I have A LOT to get to this week, so I want to cut down on the jibba jabba and get right to it.
The title says it all. I’m looking at the rosters of NXT, AEW, and WWE to determine who I feel is… overpushed, underpushed, or pushed just right. Last week, I tackled the NXT roster. This week, it’s AEW time, which includes Ring Of Honor talent.
Just like last week, the wrestlers are being listed in alphabetical order. Also like last week, talents on the injured list will be included here, as long as they’ve wrestled at least three times on television or pay-per-view this calendar year. That goes for any sort of inactive talent, as well.
A.R. Fox: Did you know that Fox has competed in nine title matches so far in 2023, for a total of five different championships? I didn’t, until I was doing the research for this column. That’s impressive. Does the fact that he is 0-9 in those matches change how you view that statistic? The well-traveled independent wrestling veteran is still really entertaining in the ring, but damn, it’s so difficult to stand out in AEW when the roster is so massive. There are only so many spots to go around, even when Ring Of Honor is included. The fact that he keeps getting title shots shows that the company trusts him to have good matches with the champions, and also that they believe he’ll get the crowds invested. That’s not a bad spot to be in. Just Right.
Aaron Solo: Originally, I didn’t even have him listed here, as I was sure he didn’t have enough matches on television to qualify. Turns out I was wrong, as he has been on television four times in 2023. Of course, he isn’t winning any of those matches. He hasn’t been victorious on AEW television since April 2021, and is about as low on the proverbial ladder as you can be in AEW, but hey… someone has to be. Just Right.
Abadon: They just barely made the cut here, wrestling in their third match on television two days before this column went live. For Abadon, this type of usage on television is unheard of. In 2022, they wrestled a total of zero times on television. 2021 saw them wrestle twice on television (once right before Halloween) and once on pay-per-view (in a Battle Royal). 2020 saw them wrestle twice on television. Three matches on television in the span of 38 days?!? If they were around more, I would place them in the Overpushed category, and it wouldn’t even be close. While they are tremendously dedicated to their character work, and they have clearly spent time focusing on getting in better and better shape, I still can’t call myself a fan of their matches. Putting them on television around Halloween makes sense, and I don’t have a problem with that, but when it’s anything beyond Halloween, that’s when it gets iffy for me. While Halloween was over a month ago, we still aren’t seeing them too, too much, so for now, I’ll tentatively go with their push being Just Right. AEW is pushing it by apparently giving them a shot at Julia Hart’s Women’s Title, considering Abadon just had a Women’s Title shot against Hikaru Shida right before Halloween and lost. I know that wins and losses mean zero in AEW, but that’s still lazy.
Action Andretti: I’ve discussed this in the past, but it’s worth mentioning again. Andretti’s victory over Chris Jericho on the Winter Is Coming episode of Dynamite back in December, and more specifically, the follow up to it, is going to go down as one of the dumbest moves in AEW history. That could’ve, and should’ve, been a star making moment, giving us this generation’s version of The 1-2-3 Kid. Instead, Andretti was on the losing side of matches within weeks, and became a complete afterthought soon thereafter. If you consider an RoH pay-per-view as part of this column’s criteria, then you have to go back five months to find the last time Action Andretti was on the winning end of a televised match until last week’s episode of Dynamite. Want to know how far back you have to go if you don’t count RoH pay-per-views? Almost 11 whole months, all the way back to January 18th, which was a month after his win against Jericho, and is literally the only other win he has on AEW-branded television. What a waste. I think he’s Overpushed now, because the bloom is off the rose at this point. AEW had a chance to do something special, and they missed out on doing so.
Adam Cole: The man hasn’t wrestled in three months because of an ankle injury, and yet, he remains on television pretty weekly (even if it’s in skits/vignettes), and is a major piece of AEW World Champion MJF’s story at the moment. Call this a “hot take” if you want, but I think that makes him Overpushed. There are so many people in AEW who are struggling to get any sort of television time, so giving a chunk of that time to someone who can’t even walk right now seems foolish. I totally get that he’s best buddies with the World Champion, and I get that he’s a popular member of the roster, but come on… we’ve seen all sorts of injured wrestlers stay away while they recover. There have been times when a company’s top talent needs to miss extended periods of time, and they’re away from television for every second of their recovery.
Adam Copeland: He’s one of the biggest signings in AEW history, but he’s also at the end of his lengthy career. Obviously, he came over to work with some of his oldest friends again, but he isn’t in AEW to be jobbing out against lower-tier talent. Right now, I think he’s in the perfect spot. He’s in a high-profile feud that makes perfect sense, but he’s also not currently taking a “spot” that could be designated for a younger wrestler. It wouldn’t shock me to see him in the World Title picture at some point, but for now, his push is Just Right.
Alex Reynolds: When I look at his 2023, the first thing that jumps out at me is that he participated in FOUR Battle Royals so far. Throw in the fact that he participated in another Battle Royal during the last week of 2022, and I think it’s clear that Tony Khan has a problem. Reynolds wasn’t victorious on television until July, where he was then part of four straight tag victories, earning he and John Silver a shot at the RoH Tag Team Titles at All Out, where they would lose. It seems like whatever push he was having has been set aside for the time being. He hasn’t won on television in over three months. When he does appear, he usually gets a chance to look good, even in defeat. That’s certainly not the worst spot to be in. We’ll go with Just Right.
Andrade El Idolo: This is an easy one for me. He’s Underpushed. From the moment he signed with AEW, he was one of the company’s best overall in-ring workers, but that hasn’t translated into any sort of a sustained push. Almost without fail, his AEW career looks like this… win a couple matches in a row, lose a couple matches in a row, win a few matches in a row, lose a few matches in a row, and so on. He should be in the World Title picture.
Angelo Parker: After all this time, I’m still waiting for anybody to truly benefit from working with Chris Jericho in AEW, either as an opponent or an ally. Angelo Parker certainly can’t say that his career has advanced after working with Jericho. Whether you feel he deserves to have his career advanced or not is irrelevant. This is someone that is Overpushed at the moment. He’s not winning anything, but he’s still getting more time on television because of an apparent romantic storyline between him and Ruby Soho. This is time that could go to better, and more over, workers than Parker.
Angélico: We certainly don’t see him very often on AEW programming (four matches on television this year), but when we do, at least he usually gets to do something flashy. Long gone are the Lucha Underground days, when there were people who thought he would be the future of the high-flying style in wrestling. He’s decently successful when he appears on the RoH streaming platform, but he hasn’t won a televised match for AEW in over three years, going back to the November 19th, 2020 episode of Dynamite, when he and Jack Evans defeated Dante and Darius Martin. By the way, that was his only win on AEW television, and he’s been with the company damn near from the moment they were born. I want to say Underpushed, because I like the guy, but in the end, I’ll go with Just Right, because again… someone has to lose matches.
Anna Jay: Oh, hey, another person who didn’t benefit whatsoever from working with Chris Jericho. At one point, it looked like maybe AEW was trying to position her as one of their bright spots of the future, but that sure as hell doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. She’s had a weird 2023, having two total wins on AEW television, but also finding a way to have two title shots along the way. Wins and losses clearly aren’t that important for everyone, I guess. The entire AEW women’s division deserves better, and you could say that, as a whole, they’re Underpushed. As for Anna Jay herself, I’ll go with Just Right. She’s not around enough to be that harmful. If you wanted to go with Overpushed for how she keeps finding herself getting title shots without earning them, I wouldn’t argue with you.
Anthony Bowens: It’s crazy that The Acclaimed were probably the hottest act in all of wrestling at one point. Sure, they’re still very over with live crowds, but it’s definitely not the same as it once was. That’s what happens when the AEW Trios Titles go from being defended in great matches with champions like Death Triangle, The Elite, and The House Of Black, to… well, to being a prop for scissoring and 69 jokes. Personally, I’ve already grown weary of The Acclaimed and all of this shit. Overpushed. Bowens is better than this. I’m hoping that we get a shift in focus with Bowens, Caster, and Billy Gunn sooner than later.
Ari Daivari: Six televised matches. Three Battle Royal appearances. Sigh. I don’t even know what’s up with him right now, as he hasn’t wrestled in over six months. When he was around, I would’ve been inclined to call him Overpushed, even though he wasn’t winning anything, as the Trustbusters were a mess of a stable that were stealing what little airtime they were getting. Right now, though, it’s better to say Just Right and move on, because he could’ve been abducted by aliens for all we know.
Athena: The RoH Women’s Champion has been very busy on the RoH side of things, of course, but hasn’t spent a lot of time on the AEW side of the fence. She has been putting on some really good matches this year, even if they weren’t on television to fit the criteria here. I’m of the thinking that RoH has become something that is being driven into the ground, and isn’t something that is necessary anymore. Because of that, I’m going to say Athena is Underpushed, as she belongs on Dynamite, Rampage, and Collision. The AEW women’s division could really use the boost she would provide.
Austin Gunn: It’s really crazy how far The Gunns have come in a relatively short period of time. They were a bit of a joke at one point, but not only have they gotten better in the ring, but their character work has gotten infinitely better. They’re perfect for the Bullet Club Gold group with “Switchblade” Jay White and Juice Robinson. Austin Gunn, like his brother, is Underpushed. The focus of their group has been White, and to a lesser extent, Robinson. Both Gunns are deserving of more, and should be competing for the AEW Tag Team Titles. They haven’t had a shot at those belts in almost seven months, and that came at a rare AEW house show. While we’re talking about The Gunns… they need 50 Cent’s “Many Men” as their entrance music on a permanent basis. Just throwing that out there.
Bandido: After missing over five months with a wrist injury, word on the street is that Bandido is set to make his return to AEW soon. That’s great news, as he has been missed. Right off the bat, he’s Underpushed. A lot of why I feel that way is his singles record in AEW. The last time he won a singles match in AEW was November 2022. He’s been on the winning of an eight-man tag match and a few six-man tags since then, but he should get a singles push. It’s not like he’s never been successful as a singles wrestler before. Among other career highlights, he is a former RoH World Champion and a former PWG World Champion, and he held both titles at the same time.
Big Bill: Easy… Just Right. On a roster where there aren’t too many legitimate “monster” wrestlers, he really stands out. He is in the best shape of his career, and it is leading to the best performances of his career. He’s in a great spot right now, working with Ricky Starks and getting better as his confidence continues to grow. Time will tell if he can branch out and have a successful singles career, but I have a feeling we’ll find out sooner than later.
Billie Starkz: She barely made the cut here, and I mean b-a-r-e-l-y. A TBS Title match against Jade Cargill on Battle Of The Belts back in April, a match against Athena at Forbidden Door in June, and an eight-person mixed tag at WrestleDream in October… that has been the extent of her appearances on AEW programming to this point. She just celebrated her 19th birthday, making her one of the top prodigies in the business today, and although her age and relative inexperience shows through every now and then, her future is bright. Right now, I’ll say her push is Just Right. She has been having a good amount of success on RoH’s streaming shows, which is a good place for her to continue improving. It’s probably only a matter of time before she’s a regular on AEW television and continuing her ascent at a rapid pace. Then again, maybe not. She might become the new RoH Women’s Champion at Final Battle, but that hasn’t exactly gotten Athena all over Dynamite, Rampage, and Collision this year.
