Hello! Today, we are looking at 15 of the biggest possible cross-promotional surprises which could happen in AEW. Previously, I talked about AEW’s latest acquisitions, and how management should calm down on signing new talent so they can focus on their current roster. I still believe this, however, I failed to mention that one of the major reasons AEW doesn’t need to go crazy is because they have a solid relationship with other promotions. We have already seen many crossing over, and there’s so many cool possibilities, so long as the crossovers are healthy and work for the benefit of all involved.
New Japan, NWA, and Impact have worked with AEW, but Ring of Honor has yet to show interest. I think it’s only a matter of time until this becomes possible, because I doubt WWE will take Kenny King’s invitation seriously. With that said, let’s look at 15 possible cross-promotional surprises in AEW.
Display Image Credit: SuperLuchas
Some may remember Bandido from the early days of AEW. He showed amazing potential at the All In main event, and has since won an incredible amount of championships around the world.
He is currently the ROH World Champion, PWG World Champion, Crash Heavyweight Champion (pictured above), and the WWA World Welterweight Champion. All these titles have been held by a who’s who of modern day wrestling, including but not limited to: Bryan Danielson & CM Punk (ROH), Kevin Steen & Adam Cole (PWG), Rey Mysterio (Crash/WWA), and Eddie Guerrero, Psicosis & Juventud Guerrera (WWA).
Before AEW was born, there was definite interest to sign Bandido, yet he moved on to raise his value, and boy has he done that! Bandido is one of the hottest Lucha Libre stars, but time will tell if Ring of Honor will want him crossing over. After all, it seems the relationship soured not long after they worked together with New Japan and future AEW wrestlers to showcase All In.
ROH is still recovering from some questionable business decisions, including: the push of Matt Taven, the resignation of Joey Mercury over the handling of Kelly Klein, along with making Marty Scurll the head booker just before the #SpeakingOut movement. If they cross-promote, they will want nothing less than to come out of the deal as winners.
Continuing with Ring of Honor, nobody is more unique than Danhausen. He’s very popular and sells a ton of merchandise, which is something ROH desperately needs. So, despite the potential, I’m sure it would surprise me and everyone else to see his charming face on TNT.
You’d think management would want to capitalize by getting Danhausen’s character into the spotlight, but they also don’t want him jumping ship. ROH needs him, and sadly, this means we’re unlikely to experience his antics for a long time. I will not lie, I don’t get to see ROH often, but when I do, he lights up the show. He might be small, but he’s larger than life, just like Darby Allin or Orange Cassidy.
#3. Deonna Purrazzo
Some of you may know that I write up Impact Wrestling results every week, so I’m clued up on who is flourishing in their Knockouts Division. “The Virtuosa” Deonna Purrazzo has dominated Impact since WWE unceremoniously released her from the NXT brand, and hasn’t looked back.
Recently, she went to Mexico and won the AAA Reina de Reinas Championship as well. Then, Purrazzo was invited to NWA EmPowerrr and defeated Melina. She is currently feuding with Mickie James in Impact, which I believe was the match they originally wanted at EmPowerrr, but plans changed. Don’t be surprised if she retains against Hardcore Country, because Impact is keen on keeping her on top of the mountain.
We’ve seen Scott D’Amore appearing on AEW, and Christian Cage is the current Impact World Champion. For whatever reason, Deonna Purrazzo hasn’t jumped yet, but Britt Baker would LOVE it. Why? Because Baker & Purrazzo are great friends. They would kill to get a champion vs. champion match, and I can’t see why not. Make it happen guys!
#4. Hiroshi Tanahashi
The New Japan legend Hiroshi Tanahashi has already (albeit via promo) made his first crossover. Jon Moxley has been calling him out for weeks, but others keep answering the challenge; like Satoshi Kojima & Minoru Suzuki. This is leading somewhere, and hopefully it means we get Mox vs. Ace on the next AEW PPV.
