Tony Khan mishandled Mercedes Mone's introduction in AEW

Mercedes Mone is a generational star in professional wrestling yet AEW could have waited a bit to build the story around her before putting her on television.
New Japan Pro-Wrestling - Sakura Genesis 2023
New Japan Pro-Wrestling - Sakura Genesis 2023 / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

Mercedes Mone is a star in professional wrestling and sports entertainment. There are several examples that speak to her ability to sell seats, subscriptions, garner headlines, and generate cross-over appeal. Yet, her introduction in All Elite Wrestling isn’t working, but it’s too late to make a shift.

The prevalence of the Internet and IWC makes nuance for important conversations impossible. There are loud, typically male voices, who only have negative reactions to everything AEW and Mone does. Their voices shouldn’t be involved in a conversation about what could have been done better to introduce one of the biggest names in professional wrestling. Even as those voices rail for clicks and hot takes, there should be a conversation about Mone’s introduction not having the impact that it could have done.

Let’s start from the top. Mone suffered a devastating injury in 2023 that could have ended her career. When she joined the promotion, she was not cleared to compete in the ring. As reports of Mone’s signing with AEW grew, the company announced Big Business and we were off to the races. From that March 13 introduction to Double or Nothing, more than two months will have passed before she competes.

What if AEW never did Big Business in Boston? What if Mone was never introduced in her hometown? AEW could have kept her off television, avoiding putting her in a position of being a draw without the in-ring action that AEW thrives on each week. Especially if she was signed before Big Business was announced.

Then there’s Willow Nightingale’s arc. She finally captured a championship after several attempts. Fans love Nightingale and she’s the type of performer AEW could build the division around. Unfortunately, there’s a strong position that she may be a “transitional champion” if she loses that belt to Mone at Double or Nothing. This could have also been done in a different fashion that would best serve all the women involved.

For example, Nightingale’s story with Julia Hart could have ended with her title win at AEW Dynasty. Unfortunately, Hart is hurt so it would not be possible to have them continue the angle for a few weeks, leading to a rematch at Double or Nothing. That’s where Skye Blue could fill in as a foil for Nightingale, giving them a match at the PPV instead. Here, Kris Statlander turns on Nightingale, setting up a moment where Mone makes the apparent save. That would have put Mone in a big intro spot at a major PPV and at a time when she’s medically cleared for in-ring action. From that point, AEW would be off to the races with a major angle involving three big names in the women’s division in Nightingale, Mone, and Statlander.

Many people complained about the end of Jade Cargill’s run as TBS Champion. It was clear that Tony Khan was waiting for Statlander to return to have her be the first woman to defeat Cargill. That willingness to wait hurt Cargill, the women she competed against, and that was unfortunate to watch. Now, it seems like Khan is on the other end of the spectrum, rushing to get Mone on television without fully planning out how to keep her white hot leading into her first match. The damage has been done, but thankfully Mone is a talented performer who can turn things around.

There’s a lot of loud, unnecessary criticism about all things Mercedes Mone and AEW. Those voices must be ignored and suffocated out of the conversation every time. But there’s also a necessity to express critique around the current direction when involving a major star with legions of fans like Mercedes Mone. AEW’s handling of her right now isn’t working.