Don't get me wrong AEW isn't perfect and they are allowed to make mistakes much like any of us are allowed to make mistakes. However, the way they kicked off CM Punk's next feud with Team Taz is a little weak. Powerhouse Hobbs and Ricky Starks are two of the strongest up and comers in All Elite Wrestling at this time and getting a rub from CM Punk would do them nothing but good. Starting the feud though with Taz randomly interrupting Punk yelling about him mentioning or not mentioning Team Taz in his promo when he never even spoke a word of Taz during the promo is a very weak way to start a feud.
In my opinion, Taz could've mentioned Punk's name on promo and how he's sick of everyone making such a big deal about all of these new arrivals and ignoring those who have been within the ranks of AEW. Punk would be best fit working with the young stars for right now to try and help establish some new stars as more stable main event capable talent. Seeing Team Taz jump Punk this week though did make for it with Hobbs looking like a ferocious monster dropping Punk through the announce table.
Presentation has always been a strong trait for AEW in recent months and this attack on Punk was another positive. Hobbs and Hook were both presented in a very strong and dangerous manner. I don't remember seeing Hook ever get involved physically before in a segment. I'm unsure where this feud is going and if Ricky Starks will be included in the feud or not either way though this feud should be helpful for the continued advancement of Team Taz and a nice placeholder for Punk as he continues to show why he came back to pro-wrestling after all this time.
It is clear that someone in All Elite not just has the back of new commer Daniel Garcia, but they see potential written all over him. Since his debut Garcia alongside 2.0 has been positioned as future stars for All Elite. Garcia has seemingly been a throne in the side of Darby Allin, Moxley, and Eddie Kingston and mostly coming up short. In a way though Garcia is sort of directionless, but at the same time it's still early enough in his run that he doesn't need a direction as much as he needs firm footing.
Garcia is another example of how important perception and presentation is within wrestling specifically All Elite. I first noticed how different the art of presentation was within AEW then other companies upon the arrival of Andrade in AEW. If Daniel can get wins on lesser programs like Elevation and Dark then it will keep him strong enough where his presence will matter, but he won't be overexposed to soon. I mean given a position in AEW that he is unprepared for at this point. Potential needs to be groomed and not looked at as expectation, because that makes it easier to squander expected potential.
In the near future Garcia will be making his debut in New Japan which again points to someone seeing potential all over him. Garcia needs to be groomed and have more time to learn or hone his craft before being positioned in a bigger role. However, he's already getting a reaction so that's a good start, but he needs to keep growing. It takes time for this to happen though and the perfect way for him to grow is for AEW to allow him to travel to the other companies they are working with which includes Impact Wrestling and New Japan. Taking that approach would be similar to the territory system and something that could be expected of Cody who seemingly has taken a bit of an old school approach with booking AEW. From the little I've seen of Garcia is that he does have potential, but is a little green and has room to grow.
Last weekend at All Out we saw one of the greatest wrestling PPV's of the last twenty years. From all the rumors leading into the show it absolutely lived up to the expectations. Recently, WWE has been cleaning house and changing the perception of the promotion shuffling out a number of talent. Two names that have now officially left the promotion was Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole. The rumors have followed Bryan since the end of May when his WWE contract expired. It is unclear why Danielson's debut was moved up from the debut event in New York to All Out, but it worked.
All Out was the biggest event in AEW history thus far and it ended with two new arrivals shocking the wrestling world. Following the main event Kenny Omega's celebration was cut short when a face from his past debuted in All Elite. The lights went down and when they came back on Adam Cole had officially went All Elite. At first Adam had seemed to be a new opponent for his former friend, but then joined The Elite. Soon after Cole made his debut a familiar theme played over the speakers and another big debut came down the ramp. For over a decade Daniel Bryan called WWE home and now was just a free agent, but had also became All Elite.
One of the more expected debuts on that night was in the Casino Battle Royal which saw the former Ruby Riot make her debut. Currently known as Ruby Soho was released by WWE earlier in the year has now arrived in AEW. One part of the roster that has struggled since AEW debuted was the Women's division. With the arrival of Ruby it helps not just create needed depth in the division, but another member of the roster that could help handle pressure within the division. Down the road Ruby Soho will challenge Britt Baker for the gold which should be another match that will help put the struggling division on the map.
The only sure thing about these new arrivals is that Ruby will challenge for the Women's championship in the near future. Other than that the intrigue and interest in AEW has never been higher, because we need to keep our eyes on Dynamite and Rampage to know what happens next for Bryan Danielson and Adam Cole in there new home.
I have been deliberating for a few weeks about giving an award to a deserving wrestling legend. This was going to be something different aside from the Hall of Fame as a way to not just honor the past, but also honor a deserving member of wrestling's present. In my opinion, only a few people would fit the mold to be mentioned as the first Eddie Graham Lifetime Achievement award winner. The person I chose has given a good chunk of his life to wrestling and is one of the most well respected members of the wrestling world. The first Eddie Graham Lifetime Achievement award winner is All Elite Wrestling Lead Announcer "Good Ole JR" Jim Ross.