Billy Gunn: I like Billy Gunn. Really, I do. He’s 60 years old, but he still looks like a million bucks, and he continues to be over with live crowds everywhere AEW goes. However, I’m going to say he’s Overpushed for two reasons. One, there are entirely too many people on the roster, and the more 50+ year olds there are running around, the less opportunities that will be there for the younger wrestlers. Two, if AEW insists on pushing someone who is 50+ that isn’t named Sting, Chris Jericho, Adam Copeland, or Christian Cage, there’s a much better option for that role. More on that person later, but if you’ve been reading my columns, you probably know who I’m talking about already.
Bishop Kaun: He and his Embassy partners have been pretty dominant on RoH’s streaming shows all year long. That hasn’t really translated to AEW programming. Perhaps that will change now, though, as they recently regained the RoH Six-Man Tag Team Titles on an episode of Dynamite after dropping them on an episode of Rampage six weeks earlier. I guess I have to go with Just Right here. He’s an “RoH guy” and is doing well there, but even though he doesn’t perform on AEW programming very often, it’s usually an important match when he does. That’s a good place for him to be.
The Blade: Not a lot of success to be had here. Other than a pre-show dark match before an episode of Dynamite last month, the last match of any kind that Blade was on the winning end of was a six-man match on RoH’s Honor Club, and that was over six months ago. The last time he won a match on AEW television was over a year ago. Do I think he and The Butcher are capable of more? Yes. Do I think his push is Just Right, though? Yes. There are several tag teams ahead of them on the proverbial totem pole, and those teams either are getting pushed ahead of them, or they should be.
Boulder: He spent the first seven-plus months of the year wrestling on AEW YouTube shows or on Ring Of Honor streaming shows, but has started to make sporadic appearances on Collision in the months since. Those Collision appearances led to nothing but losses, so… here we are. Just Right. I’m honestly not sure there’s any more to say.
Brian Cage: I think this is going to be a common theme for a lot of people listed in this column, but his success depends on where he performed. In RoH, he won a lot, especially working with Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona and dominating the six-man scene there. However, in AEW, he has a record of 6-17 this year. Is that an indication of how Tony Khan views the “RoH roster” compared to the “AEW roster” right now? It sure seems like it. I think Brian Cage is Underpushed. That might not be a popular opinion, but I think he has proven to be more than capable of doing really good work against a wide variety of opponents. Do I think he should be the AEW World Champion? No. However, I do think he can be a solid member of the TNT or International Title picture if he wrestles single, or he could definitely continue his tag and six-man tag success on the AEW side of the fence.
Brody King: Come on… Just Right. He is a perfect fit for The House Of Black, and they are in a perfect spot in AEW. Whether he wins or loses almost doesn’t matter… almost… but it helps that he wins far more often than he loses. You could argue that he should be a bigger singles star, but I just love his role in HOB so much that I feel that’s where he belongs for the time being.
Bronson: Remember what I said in the entry for Boulder? You can go ahead and copy and paste that here. Bronson is barely around on AEW programming, but he loses when he does make appearances. It’s hard to give him a rating of anything other than Just Right. There are a ton of people on the roster who are, and should, be ahead of him.
Bryan Danielson: He is a really unique case. I think he’s Underpushed by a ton. However, if you believe all the rumor and innuendo, he’s Underpushed by his own doing. He doesn’t want to be the AEW World Champion, so he isn’t. He wants to be having “random” matches against opponents he has always wanted to face, so he is. It’s really as simple as that. He could easily be a multiple-time World Champion by this point, but if he doesn’t want it, what else can be said?
Buddy Matthews: Like Brody King, I love Matthews’ fit in The House Of Black. Unlike Brody King, I think Matthews is Underpushed. He wrestles singles matches more often than Brody does, and unfortunately, that means he loses matches more often than Brody does. It seems like the AEW crowds are really looking for Matthews to get pushed. He gets some really good reactions when he wrestles, and it helps that he’s great at what he does. While I love Malakai Black and Brody King, I wouldn’t complain if they were turned loose on the AEW tag team scene, while Buddy Matthews became a singles star.
The Butcher: I’ve already covered this in the entry for The Blade. Butcher simply isn’t seeing very much success at all, but that’s not a major complaint from me. Nothing against Butcher or Blade, but there are plenty of other teams that are more deserving of being pushed right now. Just Right.
Cash Wheeler: Last year, it seemed like FTR owned every set of Tag Team Titles in the business all at the same time, but one by one, they would drop them. They took some time off before returning to AEW in April… and winning the AEW Tag Team Titles. We would also see the birth of the “CMFTR” trio when FTR would team up with CM Punk in the early days of Collision. If you’re looking at wins and losses, Cash had an up-and-down year, depending on whether or not titles were on the line. He has a 9-3 record on television and pay-per-view in title matches in 2023, and a 6-5 record (made better by winning the last four) when no titles were on the line. FTR, in general, seem to have a lot of split reactions on social media. You’re either a huge fan of theirs and feel that they belong in the title picture at almost all times, or you think they’re boring as hell and should take a backseat to the more exciting tag teams on the roster. I hate to say it, but I’m in the middle. To this day, I still find myself loving their matches, and they remain one of the top tag teams in the world. However, I do feel that they’ve spent too much time at the top, and because of it, there have been more than a few teams through the years that have missed a chance to have that positioning. Because of that, I’m going to go with Overpushed here, and that hurts me to admit.
Chris Jericho: Overpushed. Easy. No matter what he’s doing, who he’s facing, who he’s teaming with, or how much television time he’s taking up. The only people that benefit from his presence are the fans in the crowd who dramatically sing along to “Judas” during his entrance because they want to be on television. Before anybody accuses me of being too negative, I will say that Jericho is still someone who can get it done in the ring. He’s obviously not in his physical prime anymore, but I’ve included him in my Weekly Power Rankings often enough to understand that he still has fun matches from time-to-time. They just don’t lead to anything. That’s all.
Christian Cage: In a promotion where many of the heels still get face pops, Christian stands head and shoulders above just about everyone else by being hated. He is doing some of the best character work of his career these days. That character work tends to overshadow his in-ring work more often than not, but that’s because of the high quality of the former, and not the low quality of the latter. He’s doing so well that a main event run and chasing after MJF’s AEW World Title wouldn’t even cause people to think twice. Because of that, I think you could easily call him Underpushed, but I’m going to go with Just Right. He’s working with his best friend, attempting to get a young pup like Nick Wayne to the next level, getting free reign to say whatever foul shit he wants on the mic, and is still getting plenty of television time to work with. That’s not bad. Not bad at all.
Christopher Daniels: Thus far, he has been on AEW television seven times in 2023, losing on all seven occasions. He’s more of a semi-regular on RoH streaming, but he hasn’t even won a match there in well over four months. At a few months shy of his 54th birthday, he’s much more involved in his roles as Coach and Head Of Talent Relations for the company than he is an in-ring performer. It’s still fun to see him pop up every now and then, though, as a fan of his for the last couple decades. His push is Just Right. He doesn’t need to be doing anything more than what he is.
Chuck Taylor: 3-19. That’s Chuck Taylor’s record on television or pay-per-view in 2023. In case you couldn’t figure it out, that’s not a very good record. Did you know he has never won a singles match of any kind on AEW programming? That’s a somewhat misleading statistic, though, because of this wild statistic… he has only competed in three singles matches on AEW programming in the entire history of the company. With all of the television episodes they’ve had, that’s crazy to me. It’s been almost three years since his last singles match there. Digress Jones. Just Right? I guess. Someone has to lose. It might as well be someone who can remain somewhat popular as he does so.
Claudio Castagnoli: On the May 24th, 2023 episode of Dynamite, Claudio teamed with Wheeler Yuta, and they were unsuccessful in taking the RoH Tag Team Titles from The Lucha Brothers. This ended a six-month winning streak on television or pay-per-view for Claudio, outside of Battle Royals that he didn’t win. Since that May 24th loss, Claudio is 15-11 overall on television or pay-per-view. As a popular member of the Blackpool Combat Club, he continues to get plenty of time and opportunities, but he’s just not having the same level of success as he once did. I know a lot of people that would call him Underpushed, but right now, I think his push is Just Right. Even with the losses that have been racking up, he’s still in a position to compete for any title under the AEW umbrella with little-to-no pushback from fans. That’s good for him. He’s still great in the ring, and even though he might not have the same level of charisma and promo ability as Jon Moxley or Bryan Danielson, that doesn’t matter as much in AEW as it would in, say, WWE, where he was never able to break through that glass ceiling because of how Vince McMahon viewed him as a “talker.”
Colten Gunn: If you’ve read to this point, you read the entry for his brother, Austin. The Gunns have both come a long way in a relatively brief period of time, and being members of Bullet Club Gold have really helped with that. Underpushed. They’re deserving of being a lot more than Jay White’s cronies.
Danhausen: The people who dislike Danhausen REALLY dislike Danhausen. They’ll call him every name in the book and bash AEW for wasting television time on the guy. While I will freely admit to thinking his time could go to other, more deserving talent, I’m still going to say his push is Just Right. He’s entertaining, and he’s over, but he’s also not taking up a ton of time. If he was wrestling in 20-minute matches every week, we would be having a different conversation right now. Comedy has been an important aspect of pro wrestling for a long time. If Danhausen can provide that in small doses for AEW, all the power to him.
Daniel Garcia: When I talk about the people who don’t benefit from working with Chris Jericho, this is a prime example. As a member of the Jericho Appreciation Society, fans were dying to see Garcia break free and become a member of the Blackpool Combat Club instead. His work matched up with the BCC much more. The turn was teased and teased and teased, and just when it seemed like it was happening, it ended up being a swerve, and Garcia was right back with Jericho. Did that go anywhere? Did it do anything for him? Of course not. Recently, he has started getting bigger crowd reactions thanks to his dance getting over, but that hasn’t led to much winning. He’s facing top talents, and he’s having impressive performances against them, but he’s still losing. I think he’s Underpushed. He should be at least a tier above where he is right now, if not more.
Dante Martin: Until recently, he was on the shelf after suffering a gruesome ankle injury at the RoH Supercard Of Honor pay-per-view over eight months ago. It’s not like he was setting the world on fire before the injury, though. He had one win on television in the three months of 2023 he was active. He and his brother, Darius, once looked like the most promising up-and-coming tag team in all of AEW, but injuries have completely derailed them. If… and that’s a big if… both brothers are healthy, it’s easy to say that they’re Underpushed. Their exciting in-ring style helps make them super over with live crowds.
Darby Allin: He is a two-time TNT Champion, and holds the longest reign (186 days) in the history of a title that has been passed around like a hot potato for far too long. His pairing with Sting (and now with Adam Copeland) guarantees him a big spotlight, title or otherwise. As one of the “pillars” of the company, he will probably remain in a major position until he no longer works there. I think his push is Just Right at the moment. He can enjoy the benefits of working with two of the sport’s biggest stars over the last few decades, get to do crazy shit in his matches, and always remain within striking distance of the TNT Title. That’s the right spot for him.
