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How do you solve a problem like the AEW roster?


RedRooster
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So...the AEW roster is large. The official AEW website lists almost 70 wrestlers on the men's side and 20 on the women's side, and it doesn't yet list people like Christian, Ethan Page and Nick Comoroto. 

While there are clearly positives to having a large roster as far as keeping things fresh goes, it also means that some of AEW's most interesting wrestlers don't get the focus that they perhaps deserve. 

You'd have to assume the roster is only going to expand further, especially if a big WWE/NXT name (eg. Daniel Bryan or Adam Cole) becomes available. 

If you were Tony Khan, what would you do about it? Would you trim the fat a little, and if so who would you release? Is it simply a case of taking a creative approach to who features on what show? Or are they doing the right thing, and things are actually fine as they are?

Edited by RedRooster
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I don't think they need to release anyone quite yet.

They've certainly got some talent that wouldn't be missed at all if they were let go, but as they've got a third show coming up it won't hurt to have a good solid amount of people on the roster so they don't get spread too thin.

I think it'll be interesting in a year or so to see where everyone sits and if frustrations start building, especially towards the top of the card.

 

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If I was Tony Khan, I'd be very tempted to hire Jimmy Havoc again just so I could immediately fire him the second he signed his contract. The previous time was under particularly awkward circumstances, and I'd worry I hadn't been able to savour and enjoy firing him enough the first time.

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To be fair, 70 wrestlers does sound like a lot, but when you look down that roster page, there aren't many on there that don't feature regularly on Dynamite. Granted, this is probably why they have about 100 factions at the moment, but I wouldn't say its a problem right now. 

 

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For me, you could easily lose any of these guys:

  • Angelico
  • Austin Gunn
  • Colten Gunn
  • Jack Evans
  • Joey Janela
  • Lee Johnson
  • Luther
  • Michael Nakazawa
  • Peter Avalon

But chances are anyone that's in with Cody, or Jericho etc won't be going anywhere. Plus it's not like they're really pushed in any significant way that's going to change anything if they are released anyway. They're decent Dark / Elevation fodder or bumping up multi-man matches etc.

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Does AEW have its own Royal Rumble or World War III-type event yet? Always a good way to refresh people's memory that certain guys are still there and make the promotion seem like a big organisation, without having to use them every week.

Of course, one thing they should also be doing with a roster that big is touring house shows, but hopefully with not as gruelling a schedule.

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At the moment, with only one format, that roster would be fine on an old-timey touring circuit, where you need no-name bodies to fill the lower card so your actual draws can pull multiples houses a night, but as it is, it does look like expensive comps at ringside on a Wednesday.

In in-ring talent alone, that's around the 100 mark. Let's assume Tony Khan is REALLY splashing the cash and paying them all an average of $70k (£50k); that's an annual wage bill of $7 million. Last I can find, Dynamite cost them $26 million per year, so add a bit more on for Dark and other content, and let's say $40 million. So that's $47 million for the shows and the talent. Round up to $50 million because that's easier.

They're getting an average of 90k buys per PPV at $50 a pop, 4 times year, which comes to $18 million, and the TV deal is around $45 million per year (26 of which covers Dynamite). I can't find online sales info, but PPV gate merch apparently comes in around $120,000-130,000, so for four PPVs would only net another $0.5 million.

So that's just under $65 million coming in, against massively underestimated overheads of $50 million. So they should be fairly comfortable for a bit, unless the arse properly falls out of things.

They should be looking to maximise their marketability and revenue from everyone on the roster though, and you can't do that without exposure. That's where I think AEW are falling short, because they're putting all their eggs in sticking guys in the ring on ANY show and hoping that's enough. With a roster anywhere near that size, you can't just point a camera at a ring and let them work for a bit and hope that brings in viewers and cash. The shows need identities and target audiences, with their rosters tailored to make the most of the wide range of talent they have there. And I'm not saying stick all the luchadors in one show, or all the cruisers, or all the superheavyweights, but there needs to be a clear creative reason for the different shows to exist, whether it be the league system suggested elsewhere, or style showcases, or a kayfabe TUF-style academy show, or something that isn't just two or more bodies bouncing around inside a ring with a big screen behind it.

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39 minutes ago, DavidB6937 said:

For me, you could easily lose any of these guys:

  • Angelico
  • Austin Gunn
  • Colten Gunn
  • Jack Evans
  • Joey Janela
  • Lee Johnson
  • Luther
  • Michael Nakazawa
  • Peter Avalon

But chances are anyone that's in with Cody, or Jericho etc won't be going anywhere. Plus it's not like they're really pushed in any significant way that's going to change anything if they are released anyway. They're decent Dark / Elevation fodder or bumping up multi-man matches etc.

TH2 is one of their more established teams, and more importantly one that's there to lose to others. Austin and Colten have only been a real team for a few weeks and have huge potential as a heel team in the future. Lee Johnson has just signed a contract and Peter Avalon has been miles better since he got his new gimmick. Getting carted out on a bed the other week was inspired.

I feel Sonny Kiss has outgrown Joey Janela now and would love to see them in the TNT title mix, and with Omega, Mox, Kingston and Darby on the roster you don't need him around anymore to do hardcore matches. So yeah, I'd drop Janela. 

Luther I kinda have a soft spot for but agree I wouldn't miss him.

Nakazawa was great comedy relief in early AEW but they never really have comedy spots outside of BTE now, and there are better jobbers. So yeah scrap him too.

