We are just TWO WEEKS away from the debut of AEW on primetime television as the fledgling promotion prepares to go live for two hours every Wednesday night. This move brings professional wrestling back to TNT for the first time in 18 years, with an impressive roster of diverse and exciting talents from every corner of the globe – and that means lots of fresh new matches and opportunities.
We’ve spent the better part of the last 9 months talking about the implications of a new competing organization in the wrestling space, and what that might look like. A lot of generals and unspecific what-if scenarios, but not a whole lot of talk on how AEW might actually use their brand new roster on a weekly basis.
There are the obvious “dream matches” that fans are always talking about, but those run out quickly and you can’t build a sustainable, consistent audience on those types of marquee matches alone. For those interested in the discussion, I took some time and came up with 9 potential matches that I’d love to watch unfold on AEW television as we head into 2020. Agree or disagree, sound-off in the comments with what you’d like to see.
CODY RHODES vs. JIMMY HAVOC
One of the best things about professional wrestling is that it allows us to sort of play out our childhood toy box scenarios. Who wins in a fight – Luke Skywalker or Batman? I can’t think of two characters on the AEW roster that are more dissimilar than Cody Rhodes and Jimmy Havoc.
In one corner you’ve got this historically silver spoon, old money-meets-John Wayne figure. Wrestling royalty. Literally born to do this shit. In the other corner… You know, I honestly have no idea what motivates Jimmy Fu**king Havoc beyond the idea that he seems to get off on inflicting a tremendous amount of pain on other people. I think he’s from an alternate timeline where Gerard Way took the Black Parade way, way too seriously.
Both guys are so beautifully entrenched in their characters that they seem like very real extensions of their actual selves, and I’m just fascinated by the idea of putting them in the same ring. Polar opposites. It reminds me of being a young teenager when Soulcalibur II came out. It made zero sense that I was beating up Voldo and Ivy with Nintendo’s iconic Link, but man was it awesome.
The interesting thing, to me, is the total clash of in-ring styles as well – which again, is a reflection of their personalities. Will Cody be able to make Havoc work an old school, slow-paced wrasslin’ match? Can Havok drag Cody into much darker territory with something a bit more hardcore? Can they maybe find a way to blend those two styles and do something like a classic Texas Bull Rope as a throwback to some of Dusty’s crazier southern feuds?
I don’t know. I honestly have no idea what I’d expect, but that’s a part of the morbid curiosity. I just really want to see these two beat the hell out of each other, in whatever ways they deem necessary. It’s like Master Chief fighting Frieza, and I’m here for it.
PETER AVALON vs. ORANGE CASSIDY
I don’t like to use the term “comedy wrestling” because I think it can devalue otherwise tremendous wrestlers by putting an unnecessary asterisk on their performances. Orange Cassidy and Peter Avalon, at least in his current role as AEW’s infamous Librarian, may get some heat for playing a different act in the already bizarre wrestling circus, but they both do what they do very well. This is another case where I’m not quite sure what to expect, other than to be thoroughly entertained. If you want things to get really wild, call up the “Man Scout” Jake Manning, pitch a tent in the middle of the ring, and give ole’ Jimmy Cornette something to complain about.
FENIX vs. SCORPIO SKY
A battle between two guys most commonly known for being a part of hugely successful tag teams, that I would love to see break out a bit more as individuals on AEW television. Pentagon Jr. was consistently one of the top stars of Lucha Underground throughout it’s entire run, and while little brother was still wildly popular, it wasn’t until more recently that people began to see Fenix as one of the best singles wrestlers in the world.
On the other side of the equation is Scorpio Sky, and I honestly think I’ve only seen him compete in one or two singles matches, ever. But he’s a guy I’m constantly impressed by, and while I’ve been a big Bad Influence/Addiction fan since the TNA days, he’s the one I’m always left wanting to see more of. I’m not suggesting he leave SoCal Uncensored, by any means, I just hope we get to see him mix it up in some singles bouts every once in awhile. If I may be so bold, I think Sky’s a future AEW World Champion, and I’m hoping that future isn’t all that far off.
SAMMY GUEVARA vs. SONNY KISS
Sonny Kiss was originally announced as a member of the AEW roster with a decent amount of fanfare, as a part of the Double or Nothing announcement party and press conference in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, since then we just haven’t seen much of him. Outside of a brief showing in a battle royal and a short pre-show win at Fight for the Fallen, Sonny has been relatively absent despite having a lot to offer the show. Obviously they think that too, or he wouldn’t have been signed.
As for Guevara, he’s another young talent with an enormous chip on his shoulder, who exudes the obnoxious confidence that only being a post-millennial child prodigy with a YouTube channel can afford a person. They are both tremendously charismatic individuals, very flamboyant, and currently low on the AEW radar. I think if they’re able to have some really good matches and show off their characters, even if not a huge program, it could go a long way in building them both up.
