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The Main Event Vol. 163 - AEW's Biggest Hits

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  • The Main Event Vol. 163 - AEW's Biggest Hits

    I wasn't gone for long, was I? Yeah, it's Don Franc, BACK with another edition of The Main Event! So, I hope you dropped some fluid because it's time to hop into it....


    AEW's Biggest Hits

    Whilst not perfect, AEW has done plenty right in their nearly three years of existence. In my previous column, I wrote about the wrestlers AEW dropped the ball on. This time, however, I decided to point out which wrestlers they actually got it right with. And who better to start off with than...

    Darby Allin

    To me, he was the original AEW guy. What I mean by that is he is the first person to come up in AEW who actually received a spotlight put on him since the very beginning. And he is beloved by the fans because of it. You knew he was destined to be a major star in AEW when he took Cody Rhodes to a time limit draw. From there he has just been going from strength to strength. He has remained consistent in his spot and his fan support and booking has not wavered. I will say that he did not need Sting in his corner, despite his limited mic skills. Sometimes AEW tends to put more focus on Sting than Darby, but because of the latter's popularity, he is almost always at the centre of attention for almost everything he does. Darby is so important to AEW that he is one of the only wrestlers who are always in a feud. That certainly says alot.

    Jungle Boy

    The meteoric rise of Jungle Boy has been coming for years now. They booked his arch to perfection and he has the full support of the fans because of that. It's like the fans instinctively latched on to him as soon as he started teaming with Luchasauras. Who would have thought a dinosaur would be so popular but with Jungle Boy at his side, they both got over, although the emphasis was put on Jack Perry. Hell, you might not want to hear this, but even Marko Stunt had an impact on how Perry got over. It all culminated in a Tag Team Championship win for Jungle Express and the fans were fully on-board for their journey. The ceiling is still high for Jungle Boy. The logical next step would be the TNT Championship once his current title run comes to an end. He is just the kind of guy AEW likes to lead the TNT title picture.

    Sammy Guevarra

    From the second I saw his work on the very first AEW, alongside Cody, I knew this guy was good. I knew he would amount to something just based on the swagger he had in the ring. And despite him playing the smarmy heel pretty well at the time, I always felt that his calling was as a face. And boy was I right. He certainly works as a heel but with his moveset I knew he could become a fan-favourite and that's exactly what happened. He knows just how to pop the crowd with a spectacular move and he can come across as loveable so that also gives him an advantage in the face department. Sammy still has a ways to go but the TNT title scene is definitely where he will shine for now. Perhaps one day he could even ascend to the very top.


    What more can you say about MJF that hasn't already been said? The guy is just phenomenal as a heel and he is undoubtedly the biggest heel in AEW, possibly the world. The amount of heel heat he can garner is insane and the fans just love to hate him. He's mic and character work has been top notch and his booking has been carefully constructed since Dynamite's inception. At only 25 years old the world is his oyster and with the rave reviews he's been getting for his work in AEW, it's only a matter of time before he reaches the top of the mountain. I don't think AEW has booked anyone better than Maxwell. His character has been written superbly and because of that - just like Darby - he is always involved in a feud. Many overlook his in-ring ability - one, because he hardly wrestles and two, because his promos are so damn good - but don't for one second think he can't go in the ring, because his bout with Punk undoubtedly showed the world what he is capable of. Let the bidding war of 2024 commence!

    Britt Baker

    One of the few females who has ever gotten any sort of character development and growth. In the first year of AEW things were rough for the Womens Division, yet a spotlight was always put on Baker. When a promo from the women had to be done, nine times out of ten it would be Britt on the mic - and that's before she even turned heel! Clearly AEW knew her worth and that's why she was always at the forefront of the division, even when she was not in the title picture. Her heel turn really did wonders for her career, but her Lights Out Match against Thunder Rosa really and truly gave her the credibility required to take her to that next level. And once she won the Womens Championship, she reached that level and since then she has raised the bar. For the longest time - before other females really got a fair shake - she WAS the Womens Division. Now there is only one women that can compete with her in that regard. But whether champion or not, Baker will always be at the heart of the division.