Darius Martin: Like I mentioned in the entry for his brother, these guys have been cursed by injuries. In February 2021, Darius tore his ACL and would miss over a year of action. A little over a month after returning from the torn ACL, Darius was in a serious car accident, causing multiple injuries that would keep him on the shelf for another seven months. Then, four months after Darius returned from the car accident, Dante breaks his ankle, and has been out of action for over eight months. When they’re healthy, they’re one of the most exciting tag teams in all of wrestling. Like his brother, Darius is Underpushed when he’s available to perform. It’s just a shame that terrible luck keeps getting in the way of any possible pushes for them, time and time again.
Dax Harwood: If I said that Cash Wheeler was Overpushed, then I have to say Dax Harwood is Overpushed, too. Like I said with Cash, it’s not necessarily a knock on FTR. I’m still a really big fan of theirs, but man, they’ve been at the top of the division for so long, and it has probably hurt the potential development of at least a tag team or two in the process.
Diamante: She is almost exclusively a member of the RoH side of things, but she has two appearances on Collision, and two AEW pay-per-view appearances, so she just makes the cut here. I’ll make this easy… she’s Overpushed, and the clue to why I lean that way is in the first sentence of this entry. In a world where even some of AEW’s biggest fans complain about the company’s women’s division, how it’s used, and who it’s used for… Diamante, of all people, has two matches on pay-per-view this year? Huh? That doesn’t even begin to make sense when you consider the many women in AEW who haven’t been given that type of shine.
Dr. Britt Baker, DMD: There was once a time when Britt Baker was the face of the AEW women’s division, but that seems like it was a decade ago. It has been nearly 21 months since she lost the AEW Women’s Title to Thunder Rosa. Now, we’ve reached the point where she has gone almost four months since her last televised singles victory. One of AEW’s biggest issues right now is that there only seems to be enough focus on the women’s division to cover whatever feud is taking place for the Women’s Title and whatever feud is taking place for the TBS Title, and nothing more. Women like Britt suffer because of that, and that’s why I’m going with Underpushed here. I’m not saying she needs to go on a Goldberg-like winning streak and dominate every woman on the roster, but she should be able to go back to a lot of what made her the face of the division in the first place.
Dralistico: He’s still somewhat new to the company, making his debut less than a year ago. Like some of the other Mexicans on the roster, he seems to get randomly put in matches that usually involve other Mexicans, with no real story. That’s fine for some entertaining Lucha matches, but it doesn’t do much for career advancement in the long term. Since we’re still in the short term, though, his push is Just Right. Even in that group of Mexicans, there are a couple names who are ahead of him on the list of people who should be pushed more. The whole “random matches” thing should change up sooner than later, though.
Dustin Rhodes: Remember what I said in the Billy Gunn entry? Dustin Rhodes is who I was talking about. He doesn’t wrestle too often (nine matches on television in 2023, ten matches total), but when he does, he impresses the hell out of me. At the age of 54, he is still an excellent storyteller in the ring, and he’s still more than capable of delivering an emotionally charged promo. Underpushed. I don’t need to see him on a weekly basis, getting World Title shots on pay-per-views, and all that jazz. What I would love to see, though, is for him to have some sort of entertaining feud with the likes of Christian Cage (think of the heat for the mentions of Dusty Rhodes there), Adam Copeland, Swerve Strickland, Samoa Joe, a member of The Callis Family, or anyone else on the roster that can “go” in the ring but can also match Dustin’s energy on the mic.
Dutch: The Righteous and The House Of Black, and other similar groups sprinkled throughout the wrestling business, are always going to be compared to The Wyatt Family. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fair comparison or not. Hell, it doesn’t matter if The Wyatts were the first stable to have a “theme” like that. In AEW, The House Of Black remain a very popular group with “dark” overtones. Not only are they popular, but they’ve been very successful. When The Righteous came in, there were immediate “HOB knockoff” and “Wyatt knockoff” accusations. Again, it doesn’t matter if the comparisons are fair or not, as they’re going to happen one way or another. In the group’s first match in the Tony Khan era of Ring Of Honor, they would drop the RoH Six Man Tag Team Titles to Dalton Castle & The Boys. Dutch would go on a nine-match win streak over on RoH’s streaming show, but The Righteous would lose on RoH pay-per-view again at Death Before Dishonor. On the AEW side, The Righteous have wrestled eight times on television or pay-per-view. A 4-4 record in those matches doesn’t seem too bad, but when you look a little deeper, it gets worse. Two of those wins were squash matches against non-contracted enhancement talent. One of their losses was in their biggest match with the company, and it was a two-on-one loss to MJF, where he basically squashed them. They’re way, way down on the ladder, to the point where I’m not even sure why they’re there. Overpushed, because they’re just taking up space.
Eddie Kingston: Overpushed. That’s going to be a “hot take” because any time someone says something even remotely negative about Eddie Kingston, his supporters get very defensive. Look… I’ve been a big fan of Eddie Kingston since I was first introduced to his work in 2006. I have no issues with him at all, and I think the man himself is someone that should be protected at all costs. However, he is currently a double champion, holding the RoH World Title and the NJPW Strong Openweight Title, both of which get defended on AEW programming. Now, he’s in the Continental Classic tournament, where the winner will be named the very first AEW Continental Champion. Why? Even if Kingston doesn’t win the tournament and someone else goes on to become the Triple Crown Champion, he doesn’t need to be overexposed like that, and the company damn sure doesn’t need any more titles. Eddie should just be on his journey to collect all of his own personal Infinity Stones by wrestling all of his heroes. That would be great for him.
Emi Sakura: She recently celebrated her 47th birthday. Her in-ring debut came on August 17th, 1995. For the sake of reference, that was three weeks before the debut episode of WCW Monday Nitro. All these years later, she has a claim to being the best in-ring worker in the entire AEW women’s division. She is still so, so fun to watch. Does she win matches? Not on television, she doesn’t. She is currently sitting at 0-11 on the year when it comes to AEW programming, but hey, at least four of those matches were title shots (she had a fifth title shot on an episode of RoH’s streaming show). Forget the fact that there’s zero kayfabe explanation for her to receive title shots when she literally doesn’t win any matches. Let’s focus on her being one of the best women in the division, and it not mattering whatsoever. She’s Underpushed by a country mile. It would be nice to see her get treated better.
Ethan Page: It’s another wrestler with a completely different level of success in RoH as they have in AEW. The man’s record in AEW is 1-12 in 2023, and that one victory came in a two-minute squash match against non-contracted enhancement talent. He’s 6-2 in his current run on the RoH Honor Club shows, though, so there’s that. In typical AEW fashion, that 1-12 record for Page has included five title shots, all of which he lost. Why on earth would anyone receive that many title shots with a record like that? Wins and losses have to mean more than that, or your decision makers look like lazy morons. Ethan Page is too good to be this bad. He’s Underpushed, but he’s another talent that I just want to see a little better for, and not a crazy World Title run or anything.
Evil Uno: 2-6 on television or pay-per-view. 5-1 on RoH Honor Club. Once again, there’s a pretty clear line that separates the two entities. When you look at the current members of The Dark Order, you can make easy arguments for Alex Reynolds and John Silver getting television time and any sort of push. It’s a lot more difficult to make that argument for Evil Uno. He is someone that is clearly taking the spot and the time away from other, more deserving wrestlers. Overpushed.
“Hangman” Adam Page: A lot of the thoughts on Adam Page in this regard were echoed in the first Swerve Strickland promo against him to kickstart their feud. He’s a former AEW World Champion that was on top of the promotion as one of the biggest babyfaces in the entire business. Then… he damn near became just another guy. Is that Adam Page’s fault, or is it the fault of Tony Khan? No matter your answer to that question, it still happened. When Swerve pushed his buttons, it brought out the fiery “Hangman” of old, and that can only be a great thing for him, and for AEW. It’s also a great thing for Swerve himself, as their match at Full Gear seemed to elevate him to the next level. I guess that means Page’s push is Just Right, huh? Well, unless he goes back to being just another guy, but for now, I’ll stay positive and hopeful.
Hikaru Shida: She was the first woman to win the AEW Women’s Title three times, and her 436 combined days as champion are 146 days more than Britt Baker, who is in second place in that category. Whether or not you feel like she’s the “face” of the women’s division, she has been the most dominant woman, for sure. Her 2023 has been another successful one. Prior to her dropping her title to Toni Storm at Full Gear, she had yet to lose a pure singles match all year (she was on the losing end of two different Four Way matches). She has been winning, winning, and winning some more. I would totally understand if you said Overpushed because of how often she wins, but I’m not going there. I’m going with Just Right. Someone has to be the measuring stick in the division, and she has proven she is more than capable of being just that. Some fans complain that she shouldn’t be at the top because her lack of a foundation in English prevents her from being a total package in the ring and on the mic. That goes back to what I said earlier in this column… a wrestler’s lack of promo skills, for one reason or another, don’t matter as much in AEW. If you can perform well in the ring, the AEW fans will accept you, and that’s the end of it. The fact that she has won so many matches without needing the mic time that, say, Britt Baker or Saraya receive, proves my point.
Hook: As time goes by, it sure seems like the buzz he had is dying more and more. I don’t think that’s his fault, of course. It’s just worth pointing out that, at one point, people were calling for him to be pushed to the main event. Now, there are times when it looks like he’s going to move down to “just another guy” status. His win/loss record is still great. He still gets really good reactions from live crowds. There just hasn’t been much of anything for those crowds to sink their teeth into when it comes to Hook. We haven’t been given any real storylines or character development to work with. Without all that, I think his push is Just Right. He isn’t taking him entirely too much time on television every week, winning titles, and all that.
Isiah Kassidy: His tag partner, Marq Quen, has been out of action for a full calendar year with a serious shoulder injury. This forced Kassidy to work more with the Hardy brothers, but that hasn’t been the boost to his career that one might think it would be. We haven’t seen “Brother Zay” on the winning side of a match in seven months. Yet, in typical AEW fashion, he keeps finding himself in title matches. In August, he and Ethan Page were unsuccessful in trying to take the RoH Tag Team Titles from Aussie Open. The next month, he and the Hardys failed to take the AEW Trios Titles from The Acclaimed and Billy Gunn. In October, he and the Hardys failed to take the RoH Six Man Tag Team Titles from The Hung Bucks. I’ve already talked about this a few times in this column, and I’m 329% sure it won’t be the last time it comes up… if wins and losses don’t matter in AEW, why even put your body and your life on the line in matches? Kassidy’s push is Just Right. Word on the street is that Marq Quen is set to return to the ring at any moment, though, so we’ll see what that does for both men.
Jack Perry: Well, he’s not receiving much of a push at all right now, considering the fact that he’s been suspended for the last three months after that stupid ass backstage argument/fight/encounter with CM Punk at All In(nit). Before that, though, I think he was Overpushed. On paper, it seemed like his heel turn could’ve been fun. It hasn’t been. At all. There aren’t many wrestlers in the business who look less like a tough guy than Jack Perry, and his promos don’t exactly make him sound like one, either. He was dying a slow death before he ever decided to be an immature prick backstage. I would assume he’s coming back to AEW at some point. Whenever that happens, some changes probably need to happen for him to be taken seriously.