SHAWN SPEARS vs. TRENT
Shawn Spears and Trent actually have a lot in common, and not just because they’re both chiseled, ruggedly handsome men with great facial hair. If anybody knows what it’s like to be an insanely talented wrestler hanging in WWE limbo for years on end, it’s… well, both of these guys. The “good hand” bit may be a part of the story between Spears and Cody, but it’s a very real callback to what his role was in NXT for a very long time.
But Trent got out. He proved himself in PWG and found a whole new career working in New Japan Pro-Wrestling and Ring of Honor, winning the IWGP Jr. Tag Team Championships four times. He has consistently been in the conversation as one of the best tag teams wrestlers in the world for the past 4-5 years, with multiple partners.
Spears is just now getting out. He’s already established himself in a major way bringing Tully Blanchard into the fold. The “Road To” segments heading into his match against Cody really made him feel like a big deal. He’s got all the pieces, people are finally talking about him, and for the first time I really feel like I believe Shawn Spears wants it. I think there’s a story here that probably wouldn’t be too challenging to write. Call it jealousy for getting out and finding success. Call it rage over losing to Cody and taking that out on somebody he perceives as having “made it”. Make up an old personal rivalry from developmental. There’s something there.
NYLA ROSE vs. ALLIE
We’re still in the very early stages of AEW and I expect we’ll get to hear a lot more about who each of these women are and what drives them as television starts rolling out in a few weeks. A collision is inevitable at some point, with Nyla just one win away from becoming the first AEW Women’s World Champion, and Allie coming in as a major signing, and a former champion in her own write in Impact Wrestling.
I actually got a chance to see the Women of AEW panel up-close at Starrcast, and was surprised by the amount of in-character jabbing, as those kinds of panels are usually more reserved for the behind-the-scenes feel. I’m not complaining. In fact, it actually gave everyone on stage a chance to really show off their characters in a way they haven’t necessarily had a chance to yet, and I gotta say – Nyla and Allie had some real attitude. They manufactured some serious beef on that stage, and it’s got me real excited about what these ladies, as well as the rest of the women’s division, can bring in the future.
LAX vs. SCU
Sorry, that’s Ortiz and Santana.
I know we’re probably going to get matches against the Young Bucks, and inevitably against the Lucha Brothers, and I can’t complain because I’m sure they’ll be tremendous. I think I’m just a little burnt out on Bucks/Bros matches, and in the same way I feel like I’ve seen
LAX Santana and Ortiz wrestle the same five teams about a million times over the past two years.
What I haven’t seen on a major stage is LAX vs. SCU.
I’m specifically talking about Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian here, at least in one of their encounters, mostly because it represents a battle between two of the greatest pairs of tag team champions in TNA/Impact Wrestling history. I was a huge fan of Bad Influence “back in the day” (it was like 7 years ago) and who SCU is today is sort of an evolution of the same guys. There’s no deep reason or story here, I just want to see two really good tag teams have some really good tag team matches that I haven’t already seen a bunch of times.
BRITT BAKER vs. HIKARU SHIDA
I was among the many fans surprised at All Out that Dr. Britt Baker will not be the first ever AEW Women’s Champion. In retrospect I think it’s probably a good idea that they aren’t doing what everyone expected them to do. She was the first woman signed, and has been presented as the face of the AEW women’s division since day one; I think the wrestling industry has collectively learned its lesson about pushing anyone too hard, too fast, especially when the company makes it very clear they are firmly behind them.
So with Baker not immediately focussed on the title, what do they do with her? I’m thinking Hikaru Shida, another competitor who needs to blow off a little steam after losing her qualifying match at All Out. Shida is an absolute badass. Since the first day I saw her I thought, if she was discovered by the right people, she could be a major star in the wrestling business. Dr. Britt has a lot to prove right now. I can absolutely see both of them becoming fixtures of the show over the next few years, so we probably won’t have to wait very long to see this match.
CHRIS JERICHO vs. JON MOXLEY
I mean, come on…
We’ve already seen these two wrestle. Extensively. I’m having flashbacks to houseplants and steel cages covered in strange items as I type, in fact. But we’re not dealing with 2016 WWE Jericho any more, and we’re damn sure not looking at the same guy who left there earlier this year.
Remember in 2008 when Shawn Michaels, with retirement somewhere on the horizon, already considered by many as the greatest of all time, stepped into the ring with an already fully established and veteran Chris Jericho, and the two had one of the greatest wrestling sagas of all time? If you don’t, you’re a stupid idiot. Go watch all of it right now on the WWE Network.
Well it’s 2019, and Jericho is in his very own Old Man Logan phase, after three decades in the business, considered by many as one of the greatest of all time. I think Moxley, the fully established veteran and multi-time world champion, future Hall of Famer, is destined to become Jericho’s own Chris Jericho. You put these together for 3-4 months, give the mics, and let them do whatever the hell they want, and it’ll be absolute magic. I guarantee you.
Let’s give the world the Jericho/Ambrose program we always should have had. If for no other reason, do it for Mitch the Plant.