5 Gifts WWE and AEW Wrestling Fans Deserve in 2023

Erik BeastonDecember 25, 2022

5 Gifts WWE and AEW Wrestling Fans Deserve in 2023

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    Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns is more coveted this holiday than a Red Rider BB Gun.
    Sami Zayn vs. Roman Reigns is more coveted this holiday than a Red Rider BB Gun.Credit: WWE.com

    The holidays are upon us, and with it comes the giving of gifts. As 2023 draws near, wrestling fans deserve a couple of their own, including the magical payoff of one of the best stories in the industry, that of the rise of Sami Zayn.

    Outside of Zayn's catapult to the top of the industry, there are four other gifts fans have earned.

    What are they, and why?

    Find out with this look at the presents both WWE and AEW could give their fans that would be accepted more eagerly than a Red Ryder BB Gun.

Sasha Banks Performing Somewhere

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    It has been more than seven months since fans have seen Sasha Banks inside a wrestling ring, doing what she does as well as (if not better than) anyone else: wrestle.

    That is too long for a performer in her athletic prime. She should be regularly competing against the top stars the industry has to offer, and if that cannot be in WWE, for whatever reason, then it should be in some ring somewhere.

    According to Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Newsletter, she is expected to be a surprise at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's Wrestle Kingdom show on January 4.

    That may not necessarily have been anyone's first choice for her to resume her career given the lack of emphasis that promotion has placed on women's wrestling until recently, with more integration of its Stardom brand, but the idea of Banks tearing it up with Giulia, Syuri or Saya Kamitani is mightily appealing, More importantly working in Japan, against women she clearly has respect for, may help Banks rediscover a love for wrestling that, at times, appeared to fade during her WWE run.

    Maybe NJPW and Stardom serve as a catapult back to WWE or a run with AEW. Yes, she is a budding star in other fields of pop culture, but first and foremost, she is an extraordinary professional wrestler. Her working in a ring, regardless of the promotion, is a gift fans of the industry deserve in 2023.

A More Focused AEW Product

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    Call it loyal fandom or whatever, but there will be some who argue with the notion that AEW had its worst year to date in 2022, not because of injuries or media scrums, but from a creative standpoint.

    And it absolutely did.

    Too often, the AEW product was all over the place; an unfocused mess that failed to live up to the expectations fans had set for it over the course of its first two years. The shows were jam-packed with far too much content, the feuds often appeared directionless or ended without resolution, and the pay-per-views were overly bloated to the point that you lost interest in the main event by the time the six hours preceding it came to an end.

    This 2023, the gift fans deserve from AEW is a bit more focus (and clarity) on the top stars, their stories, and the overall direction the company is taking. Tony Khan should stop chasing "Booker of the Year" awards, stop reacting to every criticism of him or his product, and focus simply on getting back to the sensible storytelling and focused direction that he had in the early days of AEW.

    Otherwise, the shows will continue to look and feel like mad rushes to get as much into them as possible, oftentimes with no rhyme or reason for doing so. Or, on the other hand, with feuds that drag on for entirely too damn long because the original intent has been lost.

    Looking at you, Jericho Appreciation Society vs. Blackpool Combat Club.

    Whatever the case is, fans deserve better out of AEW in 2023 and, hopefully, Khan and Co. can get back to what made the company special in the first place with the dawn of a new year and stories.

Sami Zayn Dethroning Roman Reigns at WrestleMania

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    There are well-known plans for The Rock and Roman Reigns to square off in the main event of a WrestleMania at some point. There are others who believe Cody Rhodes should return from injury and defeat The Tribal Chief for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship in Los Angeles at this coming April's extravaganza.

    While both of those would be big deals and make WWE lots of money, the most obvious choice is right in front of their faces, courtesy of a storyline that got over better than anyone could have imagined.

    The real answer to dethrone Reigns and end his run atop the WWE mountain is Sami Zayn, and it is not even close.

    For months, The Head of the Table has manipulated and coerced Zayn, playing along with his desire to be a member of The Bloodline because it benefited him. He knew that he had another person to watch his back and ensure the continuation of his dominance over the wrestling world.

    He was goofy, but he was loyal and would do anything to keep Reigns from losing, thus securing his spot with the guys he wanted so badly to be like and around.

    The relationship will ultimately crumble, with Reigns taking exception to something Zayn does and booting him out of the faction. That, or Zayn will realize how badly he has been taken advantage of and strike out on his own.

    When that happens, the endgame should not be Zayn and best friend Kevin Owens against The Usos for the tag titles. That is not big enough for the amount of television time given to this story and the way fans have rallied behind The Honorary Uce.

    No, Zayn has earned the right to battle Reigns for the top prize in the sport, on the biggest stage imaginable, and dethrone The Tribal Chief.

    Some will argue that he is not a big enough star or that it would somehow be a lackluster finale for that historic two-year-plus run, but that is a ridiculous notion. Zayn is red-hot, reminiscent of Daniel Bryan during his run-up to WrestleMania 30 against The Authority, and WWE should absolutely take advantage of what is setting up to be a magical moment forged by a storyline that was never intended to go this long.

    Zayn dethroning Reigns, standing tall on the WrestleMania stage and even embracing Owens is the moment fans deserve, holiday or not.

Ricky Starks vs. MJF II

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    Ricky Starks and MJF captivated the wrestling world with a single week of mic work leading into the AEW World Championship and Dynamite Diamond Ring match on the Winter is Coming broadcast.

    The match itself was very good and gave fans a taste of the dynamic that existed between the charismatic babyface and the scarf-wearing villain. Their chemistry was great, the in-ring styles meshed well enough and the audience bought into all of it.

    In the new year, AEW should gift its fans the continuation of that feud and a championship clash further down the line. One with more than a week to build and generate excitement. Sure, it worked with such a quick turnaround anyway, a testament to the talent involved and their ability to grip the audience with their words.

    A longer program that really builds Starks up as a threat to win the title, on top of the magic we already know they can create, is exactly the sort of thing AEW needs to help remind fans of what made the company a true alternative in the first place.

Seth Freakin' Rollins Gets a World Freakin' Title Run

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    In the mid-1990s, Bret Hart became somewhat of a fallback for WWE. For whatever reason, no matter how great he was between the ropes or the undeniable connection he forged with fans, there was always someone else Vince McMahon wanted to focus on pushing.

    Only when those plans failed or did not drum up the expected business (see: Diesel) did he turn back to Hart and put the top prize in the company on his workhorse.

    It is safe to say Seth Rollins is settling into that role, a modern-day Bret Hart, who can be trusted to deliver the best match on any card regardless of his spot on it, but who should really be competing for world titles in the main event spot.

    It never became more apparent than in 2022, when he worked his magic with everyone from Roman Reigns to Austin Theory, competing in superb matches regardless of his opponent. He was great, delivering in several high-profile showdowns with Matt Riddle and having the best series of wrestling matches all year against Cody Rhodes.

    Rollins is the modern equivalent to Hart, a workhorse of a wrestler who almost certainly deserves more than he has received. In 2023, fans deserve the gift of Rollins as world champion and the ability to sing his song while he basks in his glory.