Dolph Ziggler and 17 WWE Stars Better Off Signing with AEW

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 23, 2019

Dolph Ziggler and 17 WWE Stars Better Off Signing with AEW

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    Tye Dillinger and TJP were released from WWE on Friday, hopefully to make a transition over to All Elite Wrestling in the near future to realize their potential.

    Pro Wrestling Sheet reported on the releases, and be it Dean Ambrose, The Usos, Rusev and even Randy Orton, everyone seems to be fair game to talk about as a potential departure in the hopes of finding greener pastures in AEW.

    It's risky, but it could pay off if AEW has the money to go around and the right environment to allow people to flourish who may otherwise not see such opportunities in WWE.

    This isn't the case for everyone, but even as outsiders to all the backstage information like contract negotiations, we can still look at the roster and assess which men and women should try their luck in the hot new company with all the potential in the world.

    Here are 17 Superstars who might be better off leaving WWE and going to AEW.

Apollo Crews

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    On more than one occasion, it seemed as though Apollo Crews would finally get a push, but every single time, he returns to midcard nothingness after two or three weeks. It already happened in 2019, and we're only in February.

    At a certain point, this stops being happenstance and bad timing and becomes a pattern that is unlikely to correct itself.

    For whatever reason, the powers that be do not feel confident enough to even give Crews a midcard title for a short transition reign.

    Crews is athletic, muscular and passionate enough that he could make a much bigger splash in AEW as an established star who simply hasn't been given the right opportunity to capitalize on.

    Perhaps the freedom that would come in AEW would even allow him to show off a different personality and grow as a character in ways WWE wouldn't feel comfortable with since he could have more mic time than he gets on Raw.

    Crews is being wasted, and it's a shame to see that he's in no better a position in 2019 than he was four years ago.

Gran Metalik

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    Back in December, Gran Metalik tweeted a poll that seemed to indicate he wished to leave WWE and go to either "the independents" or CMLL, asking fans which would be the better option.

    If he does wish to go elsewhere, he should consider AEW.

    Metalik has built-in value as a luchador who, like many on this list, would be a much bigger fish in a smaller pond like AEW than he is in WWE, where he has Kalisto, Lince Dorado, Sin Cara and Rey Mysterio to compete with.

    As one-third of Lucha House Party, he isn't doing anything of note and likely won't get out of that stable with a solid push, so he's looking at a future in WWE of either remaining in a tag team or becoming a jobber or lower-midcarder at best.

    Assuming he's OK with another American promotion and wouldn't rather return to Mexico, the next best option for him is AEW.

Chad Gable

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    In WWE, someone with charisma on the mic and great promo skills can go further than someone who relies more on in-ring talent, which seems to be why Chad Gable isn't a bigger deal.

    There was a short time on SmackDown when he was given the opportunity to take the fight to main event talent like AJ Styles and become a legitimate contender for the United States Championship, but he wasn't taken seriously for too long before reverting back to the lower midcard.

    It seems WWE is content with him being half of a tag team, even if that team is as haphazardly thrown together as his partnership with Bobby Roode.

    What Gable needs isn't a fourth tag team partner after Jason Jordan, Shelton Benjamin and Roode but an environment that allows him to utilize his skills and be a singles wrestler.

    He could succeed in 205 Live, but WWE hasn't moved him there, and he would only have the Cruiserweight Championship as his ceiling, so once that goal was accomplished, he would flounder yet again.

    AEW already has a different approach to smaller guys who make their living more on wrestling rather than the emphasis being on promos, so Gable would be a perfect fit for that promotion.

    Matches against folks like Pac, Kenny Omega, Cody, Adam Page, The Young Bucks and more would be phenomenal to watch and a major step up from being Roode's little copycat buddy.

The Revival

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    The idea of The Revival leaving WWE for AEW has been talked to death, but that's because it makes sense in so many ways.

    Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder are clearly not happy with how WWE has handled their careers over the past few years, and it's hard to blame them, as they went from being top guys in NXT to afterthoughts on Raw.

    It took until now, with all the buzz about them leaving, for WWE to give them the Raw Tag Team Championships in an attempt to appease them. But even then, they are still being booked to lose.

    If they re-sign with WWE, it's all but guaranteed they will go back to jobbing, as the company will feel safe and won't have any need to push them anymore.

    But if The Revival leave for AEW, they can have their match with The Young Bucks that they have hinted at for a long time and could be fixtures of the tag team division on that brand, which would appreciate them much more than WWE does.

Dolph Ziggler

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    This image sums up Dolph Ziggler's career from the past few years, and that shouldn't be the case.
    This image sums up Dolph Ziggler's career from the past few years, and that shouldn't be the case.Credit:

    For far too many years, Dolph Ziggler has been one of the best performers in WWE, doesn't get the credit he deserves and then complains about it, either as a heel or a babyface.

    He deserves better, as he is one of the best wrestlers of this era.

