With AEW going through a full year of Dynamite, I feel it’s worth expanding the annual Naughty and Nice 3-Count to include All Elite Wrestling’s roster just the same as WWE’s.
As with that list, this is a recap of the best babyfaces, heels and tweeners (if possible) from this particular year. The names were picked solely by my personal opinions, although I tried to factor in accomplishments, longevity, character work, intensity and other kayfabe elements even if I didn’t necessarily prefer that person over some others. I try to be as objective as I can, despite how it’s a mostly subjective topic.
Naturally, your personal preference may disagree. If so, be sure to tell us your list in the comments below!
Without further ado, let’s talk about the men and women who made this year’s AEW list…
“Hangman” Adam Page
Technically speaking, even though AEW likes to act like there are no heels or babyfaces, Page has primarily been a babyface this year. However, he was consistently booked as someone with problems who screwed over his friends and was teetering on the edge of a heel turn he never fully went through with. In my book, that’s a tweener, even if it’s unintentional.
That journey was fun, even though it didn’t reach a more satisfying conclusion. I liked not knowing if they were going to turn him and have him join this potential Four Horsemen group or if they would make him go solo. Here’s hoping this is at least part of the foundation between an eventual scenario where Page is the babyface who dethrones Kenny Omega for the AEW World Championship, preferably at All Out 2021.
Honorable Mentions: n/a
At the beginning of the year, Jon Moxley was the fierce lone wolf who went after The Inner Circle and managed to take them down a peg by dethroning Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship.
Over the following months, Moxley was booked very much like Stone Cold Steve Austin from back in the day. He was never kissing babies and shaking hands with everyone in the crowd (partially due to COVID, of course) but it was never in question whether he was one of the good guys. When push came to shove, he stood up for people and held a firm opposition against some of the biggest villains of the year like Dark Order, Lance Archer, Eddie Kingston and Team Taz.
Moxley paired up with plenty of babyfaces, too, to illustrate this point. He took a particular shine to Darby Allin, but he had no issues working alongside others like Will Hobbs.
Back at Winter is Coming, Moxley was cheated out of the AEW World Championship, further illustrating his good guy status as he was honoring the gentleman’s agreement he had with Kenny Omega that The Cleaner went back on.
Best Friends (particularly Orange Cassidy)
Feuding with The Inner Circle is an easy way to position yourself as one of the best heroes of the brand. Orange Cassidy did that and then some.
Extra points are awarded for being one of the coolest characters and most interesting/gifted performers the company has. It’s hard to dislike this guy and he shouldn’t even be polarizing, either, as he’s the most chill person on the roster.
Chuck Taylor and Trent are no slouches in the babyface department, either. They’ve come out to help nearly every babyface team at one point or another from a post-match beating or an attack out of nowhere. They’ve shown humble values revolving around Trent’s mom Sue, too.
Private Party come off like jerks. The Young Bucks started superkicking people for no reason and were turds for a portion of the year. SoCal Uncensored were pretty staunch babyfaces, but they lost momentum more and more as the year went on.
While guys like MJF and Sammy Guevara are the young “this kid’s the future” types on the heel side, Jungle Boy is one of their contemporaries for the babyface opposition.
I’m not fond of Marko Stunt pretty much at all. The act wore thin almost immediately and I don’t think his character is likable. Luchasaurus is great and super fun in most matches, but even he is nowhere near as consistent as Jungle Boy.
Jack Perry doesn’t bother to cut promos, but he’s likable. He’s had great matches with nearly everyone he’s worked with, even to the point where if he’s working some jobber on AEW Dark, it’s typically the best match that jobber can have because he’s running the show.
I might not want him to win the world title before a lot of other people (Scorpio Sky, Adam Page, etc) but I do think he’s someone I’ll continue to enjoy watching grow into a main event star down the line and for now, I can see him being AEW’s Ricky Steamboat or Rey Mysterio where he never really turns heel.
Honorable Mentions: Cody Rhodes almost made this list (although I hated that “no” promo and I think he has been trying to be tweenerish too many times for his own good). Another who came very close was Big Swole, but since she only really had one feud with Dr. Britt Baker and never capitalized on that, I had to prioritize the others.
This guy is an ass and it’s great. He’s one of the most stuck-up people on the roster who clearly thinks his shit doesn’t stink or, better yet, would probably take a bigger whiff.
What’s particularly impressive about Starks is that he never lets up on the act. When he’s on commentary (typically on AEW Dark) he’s in character the entire time. Even if he’s joking around with Taz and Excalibur, he’s doing so through the voice of his jackass character.
Starks quickly upstaged Brian Cage in Team Taz. If he had the size of Cage, forget about it. I still think he’s a future world champion in the making regardless and based on how successful he’s been with this heel character, I don’t think he should turn babyface for a long, long while. It suits him far more naturally than his babyface material I had seen in NWA.
Inner Circle (particularly MJF)
MJF is one of the rare heels who knows he’s cool but manages to get you to boo him anyway, rather than cheer him. It’s actually impressive since even Chris Jericho can’t quite manage to pull that off as much anymore.
However, teaming these guys up has allowed MJF especially to amplify his heel tendencies. It’s quite impressive.