    Orange Cassidy

    Well, well, well, if it isn't the slouch himself. Who would have thought a comedy act would become an integral part of the show? When he first debuted he was already over, but as we all know a gimmick can only take you so far. In OJ's case, it got him through the door, but it was his work thereafter that really made him a mainstay. You cannot argue with the tremendous job AEW has done with Cassidy. Taking him from a sideshow comedy act, to providing him with some character development that gave him credibility while STILL managing to keep his goofy gimmick intact is no small feat. He could have been cast aside because his gimmick may have been a hindrance. But instead, AEW ran with it and that was a very wise choice. Fans still adore his gimmick but now he has the extra credibility of being involved in serious feuds and able to go after titles. You can't help but applaud AEW for their superb booking of Orange Cassidy. Bravo.

    Eddie Kingston

    One of my favourite parts of AEW lore is when Cody Rhodes first won the TNT Championship and was issuing open challenges to anyone - whether in AEW or elsewhere. It was during that run that Eddie Kingston debuted on Dynamite and you could see how he instantly captured the hearts of everyone in attendance. He has just gone from strength to strength since then. And why wouldn't he? He is damn good on the mic and his in-ring style hides any flaws he may have. Eddie has been built up so well that he can go after any title and nobody would bat an eyelid. Who would have ever thought he was just supposed to have a one-off match in AEW? And what's more impressive he got a contract because of his work. At almost forty years old I'm sure Eddie thought he was running out of time to make it to the big leagues, let alone be one of the most popular wrestlers in the promotion. Sometimes good things happen and this is definitely a feel-good story.

    Thunder Rosa

    I mentioned earlier that there is only one women who can compete with Baker in terms of popularity; and that women is none other than La Mera Mera. I honestly believe she is the only other women who has been built up enough to actually carry the Womens Division. She and Baker actually followed a similar path. After impressing the public in her AEW showings she was finally given more to work with and that lead her to the Lights Out Match against Britt Baker. It's safe to say that match - just like it did Baker - gave her the momentum required to take the next step. Rosa, like not many other women, has been everpresent since then and is now reaping the rewards. Things will only get better for her - and the Womens Division as a whole - from here on out.

    Adam Page

    This is undoubtedly AEW's biggest hit. If you've followed AEW since Dynamite's inception, you'll know how big a part of their overarching narrative Adam Page was. From the moment he lost the inaugural AEW Championship match to Chris Jericho, a story had been set in motion that has run it's course superbly. It cannot be argued that this was THE arch of the promotion in it's first two years and through the ups and downs of Hangman's tenure in AEW, it was his story that was the heart of the brand. Everything that happened, every single detail, was all put into place to culminate in Adam Page winning the AEW Championship. And what a satisfactory moment it was. To run a narrative for two years and actually see it through is a sight to behold. This is one of the greatest long-term stories ever told in professional wrestling history and only those who bore witness from the beginning will truly appreciate it.

    And there we have AEW's biggest hits. With the amount of exceptional talent that AEW has at their disposal, I was a bit surprised at the small sample of wrestlers who became hits in AEW. And with all that brilliant talent readily available, there is no excuse for Tony Khan and company not to provide us with even bigger hits.


    AEW's Potential Hits

    So, above we took a look at All Elite Wrestling's biggest hits. However, there are those on the roster that still have the potential to be a massive hit if booked correctly and handled with care. Let's take a look at who they could be...

    Adam Cole - This one should go without saying. He is already being booked as a big deal and in contention for the AEW World Championship. If AEW keep his booking steady, he will only soar higher.

    Ruby Soho - She could have easily gone on the list of wrestlers AEW dropped the ball on. But her talent would indicate that she'll go far in the Womens Division. They just need to stop feeding her to the women currently getting pushed.

    Keith Lee - After recently debuting, the opportunities for Lee to succeed is... limitless. AEW hasn't booked their big men to perfection but with the calibre of hoss Keith is, this should present them with the chance to correct that.

    Jade Cargill - As green as she may be, she is progressing steadily. She's clearly a favourite behind the scenes, likely due to her unique look. With more experience I fully expect Jade to be a big deal. And with her favourable booking, it shouldn't be hard to imagine.

    Malakai Black - His booking has also been steady, albeit underwhelming. There's definitely more they can do with the character and they do appear to be digging deeper into The House Of Black. Hopefully this is the launching pad to greater things for Malakai.

