In the current landscape of AEW, many talents are primed and ready for gold; unfortunately, there are not enough championships to go around.
AEW has eight championships, six of which are for the men’s division; there is; the World Championship, International Championship, TNT Championship, FTW Championship, World Tag Team Championship, and the World Trios Championship.
However, this list will focus solely on AEW’s singles championships and the subsequent potential champions.
Three stars who are ready for AEW singles championships.
Swerve Strickland joined AEW in March of last year and quickly found success in the tag division, as he and Keith Lee, also known as Swerve In Our Glory, won the Tag Team titles at Dynamite: Fyter Fest in July. They had several successful title defenses in their 70-day reign before losing to the Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens and Max Caster) at Dynamite: Grand Slam in September. During their Full Gear match with The Acclaimed, Lee walked out on Strickland after refusing to use a pair of pliers as a weapon, something that Swerve had adopted to use in the previous weeks. Strickland formed a new stable in December, the Mogul Affillates, with Parker Boudreaux and Trench.
In recent weeks Strickland has appeared without his new stablemates and is seemingly continuing his feud with former partner, Lee, which has lost steam since before the Revolution PPV in early March as AEW has failed to capitalize fully on the rivalry. Strickland can adapt to whatever role and be a top babyface or heel because he is versatile. In his current heel role, Strickland is cocky and arrogant, and it works so well. If his booking is handled well enough, Strickland could very well challenge for the International or TNT Championships, perhaps later this year; also, his main event-level talent means he could quite possibly challenge for the World Championship one day.
Konosuke Takeshita has become a phenomenon since arriving in AEW. He debuted at AEW’s first-ever house show titled “The House Always Wins” in April 2021 and had a match on AEW’s YouTube show, Dark: Elevation. Takeshita would then return to Japan, where he is signed to DDT Pro Wrestling, the promotion where he began training in 2011 and debuted in 2012, also where he is a former five-time KO-D Openweight Champion.
Takeshita returned to AEW in April 2022, where he defeated Brandon Cutler on Elevation. He made his in-ring TV return on the May 6th episode of Rampage in a losing effort to Jay Lethal. With his wrestling abilities alone, Takeshita captured the hearts and minds of AEW fans. His hard-fought performances against some of the biggest names in AEW, Jon Moxley and “Hangman” Adam Page, to name a few, elevated him to another level. Although unsuccessful, he even challenged Claudio Castagnoli for the Ring of Honor World Championship at Battle of the Belts III. In November, it was confirmed that Takeshita had officially signed with the company while keeping his DDT contract.
In recent weeks, we have seen Don Callis, the manager of former AEW World Champion and current IWGP United States Champion Kenny Omega, approach Takeshita and tease a partnership between the two of them. With Takeshita’s natural babyface persona, paring him with a slimy heel such as Callis seemingly would not make sense; however, perhaps Callis could help Takeshita finally get a big win in AEW and possibly win a Championship. A popular opinion amongst fans is that Takeshita could be, and should be, the next AEW International Champion; Orange Cassidy currently holds the belt.
Adam Cole has been a world-class wrestler for over a decade, winning countless championships in many different promotions; however, that has yet to happen in AEW. He is a former three-time Ring of Honor champion, one-time Ring of Honor World Television Champion, a one-time NXT Champion, and was the inaugural NXT North American Champion. While Cole has found success in AEW, winning the inaugural Owen Hart Foundation Tournament, which accumulated at the Double Or Nothing PPV in May last year, winning a championship title has eluded him so far.
Cole unsuccessfully challenged then-AEW World Champion “Hangman” Adam Page at the Revolution PPV in March last year. Cole would receive another opportunity at Page’s title when they competed in a Texas Death Match on an April 15th episode of Rampage, and Cole was unsuccessful once again. At the AEWxNJPW Forbidden Door PPV in June, Cole, Page, and Kazuchika Okada unsuccessfully challenged then-IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Jay White in a four-way match. During the match, Cole suffered a severe concussion, which turned out to be his second in three weeks, causing a short absence from AEW. In August, Cole returned to AEW and attacked his friends, the Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson). Due to his concussions, the storyline was used to write Cole off TV.
On the most recent Dynamite episode, Cole made his in-ring return and successfully defeated the Jericho Appreciation Society’s, Daniel Garcia. A feud between Cole and Chris Jericho was teased, a rivalry that could build up to Cole eventually challenging for the AEW World Championship. Since returning in January, Cole has appeared as a babyface, a turn from his usual heel persona in the past. He would make a great opponent and potential defeater for the current World Champion MJF, who would most certainly use Cole’s tough concussion recovery to his advantage, making a personal and entertaining feud.