor is the Demon his most fearsome. Balor is the man best known for the infamous Bullet Club. During his run as Prince Devitt in NJPW, Balor set up the faction that made its name breaking rules and saying and doing just as it pleased.
With the WWE reins off, it is not hard to imagine Balor recapturing the anti-establishment magic and sounding off about how he went from being the first ever Universal Champion to lost in the mid-card shuffle. It's a promo we would love to see, but WWE might not.
Speaking of wrestlers who were stars in Japan, they don’t come any bigger than Shinsuke Nakamura. The Japanese superstar’s legendary status was so firmly cemented that he was not even given a new name when he arrived in WWE. He raced through NXT, had a red-hot debut on the main roster, won the Royal Rumble, headed to Wrestlemania – and stopped. He lost to A.J. Styles and has been lost in limbo since.
While many disgruntled stars might head to AEW, it is not inconceivable that Nakamura could head back to his homeland, where he once reigned supreme as one of the coolest bad guys NJPW has known. If that character makes a return, he could unleash his fury on WWE and their failure to use him right.
The Good Brothers have not been quiet about their frustrations in WWE in recent months, with frequent reports linking the duo with a move away from the company and either back to Japan or over to AEW. The pair were members of the Bullet Club with both A.J. Styles and Finn Balor, so their credentials for speaking their minds are well established.
Given their freedom, the pair could tear into the problems WWE has created for both of them (and the severe mishandling of the tag team division in recent years).
The Boss nearly walked out of WWE in fury over the decision to take the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles from her and Bayley; not appearing on TV since. She has supposedly been asked to take some time away after threatening to quit, which leaves the potential for a lot of fury to be unleashed if and when she is free to do so.
Judging by her current situation, Banks could be the person most likely to pop up in AEW in the near future and sound off about all things WWE.
No-one can claim The Beast Incarnate has not been well treated by WWE, but when it comes to getting himself a great deal, Lesnar is as brilliant as he is unpredictable. He was a former WWE Champion and top star when he walked out on the company the first time and has threatened to leave a few times since returning.
It is not unforeseeable that Lesnar could pop up in AEW, UFC or anywhere else and put the WWE on blast just for the payday.
The Swiss Superman is one of WWE’s biggest missed opportunities in recent memory. Each time it seems that Cesaro is gaining some steam, he gets stopped in his tracks. He is one of the best workers in the ring and has shown charisma and character out of it, but the company cannot seem to get behind him.
When news of AEW first surfaced, Cesaro was one of the names on everyone’s list to jump ship and show the company what they had missed out on. He has followed the same path as Jon Moxley but with even fewer opportunities, so the results could be fiery indeed.
The Showoff is already quite outspoken about his frustrations with how he has been used in WWE and how he feels to company has dropped the ball with him – and he’s currently on the payroll. A Ziggler promo unleashed in AEW, with the strings off and a stage to vent years of pent-up frustration, could be the modern equivalent of Stone Cold Steve Austin’s ECW promos on WCW.
Ziggler has battled across the WWE card for 15 years and has suffered more than his fair share of setbacks, from poor gimmicks to aborted pushes and shoddy title reigns. To hear his uncensored thoughts on the matter would be something to behold.