AEW has a chance to start afresh in 2023. With a brand new Dynamite stage and putting the top titles on homegrown talents such as MJF and Darby Allin, Tony Khan has gotten off to a promising start thus far.
There's a ton of potential on the roster, and the company is just recovering from the negative publicity of 2022. AEW fans are creating big expectations for 2023, but Tony Khan needs to make it a point to avoid certain pitfalls. Here are five things AEW shouldn't do this year.
#5. AEW shouldn't sign Mandy Rose or Lana
Mandy Rose's departure from the WWE was one of the most shocking firings of 2022. She was the NXT Women's Champion for over a year and was one of the most popular superstars in the promotion. However, she was ultimately let go by WWE because they were unhappy with the content she was putting up on her personal subscription account.
This has inevitably led to speculation that Mandy Rose could consider joining AEW once her 90-day release clause is up. Wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer discussed the situation in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and how Warner Bros. Discovery would entertain such a hire given the circumstances surrounding Mandy's release.
While it could be tempting for AEW to take advantage of the situation and turn it into a storyline, the company doesn't need to resort to such pettiness. The women's roster is filled with others who deserve to be given the spotlight, including Kris Stalander, Ruby Soho, and Hikaru Shida, among others.
The same goes for former WWE Superstar Lana, aka CJ Perry. Despite her husband Miro being signed to the promotion, she probably wouldn't add much to his standing in the company. The fact that she's publicly angling for the former Rusev to make a WWE return might not sit well with Tony Khan and co. Ultimately, AEW should just focus on the female talent they already have on their roster.
#4. AEW shouldn't bring in another part-timer like Edge
Prior to his fairytale return at the 2020 WWE Royal Rumble, Edge reportedly held talks with Tony Khan and AEW, according to Fightful Select. With the Rated-R Superstar's WWE contract set to expire this summer, could he be tempted to take one final payday in a rival promotion?
Edge has had an amazing comeback run in WWE. From main-eventing WrestleMania 37 to his outstanding rivalries with the likes of Randy Orton and Seth Rollins, the WWE Hall of Famer has nothing left to prove. Retirement seems to very much be on the horizon for the 49-year-old.
With his former tag team partner Christian Cage having a career resurgence of his own in AEW, Edge might consider reforming their team to embark on a nostalgic run. They can even rekindle their classic rivalry with The Hardys, who are both signed to Tony Khan's promotion.
But at the end of the day, Tony Khan should refrain from signing another legend of the past and focus on the youth of their roster. They already have incredible talents who are at the forefront of the new generation, and bringing in a veteran would only take up television time.
#3. AEW shouldn't bury Miro
Miro (fka Rusev) was released by WWE back in 2020 and has been with All Elite Wrestling since September of that year. And while the former TNT Champion found plenty of success in 2021 as the dominant "Redeemer," the same can't be said for 2022.
"God's Favorite Champion" has only wrestled four times last year, and the latest update regarding his absence from television was that he declined a pitch from Creative and that new ideas are being worked on.
Meanwhile, Miro's wife, CJ Perry (fka Lana), has teased the idea of joining him on AEW a few times. However, in an interview with 92.7 WMAY, Perry seemed to indicate that it would only be a matter of time before "The Bulgarian Brute" returns to WWE. It's certainly a confusing hot take that would do little to help Miro's current position in the company.
Regardless of the issues Miro might have with All Elite Wrestling, Tony Khan's promotion is an outstanding ground for the former TNT Champion, and the President should utilize him better in 2023. Given his awesome 'Redeemer' gimmick that has already connected well with the audience, Miro is a ready-made star that can instantly be slotted back into the main event spot if needed. As a returning monster babyface, he could be a great opponent for MJF's World Championship.
#2. AEW shouldn't fire Jeff Hardy despite legal troubles
Jeff Hardy's signing to All Elite Wrestling should have been the catalyst for a Hardy Boys reunion and possible tag team title run. Instead, the Charismatic Enigma got in trouble with the law once again, scuppering their planned title opportunity.
It's very frustrating for long-time fans who've supported the former WWE Champion throughout his career. He should be trying his best to stay on the straight path, but he keeps repeating such mistakes.
Patience might be wearing thin for management. While it's fair for Tony Khan to consider whether he is worth the investment, Jeff should be given a shot at redeeming himself. This depends on the outcome of his court case. As long as he pledges to regain the trust of fans and colleagues alike, Jeff could still play an important role for the younger talents on the roster.
#1. AEW shouldn't turn MJF face
MJF as AEW World Champion has been a boon to the company thus far. He is easily one of the most popular talents on the roster. Despite his heel persona, the fans love him, or at most, love to hate him.
It would be very tempting to turn him into an anti-hero or eventual babyface. But management should refrain from doing so. He is perfect as a villain and should remain so. Like Rowdy Piper in the 80s, MJF has the ability to garner incredible heat while still retaining his character.
As the top bad guy in the Jacksonville-based company, he could elevate other wrestlers to become the number one good guy to oppose him. We've seen how the likes of Ricky Starks and Wardlow have benefited from working with Friedman. This is only possible as long as MJF is the lead bad guy on Dynamite.