WWE Hall of Famer Grades AEW's First Five Years: "Probably a Solid B."

Jim Ross believes the next hurdle will be creating new stars.

All Elite Wrestling celebrates its premiere event's five-year anniversary this week. Back in 2019, AEW launched onto the scene with AEW Double or Nothing, a spiritual successor to the independent ALL IN pay-per-view that changed the landscape of the professional wrestling industry just eight months prior. In the five years since, AEW landed a media rights deal with Warner Bros. Discovery, hosting three weekly in-ring programs on TNT and TBS, and has solidified itself as the No.2 wrestling promotion in the world. As AEW President Tony Khan has touted before, AEW is the "fastest-rising sports start-up in the world since the AFL," a football league that would go on to merge with the NFL.

That's not to say that AEW hasn't had its stumbles. The company had to battle through roughly 14 months of empty arena shows due to the COVID-19 pandemic, controversy surrounding various backstage incidents, and attendance woes in various cities.

Speaking to Busted Open Radio, WWE Hall of Famer and occasional AEW commentator Jim Ross graded AEW's first half-decade.

"Probably a solid B," Ross said. "A lot of things that can be improved upon, like anybody else's company."

Ross has been apart of AEW since AEW Double or Nothing 2019, initially serving as a leading voice within the commentary booth. Health issues have led to him taking a step back in recent years, as he only puts on the headset for a couple of matches per month.

Even if he's not working, Ross is always watching, and he sees one key issue as being AEW's biggest hurdle moving forward.

"AEW's challenge right now, to me, is creating new stars. Somebody on the brand has got to get hot," Ross continued. "That's going to be what they need now. Somebody has to get hot. I'm not going to go into all the reasons why somebody is not and all that, but we just have to get somebody hot."

AEW has had numerous talent on the precipice of transcending the company, but the only one to truly break that barrier thus far has been MJF. The longest-reigning AEW World Champion's segments regularly draw strong ratings and his work on A24's The Iron Claw helped catapult him further into the mainstream. Today, AEW has stars like Swerve Strickland, Will Ospreay, Darby Allin and others that are one major moment away from reaching that next level.

"These kids rise to the occasion on these pay-per-views. They really do," Ross added. "I was concerned about going to work for a start up because I had done that before. I'm really glad that I did."