In regards to who I would personally get rid of outside of Janela, Luther and Nakazawa, Kip Sabian is an absolute drag and Penelope Ford has 0 impact on the Women's divison so I'd get rid of both of them. I'd send QT back to the Nightmare Factory and never have him on TV again, Awesome Kong is borderline useless and coasting off her TNA run a decade ago and a cancelled TV show, so I'd get shot of her. Hopefully Brandi's new motherhood will keep her off TV forever, Leva Bates is crap, Mel is still on the roster apparently so she'd go,

So Janela, Luther, Nakazawa, Kip Sabian, Penelope Ford, take QT and Brandi off TV, Awesome Kong, Mel, Leva Bates are people I'd lose due to them offering very little.

EDIT: As LaGoosh has reminded me, I'd also lose Ethan Page.

Edited by FelatioLips
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47 minutes ago, Chris B said:

If I was Tony Khan, I'd be very tempted to hire Jimmy Havoc again just so I could immediately fire him the second he signed his contract. The previous time was under particularly awkward circumstances, and I'd worry I hadn't been able to savour and enjoy firing him enough the first time.

I'd hope it would go something like this:

As for AEW, if they get this additional hour on TNT then I think that basically solves a lot of the roster size problems. But I'd definitely shave 5-10 people of the roster (starting with Ethan Page). TH2 are probably being paid more than Varsity Blondes for example, but I'd argue the Varsity Blondes have more to offer for less money and there's definitely more cuts like that you could make to balance things out. They definitely shouldn't hire anyone new for awhile unless they're a cant miss prospect like Jacob Fatu. 

I think the current issue is there just doesn't seem to be enough TV time to feature acts for a prolonged time. So you have guys kind of disappear for a few months inbetween big storylines rather than be consistent.

Edited by LaGoosh
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4 minutes ago, FelatioLips said:

TH2 is one of their more established teams, and more importantly one that's there to lose to others. Austin and Colten have only been a real team for a few weeks and have huge potential as a heel team in the future. Lee Johnson has just signed a contract and Peter Avalon has been miles better since he got his new gimmick. Getting carted out on a bed the other week was inspired.

I feel Sonny Kiss has outgrown Joey Janela now and would love to see them in the TNT title mix, and with Omega, Mox, Kingston and Darby on the roster you don't need him around anymore to do hardcore matches. So yeah, I'd drop Janela. 

Luther I kinda have a soft spot for but agree I wouldn't miss him.

Nakazawa was great comedy relief in early AEW but they never really have comedy spots outside of BTE now, and there are better jobbers. So yeah scrap him too.

In regards to who I would personally get rid of outside of Janela, Luther and Nakazawa, Kip Sabian is an absolute drag and Penelope Ford has 0 impact on the Women's divison so I'd get rid of both of them. I'd send QT back to the Nightmare Factory and never have him on TV again, Awesome Kong is borderline useless and coasting off her TNA run a decade ago and a cancelled TV show, so I'd get shot of her. Hopefully Brandi's new motherhood will keep her off TV forever, Leva Bates is crap, Mel is still on the roster apparently so she'd go,

So Janela, Luther, Nakazawa, Kip Sabian, Penelope Ford, take QT and Brandi off TV, Awesome Kong, Mel, Leva Bates are people I'd lose due to them offering very little.

Pretty sure Luther, Nakazawa and Leva have office jobs at the company. But yeah, can't massively argue the others. I don't mind Janela (he has a weird dirt bag charm to him) but wouldn't be massively fussed if they binned him.

Vickie Guerrero definitely needs to go.

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4 minutes ago, LaGoosh said:

Pretty sure Luther, Nakazawa and Leva have office jobs at the company. But yeah, can't massively argue the others. I don't mind Janela (he has a weird dirt bag charm to him) but wouldn't be massively fussed if they binned him.

Vickie Guerrero definitely needs to go.

Guerrero for sure. She's detracting from an incredible upswing in Nyla Rose's current performances. I'd also get rid of Jim Ross and Alex Marvez too. On the subject on non-wrestlers, I'd lose Jake The Snake too. When he was doing those dark and intense promos for Archer he was great but those stopped ages ago and now he looks like he's on death's door any time he's out there. He's starting to get distracting too. On Dynamite when he grabbed the mic off Archer mid-promo and went "BYE STANGER" it annoyed the piss out of me.

Edited by FelatioLips
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I'm amazed that no one has suggested ditching Matt Hardy yet. He's been fine as Big Money Matt, but nothing more than that. I struggle to see what value he actually brings. 

I'd seriously question the value of Christian, and even Sting, at this stage. As far as Sting goes, what can you really do with the guy at this stage of his career? His mic work isn't particularly good, and it seems very likely that he's only able to work "cinematic" matches. His match at Revolution was, admittedly, fun. But will the second or third cinematic match have the same novelty value? I very much doubt it. 

I'd much prefer to see them focus on and push their younger talent, and also give the more talented members of the women's roster a featured role. Britt, Nyla, Thunder Rosa and Shida are a strong base to build on - then you have people like Layla Hirsch, Jade Cargill and Red Velvet showing real promise. The fact that neither Cargill or Velvet weren't on Dynamite at all this week, one week after being in such a prominent and well received match is astounding. 

WWE could easily main event a PPV with a women's match if they really wanted to, I don't think it's unreasonable to suggest that AEW should be in a similar position by now. And fuck, they could be. The talent is there. 

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