What more can I say? Having Hiroshi Tanahashi in AEW is a dream for anyone aware of the history of New Japan. His matches with Kazuchika Okada are some of the best. For anyone who can’t understand the gravity of the crossover, you could say he is like New Japan’s Hulk Hogan/John Cena, minus any controversies or negative reactions.
#5. Jay Lethal
I loved Jay Lethal back in the TNA days; he was a breath of fresh air. Amazing on the mic, exceptional in the ring, he’s the total package. What I don’t understand, however, is how nobody other than ROH has bothered to sign him up? Is he too loyal to them? Or is he severely overlooked?
Either way, if ROH decided they wanted to send a surprise over to AEW, I’d hope it would be Jay Lethal. He has the tools to represent ROH with class, and as the longest reigning ROH World Champion, he can be a legitimate threat to anybody. I want a world where more people are aware of Jay Lethal’s ring talent, and remember him for more than being a guy who does a fantastic Ric Flair impersonation.
#6. Jay White & Bullet Club
When is the Bullet Club ready to pull the trigger? Are they afraid? Why is Jay White showing up on Impact and recruiting Chris Bey, when they could all invade AEW and take talent back to Japan? Are they afraid of The Elite? If Jay White has anything to say about it, he would take out Kenny Omega and his followers without hesitation.
Speaking of which, the wrestling observer recently said that Omega wants a match with Jay White. He would want to avenge the defeat which made him lose control of the Bullet Club, which Jay bragged about during a standoff on Impact. The closest we have got to an “Elite vs. Club” feud is The Good Brothers talking down to White. They told him he should thank them for making the platform to make money selling t-shirts of a group they created.
We could say the Bullet Club had already crossed over. Kenta fought Jon Moxley, and Hikuleo has made himself known. Yet, Jay White leading the entire club over, that’s what fans really want to see. It’d be chaos, but there has to be some tension behind the scenes. How do you manage the situation? This is probably why Jay White has gone to Impact, just so he & New Japan can test the waters on neutral ground. The one thing they don’t want is to tarnish the legacy of their most lucrative group.
#7. Kazuchika Okada
Okada has already crossed over to the United States a few times, as part of the working relationship between Ring of Honor & New Japan. He worked a match against Marty Scurll at All In 2018. The last time he wrestled in America was at Madison Square Garden for the ROH/NJPW G1 SuperCard in April 2019, when he defeated Jay White for the IWGP Heavyweight title.
There’s so many dream matches for Okada in AEW, but the real question is, does he want to? Or is he happy focusing on New Japan? What reason would there be to cross over to AEW, when others are more up for the task? While the world talks about Kojima, Suzuki and Tanahashi, no one is asking about Okada.
Since losing the IWGP World title to Shingo Takagi in July, he has worked mostly tag team bouts, except for a couple of singles encounters with Jeff Cobb. New Japan isn’t using him in their main event scene, so it makes me wonder what his status is. Okada is only 33, so there are many years left for The Rainmaker. Is he being protected while he nurses some injuries? Whatever it is, we would be grateful to be blessed by his presence at an AEW show, no matter who his opponent is.
When the dust settled after CM Punk (sort of) shocked the world by signing with AEW, fans started dreaming about the possibilities. Yes, Kenta has already crossed over, but it wasn’t anywhere near as personal as this would be. CM Punk (along with Bryan Danielson and others) looked up to Kenta in his early career and adopted the Go 2 Sleep finisher out of respect. You could say that Punk made the move so popular, anyone unaware of Kenta might believe he stole the move from him.
I’m hoping you know otherwise! It is very much Kenta’s move, and he could easily play on this. Kenta could call Punk cheap and tell the world that the only wrestler who has any right to the move is him. The story writes itself, and I think if AEW & New Japan don’t capitalize on this, it would be a major oversight and lost opportunity. I also wouldn’t mind another Kenta vs. Danielson match, so many years on from their 2006-2008 classics.
#9. Kota Ibushi
The former tag team of Ibushi & Omega is one made from love. They are brothers from other mothers, to where Kenny often resisted the urge to beat Kota down on the Bullet Club’s behalf.