I don't need to retrace the history Jim Ross has had in wrestling as he has been a part of wrestling since 1974 and has had every job imaginable in wrestling. Ross replaced legendary announcer Boyd Pierce in Mid-South Wrestling when Bill Watts wanted to go for a different sound. Ross also helped with booking Mid-South in the later years of the company. In WCW, Ross was on the writing team, helped train new commentators, and was the lead announcer for all WCW programming and PPV basically replacing Bob Caudle who had been in the position for decades prior.
The one place Jim is known for is in WWE where he spent the better part of 25 years from 1993 up until he signed with AEW. Pretty sure his last announcing gig for WWE was Undertaker vs Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania. Other than announcing though Ross again helped train commentators, was on the writing team, and actually became head of talent relations for many years. The day the news broke that AEW had signed Jim Ross to be a commentator it was surprise partially due to me thinking he retired, but also that he was actually going to leave WWE.
In my opinion, the generation prior to me had Gordon Solie, Lance Russell, and Bob Caudle as well as so many other great voices. My childhood was blessed to have Jim Ross and Gene Okerlund make so many moments that much more impactful. Jim Ross has given his life to the business he loves and even after all of this time he is still as much in love with pro-wrestling as he was nearly forty years ago when he first started with the "Cowboy." To call Jim Ross a legend would be an understatement as a long time ago he crossed into the arena of "icon." Nobody else was more deserving to be named the first Eddie Graham Lifetime Achievement award winner.
Last night we saw a sight some of us never thought possible CM Punk on a wrestling show again for the first time in seven years. The crowd in Chicago went bonkers seeing the hometown hero finally return to the profession he had called home for 15 years before leaving. Punk gave us a glimpse into his mindset returning to wrestling and he will continue to be a hot button issue for months to come. However, I'm taking a different approach and I'm not gonna just talk about how insane his debut was, but instead let's talk about where to next.... we know Darby Allin is his first stop on September 5 at All Out!!!
But what other matches shall we see from CM Punk now that he's gone All Elite. Let's see what this Top 5 can bring us:
Note: Kenny Omega will not be on the list as Punk should be kept away from the current champion for a while to allow Punk to get adjusted to being back and not have fans get the wrong idea. Punk can help elevate new stars not just sell tickets with those who are already established.
Though Darby Allin would've been number one on the list he can't be included due to the match being signed already between the two for All Out. Two names immediately popped out to me and both will be on the list, but we start with "All Ego" Ethan Page. Page was underrated signing by AEW a few months back and has found his footing in AEW after a feud with Sting & Darby Allin. Ironically enough it could be an interesting next opponent for Punk and a short term dance partner. Especially if Punk has to overcome the numbers game against Page and partner Scorpio Sky which could lead to Punk finding a partner to extend the program.
Page has a ton of potential to become a star in AEW and a feud with Punk will do him nothing but good from the standpoint of getting him back on television more often and putting him the ring with a household name. Either way Page would come out of a feud with Punk smelling like a rose and with momentum to grow to his potential.
Over the last year there has been a lot of bad press for WWE considering the amount of talent the promotion has released. Most recently, though, the promotion had released a number of NXT prospects that had never really gotten a chance or had just got a shot. Two names on the list were Matt Lee and Jeff Parker, collectively known as 2.0 made the jump to All Elite Wrestling. Since their arrival in AEW, they've seemingly been given a large spotlight and presented in a major way. I've always said that AEW needed to give time to allow their lesser known stars to develop.
Since 2.0 has arrived in All Elite, they've been presented as a serious threat and a confident tag team with a ton of potential. Starting with a six-man tag match against Jon Moxley, Eddie Kingston, and Darby Allin is a great start for anyone in a new company. Alongside Daniel Garcia, the trio have had a great start to their AEW careers. Moving from high point to high point and the next high point would be this week on Dynamite against Sting and Darby Allin.
Promoting Sting's first match back on TNT since the last episode of WCW in March 2001 is a great way to attract attention. But with 2.0 being given the spot to be across the ring against Sting in his first TNT match in 20 years shows how much the company believes in their newest tag team. Right the now, the Young Bucks might be leading the division, but once their time on top passes, they need to have depth in the division to let fresh teams to lead the charge. In my opinion, 2.0 have a ton of potential to become a top team in AEW.
With the news, official Ric Flair has mutually departed from WWE after nearly ten years with the promotion. I asked does this mean that Flair could end up heading to All Elite even for a short run to allow for fans to see the Horsemen back together one more time. Right now, both Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson are under contract in AEW and are in featured spots within the promotion. In the past, JJ Dillon has also appeared for the promotion alongside Tully Blanchard prior to the formation of The Pinnacle. I've seen fans speaking about the intriguing idea of Flair heading to AEW to join his former stablemates. Think about the amount of things that AEW has done with legends like Rock N Roll Express in the past.
