For the last week, the wrestling world has been buzzing about All Elite Wrestling, a new promotion founded by The Elite with the backing of Tony Khan, and after their recent rally in Jacksonville, fans have become even more excited. We’ve learned of more talent signed to the brand (Chris Jericho, PAC, Joey Janela, Britt Baker, and others), as well as some key details about the company going forward. Their next event will be held in May at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, and we’ve learned other details such as the pay for wrestlers will be almost on par with WWE (partly from rumors as well), and the women will be getting paid just as much as the men.
But none of that will matter if the company fails to garner the signature of some great professional wrestlers, and while the majority of them will come from the independent scene, to make a true splash, they are going to need to steal some wrestlers from other top companies. As they are new, it’s unlikely that AEW will be poaching talent from WWE and New Japan immediately, but in the future, if all goes well, it’s a definite possibility.
With that being said, today we are going to look at 10 wrestlers from the worlds biggest wrestling company that will definitely (and should) consider leaving to become Elite, and 10 that for whatever reason, will be happy to stay with WWE.
20 Should: Gallows And Anderson
Gallows and Anderson worked hard in New Japan to become the best big man tag team on the planet, but in a few years, WWE has completely derailed all momentum, and that’s something they need to find. With the number of tag teams on the roster and the amount of time that WWE puts into tag team wrestling, they won’t find that in their current home, so their best bet is to join back up with some old friends. Sure, these guys aren’t the exact group they left back in 2016, but they’re still tight with a lot of guys involved in AEW, and with the company needing a hot tag team division to join The Bucks and SCU, The Club makes the most sense.
19 Never will: Asuka
Much like the majority of today’s WWE stars, Asuka first made her name in professional wrestling outside of WWE, but unlike them, her work in Japan pales in comparison to what she’s been able to achieve within WWE. Going through NXT, Asuka spend more than 500 days undefeated, and although she hasn’t been as dominant on the main roster, she has done great, and there’s just no reason for her to leave. WWE’s Women’s Division is currently incredibly deep, but Asuka is one of the best in the game, and given how much competition is coming up through NXT and NXT UK, there’s plenty of future bouts for her, so there’s no reason for her to leave.
18 Should: Chad Gable
Chad Gable came to NXT with virtually no pro-wrestling training, but his charisma and amateur background helped him become a star alongside Jason Jordan, and although he’s doing well with Bobby Roode, he is a stat meant for bigger things. Despite his lack of size, Gable has everything it takes to be a top star in wrestling, but with the overcrowded WWE roster, it’s hard to see that happening on either RAW or SmackDown Live. We don’t know much about AEW yet, but we do know that they have an incredibly talented roster who will be getting some creative freedom, and for someone like Gable, that is perfect, especially if he can be pried away from WWE for a bit more money.
17 Never Will: Randy Orton
Unlike John Cena, Batista, and Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton is still with WWE full-time, and after 15 years since that rookie group, he is still performing at a high level week in, week out, and there’s no reason to change that. Sure, he could make a big splash and join AEW, but he has remained loyal to WWE over the years, and with his history and family’s history in wrestling, there’s no point tarnishing that legacy. He may not go down as one of the greatest of all-time, but Orton has been a consistent presence on our screen for over 15 years now, and we just don’t see him giving that up.
16 Should: Apollo Crews
Apollo Crews has the makings of a World Champion in any wrestling company around the world, but unfortunately, he’s been pushed too quickly through developmental and has missed learning key elements of the wrestling game. He is a great worker and has a fantastic look, but he struggles to connect with the crowd and flesh out his character, and as such, he’s been left in mid-card limbo. Sure, he may not solve all these problems by leaving WWE for AEW, but they’d find a way to mask these weaknesses a bit more, and some time away from WWE to explore new opponents and environments would do him the world of good.
15 Never Will: Rusev
A year ago, while WWE was completely against a face turn for Rusev, he would have been one of the first people chosen for the other side of this list, but with Rusev Day in full swing, there’s just no need now. Sure, he should have been contending seriously for the WWE Championship by now, but he’s currently reigning as the U.S. Champion, and this is likely just the beginning (again). A character such as Rusev, with creative freedom over his character, would be a hit in AEW, but with Lana by his side, their WWE careers are going just fine, so there’s really no reason to move on from that now, especially since the best is yet to come.
14 Should: Shinsuke Nakamura
Shinsuke Nakamura was instrumental in New Japan Pro Wrestling regaining its popularity in the 2000s, but he gave that away to pursue a career with WWE, and although it looked fairly promising, it has been rather lackluster. In three years, he’s won the U.S. and NXT Championship, but comparing his work to that of his in New Japan, it’s just not the same, and AEW would be the perfect outlet for him to rekindle that magic. A return to New Japan is also a major possibility, but AEW can offer similar money and a vast audience to the King of Strong Style, and when his contract is up, it may just be too much to turn down.
13 Never Will: Daniel Bryan
In 2018, speculation was running rampant about the returning Daniel Bryan and his wrestling future, and although he was really close to leaving WWE and appearing at All In, he stayed with the company that made him a worldwide star. If that happened, Bryan would have been a key member of the first AEW group of signings, but sticking with WWE was clearly a great move, and if it didn’t happen in 2018, it’s never going to happen. He’s since turned heel and won the WWE Championship, so it’s highly likely that Bryan will retire as a member of WWE, a company he has starred for over the last seven years.
12 Should: Buddy Murphy
This one might come as a surprise to many, as Buddy Murphy has been tearing it up for WWE over the past year, but he’s still with 205 Live, and with the money that AEW is reportedly offering, he’d have a much higher ceiling there. Sure, he’s worked hard to get where he is in WWE, and he may not want to walk away from that, but with his in-ring portfolio of the last year, he could do so much more in AEW. Dream matches with PAC, Cody, Hangman Page, Kenny Omega, Joey Janela and so many others would be much better for him than his usual 205 Live bouts, especially with the money situation, so this may be a shock one that actually does happen.
