Wednesday, May 29, 2024
EditorialElite vs AEW: What If It Splits the Whole Roster?

Elite vs AEW: What If It Splits the Whole Roster?

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All Elite Wrestling is in the early stages of a civil war as The Elite have started to usurp power from Tony Khan, leading to a Team AEW faction being formed. So far, the feud has already seen Khan himself taken out, as well as Kenny Omega, and the announcement of an Anarchy in the Arena match set to go down at Double or Nothing.

This storyline is not likely to conclude in just a few weeks’ time. At the very least, we can assume a Blood & Guts match is in the future that will revolve around this feud. For all we know, it could be Khan’s full-blown retelling of the war between WCW and nWo from the 90s.

After all, The Bullet Club has always taken heavy inspiration from The Outsiders and nWo, from adopting the Too Sweet gesture to their iconic t-shirt, to the topic at hand here: expansion.

The nWo started as just Scott Hall, Kevin Nash and the illustrious mystery third man, Hulk Hogan. It would eventually grow to include nearly half the roster, splinter into several spin-off groups like the Wolfpac and LWO, and eventually, disband in a Big Crunch, only to have a few more attempts at a Big Bang resurgence.

In those initial stages of the story, though, there were many great months where fans never quite knew where someone stood. Would they join the nWo rebellion of the hottest heels in the company taking over? Or would they stand beside WCW, fighting for the company’s honor?

What if AEW is about to go down the same route? Which wrestlers would be best suited to join either Team Elite or Tony Khan’s Team AEW?

Let’s take a look and try to fantasy book the two opposing sides of this battle.

Team Elite – Current Members & No-Brainers

As it stands, we know 4 absolute definitive members of this faction:

  • The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson)
  • Kazuchika Okada
  • Jack Perry

Those are the four in the Anarchy in the Arena match. They’re the headliners of this whole angle and will likely remain constants.

But I think we can add a few more names to the mix that would assuredly back them up if this were to expand into a roster-wide affair as this “what if” is pitching.

For example, Hangman Adam Page is technically “suspended indefinitely” from The Elite, but he’s in a different position than Omega. Page is a heel who could (and likely will) pick up where he left off feuding with Swerve Strickland whenever he returns. We can assume The Elite will remain the heels in this story and Page being welcomed back into their good graces would be a villainous move to bolster their ranks with their bitter friend.

Brandon Cutler would definitely be the group’s jobber. He’s filled that role in every incarnation of this, so there should be no difference here. Every group needs someone to lose, too.

Team AEW – Current Members & No-Brainers

The current four guys taking up the fight against The Elite are:

  • FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood)
  • Bryan Danielson
  • Eddie Kingston

Kenny Omega can be included here, if he’s ever able to step back inside the ring. By proxy, I think you could throw Kota Ibushi in there as an ally of Omega’s, under the same conditions. Likewise, to counterbalance Brandon Cutler, Michael Nakazawa has always been a supplemental to Omega and could be this group’s enhancement talent.

I think it is fair to assume Danielson’s involvement means we could see the other members of The Blackpool Combat Club (Jon Moxley, Claudio Castagnoli, Wheeler Yuta) join up with Team AEW. Maybe someone defects and splits from the group, but that might not be necessary.

Given their history, Mark Briscoe is a safe bet to join this crew, too.

Last, but certainly not least, I think it’s self-evident Swerve Strickland would be on Team AEW. He’s the babyface champion of the brand who has his issues with them. Duh.

Team Elite – Likely Recruits & Allies

Villains often rely on numbers to give them the advantage. Recruitment to Team Elite would probably happen much quicker than Team AEW. The Young Bucks would start cutting deals with some other factions who would find themselves aligning with this new regime in the hopes they can position themselves in a better spot than under Khan’s leadership.

The Undisputed Kingdom strikes me as a likely friend to The Elite. While Adam Cole’s had his differences, bad guys can more easily see eye-to-eye if you just want them to agree on being evil. That would add Cole, Roderick Strong, Mike Bennett, Matt Taven and Wardlow (*maybe) to the lineup. More on Wardlow later.

The Don Callis Family is another heel group that could work with The Elite. Callis is a slimeball and has no shortage of love loss for Omega. Add Powerhouse Hobbs, Konosuke Takeshita and Kyle Fletcher to the rankings. Let’s hold off on Will Ospreay.

Is this where Trent Beretta ends up? Likely. I can’t imagine him turning babyface any time soon and going with Team AEW if he were to pick a side. It contradicts the weird tease of Callis with Orange Cassidy, but I don’t know where they’re going with that one.

Given The Elite’s association with The Bullet Club, Bullet Club Gold is another group prime to recruit. Jay White, Austin and Colten Gunn, and Juice Robinson would add a lot of depth to Team Elite.

After The Mogul Embassy split this past week, Brian Cage, Bishop Kaun and Toa Liona would certainly be on the opposite side of Strickland, too.

