There was a time when every wrestler in this world wanted to be a part of WWE. However, since the inception of All Elite Wrestling, there’s another option that they can now consider. Even though AEW may not be as big as WWE, they pay a lot and also provide more creative freedom.
Most wrestlers are seeking exactly this kind of deal from WWE, but Vince McMahon isn’t willing to give them. Recently, WWE fired over 20+ wrestlers who have now become jobless during the pandemic.
This probably means that AEW will be spending more money on hiring new talents. In this article, we’ll look at 5 WWE superstars who have already left for AEW, and 5 who could be next. Since Chris Jericho was a part of NJPW and the independent circuit before joining AEW, he didn’t make the list.
10. Joined AEW: Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes (fka Goldust) was never one of the big guys in WWE. Though respected in the wrestling community, Rhodes was never given enough respect in WWE. Back in 2019, he left WWE and had one reason: to join his brother, Cody Rhodes, in AEW.
While WWE never saw money in him, Rhodes proved what he’s capable of. During their Brother vs Brother match, the older Rhodes brother stole the show at Double or Nothing.
Rhodes is being regularly featured on AEW television and it’ll be interesting to see how many things he’ll accomplish here.
9. Could be Next: Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle is the biggest known former WWE employee who could align with AEW. He would probably never wrestle again, which is why WWE may have released him. But still, Cody Rhodes and his friends could make good use out of Angle.
All AEW needs is star power and Angle provides that. It’ll be interesting to see how would AEW use him if they manage to get him on board. He may even manage someone or work as a backstage producer.
8. Joined AEW: Matt Hardy
Matt Hardy is another wrestler WWE let go. Actually, they wanted to sign him but Hardy knew that he’ll be given no opportunities in WWE as his creative ideas were constantly turned down, so he didn’t renew his contract.
AEW was interested in him and as a wrestling veteran, Hardy’s signing is probably a good decision. A few months later, Jeff Hardy’s contract will be up as well. He could also consider joining his brother in WWE. The Hardy Boyz vs The Young Bucks could be a PPV worthy money match.
7. Could be Next: Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder
Now renamed as Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood, Wilder and Dawson were known as The Revival in WWE. Several months ago, the duo asked for their release in WWE but their request was denied.
Because of the current global pandemic, WWE considered granting them their releases and terminating their contract. Since the two wrestlers were already looking for a way out, they might consider joining AEW, who seems to be interested in signing them. The duo has already been teasing their new tag team name, The Revolt.
6. Joined AEW: Shawn Spears
Shawn Spears (fka Tye Dillinger) was released just in time so that he could appear during Double or Nothing. When he smashed Cody Rhodes’ head with a steel chair, everyone was shocked. Nobody had ever expected these kinds of things to ever happen live again, but AEW proved us wrong.
It reminded us of the Attitude Era when a chair to the head was common. Although it’s banned in WWE, and they have a good reason for that.
Spears works as a heel now and because of his flexible schedule, he is currently enjoying his time with his wife, Peyton Royce.
5. Could be Next: EC3
EC3 is just another wasted talent who probably regrets returning to WWE. In NXT, he was doing okay. But once he stepped foot on the main roster, his career sank.
A few months ago, Carter was spotted with AEW’s Chris Jericho. This was a subtle hint that the company has planned something for him.
EC3 was once a goldmine for Impact Wrestling and if done correctly, AEW can turn him into another main event wrestler for the company.
4. Joined AEW: Brodie Lee
Brodie Lee was highly underrated in WWE. There was a rumor that Vince McMahon hated him. After his return at WrestleMania 35, during the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal, WWE wrote him off television immediately.
In case you don’t know, Lee forgot his spot during the match and McMahon wasn’t happy about it. He’s joined AEW but it seems like he hasn’t forgotten about his past yet. Perhaps, that’s why he’s constantly taking shots at Vinnie Mac, on Dynamite
3. Could be Next: Drake Maverick
Everyone cried watching Maverick’s Twitter post upon getting released. But that’s not the reason why he could join AEW. Overall, the former WWE 24/7 Champion is a great entertainer.
He can become another comedic-yet-interesting character like Orange Cassidy in AEW. Plus, Tony Khan could also offer him a contract that allows him to perform in the independent circuit as well.
2. Joined AEW: Jon Moxley
Perhaps, the most shocking acquisition by the AEW is the former Shield member (fka Dean Ambrose) and the current AEW World Champion, Jon Moxley. Back when he was in WWE, the company wasted him. His final feud was against Seth Rollins where not only did he lose the match, but he also lost his will to wrestle for WWE anymore. Right now, he seems to be happy working for AEW and with the creative freedom he is getting.
1. Could be Next: Rusev
It’s shocking that Rusev’s wife Lana signed a new contract with WWE whereas the former US Champion has now lost his job. Although it could be argued that WWE would’ve never released him had he accepted their offer to renew his contract.
The Bulgarian Brute didn’t agree to WWE’s terms and as a result, he’s now fired. Fans love him and they’ll probably accept him if he joins AEW. In fact, Jim Ross mentioned in his podcast that we wants AEW to sign Rusev as a main eventer.