Buddy Matthews, Jeff Hardy, Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott. Three wrestlers that have already debuted, or are likely to debut soon for AEW. This can be exciting for AEW fans, but for WWE fans, anti-AEW fans, or even some AEW fans, the sentiment is the same:
AEW signs too many wrestlers. Focus on your other talent.
Currently, the AEW roster count is up to 121 (approx.). 98 men’s wrestlers and 23 women’s wrestlers. this doesn’t include occasional talent featured on Dark. When you add in broadcasters, officials, and coaches, that brings the total number up to 139 (if my numbers are accurate, but generalize with me).
WWE has approximately 220 wrestlers spread out across five brands. This number jumps to 250 when other roles are included. The Khan family has deep pockets — so I’ll never know why fans think they can’t afford all of their talent.
My question is this:
Why is AEW held to a different standard in how they use their talent compared to WWE?
While no brand splits exist in AEW, you do tend to see talent that sticks to Rampage and Dark. This is similar to Raw, Smackdown, NXT 2.0, NXT: UK and 205 Live in the sense that the overall roster isn’t limited to appearing on just one show.
As much as fans like to speculate, we don’t fully know the ratio between how much effect the raw talent from either brand has on profit. We truly do not know how AEW is doing based on the fact that their financial reports are not public. Similarly, with a heap of releases, deals with Saudi Arabia, Fox and NBC — the bulk of WWE’s profit comes from those areas — not from TV ratings or ticket sales.
So to jump back to the title of this article…
Why AEW Keeps Signing So Many Wrestlers
Ever heard the phrase “throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks?” It’s kind of the same here to an extent. One would think “well that’s not a great strategy, now is it?”
But in a way, it’s fairly smart.
You have your obvious talents that TK knows will work. Jericho, Danielson, Cole, Punk, Moxley, Black, etc. Furthermore, you then have the talents you’re slowly building your promotion around: Darby, MJF, Guevara, Jungle Boy, P-P-P-P-Powerhouse Hobbs, Wardlow, Dante Martin, The Acclaimed, etc.
In addition, the roots of AEW is grounded in names like Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Adam Page, and until recently, Cody Rhodes.
So what do you have left? A lot of talent, that yes, can be used sporadically. But what we’ve seen over the years is the gradual “thumbs down” of a good chunk of the AEW roster. They have appeared on television, and to put it lightly, the fans went mild.
So in a way, the fans are starting to help mold the roster. It’s no secret that Khan DOES listen to AEW fans, which is as good of a reason as any to respect and support the promotion in my opinion.
But let’s do some math…
Doing the Math
So who are these wrestlers that fans have given the “meh” to? A lot –and that’s okay. It’s a great form of wrestling democracy in some way. But if you have the money and are making profits, as TK claims, then why not sign talent and see what sticks?
Here are just some of the names that I doubt will have their contracts renewed (nothing personal to any of these talents):
-Fuego Del Sol
-Kip Sabian (I wouldn’t agree with this one, personally)
Out of the remaining roster, you also have wrestlers who count towards the total number, but are likely to retire fully within the next year or two:
When you subtract all of this, you take out 36 potential wrestlers from a roster of 121. That brings the roster down to around 85-90, which isn’t much. When you look at it that way, it makes perfect sense to keep bringing in names like Keith Lee, “Swerve” Scott, Kyle O’Reilly, and likely future others.
Keep in mind that every single AEW Champion is currently under the age of 31 with the exception of Luchasaurus (36). TK is clearly building towards AEW’s future, and is simply just analyzing the talent in real time.
Perception is Power
The minds of many wrestling fans have been taught to believe that most, if not every, member of a roster must be used every week. AEW has always worked a little different. Signed wrestlers can often take Indies dates, and there’s a level of freedom to move about the industry, especially when not being used in current AEW storylines.
I’ve always seen AEW as a kind of NWA when they were at full power. Talent that appears sporadically on AEW television may have larger roles in other promotions, or “territories”. At the least, talent is able to book dates elsewhere.
We’ve seen this from bigger names like Moxley and Thunder Rosa to names like Dante Martin and Skye Blue.
We must also keep in mind that AEW only has 3 hours of featured television per week. Inevitably, there will be talent left off of shows due to some time constraints. While I’m not advocating for a third hour to Dynamite, as that can greatly drag down a show, you would see more talent getting used on a weekly basis.
AEW does not work in the same way WWE does. It’s important that fans keep this perspective.
Tony Khan recently promised yet another “massive” announcement that will be great for the fans and the wrestlers. Due to NDA’s, he cannot reveal what that is, but based on the ‘wrestlers’ portion of his tease, it won’t be a simple new signing.
This could be a new streaming service, a ‘supercard’ with promotions from around the world, or perhaps an announcement of an NWA-like relationship with multiple major promotions around the world to exist under the AEW wing.
Whatever it is, rest assured, it probably won’t lure in the hardcore WWE fans. It simply isn’t meant for them. This is a young company that is only in their fourth year of existence. They are simply trying to find their way — and that means scooping up a lot of talent, trying new things, and becoming a beacon for what hardcore wresting fans truly want.
It’s often best to let the chips fall where they lay than offer an uninformed opinion on a matter. Enjoy the new talent, enjoy the wrestling, and stop worrying about whether or not ‘AEWs roster is too big’
It’s not, but that’s not really for you to decide.
@TheRealHighSpot (<—New, and likely to rarely get used. But I jet here and there…)