The All Elite Wrestling that fans see today is not the All Elite Wrestling that company president Tony Khan had in mind at the beginning of this month. AEW All Out positioned the promotion to be headlined once again by a CM Punk and MJF rivalry with AEW Executive Vice Presidents Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks captaining a blossoming trios division. An ill-timed injury and chaotic press conference later caused plans to pivot, as AEW moved forward without those four men on its very next episode of television. While not directly addressing the controversy, Khan set plans in place for new titleholders to be crowned.
The AEW World Trios Titles were decided that same September 8th AEW Dynamite, as Death Triangle defeated Best Friends and Orange Cassidy to become the new three-man champions. The AEW World Title would be decided in a Tournament of Champions, which kicked off on that Dynamite and culminated at AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam, concluding with Jon Moxley holding the gold once more.
Like last year's event, Grand Slam was built to like a televised pay-per-view of sorts, with tournament matches and in-ring segments hyping up the upcoming title bouts. Still, the show was constructed around deciding the company's next world champion, which consequently served as a reminder that despite the soldiering on mentality, AEW was still feeling the fallout of All Out.
With Grand Slam in the rear view, AEW is fully in "now we go" mode, and this supercard left the company with plenty of enticing directions to venture towards next.
Keith Lee vs. Swerve Strickland
In one of the biggest moments of the night, Swerve in our Glory lost their tag titles to The Acclaimed. Now that they are without gold, it's only a matter of time before singles stars Keith Lee and Swerve Strickland go their separate ways.
The two complimented each other as a tag team but were always hanging onto each other by a thread in the personality department. Lee is a powerhouse babyface, while Strickland is a teetering heel. Their loss did not result in the full-on heel turn from Swerve that many expected, but it could be on its way.
Still, this might be more of a slower turn than expected. AEW currently has two tag teams turned rivals storylines going on, with Powerhouse Hobbs feuding with Ricky Starks and Luchasaurus standing opposite "Jungle Boy" Jack Perry. Both of those feuds have the big men as heels, so putting Lee as the face Goliath and Swerve as the heel David would be a welcomed change. That said, AEW might wait until one of those two feuds wraps before kicking off another tag team implosion angle.
What comes out of this is most intriguing. AEW gets Lee in his full singles glory, which as evident by his NXT run, has a world title ceiling. Swerve also gets the chance to be a slick singles heel and could be a foil to face champions like Moxley or Wardlow.prevnext
Chris Jericho's Ring of Honor
Chris Jericho is Ring of Honor Champion in 2022. That's a real sentence.
In the most shocking result from AEW Dynamite: Grand Slam, the sports-entertainment enthusiast defeated Claudio Castagnoli by nefarious means to capture his eighth world title, the ROH Championship. Based on ROH Pure Champion Daniel Garcia's demeanor in a backstage celebration with the Jericho Appreciation Society, this appears to be the latest seed planted in the long-term storyline between the two.
Garcia is frustrated with Jericho's reliance on cheating to win his matches. Jericho is not pleased with Garcia's lack of commitment to the JAS's vision. The two have yet to fully come to blows, but a Garcia and Jericho clash is inevitable.
ROH's next pay-per-view has yet to be announced, but a Final Battle will likely be broadcasted before the end of the year. Adding Jericho to that show gives it immediate star power, and making it the site of the culmination of this months-long narrative for Garcia only increases the hype.
Jericho being at the forefront of ROH for the foreseeable future also gives the floating brand a chance to define its identity. Having stars that represent ROH's vision like Samoa Joe, Bryan Danielson, and the Briscoe rally around the company to excommunicate the infiltrating sports-entertainers would help establish what ROH is for an audience that's unfamiliar with it.prevnext
The Acclaimed Lead a Revitalized Tag Division
All Elite Wrestling burst onto the scene in 2019 with one of the deepest tag divisions that a professional wrestling roster has ever seen. Duos like the Young Bucks, Lucha Brothers, Best Friends, and SCU helped usher in an emphasis on tag wrestling, and the division has only gotten stronger since.
Even though many of the original teams have remained with the roster, the men that made them up have been reassigned around the card. Fenix and Pentagon are trios champions with Pac. "Jungle Boy" Jack Perry and Luchasaurus are feuding with one another. The Young Bucks are currently suspended.
While that may seem like turmoil, new AEW Tag Champions The Acclaimed have the opportunity to shape a revitalized tag division. Max Caster and Anthony Bowens can run it back with the Gunn Club, mix it up with any combination of the Jericho Appreciation Society, or even put everything on the line against FTR.
Going even further, The Acclaimed could be the gateway for new tag teams to be showcased on AEW TV. As two singles stars that started out on AEW Dark, it's a wonder of how much untapped talent is waiting for their moment.prevnext
Saraya vs. Britt Baker
Saraya is All Elite, and it looks like she's setting her sights on the top dog right away.
The former Paige made her AEW debut at Grand Slam, coming to the aid of AEW Interim Women's Champion Toni Storm and Athena while simultaneously staring down Britt Baker. It hasn't been made official that Saraya will be wrestling in AEW, but roads seem to be leading to an in-ring return.
Saraya vs. Baker is a breath of fresh air for the AEW women's division. Not only is it a dream match for both competitors, but it restructures how new women enter the company for the better. All Elite Wrestling has welcomed many well-traveled female stars (Ruby Soho, Athena) by immediately inserting them into title programs, but when that doesn't result in a championship victory, it kills momentum.
Storm is set for a collision course with Lineal Women's Champion Thunder Rosa once she's cleared to compete. Rather than put Saraya in an interim title feud that likely does not result in a W, slowly build her momentum by giving her wins over top talent, starting with the face of the women's division.prevnext
Jon Moxley vs. MJF
Jon Moxley and Maxwell Jacob Friedman doing battle over the AEW World Title is very much a matter of not if, but when.
As Mox and Danielson engaged in a Blackpool Combat Club civil war over AEW's top prize, MJF sat perched in an Arthur Ashe press box with his top contender's poker chip. Without saying a word, MJF's expressions told the full story. He was noticeably animated when the two battered each other. He sarcastically winced at some of the nasty falls. He coyly smirked once Danielson passed out.
MJF will undoubtedly get on the microphone again to officially set his sights on Mox, but the Salt of the Earth has not exactly made his motives subtle in the weeks prior. Last week's Dynamite saw Friedman offer a grim warning directly to Moxley about the "bad things" that happen when people get in his way.
With his stable on retainer always waiting in the wings, look for someone like The Firm's W. Morrissey to lead attacks on Moxley in the coming weeks in an effort to soften him up for MJF's inevitable title match. The obvious destination for that would be AEW Full Gear in November, but if AEW sees money in the long game with MJF's poker chip, Friedman could simply hover around Moxley over the future months. He could engage in feuds with someone like Wheeler Yuta, who he verbally sparred with on Grand Slam, before returning focus to Moxley come the new year.prev