    Hook - He came in like a thunderstorm and his popularity is still raining down on him. Nobody could have expected him to be this over. Yet this is only the beginning and AEW need to be extremely careful to not fuck up his momentum.

    Kris Statlander - I always felt there was so much more AEW could do with her but she was never utilized to her full potential. She is arguably the best overall wrestler on the entire women's roster. She has been dialling back on her alien shtick, so that could possibly be a sign of better things to come.

    Miro - He is another star who I could have added to the list of wrestlers AEW dropped the ball on. He started off weird but then got better once he became The Redeemer. Perhaps AEW just doesn't now how to book big men. However, once Miro returns from injury, he should receive another push to try and ascend to the next level.

    Ricky Starks - He is practically the full package: look, promo work, character and in-ring ability all combine to make him a potential standout star. Yet AEW refuses to pull the trigger and give him a substantial push. In fact, I hardly see him wrestle. He can easily be pushed as a big star and a homegrown come-up along the way.

    Wardlow - This is another homegrown talent looking to breakout. The fans are slowly getting on board and the split with MJF was coming. He's reactions are increasing and the only thing AEW needed to be weary of not waiting too long to pull the trigger on the split and they did it at the right time . They might have a major player on their hands here.

    All of the wrestlers I've mentioned have high ceilings. Now the ball is in AEW's court to actually book them to relevance and superstardom. So, will we be seeing these wrestlers as hits or misses if we were to revisit this column in 2023? Well, only All Elite Wrestling can determine that.


    And that does it for this edition of The Main Event. Who were your biggest hits in AEW during their tenure? What wrestlers do you think will be next to make the biggest hits list? Please feel free to leave a comment below. Any and all feedback is always much appreciated. But until next time, folks...

    This is Don Franc signing out.

  • #2
    Don't think I can disagree with any of your choices here Don. I definitely feel Wardlow and Jade will be the biggest hits out of the ones you've outlined for the future.

    Great work as always man.


    • #3
      This is a nice and really comprehensive list, Donnie! I don't think I can really disagree on any of these. All your hits are majorly over, the only one I am somewhat indifferent too is Jungle Boy. I don't dislike him but I'm still waiting to see what others see in him. Neither his wrestling nor his promo skills catch my eye too much, though I'll admit he and Luchasaurus have a really nice chemistry together. Funny to think back on how much I disliked Britt as a face, she quickly became a personal favorite when she switched to a heel. And it really warms my heart that Kingston has finally become the big star he was meant to be, he's been this level of good for over a decade yet nobody was smart enough to spotlight him.

      Your potential hits are pretty much on as well. Personally I detest Adam Cole but you can't claim he isn't over, or at least his catchphrases are. I am an enormous Ruby fan and I hope AEW loops back to a big feud for her soon, otherwise they really are missing one of the best performers in the women's division. Jade is an odd one for me. I can't say I am grabbed by her matches but it's clear she is very over and her vibe resonates with the fans, so I can't fault them for seeing how far she can take the ball. Hook really is a phenomenon, it's funny but he actually reminds me a lot of Goldberg in his initial rise to mega-stardom. They aren't the same body type of course but a charismatic rookie with an explosive in ring style, gets over huge by saying little and crushing opponents in quick matches? And Hook has better hair too!

      Dig the column Donnie, all AEW conversation is right up my alley right now.

      The '92 Rumble! The Brain's Finest Hour!


      • #4
        @Cook - Jade and Warldow definitely has tremendous upsides but AEW needs to tread carefully with Warldow . Jade is practically already a star.

        Thanks for stopping by!

        @Mizzie - I think the chemistry with Luchasaurus and Jungle Express as a whole kicked off his popularity but furthermore I think fans find Jungle Boy endearing. I've always been a fan of Britt, although perhaps she's going into overrated territory. Kingston has really taken the ball and ran with it, too.

        What your hangup with Adam Cole, haha. He's not that bad and fans love him . Ruby has been unlucky in big matches so we'll see what's on the horizon for her. Jade has that star power and with better seasoning she could be a major player. Same with Hook. Huge upsides but they need to be handled with care.