In the roughly three years of its existence, All Elite Wrestling has cultivated a tremendous roster. It’s impossible to deny the immense level of talent that fans get to see whenever Dynamite or Rampage airs and it’s the main reason why the promotion has enjoyed as much early success as it has.
Thus far, AEW has mostly maintained a patient approach to booking its product. We seldom see the company burn through too many big matches (and we almost never see a hotshot booking decision) and it usually sticks to whatever its long-term plan is for its growing list of championships.
Of course, this steadfast aversion to spontaneity has aggravated the fanbase, and while only having a handful of respective champions has successfully built up those belts’ credibility and how special it is when a title change happens, it also means that a lot of talented people have yet to win gold in AEW.
These are five wrestlers who would make for great first-time champions in All Elite Wrestling.
You’ve seen plenty written on this site about Jamie Hayer, and for good reason. While AEW has dragged its proverbial foot when it comes to Britt Baker’s heater’s inevitable split from the wrestling dentist (there’s that aversion to spontaneity again), the fans who consistently cheer for her have likely sped up the process and she’s now one pinfall over Toni Storm away from becoming the next interim AEW Women’s World Champion.
Fans have gravitated to Hayter due to her smashmouth in-ring style and no-nonsense personality, but AEW has hesitated to start her feud with Baker one time too many. Perhaps that will change after Full Gear, especially if she walks out of that show with the interim belt.
The Dark Order
It’s pretty amazing the think about how far The Dark Order has come since 2019. Introduced as a cheesy heel cult that didn’t realize how corny it was (punctuated by an infamous segment where they beat up almost every babyface on the roster to near silence and confusion), the group found its footing as fun lackeys under the late Mr. Brodie Lee’s leadership.
After Lee’s untimely passing, Dark Order became decidedly less dark, turning into lovable comedy midcarders who always fall short in big matches. That role is perfectly fine for them, and it requires a lot of talent to do it effectively, but as babyfaces, they can’t lose big matches forever.
This isn’t to say that they need a lengthy reign as AEW World Tag Team Champions, but every team doesn’t need to hold titles for a year and a story that ends with them winning those belts or the trios belts — accompanied by a short, fun reign — would satisfy a lot of fans.
With stars like Maxwell Jacob Friedman (who’s not on this list because he’s almost certainly winning the AEW World Championship at Full Gear), Jungle Boy, Wheeler Yuta, and Daniel Garcia featuring prominently on AEW television, it’s clear that the company is set for the future. Lee Moriarty is among that crop of future main eventers.
The 27-year-old has established himself as one of the best young technicians in the sport, and Stokely Hathaway now serving as his mouthpiece (though Moriarty can speak for himself adequately) raises his ceiling even further.
For now, the Ring of Honor Pure Championship seems like a tangible goal for the Pittsburgh native. Moriarty winning that title would give him an ideal platform to showcase his top-tier mat skills.
It’s time. In a promotion filled with some all-time great orators, Ricky Starks belongs in that elite group. That undeniable charisma explains why his popularity never wanes despite going weeks without a television appearance (of course, that also keeps the audience from tiring of him). He can also bring it when the bell ring.
A great worker who’s also one of the most magnetic personalities in the promotion; he sounds like the sort of guy that AEW should push to the top of the card.
Starks winning a singles championship — be it the World Title, TNT Title, or the AEW All-Atlantic Championship — seems more like a “when” scenario than an “if” one. AEW would be foolish to do otherwise.
(And yes, Starks was the FTW Champion, but that title isn’t sanctioned by AEW.)
Even in a promotion rich with over talent, you’d be hard-pressed to find a wrestler in AEW (or any wrestling promotion) than Eddie Kingston. Much of that appreciation is a direct result of his talents in the ring — as his King’s Road style combined with his mastery of selling makes his matches easy to get emotionally invested in — and on the mic, but his personal story makes cheering for him an effortless task.
This is why the fans continue to lose their minds over him despite numerous high-profile losses, but as mentioned with Dark Order, there are only so many times a promotion can book a babyface that way before the fans see them as a perpetual choker and give up on them (see: Ziggler, Dolph).
Also like the Dark Order, Kingston doesn’t need a long reign as World or TNT Champion, but the sight of him finally reaching the pinnacle of the great sport he has loved since he was a kid would be one of the best moments in wrestling, let alone AEW’s brief history.
Sure, Kingston’s a little older than the others on this list, but if AEW can put the ROH World Championship on a 52-year-old MAGA goof who calls himself “A Wizard”, they can put a belt on Kingston.