Not since the “Monday Night Wars” has the buzz of WWE stars jumping ship been so strong as today. AEW has been proving itself a great place for some ex-WWE guys to get a new start, the highlight being Chris Jericho. Luke Harper was lost in WWE, now, as Brodie Lee, he is TNT Champion. Likewise, The Revival and Zack Ryder are getting new starts under new names to show how AEW may give guys ignored in WWE another shot.

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Fueling the fire has been reports on how virtually almost every major WWE superstar was reaching out to AEW. Many are still under multi-year contracts, so it’s not like an exodus of A-listers is about to begin. Yet, it’s entirely believable how many frustrated WWE stars are reaching out to AEW at some point, if only to test the waters.

Top 10 superstars WWE DEBUT AEW 2021 photos and video online


10Shinsuke Nakamura

The King of Strong Style started off great in WWE. He was NXT Champion and won the 2018 Royal Rumble for what should have been a rise to the top. But after shockingly losing the WrestleMania match to AJ Styles, Nakamura has seen ups and downs.

He’s had reigns as US and IC Champion, but he lacked the main event run most thought was set for him. Currently, he and Cesaro are SmackDown Tag Team Champions, but buzz grows of how discontented Nakamura is with his lack of a push. Moving to AEW would be a logical step as Nakumra recognizes he’s gone as far as he can in WWE.

9Rey Mysterio

It’s all but been openly stated that Rey Mysterio was ready to join AEW until he resigned with WWE after all. It may be that Mysterio was using AEW’s interest to get a better deal with WWE, which is a smart business move.

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At 45, Mysterio doesn’t have that many years left, and AEW offers excitement. But Mysterio has always felt a loyalty to WWE and probably prefers to finish his career there, so his AEW discussion was likely a contract ploy rather than a serious jump.

8Chad Gable

It’s downright sad to see what’s happened to Chad Gable. He and Jason Jordan were terrific as American Alpha to hold NXT and SmackDown tag titles. Even after they split, Gable had potential with Bobby Roode.

Now, the guy is stuck with the horrific Shorty G gimmick, which is barely above jobber status. Even a heel turn isn’t helping, so it’d be no surprise Gable wants to jump ship. Sure, he may be overlooked a bit in AEW, but it would still be better than what he has in WWE right now.

7Aleister Black

For a bit, WWE seemed to know how to use Aleister Black with a run as NXT Champion and an imposing build. But he’s slumped on the main roster with a buzz that Vince isn’t a fan of the guy.

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Paul Heyman pushed him more, but with Heyman not in the same position as before, Black has been lost. He made a recent return by turning heel, so maybe he agreed to a new deal, yet it’s logical Black at least made feelers to AEW and might still decide to head over if he feels ignored in WWE.

6Sami Zayn

Even before the pandemic mess, Sami Zayn was treading water in WWE as Nakamura’s front man. He looked ready to get more attention winning the IC Title, but then he was stripped of the belt for refusing to do shows in the Performance Center.

Given that treatment, it would be no shock Zayn would opt out of his WWE contract. The fact they would let him be more his old self (maybe even bring back El Generico) is another factor with Zayn no doubt wary of getting back to WWE right now.

5Samoa Joe

Maybe Samoa Joe would have been better off not coming to WWE at all. He had success as NXT and US Champion. But somehow, WWE hasn’t recognized Joe as much of a main event player. Recently, his in-ring action has been put on hold as a result of a previous injury. He has been fun on commentary, but clearly, Joe wants to get back in the ring.

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Yet given how chaotic WWE has been, Joe might be thinking that a jump to AEW and their hotter competition is better. With his in-ring career winding down, a run in AEW could benefit Joe going out in style rather than sticking to the announcer’s booth in WWE.

4Ruby Riott

Ruby Riott just returned after a long time off from injury and a mini-push reuniting with Liv Morgan. Yet, Riott is clearly frustrated with a long losing streak and mostly being ignored in the mix of female wrestlers.

Even losing a step in injuries, Riott can still go in the ring and be a good spark for the rough AEW women’s division. This woman is ignored in WWE, yet AEW can let live up to her name of “starting a riot” in some great matches.

3Dolph Ziggler

It seems at least twice a year, talk rises of Dolph Ziggler leaving WWE. The man still gets pushes but has already achieved so much in WWE and failed to beat Drew McIntyre for the title. Ziggler is smart, adjusting the act, yet being stuck in Canada during the initial pandemic cut short some of his drive.

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A move to AEW can be a refreshing start for Ziggler as it’s well known McMahon refused to let him out of his contract in 2019. With so many guys being let go, it would be no surprise if Ziggler is planning his move to AEW already.


It’s no wonder Jericho mentioned Ricochet as among the guys he’d want in AEW. The stunning high-flyer seemed a good pick in WWE as he was North American Champion and sparkling with his terrific style. But he’s slumped on the main roster with a brief US Title run and now lost in the shuffle.

AEW would allow Ricochet to truly take off with the original style that got fans going. Given that he’s doing almost nothing in WWE as of late, moving onto AEW can spark Ricochet while still in his prime.


It’s hard to find someone WWE has botched more than Cesaro. The man voted “Most Underrated” by Wrestling Observer four years in a row has all the ingredients to be a star with his build, charisma, and fan backing. Instead, he wasted his prime in The Bar and was constantly ignored in lame feuds. Vince simply doesn’t see the main event potential in The Swiss Superman.

It’s obvious Cesaro would thrive in AEW and it wouldn’t be surprising if he has already reached out, considering that company might finally capitalize on the star power that WWE can’t seem to grasp is there.

Top 10 superstars WWE DEBUT AEW 2021 photos and video online

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