Craig's Pro Wrestling Musings #3
The Next Ten AEW World Champions
In this article I am going to plot a potential 10 reign path for the AEW World Championship. This is fantasy booking it's core where I hope to make some salient points about how to use various wrestlers.
I am sticking to 10 as it's a nice whole number however this means I am stingy with the title reigns to include as many wrestlers as possible. Whereas in reality we may see wrestlers on this list hold the title on more occasions over a longer time period rather than just the one. Also note, this list is heavily influenced by today's AEW roster, it is more than likely the actual future of the AEW Championship will feature wrestlers not currently on the roster.
At the one year anniversary of his AEW World Championship win, Jon Moxley would fall to Kenny Omega's AEW version of The Cleaner after a full heel turn on 'Hangman' Adam Page. Omega and Page lose the Tag Titles at All Out before facing off at Full Gear with Omega defeating his former tag team partner.
By this time Jon Moxley will have defended his title against MJF and Lance Archer at All Out and Full Gear respectively. Minor defences with Shawn Spears, Dustin Rhodes and Scorpio Sky could fix well.
Whether or not Kenny Omega has been used correctly is not the correct question, he has. Perhaps he has not fitted expectations but that is rarer than most would think. He has not hit the heights of his NJPW run. That much is undeniable. However in Kenny Omega's own words that is coming.
There is a spot for a top heel in AEW, Jericho filled that role but has moved onto boosting others into the main event scene and MJF isn't quite there. That spot is primed for someone in the ilk of Cody or Omega to fill that spot and be the dominating champion that others have to topple. It is too soon for Cody to overturn his stipulation leaving Omega as the main option.
And what an option he is. His work in NJPW as 'The Cleaner' is now legendary and turning heel would give him a seemingly fresh character that he can expertly deliver with all the super-villain gusto he utilised in Japan.
All Out 2022
This may be too long for Kenny Omega to hold onto the title. But he is 36 and may not be able to perform at the 'Best of All Time' conversation level for too much longer. As a man with a track-record of being in some of the highest rated matches of all time, it would be a crime against wrestling for him not to get a decent run introducing that style to a wider worldwide audience.
The man that should benefit from ending such a potentially iconic run is Adam Page. Tipped to be a big time player in AEW from the very beginning and was the loser int he first ever AEW World Championship match. Page has already benefitted from working with Omega after a stuttering end to his 2019 and as a potential home-grown superstar, this makes the most sense.
As champion Page would be set up for intriguing contests against challengers such as Lance Archer, Brodie Lee, MJF and Darby Allin. Adam Page's first championship reign should not be short but it should leave room for longer runs in the future.
Bash at the Beach 2023
Some would argue MJF is ready now and can be the mega-heel needed to replace Chris Jericho at the top of the card. I feel he needs another couple of years and a couple more heinous misdeeds, I would have his take the TNT Championship off Cody before he ascends to the top of the card.
By having MJF defeat an Adam Page who was previously anointed a top guy via ending Kenny Omega's mammoth heel run he will be elevated to similarly mammoth heel status. Not on the same level yet but with room to grow in the future. Now you have a properly established MJF, possibly with a stable behind him, at the top of the card ready for babyfaces to chase.
You just know Jungle Boy will be challenging for the title during this reign, additionally wrestlers such as Darby Allin, Wardlow, Chris Jericho and Scorpio Sky. The verbal side of MJF as AEW World Champion will be a joy to behold.
Double or Nothing 2023
Jon Moxley shouldn't drop down the card anytime soon. He is currently 34 years old and is proving himself an incredibly talented and flexible performer alongside being an actual draw during an era where individuals being a draw has become a thing of the past.
With another reign at the top Jon Moxley will become one of the first long-term AEW megastars and quite rightly so. This reign needn't be as long as the first but should establish Moxley as a de facto World Champion.
Full Gear 2023
This is a big one! 2023 Cody is ROH-like full heel Cody Rhodes. Think Ric Flair cosplaying-Cody, arriving with all the glitz, pomp and circumstance. The Nightmare Family will have grown to become a dominating heel faction designed to get Cody back into the World Championship picture. Potential Nightmare Family members in the future are Dustin Rhodes, Ricky Starks and The North.