Many assumed Kota Ibushi would follow him to AEW, but when it didn’t happen, he explained his reasoning. Ibushi still had a lot to prove, and he didn’t want to be in Omega’s shadow. He had a dream of winning the IWGP Heavyweight title and becoming the new ace. With a lot of hard work, Ibushi achieved his goal. He became the new heavyweight champion and won the Intercontinental title. New Japan unified his titles into a new World Championship.
Earlier this month, Omega talked about a final chapter with Kota Ibushi:
“I doubt it. If I were a betting man, I would say, it’s safe to say… when real life is involved and it’s more than just the wrestling in the ring and now, as time goes by and promotions and fans are listening more and responding more to what they want to see in professional wrestling — we talk about the ‘forbidden door’ and this concept that if you wrestle for one promotion, there’s no way you get to mingle with another, slowly but surely those borders are evaporating.
We’ve seen IMPACT talent and New Japan talent on AEW. We’ve seen our talent go elsewhere as well. Who knows where the future lies? There may be more special guests and surprises in the future. For me, I’m a storyteller. Way more than I like professional wrestling, I like telling stories. I love stories that have an ending., and I have a lot of stories that have yet to have a final chapter. That story is yet to close. I would love, with however long my health allows me to, I would love to have that book have the final chapter written.
That goes for not only that, but for quite a few other stories as well. I would love to close the book and look back and be proud that these stories that I pictured in my wacky little brain, they had a beginning, middle, and end and that I could close that book happily. For someone as influential as Ibushi was to my career, inside and outside, I feel it would be an injustice for it to die.”
#10. Mickie James
Since being handed her trash bag on the way out of WWE, Mickie James has been on a mission to highlight women’s professional wrestling. NWA EmPowerrr served as the NWA’s first all female show, and it’s safe to say they succeeded. It was a fun night of wrestling, as they showed how far women have come in an industry which, once upon a time, had treated them as a bathroom break.
Mickie continues to give back to women’s wrestling by working for both the NWA and Impact, but I don’t believe it should end there. Hardcore Country could easily skip her way on to an episode of Dynamite and show the world she still has what it takes on a major network. If Britt Baker wants a win over a legend, she’d be an excellent choice. Not only that, but I think it would improve AEW’s women’s division by having veterans like Mickie James & Ruby Soho to learn from.
#11. Tetsuya Naito
How cool would this be? Much like Tanahashi & Okada, Naito would be very welcome in AEW. Even if it were for one PPV match, we’d be more than happy. However, after two years on top of New Japan, Naito hasn’t had a significant year in 2021. He has taken a similar path to Okada by wrestling in tag matches, and for two weeks, he & Sanada were the World Tag Team Champions. There’s a definite changing of the guard, as he, Okada & Tanahashi have stepped back to allow fresh faces to shine in the main event scene.
While they may not be on top at the moment, they are still valuable, and their star power would go over well in America. Wouldn’t it be sweet if we got Naito vs. Jericho again? Or Naito vs. Omega? What about something new, like Punk or Danielson vs. Naito? It almost feels like a waste to have him working tag matches, but that’s how it is right now. Please New Japan, allow us to experience Destino in person.
#12. The Briscoe Brothers
In terms of longevity, The Briscoe Brothers may be the greatest in the world. No team has been working together and winning titles as long as they have, and while AEW’s division is one of the best out there, I wouldn’t turn down Mark & Jay. Although, much like I talked about earlier, would Ring of Honor go for this? I don’t think they would be happy if an AEW team went over their 11-time, longest ever reigning tag champions in their history.
The Briscoe Brothers would need to win the titles sooner than later, otherwise ROH won’t buy it. Does AEW really need them, though? I don’t think so. It’s like that saying, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. AEW needs no fix for their division, it’s healthy and bringing in the Briscoe Brothers wouldn’t help anything. I’d enjoy it, because I know they can go and we’d get fresh matches. Even with the points I made, it would be a big surprise, and if ROH won’t mind them putting teams over, it would go down a treat.