Jake Hager: Did you know this guy was a World Heavyweight Champion in WWE? Hilariously, that fact completely slipped my mind as I was doing research for this column. I remembered his ECW Title reign, and even his United States Title reign, but I completely forgot that he won Money In The Bank in 2010 and would cash in on Chris Jericho (ironically enough) a few days later to win the title. Did you also know that he’s 0-10 on television or pay-per-view this year? In fact, to find the last time he won a televised match, you have to go back to Double Or Nothing 2022, which was 18 months ago, when the Jericho Appreciation Society defeated Bryan Danielson, Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, Santana, and Ortiz in Anarchy In The Arena. That’s pretty amazing when you consider how big a deal his AEW signing was supposed to be. Going strictly by what he’s capable of in the ring, this could be an easy vote for Underpushed. However, I’m going with Just Right, as I don’t think many people are calling for him to be doing more than he is.
Jamie Hayter: She had quite the dominant five months to start 2023, coming in as the AEW Women’s Champion and pushing her reign to 190 days, only having it end because she was too injured to keep wrestling. From an in-ring perspective, you can argue that Hayter is the best woman on the AEW roster, and one of the best women in the world. She was really starting to come into her own before the injury. I think her push was Just Right. It happened so organically and was so much fun to watch as she kept getting better and better and better. Here’s hoping she can return to the ring soon and get back to the heights she was reaching before she got hurt.
Jay Lethal: Here we go again. Jay Lethal’s record on television or pay-per-view in 2023 is 6-18. That’s 24 total matches. Of those 24 matches, a whopping eight of them have been for titles, and of course, he lost all eight of them. Wrestlers can go their entire careers without having eight title matches, but that’s only because they never worked for AEW, who gives title shots out to everybody for no apparent reason. I’ll have to discuss it with my agent, but I believe I’m scheduled for a shot at the International Title on the January 24th episode of Dynamite. Anybody involved with Jeff Jarrett has seen themselves get Overpushed this year, it seems. Too many title matches, too much television time, and too many things handed to them out of nowhere. It has been a weird ride.
Jay White: “Switchblade” signed with a lot of fanfare, but I’m not sure the results have quite matched up to the hype yet. He is in a prime position, getting a lot of television time. His win/loss record is impressive, especially in singles competition, where he won his first ten matches of the year before losing to MJF at Full Gear. The feud with MJF is what made people start second guessing things, though. AEW tried to have White match up to MJF on the mic, but MJF ran circles around him in that area. I’ve said that mic skills aren’t as important in AEW as they are in WWE, and that’s true, but if you ARE going to be cutting promos regularly, it looks bad when you’re outclassed at every level by the person you’re feuding with. Then, AEW decided to tell the story of a one-legged MJF, who had already wrestled earlier in the night, beating White. That’s a tough one. We’ll see if White remains in and around the main event scene, but I’m not sure he should. I think he’s Overpushed. He would be perfect for International Title or the TNT Title, and if he stays in that area, I would be more than happy to adjust my grade.
Jeff Hardy: Tons of hype surrounding his arrival to AEW, and then his issues with addiction and substance abuse cause him to be suspended three months later. After missing about ten months to get his life in order, he returned earlier this year. Did he reach the lofty heights people set for him when he initially signed with the company? Not quite. He has a 5-14 record on television or pay-per-view, and hasn’t won a singles match at all. Even before the suspension, he seemed slower and more beat up than he did in his final WWE run, but now, his matches just aren’t any fun to watch. Maybe all the years of insane bumps have finally taken their toll on him. Overpushed. That makes me sad.
Jeff Jarrett: Super easy. Overpushed. There’s no reason he should still be getting this many matches, this much television time, and this many storylines. AEW probably has 96 people on the roster who could use Jarrett’s time, but instead, they’re floundering, looking for crumbs and morsels.
John Silver: A lot of what I said about Alex Reynolds is probably going to go here, as well. First of all, Silver has participated in five Battle Royals in the last 365 days, which is ridiculous. While Silver wins more matches than his fellow Dark Order stablemates, he isn’t exactly much higher than them on the proverbial ladder. I have to give him the same grade that I gave Reynolds, and that’s Just Right. He doesn’t win a ton, but he usually gets opportunities to look good, no matter what the match outcomes are. The same can’t be said about everyone who loses a lot in AEW.
Johnny TV: He has wrestled in almost as many pre-show dark matches before episodes of Dynamite as he has wrestled actual televised matches in 2023. Does that say everything about his role with the company? I think he deserves better, though. A lot better actually. He’s Underpushed, almost exclusively due to the fact that he has been saddled with this stupid ass QTV nonsense. If he just goes out to wrestle without the silly shit that nobody is asking for, he is more than capable enough of having the types of matches AEW fans go crazy over.
Jon Moxley: With three AEW World Title reigns, one interim AEW World Title reign, and one AEW International Title reign, it’s fair to say nobody in company history has ever been pushed more than Jon Moxley. I dig it. He has given the promotion a sense of legitimacy, coming over as one of the top names in WWE and helping to build the AEW brand from the ground up. I don’t think I can say anything other than his push is Just Right. He’s not Overpushed, because he’s still one of the company’s top stars and should be front and center in almost everything they do. At the same time, he isn’t Underpushed, because he’s like a shark swimming around, always one second away from striking and taking anybody down, MJF included. He doesn’t get demoted just because he isn’t the man currently feuding with the World Champion.
Josh Woods: He’s another wrestler that continues the trend of looking great in RoH, while looking average or worse in AEW. On the RoH side of things, he is on a roll at their Honor Club shows, winning his last eight matches. Meanwhile, his only AEW wins in 2023 were at the very beginning of the year on their YouTube shows. There’s that clear line in the sand again. Personally, I think he’s Underpushed. I dig his look and his work, and I think he could definitely be a more featured performer on AEW programming. He could be a breath of fresh air in AEW, but unfortunately, that doesn’t look like it’ll be happening anytime soon. I guess we’ll have to wait and see if his RoH winning streak leads to anything.
Juice Robinson: He has a pretty decent 15-7 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023. However, it looks like he is set to have surgery on his back that is going to keep him out of action for a month or two, which will derail any momentum he had. Said momentum was more due to his character work and bonkers dedication to being as over-the-top as he can be than his matches themselves. They weren’t terrible or anything, but they could often run hot or cold. I do think his push is Just Right, though. Bullet Club Gold are becoming an important part of AEW programming without being featured too much. Here’s hoping that Juice can return quickly and get back to being completely unhinged on-screen.
Julia Hart: If you count the company’s YouTube shows, Julia Hart is 33-1 in her last 34 matches, dating back to April of last year. She has not only gotten better and better in the ring, but has also put a lot of effort and hard work into her character, becoming a shining part of The House Of Black. Now, she is the new TBS Champion, making her the youngest champion of any kind in AEW history at the age of 22. If she hadn’t been doing all of that hard work and improving, she would be an easy choice for the Overpushed category. As it is, I think her push is Just Right. She deserves what she has been getting because she has put in all of the necessary work to get there.
Katsuyori Shibata: I’m not sure if this necessary belongs in the “looks great in RoH, looks meh in AEW” category, but Shibata is 7-0 on episodes of Honor Club this year, 2-0 on RoH pay-per-views, and 2-5 on AEW programming. He continued to reign as the RoH Pure Champion, earning the third-longest reign in the title’s history. I think I have to go with Just Right here, though. It doesn’t feel like he’s there to be on the receiving end of a big push, winning World Titles and becoming the top guy in the promotion. He seems to be having fun, bouncing back from a subdural hematoma in 2017 that was thought to have ended his career and nearly ended his life. It’s just cool to see him in the ring again.
Keith Lee: When he signed with AEW, the company was in the middle of a lot of controversy on social media about racism, inclusion, and diversity. Immediately, people jumped to the conclusion that he would be able to solve some of those perceived issues when he became the first black World Champion in AEW history. We’re two months shy of Lee being with the company for two full years, and… nothing. He has a 11-4 record on television or pay-per-view this year, which is pretty good, but is only 3-3 in singles competition. His opponents in those three wins? Zicky Dice, Turbo Floyd, and Lee Moriarty. Not exactly the tippy top of the AEW roster. He has been far more active in tag matches than in singles, making him no closer to being AEW’s first black World Champion today than he was two years ago. Actually, scratch that. He’s further away now. I think he’s an easy Underpushed call. Even if you don’t think he should be a World Champion, he’s certainly capable of more than what the company is letting him do.
Kenny Omega: He would be the first to admit that his age and the mileage that he’s put on his body have taken a toll on him, and now that he’s 40, his career finish line is getting visible if you squint hard enough. It has been over two years since he dropped the AEW World Title, which has been his only singles title with the company. He seems overdue for a return to the top. Unfortunately for him, he’s currently working with Chris Jericho, which means he’s tied down to the current storyline until at least 2025, and he’ll probably have zero heat and credibility when it’s done. In all seriousness, I’ll go with Just Right, because he’s always treated as a huge deal in AEW, no matter what he’s doing. If he can do that without any titles, freeing them up for others to compete over, that becomes even more important.
Kiera Hogan: Here’s another one, folks… she is 0-6 on AEW television this year, but she’s 8-3 on RoH Honor Club shows. This is starting to turn into a lesser grade version of Vince McMahon buying WCW, but making it crystal clear that WCW wrestlers weren’t on the level of his WWF talent. Best known as one of Jade Cargill’s Baddies (with Red Velvet) and then being kicked to the curb by Jade, leading to a feud between the two, it has been a bit of a rough go for Kiera in the time since. She has never won a televised match in AEW without being teamed up with Jade, so it’s clear where she is viewed by the company. I think it’s Just Right. There are a lot of women better suited for pushes right now.
Killswitch: It’s a much better name than Luchasaurus, that’s for sure. He’s barely winning more than half of his matches, but his 2023 has included a three-month reign as the TNT Champion and a position front and center in one of the biggest storylines in all of AEW as far as television time goes. He’s not there because he’s going to put on great matches on a regular basis. Instead, he’s there because he’s 6’5″ and 275 pounds, which makes him one of the biggest people on the roster. I would like to see Christian Cage’s “bodyguard” be someone who could have better matches, but I won’t complain too much. I’ll say that his push is Just Right. He’s not terrible. Again, my own personal opinion is that it would be more fun if Christian had someone better from an in-ring point of view.
Kip Sabian: I don’t think he was ever going to be a main event guy, anyway, but he’s still trying to recover from the incredibly stupid storyline from 2020 that saw him bring Miro to AEW to be the “best man” for Sabian’s wedding to Penelope Ford. Kip hasn’t been anywhere near as important to the AEW presentation as he was then. His 2023 has been rough, seeing him rack up an 0-15 record on television or pay-per-view. I think his push is Just Right, even with all of those losses. As I’ve said a million times in this column series, someone has to lose wrestling matches.
Komander: As the year went on, we started to see him wrestle on television or pay-per-view more and more. That part is fine, as his brand of action is exciting and breathtaking, so I won’t complain about seeing him wrestle. My issues with his year are the same two that I’ve already mentioned a dozen times in this column. He has a 3-22 record on television or pay-per-view, and yet, he has found himself in six different title matches this year. Also, to balance his 3-22 record out, he’s 10-0 on RoH Honor Club episodes. That’s just weird. All in all, I think he’s Underpushed. Like I said, he’s really exciting to watch, and I think it should lead to him winning more often. Next up, the wait to see if Tony Khan can put a focus enough on the guys like Komander and El Hijo Del Vikingo to give them actual stories to work with, instead of just placing them in random matches every week.