Jon Moxley is one of the perfect people to have Cody attempt to manipulate in order to backdoor his way back into the title picture. A hot-headed but proud Moxley would be targeted, frustrated and manipulated by Cody and the Nightmare Family until Moxley wants Cody in the ring. Of course, now, the only way Cody steps in the ring with Moxley is for the title. Think NJPW Cody, smiling and taunting Kota Ibushi.
All Out 2024
Darby Allin should not beat Cody anytime soon. The journey of Darby Allin to eventual defeat of Cody should be a long and nuanced story. As soon as Darby beats Cody that's it, it's over, it will never have the same intrigue again. Yes, they can be long-term rivals but the key story is Darby's journey from rookie to equal. In the theoretical AEW-universe I am creating, this moment is kept for a title win over a dastardly version of Cody.
After losing the title at 40, there could be time for a last run with the TNT Championship as a face before he retires even though he will already be 40 at this point. Cody doesn't seem like he wants to wrestle forever as he seems to have other interests and is into other facets of life that being a top athlete restricts.
Don't expect a long title reign from Darby Allin, that's not his role in this company. Certainly not in his current form, but then again who knows how he could have changed 4 years from now. What you can expect is a program with Sammy Guevara at a big PPV, say Full Gear in this timeline. Other challengers could include Ricky Starks, Jon Moxley and Brian Cage.
Chris Jericho's Rock and Rager at Sea 2025
Will Chris Jericho still be wrestling in 2025? Probably not but you certainly can't rule out that possibility when you consider the work ethic and will power of the man in question. However, what does seem likely is that he will be very involved in AEW, be that as a commentator or as creative. This cruise may be rebranded by them to be more about the company, but should remain a really unique way for fans to be part of the company.
That brings us to MJF... Could you imagine how much fun MJF would have swaggering around a ship with a newly won AEW World Championship after defeating a fan favourite? Only in AEW could something like that happen on this scale. MJF championship win should be a longer one. The foil that he will be by that point in his career for babyfaces and younger talent to bounce off of will be Chris Jericho-esque.
AEW Dynamite - December 2025
After almost a year long reign with programmes against the likes of Jungle Boy (again), Adam Page, Scorpio Sky and any other new and up and comers, MJF should lose the title to an aged superstar.
Who knows just exactly who Kenny Omega will be at the age of 42, five years from now. He is another guy who doesn't simply define himself by being a pro wrestler and has expressed his interests in story-telling as not simply being limited to wrestling. Therefore, I wouldn't be able to confidently predict that in 5 years Kenny Omega will still be a wrestler. But for the requirements of this article, let's assume he is.
Kenny Omega now a babyface once again will build up this spot in a way that only he can, making it the pinnacle of wrestling. This time to fully establish another new star...
All Out 2026
In writing this list, I have deliberately stayed away from mentioning too many currently non-AEW talents as those parameters become unmanageable. However in the future, AEW will employ some of the world's top stars that are not apparent in 2020. We can identify those that have solid potential all things going well but we can never truly know. Names like Jay White, Montez Ford and Kento Miyahara immediately spring to mind as guys widely considered as having top tier potential.
The man I am going with as being a possibility of having the in-ring acumen by 2026 to have the torch passed to him by Kenny Omega is Karl Fredricks. Alongside Shota Umino he looks set to be one of the next up and comers pushing to get into the NJPW main event scene in the next 3-5 years after stellar performances in the 2019 Young Lions Cup.
The logic here is that after a few years in the NJPW main event scene and a couple of IWGP Heavyweight Championships, Karl Fredricks will wish to try his hand at American TV wrestling like Kenny Omega before him. Presumably AEW will still be the place for wrestlers to be able to do that even 6 years from now.
The 'Anxious Millennial Cowboy' will now be in the prime of his career and Adam Page vs Karl Fredricks at the pinnacle of AEW does not sound like a bad future at all does it?
Other Likely AEW World Championship Holders:
Jungle Boy - This one seems almost guaranteed. The one I feel most guilty about not fitting in.
Ricky Starks - A bit more questionable but Starks has made a believer out of me already.
Sammy Guevara - Seems very likely. Talent and charisma in spades.
Scorpio Sky - Has the AEW backing already. Very possible!
Adam Cole - A man with friends and 'family' already in AEW and a man the in-ring skill required.
Kota Ibushi - Out of all the NJPW talents, if a deal is struck, he is the most likely to stay for a bit.
Fenix - This man is a unique talent, with a bit of refinement he can go all the way to the top.