There are over 170 people on the AEW roster, now that does include the likes of on-air talent and managers. Even if you take away 30 or 40 people to accomodate for something like that, it is still a massively large roster for a TV show that can only be represented by three hours of television a week to casual fans. This is something that has bothered me for quite some time.
Tony Kahn has been selective with who he picks up, when they leave WWE. But he just hasn't been restrained enough with the amount of people he's brought in and the thing is I'm a complete hypocrite. Because if Brock Lesnar became a free agent or John Cena tomorrow, I'd say yeah go sign them, despite the complaint I'm writing about right now. Let's take a look at where the stars of AEW from the original beginnings of it are.
The Young Bucks
Arguably they have one of their best ever years in 2021. They were phenomenal storytellers. They were in-ring mavericks. They still have sensational matches on television and pay-per-view, but they are so limited, because there's so much stuff going on. They are limited now to one minute segments filmed backstage.
A good booker could and probably should build an entire promotion around Bryan Danielson, and yet despite how great he's been and how great the blackpool Combat Club has been since forming, he's a bit part player in a storyline between Eddie Kingston and Chris Jericho. He formed the Blackpool Combat Club with Regal and Moxley. They try to change the landscape of AEW and collect all the belts.
Good luck collecting all the belts, considering there's a new one every week.
Page is a really divisive figure, because he had this sensational story arc that led him to the world title against Kenny Omega. Then he had some amazing title defenses, which many people seem to forget about when they talk about where he is right now. When it came to it for me and for quite a few other people the feud against the soon to be world champion CM Punk. Because of the amount of people on Dynamite, there just wasn't enough time to really flesh out that story.
When it came to the reason why, and I know people say well everyone said CM Punk's are not bad and he's just annoyed that no one can see that when it came to that. He dropped those pipe bombs on CM Punk on Dynamite. I just didn't feel like we'd had enough of a story being told to us to really buy into.
For me, AEW Dynamite has gone from water cooler television, where everyone has to talk about in the aftermath to this streaming service with too many choices.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman
He was someone who you could see evolve into the mega star that he is right now before your very eyes on AEW Dynamite. As someone who in the words of Jim Ross maximized every single minute he was on television in feuds with Cody and Chris Jericho. In my opinion the best feud AEW has had in CM Punk vs MJF to become a guy who right now you won't see on AEW Dynamite, because he's in the midst of this weird dispute with Tony Khan.
But can AEW afford the time that they used to be able to give to the likes of MJF to form new starts? Don't get me wrong they have formed new stars. But going forward on a show that also features Keith Lee, Ruby Soho, Adam Cole, Tony Storm, are they going to be able to afford to give newer people time who aren't already mega stars to become what MJF became.
The guys I'm about to mention are phenomenally talented and did a great job for AEW, but should they have been advertised as major surprises, the likes of Morrissey and Big Damo and Johnny Elite. The problem you have is when you keep doing these things, the audience sort of becomes desensitized to it, so much so right when we first started talking about the Forbidden Door and this partnership between AEW and New Japan, and these dream matches and suggesting who could show up on AEW television.
Has it become so much now that the size of this roster and the amount of surprises and shocking moments has meant that now the only really big moment when it comes to this Forbidden Door clash between AEW and New Japan are going be when if Kazuchika Okada shows up. Let's not forget Tony Khan's booking has suffered as a result of this roster bloat as well. Because he just has to fix so many things onto this two-hour wrestling show, that nothing is allowed to breathe and in terms of match setups it's ruining something that was really exciting.
When AEW first launched this ranking system, this fact that WWE would be like oh boo, this person's the number one contender, no we're going to do this sports based orientation that has logic behind it. How many times it happens. It happens on every episode of Dynamite, do we have somebody interviewed by Tony Schiavone either backstage or out in front of the crowd and they have to get interrupted or there's this big mass brawl as a way to set up this multi-man match. The same can be argued for getting so many people on a past Double or Nothing pay-per-view. I know me moaning about that may not hold as much water.
It actually wasn't that bad, but a four and a half hour pay-per-view can be justified can be structured correctly, can ebb and flow and build perfectly but admit it it didn't need to be that long and it took away from some of the phenomenal stuff on that show. Not all people love the length of these pay-per-views people feel like they're getting their money's worth, but sometimes some fans just feel absolutely exhausted by it all. The same can be arguably be applied to the TV show, because they just have to get so much and so many people on in a two hour window on a Wednesday, in a one hour on a Friday.
I realize as I write this how spoiled I sound. Oh no Dynamite and Rampage and the whole AEW roster, it's too stacked, but Tony Khan's job as a booker is to effectively book his wrestlers as stars and make story lines feel like the most important thing in the world and to a certain extent that just isn't working anymore. The women's division is the perfect example of that.
I'm not saying Tony Khan shouldn't have signed anyone, I'm not going to name any names. CM Punk becomes available, of course you pick him up, but Tony Khan should have exercised some restraint with who he brought in and it's just a case of this roster being so big that in this sea of noise, hardly anyone can be heard.
As a result of just how big this roster is, some people will not and are not getting the recognition or the time that they deserve, but what do you think? Let me know.