AEW currently has one of the best rosters in wrestling right now; and while it might be good, it can always be better.
WWE has already let go a great deal of wrestlers this year, but November has been the most shocking stretch of them all. AEW could capitalize on this and add quite a few of these talents, but there are some they should avoid.
This list will explore some of the options they have and the reasons behind why AEW should or shouldn’t sign these recently released WWE wrestlers.
5. AEW shouldn’t sign: A.J Francis (Top Dolla)
Francis was a member of the hot new stable, Hit Row, led by fellow ex-WWE superstar Isaiah “Swerve” Scott. The group were poised to be the next big thing, acting as a recording company.
Francis is an ex-football player, the kind of physicality that WWE has made pay off in the past. Top WWE stars Roman Reigns and Goldberg both played in college and the pros before switching to wrestling, so Francis could have made something of this.
Shortly before his sudden release, Francis had a social media feud with currently signed AEW wrestler Max Caster of The Acclaimed. The back and forth got heated when Francis made certain remarks about AEW. Francis has also went on to write a diss track aimed at the Young Bucks, and mentioned several promotions, including AEW, in more recent lyrics.
Francis doesn’t seem to respect AEW and its talents, and while this would make an interesting angle in AEW, this might not go over well with fans. For now, AEW should think twice before signing Francis.
5. AEW should sign: Shane Strickland (Isaiah “Swerve” Scott).
Although Strickland was with AJ Francis as part of Hit Row, Strickland has a lot more wrestling experience and has wrestled in a handful of other promotions. Strickland’s release was the most surprising of all the group, let alone the wrestlers released.
In AEW, Strickland could be right at home. His fast and explosive wrestling style could compare to some of the other currently signed wrestlers.
Strickland has also wrestled Lio Rush on a handful of different occasions and even teamed up with him at WWE. This is a fued/partnership that could be revisited with All Elite Wrestling.
Strickland has been teasing a return with a handful of cryptic tweets. The young wrestler is certainly far from being finished in the ring, and we can only hope that AEW picks him up so we can see some epic confrontations in the ring.
4. AEW shouldn’t sign: Nia Jax
AEW has quite the impressive roster, but it doesn’t need a wrestler such as Nia Jax.
Jax was signed to WWE in early 2014 and debuted during 2015. She would wrestle various superstars in an attempt to make her seem dominating. Jax had a long winning streak and quickly began feuding with Bayley. Her tenure in NXT was relatively successful and she looked great.
Sometime in 2016 she was drafted to RAW, quickly picking up another winning streak against various other performers. She remained on RAW for the rest of her career with WWE, even winning the Raw Women’s Championship and fighting Ronda Rousey.
Jax was poised to be a strong but feminine character. Unfortunately she would be released on November 4th, alongside many others.
Nia is unfortunately infamous for apparently being an “unsafe” worker. Injuring or nearly injuring those she wrestles. Jim Cornette has attributed the recorded incidents to her larger size and noted that she might not even know how strong she really is.
An unsafe wrestler is bad for any place, regardless if that’s AEW or not. But this isn’t the reason why Tony Khan shouldn’t hire her.
Jax has unfortunately been suffering from mental illness for quite some time. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, she needs time off to readjust her life. Jumping back into a stressful environment might not be the best idea and AEW should consider that.
4. AEW should sign: Taya Valkyrie
During her time with WWE, Taya went by the name Franky Monet. Taya debuted at WWE in April 2021. Her abrupt release came in November, meaning she was only signed for 7 months before being handed her pink slip. During this time Taya was not able to show half of her skill or character.
Fans will likely remember Taya much more for her successful IMPACT Wrestling run. Taya is still the longest reigning Knockouts Champion, at 377 days. Such a dominating, record-setting run means she’s a legit competitor and the fact that WWE felt she had little to offer is confusing.
At AEW, Taya would be welcomed by familiar crowds and be able to reintroduce herself into the fastest growing wrestling promotion.
Taya is imposing enough to dominate the women’s locker-room, while still being a fan favorite. She might even be a valid opponent to take the AEW Women’s Championship from Britt Baker. Whatever matches Valkyrie might have left, it would be great to see the wrestler in AEW, as she still has so much left to give to fans.
3. AEW shouldn’t sign: Jaxson Ryker
AEW could use a couple more big wrestlers who can move and work quickly. While Jaxson Ryker fits this archetype almost perfectly in terms of skill, he might not be the best pick at the moment.
Fans would be forgiven for not knowing that Ryker has been in the wrestling industry for 20 years. Having tenures across the Independent Circuit as well as a lengthy run with TNA/IMPACT Wrestling. Ryker is an experienced wrestler and cuts a good promo when given the time. He has also won a few championships during his career and because of this, he knows how to hold gold.
Unfortunately, there was a lot of controversy behind comments made by the wrestler on his social media. At this stage, the controversy might not be the best thing for AEW and is a reason on why they shouldn’t hire him. Ryker needs some time away from the wrestling industry to repackage his image. After this, AEW could consider signing him.
Ryker is impressive in the ring and a moment of controversy shouldn’t end his wrestling career entirely. Once the fans find something new to be upset about, Ryker could make his way back to wrestling in any other promotion.
3. AEW should sign: Keith Lee
Lee would enjoy a major push in NXT shortly after his debut. Lee is also the only wrestler to hold the NXT Championship as well as the NXT North American Championship at the same time.