Konosuke Takeshita: If you’ve been a reader of mine for a while, you already know what I’m going to choose here. Takeshita is Underpushed. Without a doubt. Since his arrival in AEW, there might not be anyone on the roster to have as many great matches, and on a consistent basis. He has proven that he belongs in the AEW World Title picture, and now that he has Don Callis in his corner to handle any talking that is needed, Takeshita is in an even better situation. He’s never had a shot at the AEW World Title, though. In fact, the only title shot he has had since arriving in AEW was a shot at Claudio Castagnoli’s RoH World Title on a Battle Of The Belts episode in August 2022. The trigger needs to be pulled on a major push for him, and it needs to happen soon.
Kota Ibushi: He has four matches under his belt in AEW, and they’ve all been really big deals, for one reason or another. I’m not even really sure what to expect out of Ibushi’s time with the company. It’s difficult to gauge his singles career there, because he has yet to wrestle a singles match there. He’s been in a ten-man Blood & Guts Match, an eight-man Street Fight, and two six-man tag matches. He’s still a big international star that is ultra popular with the AEW audience, so he could be slotted just about anywhere with no real issue. Because of the uncertainty with things, though, I’ll just say his push is Just Right. He’s worthy of the high profile tag matches, and that’s where he’s at.
Kris Statlander: For months, I called for Stat to be the woman who should dethrone Jade Cargill and end Jade’s lengthy undefeated streak. As we know, that was eventually what happened. Now… raise your hand if you think Stat’s near six-month reign as the TBS Champion matched the lofty heights set by her win over Jade Cargill. If your hand is up, you’re a liar, and I’m calling you out on it. Sure, she was a workhorse champion, successfully defending the title 14 times on television or pay-per-view in that almost six-month time period. It just never seemed like her career was at the next level, like it should’ve been after she defeated Jade. Does that make her Overpushed? You could make an argument for it, but I’m still going to say her push is Just Right. She just lost the title, so it remains to be seen where she goes from here, but she still carries whatever “rub” the two Jade victories gave her. It’s up to the company now to see what she does with it.
Kyle Fletcher: I always feel bad when I talk about a tag team wrestler and discuss how good of a singles competitor they would be. That’s no different than how I feel right now, talking about one-half of Aussie Open. When his partner, Mark Davis, went down with a wrist injury at WrestleDream, I think most people started picturing what a Kyle Fletcher singles run would look like. Even before Davis’ injury, we had been treated to some really good singles performances by Fletcher, but he has cranked it up a notch or two since Davis took time off. It’s hard to really gauge a singles push for Fletcher, as he’s almost certainly just jogging in place a bit until Davis returns to action. Because of that, we’ll go with Just Right. He’s there to have some fun, entertaining matches as we wait for a Mark Davis return that could potentially be happening very soon.
Lance Archer: If we’re being honest with each other, Archer is probably in the running for being the most Underpushed wrestler in AEW history. So much could’ve been done with him being an unstoppable monster heel, on a roster full of wrestlers with a smaller stature, but it just never happened. He would get some wins here and there, but he was never quite able to reach the upper tier. Obviously, there is still time for it to happen, but he has been stuck in the “beat the bottom feeders and lose to anyone worth a damn” cycle for so long that it might not be able to happen at this point. How “believable” would it be with fans at this point?
Lee Moriarty: He’s Underpushed, but at the same time, I’m not quite sure where the ideal position on the card would be for him. When it comes to pure in-ring ability, he’s someone that can be pretty successful in a landscape like AEW. If he were given more to do, with longer, competitive matches against top-tier opponents, I think AEW fans would really get behind him. The problem is that, even though AEW doesn’t require the focus on charisma and mic skills that WWE does, there are other wrestlers on the roster who have a better combination of in-ring ability and personality. Would you push him above those names? Probably not. Currently, he’s 1-11 on television or pay-per-view in 2023, but… stop me if you’ve heard this theme already… he’s 12-6 on RoH Honor Club, and even that could’ve been a bigger gap, as he has lost his last three Honor Club matches. He’s probably someone who could truly excel on the RoH side of things, but the AEW side muddies the waters a bit.
Luther: The man is 55 years old, hasn’t wrestled at all in four months, and is now portraying “Timeless” Toni Storm’s Butler on-screen, so… is he even a wrestler anymore? I have no idea. For now, he’s still included, as he makes the cut by wrestling on three different episodes of Rampage this year. Let’s get it out of the way… Overpushed. That was easy. One match would’ve been too many. He was brought to AEW because he has been Chris Jericho’s friend for decades, as they go all the way back to working together in Canada during the early-90’s. Technically… does that make him the one person in AEW who has truly seen a benefit from being in Jericho’s life? Either way, he has no business being in the ring anymore, so hopefully, this Toni Storm thing signals the end for him as an active performer. I doubt it, but here’s hoping, anyway.
Malakai Black: Underpushed. Another easy one. He has done some great work in getting The House Of Black to the point they’re at today, but many fans still want more. He has a 14-3 record on television or pay-per-view this year, and one of those losses was by disqualification. HOB had a nearly six-month reign as the Trios Champions, but I think Black would be a tremendous addition to the World Title picture as a singles wrestler. You have to go all the way back to June 2022 to even find the last time he wrestled a singles match in AEW. That’s insanity. What’s great about HOB, though, is that they can clearly succeed as a group, but they could also succeed in any other fashion. Buddy Matthews as a singles wrestler, with Malakai Black and Brody King terrorizing the tag division? Yup. Malakai Black in the World Title picture, with Brody King and Buddy Matthews as a tag team? Yup. Brody King unleashed on the world, with Malakai Black and Buddy Matthews as a tag team? Yup. All three of them in different levels of singles competition? Yup. That’s a really cool position to be in.
Marina Shafir: You’re going to be shocked to read this, but we have another candidate to show you the difference between competing in AEW and competing in RoH. She is 0-8 on AEW television in 2023, but she has a 3-2 record on RoH Honor Club episodes. While she has gotten better in the ring, she still has a ways to go if she wants to reach the levels of her fellow Four Horsewomen members, Ronda Rousey and Shayna Baszler, as overall packages. I get the idea, in theory, of wanting to push her, but it hasn’t led to any sort of traction, as AEW fans just haven’t responded to her. With Ronda Rousey recently making her RoH debut to tag with Marina, maybe that can be the vehicle to help Mrs. Roderick Strong reach the next level. Or, maybe it was just a one-off for Ronda. Who knows? For now, I’ll say her push is Just Right. Like I said, I get the idea of why you would want to push someone like her. Maybe it’ll work if it happens again. Third time’s the charm, after all, right?
Mark Briscoe: It’s a shame that the passing of Jay Briscoe will always come up when any sort of push for Mark Briscoe is discussed. If Mark wins any matches, you’re inevitably going to find someone questioning if he is only being pushed because his brother died. On the other hand, if Mark loses any matches, you’re inevitably going to find someone angry with AEW for the “disrespect” they’re showing the Briscoe family. I don’t think Mark is being used to eventually become a top talent in the company. He’s always going to be over, and always has the capability to have some fun matches, and that’s it. That’s perfectly fine. There are approximately one gazillion wrestlers who have made a fortune being in those types of spots through the years. His push is Just Right. He’s there to do a particular job, and he does it well.
Mark Davis: The man can “go” in the ring, but he doesn’t get anywhere near the amount of attention that his tag partner, Kyle Fletcher, gets. Davis has a 10-10 record on television or pay-per-view this year, but without the critically acclaimed singles performances that Fletcher has had. Being injured isn’t going to help Davis’ cause any, either. When Davis is healthy, Aussie Open are one of the best tag teams in the business and have proven, time and time again, that they can have great matches with a wide variety of teams. Because of that, I’m saying that his push is Just Right. That’s exactly where he should be on the card.
Matt Hardy: Come on now. Matt Hardy’s body gave up on him years ago, completely worn down because of all those car crash matches he was having on a regular basis. He moved like an elderly woman 15 years ago. Now, my knees and hips hurt just watching him try to move around. He should’ve retired a long time ago, but to be generous, let’s say his retirement should’ve happened when his WWE contract expired in 2020. His AEW debut was laughable, and it hasn’t exactly been a climb to the top since. He has a record of 5-19 record on television or pay-per-view this year, and we haven’t seen the Hardy Boys win a straight up tag match that was televised since Double Or Nothing 2022, 18 whole months ago. Sure, Jeff Hardy was suspended and missed a bunch of time, but he returned to the company nearly eight months ago. Their time in AEW simply hasn’t gone the way people hoped it would. Overpushed. It’s time to move out of the way and let some other, younger teams have their chance.
Matt Jackson: The Young Bucks are… well… The Young Bucks. When you ask people about the Bucks, you’re either going to hear that they’re in the argument for the greatest tag team in the history of the business, or you’re going to hear that they’ve been killing the sport with their kicks, flips, and wink wink nudge nudge insider references. I don’t really subscribe to either of those sensationalist points of view. I’m a fan of theirs, but I wouldn’t say they’re in the running for the best team ever. If you want to put them up against teams like The Usos or The New Day or FTR and other teams for the best team of this generation, I would allow you to have the floor to make your argument, but that’s as far as it goes. With a 17-10 record this year, Matt Jackson has had a pretty good time of things, including a reign as the AEW Trios Champions with his brother and Kenny Omega, and a reign as the RoH Six Man Tag Champions with his brother and “Hangman” Adam Page. When it comes to actual Tag Team Titles, the Bucks have been away from belts for a long time. They dropped the AEW Tag Team Titles in July 2022, and they haven’t won them back since. That’s an eternity for a team that almost always seems to have at least one company’s titles around their waists. Potentially complicating things a bit more is the fact that they appeared to be starting a heel turn, only to apparently take some time away from the ring. All in all, I think they’re Just Right. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, how much they’re winning, and what titles they have or don’t have. They’re one of the rare acts in AEW that is going to be treated as a huge deal, no matter what. They’ve earned that.
Matt Menard: Let’s see… he was attached at Chris Jericho’s hip for a long time, so that means his career is pretty much going nowhere. How does a 3-22 record on television or pay-per-view sound? What about one win in the last eight months? Someone has to lose matches, though, right? I’m going to go with Just Right, simply based on that fact. I said that his tag partner, Angelo Parker, was Overpushed because he was getting more television time due to his romantic storyline with Ruby Soho. Unless Legohead over here gets a love interest on-screen, he can have a better grade than Parker.
Matt Sydal: Behold! The rare case of losing all the time in AEW (0-8 on television in 2023) and losing a ton in RoH (4-9 on Honor Club)! He’s someone who made his AEW debut in 2020 by IMMEDIATELY botching the first thing he did, which just so happened to be his own finishing move, and somehow, it has been downhill from there. Even though he isn’t in the prime of his career anymore, he’s still capable of some exciting offense in his matches. I just think he has taken such a creative beating that he might be a lost cause when it comes to being pushed in any way. Just Right? I guess?
Matt Taven: Did you know he has a 7-5 record on television or pay-per-view this year? I didn’t even realize he had 12 such matches, let alone won seven times. To be fair, four of those wins came against enhancement talent that aren’t contracted to the company, while the other three wins came against some of the lowest tiered players on the roster. Still… 7-5 is 7-5, and that’s a lot better than many names on this list. Surprise, surprise… Taven, as a longtime regular in RoH, has an 11-3 record on Honor Club episodes. There’s that line in the sand yet again. He and Mike Bennett have won their last three matches on television, so they’re definitely receiving some sort of a push, although it remains to be seen where it goes. That’s fine. They’re solid, yet unspectacular, but could provide some fresh matches and feuds for viewers. Just Right.