#13. Tommy Dreamer & Impact Wrestling
For a while now, AEW & Impact have had a healthy working relationship. You could say it’s one-sided though, as Impact’s roster accepts having their World Championship being held by an AEW guy. First it was Kenny Omega, who defeated Rich Swann in a title vs. title match. Months later, Christian Cage defeated Omega on the first episode of Rampage to win the title… so two AEW guys wrestled for the Impact title on an AEW show. It has gotten better since Christian became the champion because he treats the company and the roster with respect.
However, since Don Callis was “fired” from Impact, the executives appointed Tommy Dreamer in a position of power. This means Scott D’Amore hasn’t got complete control, although he could handle it as he does an excellent job. So, what if AEW wanted an invasion angle? Tommy Dreamer previously shared his frustration over the Kenny Omega situation, but if Christian becomes arrogant, these feelings would quickly resurface and escalate.
Dreamer could lead the Impact roster to AEW to retaliate for the way they have been treated. With Sami Callihan, Moose, Chris Sabin, Josh Alexander, Rich Swann, Eric Young, Rhino, Brian Myers, Matt Cardona, W. Morrissey and more, the company has enough talent to stand their ground. No, they won’t take over the company or anything like that, but we’d get at least a month or two of fresh matches before they can settle it on PPV.
#14. Trevor Murdoch & Nick Aldis (NWA)
Again, if AEW was looking for a grand scale invasion, what if the NWA guys invaded? They could team up with Tommy Dreamer’s Impact guys and really threaten the AEW roster. Trevor Murdoch and Nick Aldis are old school guys, and I’m sure the NWA’s roster would follow them in to a fight.
Moving away from my ambitious fantasy invasion angle, we have already seen collaboration between the NWA and AEW in the women’s division. The NWA World Women’s Championship has been defended several times, and AEW’s Leyla Hirsch earned a title shot against Kamille at NWA EmPowerrr. Yet, the one thing we haven’t seen is the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship being defended on TNT or an AEW PPV.
With Ric Flair appearing at the 73rd Anniversary Show and endorsing the new champion, Trevor Murdoch, it opens the door for them to show up at AEW. Of course, Nick Aldis and his group, Strictly Business, wouldn’t be too far behind. Could we see a rematch for the title on AEW programming? What if Murdoch wanted to defend the prestigious title against AEW talent? Would that make him less of a joke in the eyes of those who haven’t seen him work since his WWE days? Trust me, he’s way better than he looks.
#15. Will Ospreay
Will Ospreay is a unique character. He loves calling people out on Twitter, even if they work for another company. After PWI named Kenny Omega #1 on their 500 list, they exchanged words, although Dave Meltzer says there are no plans for them to square off soon:
“There are no plans at this writing for such a match, but no doubt both guys want it and with Ospreay coming to the U.S. every month going forward, it’s more feasible now than at any time. We do know that Omega would love to have matches with both Ospreay and Jay White, who both brought up AEW at the recent New Japan Resurgence show in Los Angeles.”
Last chat we had was “you need to be the guy”
Since then you left we sold out MSG, sold more tickets at the Tokyo dome than ever before, and put on banger after banger.
A pandemic put the breaks on & you know it.
Open that door, let’s have this conversation https://t.co/vOIpsUktdt
— ᵂⁱˡˡ ᴼˢᵖʳᵉᵃʸ • ウィル・オスプレイ (@WillOspreay) September 8, 2021
I’m of the philosophy that anything can happen in wrestling, and so long as there are exchanges, there’s always a chance of something happening behind the scenes. Meltzer isn’t always right. He could get false reports to throw him off. Any company wanting to keep a surprise would ensure you don’t let him anywhere near the truth.
With that said, this list features wrestlers who could appear in AEW, but some are more likely than others. I’d like to know who you want to cross over and who they would wrestle. Professional wrestling is in a cool place right now, and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. Thanks for reading!