All Elite Wrestling’s original MO was to put the spotlight on wrestlers that wouldn’t get fair treatment elsewhere in the industry. Cody and the rest of The Elite have scoured the world for the best, young talent to help develop one of the most interesting rosters in wrestling history. So far, there’s been a lot of talent left to meander about the mid-card with no sense of direction. Aside from a few minor squabbles with other low-tier wrestlers, there hasn’t been much for the performers outside of the World and Tag title divisions to compete over.
Hence the need for a mid-card championship to help provide the majority of the roster with something to vie for. Much like in the times before NXT’s North American Championship, there were a huge amount of incredible names that weren’t being featured on TV regularly enough to become household names. Superstars like Johnny Gargano, Roderick Strong and Velveteen Dream had to work overtime to ensure they had a place waiting for them on the bimonthly TakeOver cards. Now with an impressive mid-card championship in place, superstars who haven’t yet earned the right to challenge for the NXT Championship have something to help build their credibility with the NXT audience.
AEW could suffer from diminishing interest in several of their hot-prospects without something like a championship to help solidify their mid-carders as the future of the main event scene. With a roster as impressive as the one they have, it’s criminal to not implement a new championship in 2020.
With that in mind, lets take a look at five AEW wrestlers who could benefit from a mid-card championship run. Make sure you drop your own favourite mid-carders in the comments section below.
1. Darby Allin
The brooding Darby Allin has already made quite the impression with the AEW audience. Having stepped into the ring with headlining names like Cody and PAC, Allin has built a reputation for being a dependable mid-carder who fans are ready to get behind as he pursues bigger things in 2020. But without a mid-card championship in place to help take the daredevil to the next level, Darby is pretty much banging his head against the wall with the constant failed attempts to defeat the main-event talent.
Darby Allin is a ready-made superstar for the modern era, he has the look and a natural charisma rarely found in wrestlers that shy away from the microphone. He reminds me of a young Jeff Hardy, not only for his insane spots but for that edgy punky appeal. In similar vein to Hardy, should AEW not reward him with the momentum that would come from a title win, he could quickly fade into obscurity in amongst the traffic jam of talent.
AEW knows that they have something special in Darby Allin, it’s time to certify that with a championship belt or two.
2. Joey Janela
‘The Bad Boy’ was given quite the fanfare when he and Penelope Ford first signed to AEW, although since then, momentum seemed to fizzle away when Janela was forced to share a roster with The Elite, Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley. Janela has occasionally stepped into the spotlight in matches against Shawn Spears, Moxley and fellow extremists Jimmy Havoc and Darby Allin, but has yet to score any sort of big wins in his AEW career.
Janela is a big-time superstar that, with the right push, could become a headline attraction for All Elite Wrestling. At the moment, Janela is entering into a meagre feud with Kip Sabian over his former valet Penelope Ford. Even though this beef is very minor compared to the rest of the rivalries that make it onto Dynamite, it’s still one of the few mid-card programmes that’s being given screen-time. Ultimately, this will benefit neither wrestler once it’s all said and done, unless there was something at stake other than who has the best social media game.
A mid-card championship would be a perfect addition to the Janela/Sabian feud, giving them something important to butt heads over and give fans a reason to pay attention to their TV matches. Both he and ‘Superbad’ Sabian are incredible performers that could steal the show if given the time, but unfortunately, when there’s nothing more viable than Ford’s affection to battle over, nobody’s going to give a damn.
3. Dustin Rhodes
Dustin Rhodes’ career was given a much-needed face-lift when he announced his involvement in AEW in the summer of 2019. Dustin’s match with his brother Cody proved to the world that he still had more than what it takes to be a headlining superstar in 2020, despite his age. Rhodes is still a very dependable performer to help carry a match with a less-experienced wrestler, and create long-lasting, emotional stories for different audiences around the world.
Dustin could easily nab a title or two as part of the mid-card in AEW. If AEW officials have no qualms with putting the main-event title on Chris Jericho, then there should be no issue with Dustin Rhodes picking up a big win over someone in the mid-card scene. Dustin would be a fantastic first name to have etched into the history books of the mid-card title, especially if he were to put on a match as excellent as his Double or Nothing masterpiece.
Some fans might be slightly against the idea of former-WWE stars being given constant favour in AEW, but quite frankly, if they’re willing to work as Dustin in as part of the AEW roster, then there shouldn’t be any argument over whether or not they deserve the credit. Jericho has done an amazing job leading the locker room as AEW Champion, and Jon Moxley will likely do the same. These wrestlers are more than happy to go the extra mile to put together a great match these days, now that they’re free from the confines of a WWE-style match. Giving them that opportunity with a championship in the mix would do nothing but favours for the credibility of the title and TV ratings.
4. Pentagon Jr.
An argument could be made for either of the two Lucha Brothers to ascend to championship competition. Personally I’d love to see AEW give Pentagon Jr. a chance to show the American audience just how vicious he can be as a top heel. His work in Lucha Underground and AAA has been exceptional, an easy star attraction for any brand he appears on. Somewhere down the line, he and Rey Fenix could turn their brotherhood into a blood feud; a rivalry that could stem from them battling for a chance at the mid-card championship.
Pentagon Jr. has that charismatic appeal that could make him a marketable champion. Fans would tune in to watch his title defences, especially if he’s continued to be matched up with dream opponents like PAC, Kenny Omega and Jon Moxley. He’s an easy sell for any singles title, but perhaps giving him the chance to excel in the mid-card would give other aspiring talent the rub by appearing in a match with him.
Pentagon and Fenix are ready to move on from the tag division, as fantastic as they are, there’s more for them to achieve as singles wrestlers.
5. Shawn Spears
Shawn Spears has been on the cusp of becoming a big deal in AEW. With the legendary Tully Blanchard at his side, ‘The Chairman’ has already made a splash in the main event scene in his feud with Cody, but after suffering a pretty big loss at All Out, Spears has had nothing else to keep him occupied in the mid-card scene. You’d think with the amount of potential Spears has to be the most over guy on the roster, they’d pull the trigger on his big run to championship glory.
Maybe Spears isn’t quite there yet, maybe he needs a stepping stone of sorts to help elevate him to main event calibre. Spears would be an ideal heel champion in the mid-card, with Tully to help swing the match in his favour and make him look like a total superstar in his backstage vignettes, and Spears’ prior experience working in the big leagues.
‘The Perfect 10’ has been owed a title run for the past 4-5 years, if there’s ever a time and a place, it’s in AEW’s mid-card division.
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