Max Caster: Like I said in the Anthony Bowens entry, The Acclaimed are still popular with live crowds, but it’s nowhere near where that popularity was when they were chasing the Tag Team Titles last year. They’ve taken the Trios Titles that were once defended regularly in incredible matches, and they’ve turned them into jokes written by 13-year-olds. They’re Overpushed, and they’re in dire need of some sort of reset.
Mercedes Martinez: She is 23 years deep in her wrestling career, but she is still able to bring a really good, physical style to her matches. Unfortunately, that hasn’t led to a whole lot this year. After returning from an injury, she has a 2-4 record on television or pay-per-view, but an 8-1 record on RoH Honor Club. I’m not sure how much time she has left in the business, but I am sure that she can contribute a lot more than what the company is having her contribute right now. Underpushed. She could be a solid addition to Wednesday, Friday, or Saturday nights for AEW.
Mike Bennett: Like his tag partner, Matt Taven, Bennett has more matches on television than I was expecting him to have. He has a 7-6 record on television or pay-per-view, with an 11-3 record on Honor Club. There’s not much to say here that I didn’t already say in Taven’s entry. These guys aren’t going to make a bunch of crazy highlight reels, but they are a solid team that can provide new directions for AEW. Just Right.
Mike Santana: He just barely makes the cut here, competing in just three matches since his return from a knee injury that put him on the shelf for 14 months. After returning at All In(nit) for Stadium Stampede, he moved right over to a feud with Ortiz, playing off of their real-life personal issues that saw their long-time friendship disintegrate. He beat Ortiz in a No Disqualification Match, and that was it. It has been over a month with nothing else happening for the guy. I’m still a little sad that Santana and Ortiz weren’t able to deal with whatever issues they had as friends, as they could’ve done some major damage to the tag scene in AEW. As a team, they were about as Underpushed as it gets. When it comes to Santana as a singles act, I guess I have to say his push is Just Right, because it’s too early to tell otherwise just yet.
Miro: In what seems to be a theme for his entire career, he’s Underpushed. Once he broke free from Kip Sabian, he probably should’ve been pushed as a big deal, but it never happened. In late-2021, he needed some time off for injuries and some acting gigs, causing him to miss six-and-a-half months. He came back for three months, and then completely disappeared again, missing nine-and-a-half months. In the five-and-a-half months since his latest return, he has wrestled a total of six matches, winning all of them, but he seems to be more of a side character in CJ Perry’s quest to find clients to manage. Miro could easily be competing for the AEW World Title, but it just hasn’t worked out in that way yet.
MJF: There’s a few different directions you can go here, depending on your personal opinions of MJF. There are the people who feel he’s Overpushed because he has been the World Champion for a year, one-half of the RoH Tag Team Champions for three months, and has been carrying a multi-layered storyline with Adam Cole’s injury, the theft of his World Title belt, mystery attackers, an injury storyline for himself, and several challengers waiting to knock him from the top of the AEW mountain. The people who argue that point say that he is as over as anyone on the AEW roster because of all those things, with fans everywhere eating out of his hand on a weekly basis, and that he’s also doing some of the best overall work of his career in the process. He has always been one of the best mic men in the business, but recently, his in-ring work has started to match his promo efforts. Honestly, I think his push is Just Right. He has been carrying the entire promotion on his back for a long time. The company has been giving him an ungodly amount of things to do at the same time, but he has shown that he is more than capable of handling the extra work load. We’re not that far removed from him having multi-month gaps between matches, so this extra work has been a welcome addition to AEW programming.
Nick Jackson: I guess we have to go with Just Right, as that’s what grade I gave to his brother earlier. The Young Bucks are one of the rare acts in AEW that are going to be placed on a particular pedestal, no matter what is going on. Heel, face, champions, challengers, winning, losing, main event, show openers… every match they have, and every storyline they participate in, is going to be treated like a big deal. Maybe you feel they deserve that, or maybe you feel it’s only because of their EVP positions within the company, but it’s a fact nonetheless.
Nick Wayne: He has a 5-6 record on television or pay-per-view, but of course, that’s not the story. Instead, what gets the news is the fact that he made his debut for the company two days after his 18th birthday, and was already over five years deep into his career when he did so. He has the new nickname of “The Prodigy” for a reason. I have zero problems with his place on the card right now. He is going to learn so much from people like Christian Cage, Adam Copeland, and Sting. It will only make him better. However, perhaps they should spend their time focusing on improving his acting ability, which has been horrendous during this storyline. Just Right, unless he continues to keep acting, in which case he will be Overpushed to levels that can’t be fully comprehended at the moment.
Nyla Rose: It hasn’t been a good year for the former AEW Women’s Champion, who is now 0-9 on television in 2023. I’m not sure what this stat says, but Nyla has participated in seven pre-show dark matches before episodes of Dynamite this year. These days, it seems Nyla is more famous for having a hilarious presence on social media, with viral posts happening left and right, than anything going on in the ring. It sure seems like we may have seen the last of Nyla’s days as a true threat in the company, but maybe I’m wrong. I guess I’ll go with Just Right here, as there could be a bigger push, but there are also other, newer, fresher options that I feel deserve the call ahead of Nyla.
Orange Cassidy: He’s so Underpushed that it hurts. It doesn’t matter if you find his character “silly” or whatever other words you want to choose to describe it. The gimmick is supposed to be silly. That’s pretty obvious. What matters most is what he’s capable of doing when the bell rings. His first reign as the All-Atlantic/International Champion was a thrilling ride, as we watched him defend the title time and time and time and time and time again, against all comers, building himself up to great heights in the process. When he finally lost the title after almost a full calendar year, many people felt it would be the springboard that would move him to the main event scene. Nope. Barely a month went by, and he became the International Champion again. It’s a lateral move, at the very best. He has proven he can be a “top guy” in the company, and the live AEW crowds are more than ready to cheer for it.
Ortiz: Like Santana, he made his return to AEW programming (albeit from a much shorter absence) to be in Stadium Stampede at All In(nit). Also like Santana, he has pretty much disappeared from the ring after having a match against his former best friend. Santana got most of the hype and attention during their mini-feud, so I have a hunch we aren’t going to see him get any sort of push as a singles wrestler. He has never won a televised singles match in AEW, so it’s nothing new. I decided to choose Just Right for Santana, so I have to go Just Right here, as well. It’s a little early to figure out what kind of push he’ll be getting, if at all.
Pac: When it comes to his AEW stint, it might be more known for the time he has missed than anything he’s done in the ring. That’s saying a lot because he has some great matches during his time with the company. At the height of COVID, he missed eight months when he was unable to travel and was forced to stay home in England. He would miss bits and pieces of time here and there, but earlier this year, he was away from AEW for six months to deal with an injury to his nose. His return to the ring came in July for the Blood & Guts Match. All seemed well again… for a week. Seven days after Blood & Guts, he suffered an undisclosed injury and has yet to return, four months later. When he’s healthy, I think he’s clearly Underpushed. He does well for himself as a member of the Death Triangle group, but he should get back to being a dangerous singles competitor again.
Penta El Zero Miedo: If you can get beyond the fact that he won’t be involved in 20-minute promo segments with the likes of MJF, Jon Moxley, Chris Jericho, and people like that, Penta is someone that should be a major singles player in AEW. He has the look, the connection with live crowds, the charisma, and of course, the in-ring credentials to be a World Champion. We’ve seen him as an AEW Tag Team Champion with Rey Fenix, and as an AEW Trios Champion with Fenix and Pac, but I want to see him do some damage on his own. I guess that makes him Underpushed, huh?
Peter Avalon: He’s 0-4 on television in 2023, and he’s 0-6 on Honor Club, so I think that just about says it all, doesn’t it? The man has never been a serious threat in AEW, but he was never meant to be, and that’s fine. For the millionth time, someone has to lose wrestling matches, and if that’s his job when his number is called on, so be it. Just Right.
Powerhouse Hobbs: His 15-7 record on television or pay-per-view this year looks pretty good at first glance. The numbers are skewed a bit, though, because seven of his wins came against non-contracted enhancement talent, and two more came against contracted talent that are on the lower end of the card. If you can’t handle math, that leaves him with a 6-7 record against anyone in the midcard and above in AEW. He’s had some big moments in 2023, though, including a reign as the TNT Champion and a pinfall victory over Chris Jericho. Could he be doing better overall? Absolutely. For now, I think he’s in a good place. The company seems to feel that he can’t reach a certain level on his own, so he almost always seems to be a member of a stable or group. That’s the kind of thing that can possibly accentuate his positives and hide his weaknesses. Just Right. For now, at least. I do think he’s capable of more, but he’s someone who needs to put a few more pieces of the puzzle together before it happens.
Preston Vance: Here we go again… 2-8 on television, but 3-0 on Honor Club. Maybe that’s only funny to me, but it actually makes me laugh to see that happening again and again as I go through the roster. When Vance left The Dark Order around this time last year, it was a critical time in his career. With The Dark Order, he was mostly appearing on AEW’s YouTube shows, but he was finding a lot of success in that lane. Did leaving the group help him at all? Well, he was 1-9 on television in 2022 before he turned, so obviously, he’s winning more now. Hooray! Future World Champion! He’ll be 3-7 in 2024, 4-6 in 2025, and by the time we hit 2031, he’ll be on a Roman Reigns like winning streak. Mark it down. In all seriousness, I’m going to go ahead and say that he’s Underpushed. He’s a lot better than he ever gets the opportunity to show the world, but I’m not exactly sure of what his ceiling would be in AEW.
Red Velvet: Missing nine months of the year with an undisclosed injury will really affect your stats, but she has wrestled five matches on television in 2023, so she qualifies here. We used to see her on television frequently, as she was aligned with Jade Cargill. Now that Jade is no longer with AEW, it remains to be seen if Red Velvet can find her own footing. Nothing in her time back with the company indicates anything, one way or another. Just Right, because it’s too early to tell what will happen, with only three matches wrestled since returning.
Rey Fénix: Unlike his brother, Penta, Rey has seen some major singles success in AEW. He won the International Title earlier this year, but to be fair, it was only because Jon Moxley suffered a concussion during a match, forcing an audible to be called and a new champion to be crowned. Rey’s time as the champion lasted a whole three weeks. I do think he’s on the level where he can win a title like that legitimately and he’d be in a great spot. He’s one of the best tag wrestlers on the roster, and has shown that repeatedly, but he could do some great stuff on his own, as well, if given the chance. Underpushed.
Ricky Starks: I’ve mentioned this is my columns before, but I’m so disappointed in the direction of Ricky Starks’ career after his feud with Powerhouse Hobbs. He has always looked like he could be a future AEW World Champion, but when he turned face, it really looked like the future would be now. He went on to defeat Hobbs in a Lights Out Match, and he stayed on a winning streak, earning himself a shot at MJF’s World Title. That match didn’t go his way, and from there, he just seemed to float around aimlessly. Not quite reaching “just another guy” levels, but coming close. After a heel turn that nobody asked for, he found his biggest success… as one-half of the AEW Tag Team Champions with Big Bill, of all people. That’s a cool thing to accomplish, but I still feel that AEW dropped the ball with him. Should he have won the World Title in his match against MJF to close out 2022? That would’ve been a bold move, but the crowds were ready for it. I think he’s Underpushed right now. Nothing against Big Bill, but “Absolute” should be doing more than working tag matches on Collision every week.
