Updated: Nov 27, 2021
Since the onset of All Elite Wrestling, the action in the ring has taken the overwhelming portion of the focus of the attention of fans and critics alike and rightfully so. However, also from the beginning, a clear emphasis within the company has been to have bodies action outside the ring to help further the narrative. Behind the scenes, as well as on the company website, some of these individuals have been classified as “Coaches” although while on-screen only Arn Anderson has retained this label. Many others, including those not listed, have consistently been referred to with the traditional wrestling terminology of “Manager” and “Valet”. For simplicity and to avoid repetition, I will refer to all individuals as Valets going forward. A macro-look at the records of those at ringside reveals that overall winning percentage has risen year over year to the point where, if you are wrestling in any match in AEW, it seems you have a nearly 2 out of 3 (.658 to be precise) chance of scoring a victory.
However, as usual, if we look deeper, we are able to gain a deeper and fuller perspective. In the interest of full disclosure, I started and deleted this article earlier in the week before rescuing it from the trash folder. Why? Because an aberration I tweeted about on November 10 - the fact Valets went a collective 0-5 following Dynamite #110 – may in fact prove to be the onset of a trend. Consider this week alone: on Dynamite #112, they went 3-6 and on Rampage #16: 0-4 Is this just an end-of-year/entering the holidays malaise or the start of a significant shift in how AEW wants us to view those who have allies, whether they be Best Friends or otherwise? But before we can properly look forward, we must look back.
Even a cursory glance here reveals that the most prolific and successful AEW Valets come along with many different forms and functions. As such, I’m going to divide the above list into four distinctive categories although overlap definitely exists.
Legends: Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, Vickie Guerrero > Calling these old-timers might be a bit harsh but each is at least one generation removed from his/her prime. Even so, each has seen the inside of ring once: Tully winning a Trios match with FTR, Vickie in a Tag Match with Nyla Rose and Arn as a Referee in the Unofficial ‘Exhibition Match’ between Cody Rhodes and QT Marshall. Others that match up with this criteria would be Jake Roberts and, to a lesser extent, Sting.
Cheerleader: Hook, Negative One, Alex Abrahantes > This triad is grouped together as, while each individual may do so in the future, none of these has competed in AEW match, denoting their main function as the external force beyond the ropes. This includes hyping up the crowd (Alex), the occasional distraction leading to a finish (Hook) or just headshaking in disapproval like Negative One. On the latter point, it’s not a typo; Brodie Lee Jr. simply does not lose. (He was ejected from ringside prior to a match once but as in all these cases this removes the resultant decision from his/her respective record.) Lulu Pencil and Mark Sterling also fit this mould. Buddy: Marko Stunt, Orange Cassidy, Chuck Taylor > Here we find the Tag Team, Trios partner or other stablemates that are usually there to show support, very often to counter the same on the other side of the side of the ring. Considering that nearly everyone (including Trent’s mom, Sue) are in a stable, it only makes sense to stack the deck as often as you can, if only to attempt to facilitate a détente with your opponents. All members of Pinnacle, Inner Circle and The Elite find themselves here. Related: The Bunny, Arn Anderson > I might be taking the Family part of Hardy Family Office a little too literally here but hear me out. Kinship, whether through brotherhood, marriage (Allie is married to The Blade) or other familial ties, is a fairly ubiquitous in professional wrestling across promotions around the globe and AEW is no exception. Arn shows up again here as the father of Brock but I’ve left Hook out as his father Taz is not an active competitor. See also: The Young Bucks, Lucha Brothers and The Nightmare Family.
Another way to view the overall total, and perhaps an insight into the emerging trend, is to look at how valets have performed across the different AEW events.
Here we can glimpse that the Overall totals are significantly skewed by the results on episodes of Dark and Elevation. Valets on the main shows win either slightly more or even a little less than half the time while on YouTube your chances of winning go up considerably if you bring people to the ring with you. The PPV Record caught be the most by surprise as I wouldn’t have surmised that I suppose this all makes sense, in hindsight. The bloated cards on Mondays and Tuesdays are generally filled with contracted talent accompanied by other contracted talent taking on enhancement talent looking to get noticed. There have been and will continue to be exceptions, but most of these wrestlers appear by themselves.
Regardless of whether this is the onset of a significant shift or a simply a brief outlying period of a few odd weeks, it’s a chance to digest some detailed statistics that may have larger implications.
Oh, I can’t believe I forgot – send Hook!
Anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to respond here or on Twitter @AEWmetrics.