2021: Year Three in Review

Updated: Jan 4

The third year of All Elite Wrestling began in the days following the tragic and unexpected news of Mr. Brodie Lee’s passing. A celebration of life closed out the final edition of Dynamite for 2020 and his presence lives on in many ways, most notably on screen with his son, Negative One. The first matches of 2021 were actually filmed prior to the aforementioned show but, for record keeping purposes, are counted and tracked according to their the date they aired in January.

2021 continued on with the pattern of the same four annual Pay-Per-View (PPV) events as the previous year. Most notably, the slate of weekly programming effectively doubled with the addition of Dark: Elevation every Monday YouTube beginning in March and the almost always one-hour Rampage , all but once on Fridays. In addition, a one-off Bleacher Report Special took place at the end of February as a part of the Women's World Championship Eliminator Tournament. Further, the first House Show was held in April in the familiar confines of Daily’s Place in Jacksonville Florida. Finally, Kenny Omega’s Title vs Title match against Rich Swann on IMPACT Wrestling Pay Per View: Rebellion , which as it was an AEW World Championship title defense, counted as an AEW match. In total, the year saw 1535 (a nearly 100% increase from 2020) matches over 190 (more than a 50% uptick) events.

Note: At present, I have tracked the Rampage that aired on September 24th as Episode #7 while others, notably CageMatch, have listed each hour separately. Further, the Rampage that aired on October 15th was preceded by a Special Buy-In as a part of counterprogramming effort. The three matches in the [-] column refer to the 2 Lights-Out Matches (Thunder Rosa vs Dr. Britt Baker, DMD and Moxley & Kingston vs Suzuki-gun, which all take place after the official Main Event) as well as the Exhibition Match between Cody Rhodes and QT Marshall on Dynamite in March.


Disclaimer: As I explained in my Final 2021 Weekly Update post, over the course of the last few days, I made a fundamental way in which I track Metrics. To be fully honest with myself, this meant not just implementing the change going forward but also going back and amending the 2020 and 2019 data. As a result, the Final and MPM Totals are slightly different from the two previous year-in-review pieces I posted in the fall. I consider the totals listed here as correct.

Jungle Boy, despite carrying no championships (and thereby earning no Championship Points) managed to top the table for 2021 because, while quality matters, quantity matters too. It was a remarkably close race but the advent of two sets of Official Rankings beginning in August helped tip the scale in Jungle Boy’s favour ahead of both Young Bucks. For his part, Omega had the highest MPM (Metrics Per Match) of the year.

Continuing on, it’s mostly a collection of current champions of the world (Lucha Brothers and Adam Page) and former TNT ones (Miro, Darby and Sammy). Also of note, only the Redeemer was not with the company in its first year. There are also no AEW rookies anywhere in the Top 20.

As recognized and defending AAA World Tag Team Champions, FTR are given special designation here. And, I know, while everyone loves the Acclaimed, I was surprised to find them both in the Top 20. Lastly, Colten Gunn. I will be gracious and offer congratulations; on the strength of a thankfully now over 35-match Win Streakdefeating enhancement talent after enhancement talent going back to 2020, Colten pushed the limits on my calculations. My patience was tested but not broken, unlike that winning streak. Thank you , Sting

Looking at the full history of the company, I offer this table for analysis. Notably, Matt Jackson is the only one to stay in the Top 5 all three Seasons. Expand that to the Top 10 brings Nick Jackson and Kenny Omega and the Top 20 to include Adam Page. All Elite Wrestling, indeed.

Like the last two years, the Women’s Roster top spot has gone to the current holder of the Women’s World Championship; this time around the distinction belongs to Dr. Britt Baker, DMD, who began her reign of seven-plus months at Double or Nothing. She also has the highest MPM, nearly 30% higher than her nearest competitor, coincidentally the woman she defeated for the championship, Hikaru Shida. With the inauguration of the new TBS Championship only days away, this will undoubtedly have ripple effects in 2022. In fact, the two women who will face off to be that first champion, Jade Cargill and Ruby Soho, managed to wrestle their way into Top 10. In doing so, as effective AEW rookies, these two individuals accomplished what no male first-year wrestler could do.

The unique designation for Big Swole indicates that she is no longer with the company after previously being on the full-time roster. I wrote an article about her last month in the first of a the “AEW Metric-spective” series. As noted there, she was a solid performer, particularly at a time when the company was short on female talent. The fact she was in the Top 20 in all three seasons speaks to this but, unlike the men and considering the smaller roster size, this distinction is more common with eight other women able to claim the same. Emi Sakura also provides a unique case as someone who returned to the company in 2021. Despite not wrestling for the company in 2020, she earned Metrics that season by receiving Ranking Points for her inclusion on the first official list of the year and also by accruing Quality Points from past wins (ie. the wrestlers she defeated in 2019 improved their records/winning percentage by the end of 2020).

The ongoing pandemic did not slow AEW down in 2021 and they are starting 2022 in the same vein. Later this week, more new AEW programming is on its way in the form of Battle of the Belts, the at least literally synonymous if not fully-realized spiritual successor of the old NWA (and later WCW and, sigh, still later WWE) Clash of the Champions. Emphasis is mine. Whether these quarterly one-hour specials become must see television or simply an extension of Rampage remains to be seen. Can AEW top itself and continue to grow its event and match totals in 2022? I think it will be genuinely difficult even with monthly Dark tapings at Universal Studios. More importantly, can AEW top itself by continuing to grow its audience, bring back lapsed fans and increase the enjoyment as we suspend our collective disbelief while we watch men and women entertain us? I think so, I hope so and I want it to be so. Anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to respond here or on Twitter @AEWmetrics.

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