11 Never Will: Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey has made a seamless transition from MMA to WWE over the past two years, and given how much mainstream attention she brings to the company, it’s unlikely she’ll ever walk away from that. Sure, a big move from Rousey to AEW would genuinely shift them into true competitor territory, but it’s just not going to happen. Many argue that Ronda is currently the face of WWE, and with no solid women’s division in place (yet), it just makes sense for her to stay put and continue her reign of dominance, with several opponents and rivalries waiting.
10 Should: Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt, a third-generation superstar, has been fantastic throughout his entire tenure with WWE but considering they never quite get behind him, he’s lost a lot of his magic and his aura. Much like Cody, Wyatt has been used poorly, and taking a chance on himself would be brilliant, especially considering how great his character would be given some creative freedom. He may have to find a new family to get behind him within AEW, but with his unmatched charisma and character work, Wyatt would be a great get for AEW to prove that they can be genuine threats to WWE.
9 Never Will: Braun Strowman
Over the years, WWE has perfected the art of booking a great big man, and while some have thrived on the indies, it’s not common, and it’s more likely that someone like Strowman would thrive in WWE, rather than the indie-like AEW. Strowman is an athlete on another level compared to those past great giants, but still, WWE has invested a lot of time into making The Monster Among Men a star, and that will pay off for them. We don’t know what their end goal with his chase to the Universal Title is, but it’s clear they’ve got huge plans, and nothing AEW can offer to Braun will make him leave WWE.
8 Should: The New Day
This was a toss-up to which side this entry would be on, but given the close relationship that these two sides have, a working partnership would be ground-breaking for wrestling. As a trio, The New Day has done it all in WWE’s tag team division, and if the company isn’t willing to push Big E to the top, then they should seriously consider this move, especially if AEW can promise big solo runs for these men. At the end of the day, these guys make a great living for WWE on a national stage, but joining AEW would shake professional wrestling to the core, and given the amount of merchandise they sell, it would be huge for both sides to truly kick-start this revolution.
7 Never Will: Kevin Owens
Kevin Owens was one of NXT’s biggest signings, and during the time he’s been with WWE, The Prize Fighter has done just about everything. But with a long-term contract like his, there’s no way he’s going anywhere. The contract is reportedly valid until 2022/23 and involves a lot of money, so when he returns from injury, it’s likely that KO will again be pushed very hard as a main event level talent. With all this in mind, despite the fact that this company is run by his friends (and former tag team partners in The Young Bucks), WWE just has way too much invested in him to let him leave.
6 Should: Sami Zayn
We’ve just talked about Kevin Owens, and whenever he is mentioned, his best-friend/foe Sami Zayn won’t be far behind, but in this instance, we believe that they should indeed part ways. These two have been fighting for years, but in WWE, KO has been much more successful than Zayn, and it just makes sense for him to explore other options. Sure, WWE can push him hard when he returns from injury, and that may tempt him to stay, but with the money and the artistic freedom that AEW is reportedly offering, it will be hard for Sami to turn down when he indeed becomes a Free Agent.
5 Never Will: The Rest of The Horsewomen
Rather than spread these out across four entries, we’ve put them all in one, because of how important the quartet of Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley, and Becky Lynch are to WWE and their Women’s Evolution. While Sasha and Bayley haven’t been doing much of note in the past year, Becky and Charlotte have been tearing the house down, proving that the women in wrestling are every bit as good as the men, and they’re too valuable to WWE. Sure, most people in WWE are going to think about it, but in terms of guarantees for who won’t leave, these four are right at the top of the list.
4 Should: Finn Balor
Finn Balor made a huge splash right off the bat in NXT, and through his historic NXT Championship reign till now, he’s been great, but the main roster has significantly damaged his immense aura. After winning the first Universal Championship, fans were excited about a new star on the block, but since returning from the injury that forced him to relinquish said title, he hasn’t been the same. Sure, he could stick it out and one day get back to the top, but in AEW, he’d be a megastar, and with his former friends from the indies running the show, he would be in a perfect position.
3 Never Will: Seth Rollins
In his earlier days, Seth Rollins, known as Tyler Black at the time, would have been a perfect member of the young AEW roster, but in 2019, Rollins is a top player in WWE, and they won’t be letting him go anytime soon. With Roman Reigns needing to take time away from WWE, Rollins has stepped into his spot on RAW, and with Brock Lesnar likely to drop the Universal Title in 2019, Rollins is a prime candidate. No matter what happens with that situation, Seth is built for WWE, and with all he’s done in the company over the last few years, it’s likely he’ll retire a WWE superstar.
2 Should: The Revival
The Revival were once regarded as the best tag team on the planet alongside The Young Bucks, but ever since their arrival on RAW, the duo of Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder has struggled. The duo is at their best when given time to work and freedom with their characters, but the constant losses have made it hard to get behind the two-time NXT Tag Team Champions, and they’ll be looking for a way out. Knowing the rivalry that The Elite and The Revival have, this is probably something on their mind, and by the time their WWE contracts are up, AEW will be thriving, so it’s a perfect spot for them.
1 Never Will: AJ Styles
Prior to his WWE debut, many people were worried about how the Phenomenal One would be handled by the company, but three years later, it’s safe to say that it was a great decision. AJ has won the United States Title, as well as WWE Championship on two occasions, and after all the fantastic matches he’s put together, it’s safe to say that he’s one of WWE’s most valuable assets. He is in the midst of contract negotiation, and with how he’s been handled over the last several years, it’s highly unlikely that AJ finishes his wrestling career anywhere but WWE.