For newer fans, the Four Horsemen were the faction that paved the way for pretty much every heel faction of the future. Even though Ole Anderson was featured in the first incarnation of the faction, in a lot of fans opinions it was the third incarnation of the group that was the best one, which included Barry Windham. Now imagine with how prevalent AEW has been in the southern region of the country and the big deal that the Horsemen were back in the day.
It has been 13 years since the last time the Horsemen were featured in a ring together as a part of the Ric Flair retirement ceremony. Flair sharing the ring with Arn Anderson again would be a start, but seeing Flair, Tully and Arn in the ring together would be a sight that I never thought I'd see again, especially if JJ Dillon or Barry Windham were able to be included. If there is a group with honoring that has never been given the proper spotlight, it would be the Four Horsemen. All I'm saying is that this could allow for one last ride for the greatest of all time, and it could allow for him to be in the ring with someone like MJF. Reality, Flair has a chance to finally end his career on his terms instead of having to rest and be himself again.
Daniel Bryan may no longer be Daniel Bryan, reports have been running wild all over the internet that the former WWE Champion is officially gone from the WWE. Bryan was signed to WWE in 2009 from Ring of Honor and was one of the first big signings for WWE from the Indies. Bryan made his debut as a member of the first season of NXT when it was a talent show. From the start Bryan was treated as an indy darling due to the fan support he had from the start based on his past.
I never thought that Daniel Bryan would walk away from WWE and look to move to another promotion. At this point, even though, it seems like some websites are reporting that Bryan has signed with All Elite Wrestling. I don't doubt the reports or the idea that Bryan has been signed to a contract, but I do doubt that this wouldn't be held under the lock and key due to the magnitude of the signing.
Imagine! Imagine, the building when Bryan Danielson walks out on TNT after spending 10 years within the ranks of WWE and as one of the top stars in the company. I don't doubt that Bryan wants to have some creative freedom or return to Japan. I again do doubt that this news would leak out like it apparently has with a number of sites reporting the story. The solid part of the story is that as of today, the former Daniel Bryan has been removed from WWE 2k22, another step toward WWE cutting ties with All Elite. I don't believe that Daniel Bryan has signed with All Elite Wrestling, because we wouldn't know about the news unless that's point, and now we have to sit on our hands and wait.
Presentation and perception are two of the most important aspects in booking wrestling and reality is that if you want a wrestler to stick out you need to allow fans to perceive the star differently. Since his arrival in All Elite Wrestling the former Andrade has been presented as a star and someone who should be looked at differently. Allowing Vickie Guerrero to introduce as opposed to bring him like they have brought in other talent helped his debut be more memorable, which helps especially considering the recent arrivals of Christian Cage and Mark Henry.
The slow vignette did its job to push the perception that Andrade El Idolo is special, and his sit down interview with Jim Ross the following week continued to push that perception. His confidence and AEW allowing him to speak allows the fans to set expectations, but seeing Andrade and how he carried himself in the interview proves that he is to be thought of as a star from the beginning. In recent weeks, they have attempted to change the perception of Jungle Boy, who is about to receive a shot against current World Champion Kenny Omega. It takes time to reshape someone's perception, but they're definitely heading in the right direction.
Andrade belongs in the main event and I believe AEW will allow him to elevate himself to the status where he should've ended up within WWE. The main question now is who has Vickie and Andrade brought in to join El Idolo in AEW. During the sit down interview this past week, Andrade mentioned that he and Vickie have a surprise for the fans. It is possible that the surprise could be his former manager Zelina Vega, but there is no guarantee. The only guarantee is that El Idolo es Una Estrellla or The Idolo is a star!
Earlier this year, I put together a series showing how I would move Andrade up the card in WWE and make him into a star. It got to the point where it was clear Andrade would be better off moving on from WWE and finding a new place to start. His arrival in AEW was expected, but was still a surprise when it came. Leaning on Vickie Guerrero to make the introduction was the perfect use of someone who still gets the reaction of a top heel even after all these years. Seeing the vignette from Dynamite it makes Andrade look like a star.
A vignette is supposed to make the wrestler seem like a star from the start and in the shortest way possible. Exposition is most important in wrestling, because it gives the fans a reason to be invested, and a vignette is supposed to set up expectations for how fans view a wrestler when they arrive. Next week Jim Ross will sit down with Andrade which will keep him separate from the pack and make him look differently than other talent on the roster. The toughest job for any company is making talent stick out and look different from other wrestlers. Basically giving fans a reason to care about one wrestler more than others. Andrade needs to stick out from the pack, and they need to take it slow, building a new image for one of the top signings in recent memory.
Untapped potential is a term that isn't used nearly enough by wrestling fans or critics like it should be. Andrade is the embodiment of a wrestler with untapped potential, and hopefully this second chance will prove worthwhile for someone who can be a top draw anywhere in the world. The vignette set the ball in motion and now next week's sit down interview will take another step toward separating Andrade from the pack.
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