    Fans haven't responded well to this character in a while, which pushes him back and feeds more into the loop he's stuck in, as that time away makes him more frustrated, and he feels the need to harp on the same points as before.

    The only way to break the vicious cycle is to leave—and not just for a month before coming back at the Royal Rumble, which he's done twice.

    Ziggler needs to go to AEW, wherein he could be a top star and world champion of that brand, work with some fresh talent, pass on the knowledge he's learned from his time in WWE and make WWE CEO Vince McMahon miss having him around.

    Then, after distance has made the heart grow fonder, he could come back into the fold in WWE and be welcomed with open arms and enjoy a rejuvenated tail end of his career, as well as possibly a lifelong job backstage if he's interested in training or producing.

    The key to it all is finding success in AEW and making WWE wish he hadn't left.


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    Goldust's appearance on this list almost seems like it goes without being said because his brother, Cody, is one of the head honchos at All Elite Wrestling, but it all depends on his options.

    Dustin Runnels has what could well be a lifetime career waiting for him in WWE as a producer, trainer, ambassador or something else in that regard when he decides to no longer step between the ropes.

    Given his tenure in the company and his willingness to do pretty much anything McMahon has asked of him, he might be one of the go-to people WWE plans on helping the next generation.

    But AEW might be an even better fit for him on both a personal and professional level.

    Working alongside his brother has its benefits in keeping the family closer, and since they are both Dusty Rhodes' boys, they must share some of the same philosophies about wrestling that WWE may not necessarily agree with.

    Since it's a smaller company, he would arguably have more control too, as there would be fewer cooks in the kitchen and not as many people to report to.

    The only thing that should hold him back is waiting for his inevitable WWE Hall of Fame induction and not wanting to risk negating that as an employee of a rival company, but AEW could definitely use someone with his knowledge and talents to help groom the younger stars.


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    Aliyah signed with WWE in March 2015 and in all that time has yet to graduate much more past the live event circuit of the developmental system.

    This is troubling, as every year, more and more women come into NXT, become regulars on the television program and move on to the main roster while Aliyah stays behind.

    Being lapped like that either means she doesn't have what it takes to move forward or WWE doesn't see much of a future in her and keeps her on the back-burner not to invest in what's to come but, in a sense, to use her as background furniture.

    In all that time, she's only wrestled 23 matches on NXT television. An even sadder statistic is that she's lost all but five of them, so it isn't as though she's a part-time special attraction like Brock Lesnar.

    It's doubtful her career will take off in WWE, but AEW is going to need plenty of women to make up its women's division roster.

    Aliyah is only 24, has taken steps to look more and more like a Superstar over the years and has surely picked up enough in the ring to be a much bigger deal in AEW than she is in NXT.

    A move to AEW could be what saves her career and stops her from giving up after years of going nowhere.

Mike and Maria Kanellis

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    Mike and Maria Kanellis originally had hype on their side, but that quickly fizzled out, almost as if they were put on SmackDown without any plans to use them.

    Their momentum was wrecked beyond repair soon after that when Mike went into rehab and Maria became pregnant, meaning the two spent months away from WWE television.

    Improving Mike's physique and making a change to the 205 Live roster hasn't helped the two recover from this horrible start, as the losses continue to pile up.

    What worked for this pair on the indies hasn't transferred over to WWE, and it might be time for them to go back to the scene on which they excelled by becoming a power couple for AEW instead.

    There's even a built-in potential mixed tag team feud between these two and Cody and Brandi that fans would surely like to see and would be better than anything the Kanellis couple has done in WWE.

The Ascension

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    When asking who would be better off signing with AEW as opposed to staying with WWE, The Ascension have to come to mind just because anything would be an improvement to what they have been doing for the past few years.

    Konnor and Viktor were dominant in NXT and almost immediately lost all credibility once coming up to the main roster, where they've only scored a few wins here and there against fellow enhancement talent like Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins or The Colons.

    They will not get out of this rut they are in. It's just not happening, so they should give up.

    Rather than waiting for their inevitable releases before moving on to the indies, they need to pack up their things and go to AEW with their heads held high in the spirit of wanting to save their careers.

    Think of it as a situation wherein they can't be fired because they have quit. That mentality could make all the difference to give them a self-esteem boost to either improve as a tag team or split up to become singles competitors.

    AEW likely wouldn't have the tight restrictions and lack of freedom of WWE, so it's at least a chance to be more than a group of losers in the wasteland of the jobber scene.

Dana Brooke

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    Dana Brooke has been in WWE since July 2013 and accomplished nothing, both in NXT and on the main roster. Often, WWE even seems to forget she exists, like when it didn't announce her for the WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal last year until virtually the last minute.

    Her most recent storyline with Natalya has been ignored the past two weeks despite a specific explanation that they would have a match, and she hasn't had her profile image on WWE's website changed since 2016.

    By now, the hope should be gone that she will ever be on par with someone like Charlotte Flair or Sasha Banks as a top draw who wins the women's title or anything along those lines. It's just not going to happen.