Riho: She is quite the interesting case when you look at the direction her career has been going in. From the beginning of her time with AEW, she was a part-time performer, splitting her time between the United States and Japan. Recently, though, she has been a part-time performer in AEW, but not taking any bookings in Japan. From the information that I’ve gathered, the last time she wrestled in Japan (outside of an AEW promotional match for the Fight Forever video game at the Tokyo Game Show) was in July 2022, and THAT was her only match in Japan since December 2020. Is she transitioning into retirement? Does she have plans to move to the United States and go full-time with AEW? When she’s in AEW, it gets attention, and she’ll deliver fun performances, win or lose. It just doesn’t happen often. She has five matches on television this year, but nothing in almost eight months (she had a pre-show dark match before an episode of Dynamite almost six months ago), following five matches on television in 2022. Just Right, maybe? I would like to see her in AEW more often, but it doesn’t seem like that’s likely. As it is, she’s a fun addition to the product when she’s around, which is not often.
Roderick Strong: When it comes to character work and developing a personality, he is doing the best work of his 23-year career these days. It has even translated to some success in the ring, where he has a 7-2 record on television over the last seven months, with both of his losses coming to Samoa Joe. Even when he doesn’t wrestle, he is a regular on television, heavily involved in the current storyline with MJF and Adam Cole. While I can envision a scenario where Roddy finds himself in the World Title picture because of what’s going on, the most likely outcome that people are predicting is he’ll be Cole’s right hand man after AC turns heel on MJF at some point. That’s the perfect role for him, and what he’s doing right now is great. He gets time on television, gets to showcase a new side of himself, and still gets to have good matches? Yeah, his push is Just Right.
Ruby Soho: There was a lot of buzz when Ruby debuted at All Out 2021. I wouldn’t say that her time in AEW has been a failure, but it certainly has had some disappointing moments. Her run has fallen into a bit of a pattern. She’ll win a bunch of matches in a row, earn herself a title shot of some sort, lose the title match, then go back to winning a bunch of matches in a row, starting the cycle all over again. She has had six title matches in AEW, losing all six. Her 2023 has seen her earn a 14-12 record on television or pay-per-view, but she has lost her last five (the longest losing streak of her AEW tenure) matches, and lost seven of her last eight, to make that an uglier record than it was. With those losses, she is also dealing with an apparent romantic storyline with Angelo Parker that I don’t think many people were asking for. I wouldn’t blame you if you felt her push was Just Right, but I think she’s a tad Underpushed. She could be doing better than the romantic story stuff, but she could certainly be doing better than being a gatekeeper, of sorts, in the women’s division.
Rush: The two-time RoH World Champion has a 4-9-1 record on television or pay-per-view this year. That’s not exactly ideal, but don’t fret, because he’s 5-0 on Honor Club episodes! He has the capability to be a big star for AEW, but I think he has been passed over by a bunch of names, moving him down the ladder. That alone makes him Underpushed. He could be doing better, but he might have his work cut out for him to get back to any sort of position where fans would believe him and accept him as a big star again.
Sammy Guevara: Yet another name who spent entirely too much time next to Chris Jericho. He has a 15-9 record on television or pay-per-view this year, which is fine, but there’s always something that seems to be missing with Sammy. He’s easy to hate, but his offense during his matches is exciting. He has a ton of charisma, but his promos can often be lacking. I think he still has a bright future with the company, but for the time being, he’s in a good spot. Just Right. No need to overthink it.
Samoa Joe: When he first started with AEW, I made mention that things didn’t seem to be fully working out for him. After an impressive run in NXT and WWE, it looked like age and the wear and tear of nearly a quarter-century in the ring was catching up to him. Somewhere along the way, though, he began to turn the clock back… again… and he started looking like the Samoa Joe that fans were wanting to defeat the likes of Brock Lesnar and Braun Strowman in WWE. With a 17-6 record on television or pay-per-view in 2023, and an 8-0 record on Honor Club episodes, he is doing very well for himself right now, earning another shot at MJF and the AEW World Title. With word coming out that MJF has multiple injuries, including a torn labrum, Joe may very well find himself as the next champion. For now, his push is Just Right, because he has earned this spot
Saraya: It was a big news story when she debuted in AEW, and for good reason. She had been away from the ring for five years because of her neck injuries, and nobody really expected to see her wrestle again. It was quite the feel-good story. Then… we got a heel turn that nobody wanted, and a lame group that nobody cared about. She was able to get a brief reign as the AEW Women’s Champion, but even her biggest fans admit that she only won it for the pop she got at All In(nit) in front of her friends, family, and countrymen. I don’t know if it’s just that too many years have gone by, or if she has had to change her style due to injuries, or whatever it is, but she’s not the same wrestler that she was in the Paige days. It feels like I haven’t given anybody this grade in a while, but she’s Overpushed. The name value she carries only goes so far.
Satnam Singh: He doesn’t wrestle very often, but when he does, it’s too much. Overpushed. He has been a participant in some funny vignettes and moments with Jeff Jarrett and his crew, but that’s about it. The man has a lot of height, but now that people like Big Bill are around, AEW has other avenues if they want to push someone that is tall.
Scorpio Sky: I’m a fan of the guy, but I totally understand why not everyone is. He’s one of those “jack of all trades, master of none” types. He’s good at a bunch of things, but you can always find people who are better in every category. With three matches on television or pay-per-view this year, he barely makes the cut for the column. He’s had a rough go of it for a while. He missed a full calendar year with a leg injury, then returned to the ring and was injured again in his first match back. After missing another two months, he hasn’t really done much. A Battle Royal appearance, a loss on television, and then three wins in a row on RoH Honor Club, but he hasn’t even had a match in the last two months. I’m going to say he’s Underpushed, as he’s definitely better than a lot of people that are on television regularly, but I think we’ve seen the last of him being pushed as anything special in AEW.
Serpentico: Sometimes he wrestles as Serpentine. Other times, he wrestles as Jon Cruz. Every so often, he wrestles as Ben Dejo. No matter what name he uses, one thing that you can always count on him for is losses. Lots of them. He has an 0-8 record on television or pay-per-view this year. As a matter of fact, he has never won a match on AEW television or pay-per-view. He’s only 4-12 on Honor Club episodes in 2023, so it’s not much better on that side of the fence. Whatever. Just Right. Someone has to lose.
Shawn Spears: It feels like 20 years have gone by since his “Perfect 10” stuff as Tye Dillinger was mega popular in NXT and for a little while on WWE’s main roster. He never came close to reaching those levels in AEW. We rarely see him wrestling, and when we do, it’s probably going to be in a losing effort. He has become an afterthought, but he does have more “name value” than many of the other afterthoughts on the roster. A win over him still means something. I guess. Probably. Just Right.
Skye Blue: In the first five months of 2023, she was 0-6 on television. Since then, she’s 13-12 on television or pay-per-view. For one, that’s a much better record, but two, the amount of matches she had shows that the company’s faith in her has grown exponentially. She’s also 11-1 on Honor Club episodes and 6-0 in her hometown of Chicago, making her one of the more interesting people to look at on the roster. I think her push is Just Right at the moment. She is making her way up the ladder, and it won’t be long until she is a champion in AEW. I have no doubt about that. We’re watching her ascension on a weekly basis.
Sting: He’s 10-0 on television or pay-per-view this year, making him 23-0 (not 24-0 like they’re saying on television, unless they’re counting his match in Pro Wrestling NOAH for The Great Muta’s retirement, which they shouldn’t be doing) since he joined AEW. All 23 of those matches were of the tag variety, ranging from regular tag to eight-man tag contests. From a strictly kayfabe viewpoint, wouldn’t that make him Underpushed? I’m only half-serious, of course, but it’s funny that he wins all those matches and never gets a shot at the Tag Team or Trios Titles. There’s still time for that, I guess. Overall, though, I have no problem saying that his push is Just Right. He doesn’t take up a ton of time on television, but whenever he’s around, it becomes a big deal, and live crowds still adore the guy. AEW is getting a lot of return back on their investment, without having to change who they are as a promotion.
Stu Grayson: He was in the company as a member of The Dark Order, and then, all of a sudden, he wasn’t in the company anymore, as his contract expired. After being gone for over ten months, he was brought back, and… hasn’t done much of anything. He went from being a member of The Dark Order to being a member of The Righteous, and it has done nothing for his career. Here’s to hoping he re-signed for more money than he could’ve made on the independent scene. Just Right. He’s better in the ring than he generally gets credit for, but he’s been so low on the ladder all this time, so I think he’s pretty much stuck there now. Someone has to lose those matches.
Swerve Strickland: Underpushed. Until the day comes when he wins the AEW World Title, I will continue to say that he isn’t being pushed enough. Whether it’s his look, his matches, his promos, the way he carries himself, his entrance… whatever you want… he just screams “World Champion” as soon as he steps foot in an arena. I’m glad that more and more people are finding themselves agreeing with that line of thinking these days, especially after his Full Gear match with “Hangman” Adam Page. If he doesn’t win the World Title by this point next year, Tony Khan should be arrested and charged with all sorts of war crimes.
Taya Valkyrie: When she first showed up in AEW, she built some decent momentum until weird booking decisions deflated that momentum like a New England Patriots football. Her record on television or pay-per-view is 8-8, but it looked like it would be very different at one point. She won her first four matches, then failed to take the TBS Title from Jade Cargill. After that, she won her next match… then failed to take the TBS Title from Jade Cargill. Then she won her next match… then failed to take the TBS Title from Kris Statlander. Then she lost a match, followed by winning a match… then she failed to take the AEW Women’s Title from Toni Storm. She is 1-3 on television since that Storm match, with her last win coming well over four months ago. I think she really could’ve been a dangerous addition to the women’s division, but that booking is atrocious. That’s tough to bounce back from. Underpushed, but I don’t know if that ever changes while she’s still with the company.
Toa Liona: He’s mostly tied to Bishop Kaun, so look no further than Kaun’s entry in this column for my thoughts. Mogul Embassy are mostly RoH guys, as evidenced by them being the RoH Six-Man Tag Team Champions, but it’s usually an important match when they show up on AEW programming. That’s a good spot for Liona. Just Right. They’re getting closer and closer to reaching MexiSquad’s record for most overall days as the Six-Man Champions, so that’s the next goal.
Toni Storm: Sure, a lot of people feel her new “Timeless” character is silly and is taking up too much time on television, but they’re only half-right. Yes, it’s silly, but it’s supposed to be silly. That should be pretty obvious. She isn’t taking up too much time on television, though. Actually, her push is Just Right. For a long time, the only people who were really paying attention to her were those “ZOMG HUR BUTT IS HYUGE” accounts on social media. She is one of the best in-ring performers that AEW has ever had in its women’s division, and now that she has an actual character to work with, she’s getting a chance to showcase that.
