The AEW roster has greatly expanded in 2021, in no small part due to WWE releasing 80+ wrestlers and failing to reach new deals with a few major names on expiring contracts. As a result, AEW now boasts a roster that includes stars like Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, Malakai Black, Ruby Soho, and Andrade el Idolo. Oh yeah, there’s also CM Punk, who’s kind of a big deal. The most important signing of them all may go down in history as Tony Nese.
AEW’s roster size has easily outgrown its three hours of weekly television, to the point where every time another wrestler is released by WWE, fans are increasingly doubtful that AEW has an open spot to sign said wrestler. Yet here we are at the end of 2021, and AEW is still making big splashes in December with signings like Kyle O’Reilly and Mercedes Martinez.
Something has to give here, right?
In an interview with TV Insider, AEW President Tony Khan said AEW’s roster expansion will continue in 2022, but acknowledges that he will show more restraint:
“I do think I have to be more discerning than ever in talent acquisition because we have such a strong roster. I was aggressively expanding with the launch of Rampage. We made some big signings in the past including CM Punk. Bryan Danielson, Adam Cole, Ruby Soho, Thunder Rosa, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, Andrade El Idolo, Malakai Black. Christian Cage and many others. We’ve also continued our partnerships with great international companies like New Japan Pro Wrestling and Lucha Libre AAA. We have a lot of great talent working, but it’s time for me to be more discerning than ever in terms of acquisitions.”
Do you think Tony Khan’s more discerning eye makes it less likely we’ll see Bray Wyatt, Jeff Hardy, Keith Lee, or the recently released Toni Storm show up in AEW at some point in 2022, Cagesiders?