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Which AEW signings were mistakes?


RedRooster
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AEW has been accused, by some, of turning into the land of WWE cast-offs. 

With that in mind, and the recent additions of several former ROH wrestlers, which AEW signings (who are still employed with the company, before anyone says "Jimmy Havoc") do you think the company would have been better off not making? 

I'd go with the following...

Jay Lethal - This is an obvious one, but even discounting the allegations against him (which you shouldn't), what exactly does he add to the roster that isn't already there? He's taking up TV time that could be better utilised by someone more interesting, like Ricky Starks, Penta, Will Hobbs, Lee Moriarty or Max Caster. 

Matt Hardy - Firstly, I thought it was worth signing him for his creativity. Turns out that was overrated. Then I thought it was worth keeping him for when Jeff arrived. Now Jeff has arrived and, well...

Jeff Hardy - The Hardys seem to be past their best. I thought they'd add more to the tag division than appears to be the case. 

Keith Lee - He's big, and relatively agile. And also kind of...dull. He's had a few solid matches, but he's not interesting enough for me to want to see him over wrestlers who get less TV time or a push than he does. 

Brody King/Buddy Matthews - They've made Malaki Black's act less interesting. They're both very talented, but, at the moment, they don't fill much of a niche on the AEW roster. Perhaps they'd be better off in ROH. 

Andrade - Excellent in ring, but as a character, he's absolutely awful. At the time, to be fair, his signing seemed like an obvious one, but he just hasn't worked out. 

Vickie Guerrero - She seems lovely; so I hate to say this, but she's holding back Nyla Rose. Their segments together aren't good, and that's a real shame; particularly given that Nyla is one of the better female wrestlers on the mic, and ever-improving in ring. 

2.0 - I know they're popular on here, but I hate them. The Jericho Appreciation Society (and AEW, and maybe even wrestling in general) would be far better without them. 

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Paul Wight. Very much felt like a name signing for the sake of it. Wasn't coming in as a wrestler but to do commentary on an internet show. Wight hasn't been needed. Even wrestling wise he worked the one PPV match and has then been rolled out Elevation a few times. Mark Henry has at least taken on a role within the Community Outreach team.

Lio Rush. Talented as he was I didn't see much in him as a singles act due to his size. Seemed decent in the manager role and tag with Dante Martin, but that felt like something they stumbled into. Not something that was intended

Toni Storm. Still early days but there are other people out there I would have signed before Toni or given TV time to those already on the roster instead.

Jay Lethal. Had a bad reputation that was always going to be a PR disaster. That aside, there's a reason he was down in ROH/TNA for so long while those around him got picked up by WWE/NXT.

 

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48 minutes ago, Infinity Land said:

Paul Wight. Very much felt like a name signing for the sake of it. Wasn't coming in as a wrestler but to do commentary on an internet show. Wight hasn't been needed. Even wrestling wise he worked the one PPV match and has then been rolled out Elevation a few times. Mark Henry has at least taken on a role within the Community Outreach team.

While I take your points, I would argue that his signing was worthwhile simply for the moment it created. Wight joining AEW was one of the few genuinely buzz worthy AEW signings simply because it was so unexpected. AEW had signed someone who everyone thought was a WWE lifer. It also signified something - that AEW could compete for, and sign, almost any WWE wrestler. 

I’d argue that Wight has been under-utilised by AEW. I’m perplexed as to why they use Ricky Starks on the Rampage commentary desk over him, and there are still interesting ways to use him as an occasional in ring talent; assuming he’s not lost a step.

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26 minutes ago, RedRooster said:

While I take your points, I would argue that his signing was worthwhile simply for the moment it created. Wight joining AEW was one of the few genuinely buzz worthy AEW signings simply because it was so unexpected. AEW had signed someone who everyone thought was a WWE lifer. It also signified something - that AEW could compete for, and sign, almost any WWE wrestler. 

I’d argue that Wight has been under-utilised by AEW. I’m perplexed as to why they use Ricky Starks on the Rampage commentary desk over him, and there are still interesting ways to use him as an occasional in ring talent; assuming he’s not lost a step.

With Christian locked in. I would have just debuted him a couple weeks earlier. Have him come out to the 'Outwork Everyone' schtick he trotted out in the beginning and it would play better than what we got. Fresh from the Rumble Christian choosing to comeback as an active wrestler in AEW over WWE. Instead of Wight's press release signing, followed by a debut hyping another HOF signing for Revolution to prove his journalistic cred.

