JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — AEW (All Elite Wrestling) owner Tony Khan has not been secretive about taking in more talent. This is especially true with the mass releases in WWE throughout 2020 and 2021. Targets also include those no longer on contract due to the hiatus of Ring of Honor Wrestling.
AEW has taken in many big names into a deep roster. Among them are Adam Cole, Keith Lee, Brody King, Bobby Fish, and Kyle O’Reilly among others.
“I will continue to sign free agents [that] I believe can help the company,” Khan said.
However, Khan made yet another tease on Friday’s broadcast of Busted Open Radio on SiriusXM. Khan noted working on a potentially big deal for AEW.
In remarks to fans to stay tuned, Khan said:
“There will be a lot of news in the week of ahead. I don’t know if I’ll get it done by tonight, but stay tuned in the week ahead, hopefully. I’m working on something pretty big. It would be massive. I don’t know if it’s what anybody would expect or think it is, but it would be a big deal in pro wrestling. I’m looking forward to hopefully making it happen. Stay tuned. I will hopefully get it done and have more to announce soon.
The nature of Khan’s announcement is currently unknown.
Financial limitations for new AEW hires
However, there’s only so much money that Khan can spend for AEW. The company has a self-imposed budget in place while they await their next television rights deal. According to multiple sources, the current television deal with WarnerMedia ends in December 2023.
These budget limitations did result in their inability to bring in big-money free agents like Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Both opted to renew to unspecified contract lengths with WWE.
Excellent recent hires while losing Cody and Brandi Rhodes
However, it has not created any aversions to acquiring talent for the roster. While Keith Lee and AQA received their welcomes, AEW has also seen the departure of Cody and Brandi Rhodes.
Even more so, three more ex-WWE stars may be making the jump to AEW. Dave Meltzer noted in the latest Wrestling Observer Newsletter that this is likely.
“Khan has also talked about signing more new talent with Keith Lee signed and Shane Strickland and Jeff Hardy both expected to be coming at some point and other ex-WWE names have been talked with, such as Buddy Matthews.”
Shane Strickland previously wrestled as Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in WWE’s NXT promotion, who may be joining soon. Jeff Hardy, the brother of current AEW star Matt Hardy, is rumored to be joining the company as well.
There are also more frequent reports about Buddy Matthews coming to AEW. The former Buddy Murphy in WWE has been active in New Japan Pro Wrestling since his release last year. Matthews made a more recent appearance last month for Major League Wrestling’s Blood and Thunder event on January 21.
All three could be excellent signings for the promotion. The next dilemma will be whether Khan will need to secure a third television show, either on YouTube or another WarnerMedia channel, to support the new hires.
Notes: Transcription for the first quote is via Fightful. Transcription for the second quote is via the Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.
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