After being called up to the main roster, Lee would eventually begin to fade into the background. He lost his debut match via a disqualification. His push on RAW was non-existent and he would suffer baffling defeats against wrestlers that he could have easily beaten.
Lee would then take five months off due to an injury, only to return only and be defeated once again.
Lee would be rebranded as “Bearcat” Lee. This would last for a short period as the big man was released on November 4th. Lee was undoubtedly dealt an unfair hand once he moved to the main roster. Because of this treatment, having Lee debut on AEW and receive an amazing push rivaling his NXT run would be absolutely perfect.
Lee has a large number of fans and AEW could pick nearly all of them up by signing him. He would have a lot more creative influence and could build a new persona that would make him an even bigger star at AEW.
4. AEW should not sign: Lince Dorado
AEW currently has two of the biggest luchadores in professional wrestling. The Lucha Brothers work perfectly together yet still meld nicely with the rest of the roster.
Lince Dorado is a veteran wrestler, with a debut dating back to 2007. But the masked wrestler might oversaturate the roster.
Dorado wrestled on the independent circuit for years, and during this time he would pick up quite a handful of different titles and awards. Dorado even made an appearance in a dark match on TNA during 2012, where he faced current now-AEW star Frankie Kazarian.
Dorado would finally break into televised wrestling in 2016, making his WWE debut. He spent his early days in WWE on the smaller 205 brand. In 2018, Dorado would form the Lucha House Party alongside Gran Metalik and Kalisto. The trio would eventually be reduced to a comical stable.
As good as Dorado is in the ring, AEW should not overload its roster with Luchadores just yet. Currently the Lucha Brothers are unique, but with one too many masked wrestlers it will end up looking like WCW.
At a later stage, Dorado might be a good addition, especially if he shakes off the Lucha House Party dust.
4. AEW should sign: Nixon Newell (Teagan Nox)
Nixon Newell is probably one of the most promising young female wrestlers today. Newell has been wrestling for a relatively short period, attributed to her age. She has wrestled with many different promotions around the world, where she interacted with many current WWE wrestlers.
Although Newell signed with WWE in 2017, multiple injuries would keep setting her back again and again.
Finally, in 2019, WWE fans got to see Newell wrestle regularly at NXT UK. She would feud with then-UK Women’s champion, Kay Lee Ray, before moving back to NXT.
Newell would then team up with her long-time friend, Dakota Kai, and the two would pursue a decent tag team run. Newell would be betrayed by Kai at NXT War Games.
Newell made her main roster debut and teamed up with Shotzi Blackheart in July 2021. The two were fan favorites but never received a title shot. Newell split from Shotzi during the draft, but never made her singles debut before being released.
Whether it was due to the injuries or not impressing the higher ups, Newell never got a chance to truly show the larger fan base what she was capable of on the independent circuit.
With AEW, she could still pursue a good career, while not worrying about being released due to injuries. She would likely have to begin on AEW Dark before moving on to the main roster, which could give her a chance to warm up again.
1. AEW shouldn’t sign: John Hennigan (John Morrison)
AEW has signed multiple WWE legends and released talent, and although John Hennigan would be a good fit, they should hold off on signing him.
The number of ex-WWE wrestlers, most of whom are older veterans, is something AEW has come under fire about since their inception. As much of an asset as he would be, Hennigan should be picked up at a later stage if AEW are actually interested in him.
Hennigan has had a long and successful career. Notably, he’s always wrestled under slightly adjusted names, such as Johnny Nitro, John Morrison, and Johnny Impact. Johnny Dynamite would be quite an interesting name if he ever came to AEW.
Hennigan is an excellent wrestler and has been champion multiple times in the different promotions he’s wrestled in. He is in excellent shape and fans would love to see him continue wrestling or still be involved somewhere. But even so, it might be time to let the younger wrestlers have their time now, especially those in AEW.
Notably, Hennigan is currently busy writing, directing, and producing “The Iron Sheik Massacre”. Because of this, he most likely won’t return to wrestling soon. But all his fans worldwide would indeed love to see him back in the ring again.
1. AEW should sign: Killer Kross (Karrion Kross)
Killer Kross has the look, he has the in-ring skill, and he is physically impressive.
Kross was one of the more dominating NXT Champions during his time with WWE, a reign that ended horribly. Although he only started wrestling professionally in 2015, Kross has worked for multiple wrestling promotions.
Before his time with WWE, Kross had a successful run with IMPACT Wrestling. Starting off as the “myster X attacker,” he would take out seemingly random talent and backstage officials for weeks. After revealing himself, Kross wrestled a few matches before becoming muscle that backed up Austin Arries. This would not last long as Kross eventually began a feud with John Hennigan (Johnny Impact at the time). Sometime later he would ask for his release from the company.
His run in NXT was really promising, but the moment he lost as the NXT champion on his RAW debut, fans knew things were souring. After dropping the title, Kross would move to RAW and debut in terrible attire. Regardless of the end, Kross is still a fan favorite and fans are eager to see what he’s capable of.
In AEW he would have no shortage of fantastic wrestlers to go up against. Kross could easily join the House of Black as he’d fit right in with Malakai Black. If he needed a persona change? AEW could help him craft something truly amazing with a lot of his own input instead.
Whoever AEW signs next and if they adhere to a similar list doesn’t matter in the end. Fans would just love to see so many young wrestlers get the chance that they never had in WWE and other promotions.
AEW should focus on this and not scoop up every legend or older wrestler. Hopefully all the younger talent will find a home somewhere soon.