Tony Nese: If you’re looking for a super solid technician in the ring, Nese is your guy. Even in a company that likes to focus on the in-ring stuff, that hasn’t led to much success for Nese. He is currently 0-10 on television or pay-per-view, and at 5-15, his Honor Club record isn’t a whole lot better. Could he do better? Yes. Should he do better? Probably. However, I’m going to say that his push is Just Right. Obviously, someone needs to lose matches, but with Nese, he’s going to make his opponents look great as he does so. That’s an important gig to have in any wrestling promotion.
Trent Beretta: He has a 6-27 record on television or pay-per-view this year. To you, the amount of losses he has is the number that jumps out at you. For me, it’s the fact that the company has trusted him enough to give him that many matches that were on television or pay-per-view. With Chuck Taylor, I said that his push was Just Right because someone had to lose, so it might as well be someone that remains popular after taking all those losses. The same goes for Trent. His push is Just Right. He loses so many times, but he’s still over, is still in a popular group, and gets more chances than just about anyone on the roster to wrestle on television or pay-per-view. Not bad.
Vincent: I had decently high hopes for The Righteous in Tony Khan’s Ring Of Honor, and even for them in AEW. Not anymore. They haven’t been treated seriously at all, basically only winning matches against non-contracted enhancement talent. Their biggest match was a two-on-one Handicap Match against MJF, and one defeated two in what was damn near a squash match. Overpushed. They’re not even on a low ladder rung at this point. Instead, they’re pretty much pinned beneath the ladder. There’s not a lot of reason for them to even be around anymore.
Wardlow: Do you all remember just how insanely over Wardlow was at one point? He had major “Batista in early 2005” vibes, where his size, strength, and overall cool factor were pushing him to become one of the most popular acts in the business. AEW could’ve put the World Title on him and fans would’ve eaten it up. Of course, that was all botched to hell with… surprise, surprise… terrible booking decisions. He was caught up in AEW’s game of hot potato with the TNT Title, when it seemed like the belt would change hands every other week. After his third reign as the TNT Champion came to an end, he disappeared for three-and-a-half months before returning and devolving back into the “win squash matches” guy that he was before he won any titles. He is 5-0 since returning, and those five matches have combined to last 6:11, although 3:15 of that came in his most recent match against AR Fox. We should really be beyond that by this point in his career. I might regret this, but I’m going to say he’s Underpushed, as there’s still plenty of popularity left for the company to take advantage of. I just don’t have a lot of faith in the company to do so.
Wheeler Yuta: In the entire history of the RoH Pure Title, 12 men have been in possession of the belt. Of those 12, 11 of them have one reign as champion. The other man? Wheeler Yuta, who has a whopping three reigns. With a 15-16 record on television or pay-per-view this year, he is one of the most frequently used wrestlers on the roster, and that’s not counting his 6-0 record on Honor Club episodes. If you dig a little deeper, though, you’ll see that he is 0-7 on television or pay-per-view in singles matches that don’t involve the Pure Title. That clearly shows that his record is being “carried” by the bigger members of the Blackpool Combat Club. Does that surprise anyone? It shouldn’t. I think he’s slightly Overpushed, though. If he wasn’t in a group with three of the biggest names on the roster, do you think he would be a three-time Pure Champ and be involved in more matches than just about anyone on the roster? Of course not. I like him as a wrestler, but come on, how many people are really checking for him, specifically, when BCC is in the ring to do their thing? Exactly.
Will Ospreay: He’s an official member of the roster, and he has wrestled five times on television or pay-per-view this year, so he counts here. In those five matches, he has been victorious in all of them, including a win over Kenny Omega at Forbidden Door, taking his IWGP United States Heavyweight Title back in the process. This is going to sound strange, but I think he’s Underpushed. In AEW, of course, and not just about anywhere else he has been wrestling. For the most part, his appearances in AEW have seen him compete in six or eight-man tag matches, which isn’t fully taking advantage of what he can do. At the same time, though, I think he’ll be used differently once he becomes full-time with the company in 2024, after his New Japan commitments have been fulfilled. At least I hope that’s the case.
Willow Nightingale: We’ve seen the bubbly, fan friendly female face wrestler have plenty of success through the years, and sometimes, that also leads to a successful heel turn at some point. Right now, Willow is in a good spot with the company, even with the weird booking decisions they’ve made with her. She has a 12-12 record on television or pay-per-view this year, but she has a 1-4 record in title matches on television or pay-per-view, with that one victory being a defense of the NJPW Strong Women’s Title that she won outside of the AEW umbrella. It’s another case of wins and losses not mattering much, as she keeps finding herself in title matches, no matter what she’s doing. It’s also worth noting that she is 14-1 on Honor Club episodes in 2023, with her only loss coming all the way back in February in… you guessed it… a title match. As the year went on, she became a bigger part of programming, wrestling more frequently on AEW television. That’s a good place for her to be in. Just Right. More and more people find themselves being won over by her matches and by her character. It seems like her 2024 is set to be a big one.
You have the microphone now, folks. Like last week, your job is easy here… did I nail any of these picks, or am I way off on any of them? Let me hear some of your choices for certain members of the AEW roster. As always, feel free to hit me up in the comments section below, or on Twitter (@HustleTheSavage), and let me know what’s on your mind.
Now, let’s move on to my Weekly Power Rankings, before finishing this week’s output with the playlist of the songs I was listening to as I put this column together.
Weekly Power Rankings
Claudio Castagnoli vs Brody King: It shouldn’t surprise anybody who knows anything about his body of work, but man, Brody King looks amazing to this point in the Continental Classic, doesn’t he? Claudio, of course, is Claudio, and greatness is a nightly thing for him. It seems like Brody is going to become a star for AEW now, though, even if he doesn’t end up winning the tournament.
Wes Lee vs Cameron Grimes vs Johnny Gargano vs Bronson Reed: As always, whenever Cameron Grimes comes up in discussion, I am legally and contractually obligated to mention the fact that he nearly broke my leg at an independent wrestling show several years ago. This match could’ve been the main event of an NXT pay-per-view with no problems whatsoever. It was that good. The three returning names were able to really let loose and do what they do best, in front of an eager crowd who actually knows who they are. Funny how that works.
Swerve Strickland vs “Switchblade” Jay White: Not only is Swerve on quite the roll right now, but you can almost see it in his eyes that he knows he’s on quite the roll right now. He was always cool, but he seems to be carrying himself with an extra swagger now, and it carries over to his matches. It is so much fun to watch him.
Bryan Danielson vs Eddie Kingston: While we’re talking about people who are a lot of fun to watch, how about the best in-ring performer in the history of the business, Bryan Danielson? I said it, and I meant it. That guy is incredible, and there simply aren’t words to describe how good he is.
Andrade El Idolo vs Daniel Garcia: Hey, since we’re still talking about people who are a lot of fun to watch, what about these two? Andrade should be in World Title contention, and Garcia is finally finding the perfect balance of “pro wrestling” and “sports entertainment” with his character.
Jon Moxley vs Jay Lethal: An angry, motivated Jon Moxley is an extra dangerous Jon Moxley. That’s what we’re getting with him recently, and I love it. There was never going to be a doubt about the outcome here, but Lethal looked good in a loss, so that counts for a lot.
Mark Briscoe vs Rush: So far, the Continental Classic has truly been AEW’s version of the G1 Climax for New Japan, with really good match after really good match, and we aren’t done yet. Everyone seems to be working hard to put on the best possible matches. I’m really enjoying this stuff.
Christopher Daniels & Matt Sydal vs Malakai Black & Buddy Matthews: Can you imagine the 2023 House Of Black taking on the Daniels and Sydal from 15 years ago? My goodness.
Dante Martin: He made his return to the ring after suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in wrestling history at RoH Supercard Of Honor eight months ago. That alone would have him on this list, but to make it even better, he looked really good in his return. I really hope he and his brother can avoid the injuries and poor luck they’ve dealt with since making their AEW debuts.
A Potential Dream Match, Years In The Making: I don’t care if they’re past their prime… a match between “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and CM Punk would be an amazing spectacle. If you believe the reports that are out, WWE has had discussions about trying to get that match to actually take place. This goes back to when the WWE ’13 video game was being promoted 11 years ago, and there was an interview with both men conducted by Jim Ross, when things got real tense between them as they talked about the “what if” scenarios of them facing each other. Actually, it goes back even further than that, to people fantasy booking the “Straight Edge” Punk against the beer swilling Austin and what that could provide the wrestling world. It would be a big money match, and if both parties can come together on an agreement to make it happen, I would love to see it.
Tag Team Turmoil: A little bit of everything here, with all types of styles represented, and it ended with a nice final match that helped put The Creed Brothers in contention for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Titles. This was a mighty fine way to kill 25 minutes of in-ring time on Raw.
Bianca Belair vs Kairi Sane: Would it be too much to ask for Kairi Sane to actually pick up a victory? Her return was so well done, and yet, she hasn’t won a match since coming back. Bianca wins like 94% of her matches on the main roster. She can spare a loss here and there.
Tony D’Angelo & Channing “Stacks” Lorenzo vs Humberto Carrillo & Angel Garza: While we’re at it, can we get Carrillo and Garza some wins, too? It feels like they’ve been misused for years now, with no real end in sight.
Eddy Thorpe vs Bron Breakker: Why the fuck is Bron still in NXT? Seriously. Can someone provide me with an answer to that? Even at his young age and short time in the business, he has proven that he is ready to be on Raw or Smackdown, and there isn’t really anything left for him to achieve in NXT.
Brand New Parents: Alexa Bliss and her husband, singer Ryan Cabrera, welcomed a baby girl into the world last week. The next day, Tay Melo and Sammy Guevara welcomed a baby girl of their own into the world. Congratulations to both couples!
This Week’s Playlist: “While We Serve” by Orbit Culture… “Drained Of Life” by Extortionist… “Mysterons” by Portishead… “Sour Times” by Portishead… “Wandering Star” by Portishead… “Numb” by Portishead… “Glory Box” by Portishead… “Teenage Dirtbag” by Wheatus… “To The Hellfire” by Lorna Shore… “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling… “I Hate Everything About You” by Three Days Grace… “Kids” by MGMT… “How I Could Just Kill A Man” by Cypress Hill… “Losing A Whole Year” by Third Eye Blind… “Friday I’m In Love” by The Cure… “Oh Sherrie” by Steve Perry… “Foolish Heart” by Steve Perry… “Kyrie” by Mr. Mister… “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen… “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac… “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran… “Often” by The Weeknd… “John The Revelator” by Curtis Stigers & The Forest Rangers… “The Bomb! (These Sounds Fall Into My Mind)” by The Bucketheads… “Because The Night” by 10,000 Maniacs… “Slam” by Onyx… “No Rain” by Blind Melon… “Allison Road” by Gin Blossoms… “Follow You Down” by Gin Blossoms… “Til I Hear It From You” by Gin Blossoms… “Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms… “Found Out About You” by Gin Blossoms… “They Want EFX” by Das EFX… “Ante Up (Remix)” by M.O.P, Busta Rhymes, Remy Ma & Teflon… “Hey Leonardo (She Likes Me For Me)” by Blessed Union Of Souls… “I Believe” by Blessed Union Of Souls… “Superman” by Goldfinger… “HUMBLE.” by Kendrick Lamar… “LOVE” by CHVRCHES… “Pinch Me” by Barenaked Ladies