I’m not quite sure we could count on The Patriarchy or The Learning Tree joining Team Elite, rather than having their own separate stories, but Christian Cage (and by proxy, Killswitch and Nick Wayne) is feuding with Strickland right now and is a dastardly heel, and Chris Jericho and Big Bill are not becoming fan favorite babyfaces in the near future, either.

Team AEW – Likely Recruits & Allies

That’s a lot of firepower for The Elite. It would send their numbers to nearly 30 wrestlers.

Team AEW would have to call upon backup to add to their ranks, too.

Count Dustin Rhodes in there for the time being. He’s effectively the stand-in for Cody Rhodes at this point. Christopher Daniels seems to be no ally of Team Elite right now, either.

I’d say The Lucha Bros and possibly PAC to round out Death Triangle are almost always in opposition to The Young Bucks, and we know PAC has a thing with White right now, too.

The Acclaimed seem like a solid group to stand up for AEW, so there’s Anthony Bowens, Max Caster and Billy Gunn to help counterbalance some of Bullet Club Gold again (but hopefully not just feud with them, of course).

I can’t imagine Orange Cassidy and Katsuyori Shibata wouldn’t be on Team AEW in this split, especially if Trent were on The Elite’s side.

Toss in Adam Copeland, as well as Daniel Garcia, Kyle O’Reilly (if he doesn’t join The Undisputed Kingdom), Hook, maybe Ortiz and Matt Menard and those numbers are shooting up.

If Darby Allin weren’t injured, he’d definitely join Team AEW. He’d probably be in the Anarchy in the Arena match to offset Jack Perry, actually.

I would put Will Ospreay on this team, too, with him officially moving away from The Don Callis Family. He’s too much of a babyface to have him do anything otherwise.

In a similar fashion, I’d be open to the idea of Wardlow being excommunicated or quitting The Undisputed Kingdom (especially if O’Reilly joined) and becoming one of the powerhouses of Team AEW as a representative of home grown talent.

Now, the sides are starting to look a little more even.

The Unknowns / Wrestlers Not Involved

Obviously, AEW Creative isn’t going to sit down with an Excel spreadsheet list of every single person on the roster and sort them into one of two columns. This angle, even if it were to get to the extremes we’re talking here, still wouldn’t involve every single person in the company. Not even WCW did that.

Therefore, you can assume all of your lower-card (Aaron Solo), Ring of Honor (Griff Garrison) or part-time talent (Zak Knight) wouldn’t take part in it outside of just being fed to either faction for wins and losses. Likewise, even some of the bigger names are going to stay out of it and get into other feuds unrelated to this company-wide angle. For instance, I could very well see Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal sitting this out, as well as The House of Black.

Anyone not mentioned here already fits into one of those two categories from my perspective, or they’re currently injured in a way that I don’t know if we’ll even see them pop up in time for this to play out (like Mark Davis).

But if AEW were to have this civil war angle going on, one of the most interesting elements in any of those stories is positioning someone right in the middle.

The Middle of the Road Wrestlers With No Set Allegiance…Yet

Rounding out this list, we can talk about some wrestlers who could make for great talent that both sides would want to bid for.

Sammy Guevara strikes me as a notable standout. He could go either way and it wouldn’t be shocking to me. If I had to pick, I’d put him on Team Elite. He tends to work better as a heel, overall.

Ricky Starks is another, but my personal bias is clouding me on this one, admittedly. I just want to see him leave and go to NXT, and I don’t think he’d be utilized great in this angle on either side. If I had to pick, I’d put him on Team AEW.

One guy I could see fitting far more on Team AEW if he needed to take a side, but being less than thrilled about joining the fight, would be Samoa Joe. He strikes me as the ideal candidate to skirt that line as a tweener, saying it doesn’t matter what happens in this war, so long as he gets the championship.

And finally, we have to address Maxwell Jacob Friedman. Assuming MJF comes back (and I’d bet the house on it), do they want to keep him a babyface as Team AEW’s scumbag, or do they want to revert back to his top of the line heel character by having him join the dark side?

He has some built-in feuds to settle with The Undisputed Kingdom, so it would be a harder sell in my mind to put him on Team Elite. But stranger things have happened.

To be honest, I would hold off on making a decision about him until I would see how the storyline would unfold. There needs to be room for flexibility. It’s fun to see people defect from one side to another to add a new twist once in a while, and no one side can have the upper-hand too often or it gets boring. The Elite, as the villains of the tale, drive the story better and should get more victories, but would MJF’s return be at the point of the feud where he needs to swoop in and save the day for Team AEW? Or would it be the turn where all hope gets lost and Team AEW seems like they can’t possibly get out of this now that MJF isn’t on their side?

Which Wrestlers Join Which Side in Your Mind?

That’s my assessment of the roster right now, but that’s only one person’s opinion. What do you think would happen if this scenario plays out? Who would join up with Team AEW or Team Elite?

Drop your fantasy booking ideas in the comments below!

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