    It's arguable that she should leave professional wrestling altogether and focus on some other career, be it going back to fitness competitions or something unrelated to athletics, but AEW could present a nice alternative.

    In such a young company, she could be a great asset to pass on the knowledge she's learned as part of the WWE family, even in elements such as how to carry oneself in the locker room.

    She would also default to being one of the better-known names even after changing her ring name to something else just by her association with WWE, so that would help bring some clout to the women with whom she competes in AEW.

    There's more of a chance she would succeed in the smaller pool of women in AEW than on the ever-growing roster WWE has that keeps surpassing her.


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    There's no reason someone with the size, athleticism and passion for the business that Harper possesses should be anything but a fixture of WWE programming, yet he's been wasted for several years.

    WWE seems stuck on the idea that he can only be part of a tag team alongside Rowan and nothing more. He must be silent and look dirty, and his ceiling is the tag team titles.

    The one time WWE tried him out as a singles competitor and gave him an extremely short run with the Intercontinental Championship, he still wasn't allowed to spread his wings and become something beyond a former member of The Wyatt Family.

    If he were to go to AEW, he could shed that persona and either go back to being Brodie Lee or completely reinvent himself. In any fashion, he would be able to showcase his skills as one of the bigger men on the roster—something AEW needs in order to have a balance between performance styles.

    Harper is underutilized and could be a much bigger deal in this business if he were given the chance to succeed.

The Good Brothers

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    Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson shouldn't leave WWE for AEW, as they should be one of the top tag teams in McMahon's company. That would be the best-case scenario, yet that isn't what has happened.

    When they first arrived, WWE had no problem pushing them and even gave them a tag title reign—albeit a shorter one than they deserved.

    But after that, they have been avoided like the plague to the point they are barely on television. And when they do appear, it's to lose.

    What went wrong? Did they upset someone backstage? How do they come in with all the fanfare of The Bullet Club surrounding them and, in no time, wind up on equal footing with The Colons?

    Going back to New Japan Pro-Wrestling might be more taxing on their families, but staying in the U.S. with AEW and being a top tag team on the brand could be the best thing for them, as they would at least be able to contribute to the product.

    Even though they would be leaving AJ Styles and Finn Balor behind, they do have friends in AEW, as The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega were members of The Bullet Club.

    If the money is there in an AEW contract and The Good Brothers aren't interested in collecting a paycheck for doing nothing in WWE, they need to escape the doldrums they are in and switch to the other side.

Honorable Mentions

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    Before rounding out this list, there are several other Superstars who could do well in AEW, but there isn't as strong of a case to be made for them.

    For instance, No Way Jose has seemingly hit his ceiling in WWE as a jobber who mostly only appears on Main Event. Perhaps going to AEW would allow him to reinvent himself and save his career like Juice Robinson did in New Japan Pro-Wrestling to escape the downward spiral of being CJ Parker from NXT.

    Mojo Rawley is in a better spot than Jose but still doesn't have much going for him. It almost seems like he's sticking around just to help bring in some attention from Rob Gronkowski, if he were to ever decide to join WWE, rather than to utilize Rawley.

    If he has something to offer the wrestling business, WWE isn't likely to give him the platform to experiment, but if he goes elsewhere and rebuilds himself, he might find what it takes to succeed.

    Aiden English is an interesting name to bring up, as he is being used as a commentator on 205 Live rather than an in-ring performer.

    If that's where he wants his career to go, he should stay in WWE. But if McMahon's promotion has already written him off as a wrestler and he doesn't want to close that chapter, AEW would be a great new place to stretch his legs.

    Taynara Conti has made zero progress in her career over the past year and a half, so unless WWE pairs her up with Cezar Bononi and Adrian Jaoude to make a Brazilian stable, she may be on the outs. If she has something to offer, she could go to AEW to prove that the NXT system was stunting her growth.

    Lastly, The Colons should have left WWE ages ago, as their careers bottomed out even before they became Los Matadores. If AEW would have them, they could be fixtures of their tag team division, which is at least better than only competing sporadically on house shows in WWE.

Tyler Breeze

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    Somewhere along the way, Tyler Breeze went from being one of the top guys in NXT who seemed to have a great future ahead of him to being a jobber on the main roster.

    He never accomplishes anything, even when he goes back down to NXT for stints here and there.

    The Fashion Police is a fun tag team, and he has plenty to offer, but WWE doesn't seem keen on giving him a chance to break out of the lower midcard.

    In AEW, though, Breeze could be a big player. He could immediately fit in as a top contender to whatever midcard title that company creates, if not go straight to the upper midcard or gain main event status.

    That's what is happening with Pac, who could only obtain the Cruiserweight Championship in WWE as Neville but will be a top dog in AEW.

    A move to AEW may be the only way Breeze can realize his potential since it's nowhere near close to happening in WWE after all these years.


    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.