WWE and AEW Contract Rumors on Cesaro, AJ Styles and Brian Cage

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 25, 2022

TOKYO,JAPAN - JUNE 29: Cesaro enters the ring during the WWE Live Tokyo at Ryogoku Kokugikan on June 29, 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)
Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Bleacher Report catches you up on the latest news from the WWE Universe and All Elite Wrestling.

WWE Reportedly Didn't Make Cesaro a Big Contract Offer

Cesaro's departure from WWE reportedly came down to the company not offering him a sizable contract.

According to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter (h/t Subhojeet Mukherjee of Ringside News), Cesaro leaving the company was "more of a WWE decision than a Cesaro decision" since WWE offered him a deal he "didn't like."

Meltzer added that WWE's contract offer didn't approach the offers to Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn when the company convinced them to re-sign.

On Thursday, PWInsider.com (h/t H Jenkins of Ringside News) reported that Cesaro had left WWE after he and the company were unable to come to an agreement. It was noted that there is no 90-day non-compete clause since his contract expired rather than him getting released.

Meltzer (h/t Jenkins) followed up on Friday, reporting that Cesaro had yet to receive an offer from AEW, although he didn't rule out the possibility of AEW making a play for him.

The 41-year-old Cesaro signed with WWE in 2011 and made his main roster debut in 2012.

During his decadelong run with WWE, Cesaro was a one-time United States champion, but his greatest success came in the tag team ranks, as he won seven tag titles with Sheamus, Tyson Kidd and Shinsuke Nakamura as his partners.

While Cesaro never won a world title and was often relegated to the midcard or tag team ranks, he was a fan favorite throughout his WWE run and was often lauded for his remarkable in-ring prowess.

Cesaro figures to be a hot commodity on the free-agent market, and the Swiss star is free to sign with and appear for any wrestling promotion at any time.

AEW Reportedly Didn't Pursue Styles Before WWE Contract

AEW reportedly didn't make a play for AJ Styles before he recently signed a new contract with WWE.

According to Meltzer (h/t Mukherjee), there were no "overtures" from AEW toward Styles despite the company expressing interest in him previously.

Meltzer noted that AEW's idea for the first-ever episode of Dynamite in 2019 was for Styles, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson to confront Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, but it never happened, as Styles re-signed with WWE.

Styles' contract was reportedly set to expire again in the near future, but Fightful Select (h/t Michael Perry of Ringside News) reported this week that The Phenomenal One signed a new deal with WWE that will pay him more than $3 million per year.

Meltzer (h/t Mitch Waddon of Cultaholic) previously reported that Styles' new contract was either for three or five years.

Styles is still performing at an elite level, but given that he is 44 years old, it is possible his new contract will be his last as an active performer.

Meltzer added that Styles was "not interested" in leaving WWE, which is in line with comments Styles has made in recent years.

In 2019, Styles said he wanted to retire with WWE. He also said in January that he could see himself working at the WWE Performance Center as a trainer once his in-ring career is over.

Styles would have been a great fit in AEW given some of the matchups available to him, but there is still plenty left for the two-time WWE champion to do in WWE as well.

One possible dream match is Styles vs. Edge, and after Edge's promo on Monday's episode of Raw, there is seemingly a good chance that the match will take place at WrestleMania 38 in April.

AEW Reportedly Exercises 1-Year Option in Cage's Contract

Despite not using him much in recent months, AEW has reportedly exercised the option year in Brian Cage's contract.

According to Fightful Select (h/t Jenkins), Cage told those close to him that AEW exercised his option, and he was said to be "surprised" by the decision, as "virtually everyone on the All Elite Wrestling roster thought his deal would simply expire."

The 38-year-old Cage debuted with AEW in May 2020 as a surprise entrant in the Casino Ladder Match at Double or Nothing. Accompanied by Taz, Cage won the match to earn a shot at the AEW World Championship.

Cage lost the subsequent title match against Jon Moxley, but Taz made him the FTW champion.

Eventually, Cage and Taz built out a stable with Hook, Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs joining the ranks. Cage left Team Taz in July after dropping the FTW title to Starks.

Since then, Cage has made only a handful of appearances on Dynamite and Rampage. His most recent televised appearance for AEW was a loss to Starks in a rematch for the FTW title in October.

In September, Cage's wife, Melissa Santos, took to social media to express dismay over the manner in which AEW has utilized Cage.

Given that and the fact that Cage hasn't wrestled a match for AEW yet this year, the expectation was that AEW would let the former Impact World champion walk once his contract expired.

A return to Impact or a run in WWE could have been in the cards, but instead it looks as though AEW and Cage might try to work things out.

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