There's more that could have been done with Wight in the ring. When he started doing Elevation matches it was in 3v1 handicap matches. Figured that would lead somewhere. He just doesn't seem to have much in him anymore. It seems he only got the match the other week because it was in his home state of South Carolina. When you consider one of the reasons he left WWE was because of how he was being used. It's not lived up to the hype in the slightest.

 

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Danhausen - Yes, I love him, and yes, I know he’s been injured and still recovering BUT I think Impact would have been a better destination

Jay Lethal - Adds nothing and obviously problematic 

The Hardys - Great for a nostalgia pop, but I’m bored of them

Big Swole - Remembered more for TK’s awful dig on the way out, but let’s not forget she was really sloppy and on the indies has gotten even worse. Right she was let go

Tony Nese - Competent but boring

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40 minutes ago, RedRooster said:

It also signified something - that AEW could compete for, and sign, almost any WWE wrestler.

Huh? Titles held, yes, and once a big name, but he’d been irrelevant/forgotten in WWE for years to the point that “Fuck sake, Kane and Big Show???” was a pretty strong backlash to the closing stages of that Rumble that Reigns won, quite a few years before he ended up leaving. Hardly “almost any” WWE wrestler which covers a lot of ground.

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1 hour ago, air_raid said:

Huh? Titles held, yes, and once a big name, but he’d been irrelevant/forgotten in WWE for years to the point that “Fuck sake, Kane and Big Show???” was a pretty strong backlash to the closing stages of that Rumble that Reigns won, quite a few years before he ended up leaving. Hardly “almost any” WWE wrestler which covers a lot of ground.

It does, but I don’t think it’s an unrealistic statement. This happened before WWE released wrestlers for fun, and Big Show really did feel like a lifer; and certainly not someone AEW might sign. It opened up the potential for surprise in terms of who might turn up next. Clearly, there are signings they could have made that would have been more impactful; but this signing was genuinely shocking, in a good way.

‘Could compete for’ doesn’t mean that AEW could, without a shadow of a doubt, sign almost any WWE wrestler they wanted; rather, it demonstrated that they were in the conversation to do so - a legitimate, and not unrealistic, destination. Clearly there are wrestlers who are very unlikely to go there - but it also didn’t seem completely out of the question; and sometimes a sliver of possibility is all you need for the wider wrestling business to feel really fucking exciting.

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5 hours ago, RedRooster said:

2.0 - I know they're popular on here, but I hate them. The Jericho Appreciation Society (and AEW, and maybe even wrestling in general) would be far better without them. 

Sounds like you ought to TAKE A PEEK!?

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10 hours ago, RedRooster said:

This happened before WWE released wrestlers for fun,

In the words of The Brain, “Now you’ve lied to the people.” WWE did a huge spring clean every year for ages, well before 2021.

Here’s a thread about it from 2011 where we were already talking about the “annual” cuts, and the volumes got bigger year on year especially when NXT became a third roster and they started hiring even more potential wrestlers to fill spots.

 

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7 hours ago, Louch said:

Brian cage. I don’t even need an explanation

You might need to. Cage had a perfectly fine little run with a handful of very good matches - vs Darby Allin, the cinematic street fight, two good matches with Hangman, vs Ricky Starks. 

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7 hours ago, Louch said:

Brian cage. I don’t even need an explanation as you will all been kicking yourself for not saying it 

No thank you. I will not unpick that thread that may have denied us the cinematic Tag Match that made Sting realise who could actually do more, Powerhouse Hobbs, Ricky Starks on comms & HOOK.

Brian Cage himself was solid enough in the initial run being a big bad for Mox and Darby to beat.

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Posted (edited)

Ignoring the people who were with AEW at the start who I wouldn’t necessarily keep on…

Tony Nese is top of my list. Adds nothing, does nothing that can’t be done by 10 other people.

Jay Lethal for the obvious, but maybe they’ll pack him off to ROH again?

Brody King and Buddy Matthews I like, and I know Malakai has spoken about the House of Black a lot before they turned up, but there’s no reason they couldn’t have grabbed two existing AEW wrestlers to be in it instead. Butcher and Blade could have fulfilled the same role. Go ahead with turning Penta and Julia Hart.

Red Dragon do nothing for me in AEW. Adam Cole I kind of understand, people seem to really like him, but I don’t get that with the other two. Their matches haven’t blown me away and they sort of appeal to the worst of the fan base (case in point, after the last match they lost on Dynamite, they did a crowd shot of lots of audience cheering for the winners and one sole lad, neckbeard unconfirmed, shaking his head with a thumb down. Stop it.)

A couple of weeks ago I’d have probably added Swerve and Keith Lee to this list but their teaming together has done wonders for them both in terms of my interest levels.

Edited by HarmonicGenerator
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