The AEW roster is one of wrestling's biggest ongoing talking points - but not only because fans are fascinated to see which upcoming talent WWE's big new rival will sign next. It's also down to expectations that the company's first videogame will be announced this year - with the project heavily linked to Japanese developer Syn Sophia. That's big news because the studio was once known as Aki Corporation – the legendary name behind iconic N64 wrestling sim No Mercy. Could AEW's game be a spiritual successor to that classic? It sounds that way. In which case, who'll make the AEW roster for it? Read on for GR's expert prediction.
The man known as Hangman Page during spells in ROH and NJPW holds the honour of winning the first ever match at the first ever AEW event: a 21-man Casino Battle Royale which opened the Double Or Nothing pay-per-view in May 2019. In January 2020 he captured the AEW tag titles alongside Kenny Omega in a tandem known as The Elite.
Renowned for her dominant spell in TNA from 2007 to 2010, Kong was renamed Kharma after being poached by WWE, and indeed appeared in WWE 12 (as DLC) and WWE 13. But in real rings she became lost in the mix, aside from a cameo in the men’s Royal Rumble. Signing for AEW should inspire a return to form.
The former member of DX and New Age Outlaws no longer wrestles, but AEW is going to need some sort of ‘legends’ representation in order to maximise sales. It’d therefore be common sense for both Gunn and fellow coach Jerry Lynn, a former ECW favourite, to be included as playable characters.
As of mid-November 2019, AEW’s chief brand officer had only wrestled once in the company, defeating Allie at July’s Fight For The Fallen event with assistance from Awesome Kong. Even so, her name value and family ties - wife to Cody Rhodes, sister-in-law to Dustin Rhodes - ensure she’ll be in any video game, even if real-life in-ring appearances are intermittent.
Britt Baker DMD
The best wrestling gimmicks are a hybrid of fiction and reality, where you can’t really tell that the person behind it is acting - and this is very much the case of Baker. Her onscreen character is a dentist, because she is indeed a practising dentist in real life, too. And a fine wrestler too, who’ll be in AEW Women’s World Championship contention for some time.
A bona fide legend who features high on our list of WWE 2K20 missing wrestlers, after signing for AEW and becoming the first AEW World Champion at All Out in August 2019. Among his other achievements are four World Championships in WWE, two in WCW, nine Intercontinental Championships, and seven studio albums as the frontman of Fozzy.
Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky
This trio, AKA SoCal Uncensored, dominated team-based proceedings in 2019, with Sky steering Kazarian and Daniels - a tandem known as The Addiction in their ROH days - to AEW tag title glory. A glorious run ended when they dropped the belts to Adam Page and Kenny Omega in January 2020, but their experience and class still makes them certainties for the videogame roster.
Dusty Rhodes’ youngest son is one of the big names highlighted in our 15 wrestlers you’ll never see again in a WWE game feature. That’s because he and indie favourites the Young Bucks are the trio that set up AEW - and, along with Kenny Omega, now act as its executive vice presidents. Meaning his days working for Vince McMahon are long over.
Cody’s big brother was still with WWE when AEW sprang to life, portraying his long-standing character of Goldust. Upon expiry of his contract he departed in April 2019, and immediately leapt into a blood feud with his sibling, which was settled in a brutal and brilliant brawl at Double Or Nothing. Even at 50, Goldy can still go.
A veteran of the squared circle at just 31, Shida's signing with AEW spelt the end (for now) of a sparkling eleven-year career in her home country of Japan. Can't wait until the AEW game to play as her on PS4? Then jump to our best AEW CAWs for WWE 2K20 feature and unleash Shida in universe mode ASAP.
Another veteran of WWE videogames, having appeared as Jack Swagger in Yuke’s’ series from WWE Smackdown vs Raw through to WWE 2K17. Hager switched to mixed martial arts upon departure from WWE, where he holds a record of two wins, no losses and one no contest. He immediately aligned with Chris Jericho in his first AEW appearance.
Is it madness to suggest AEW's legendary commentator as a playable character in its videogame? Perhaps, but as with Billy Gunn, it needs as many marketable mainstream names as possible. There is a precedent, too: Ross was playable as DLC back in WWE 12.
The former Dean Ambrose is AEW’s most shocking signing. He seemed well set in WWE as a former member of The Shield and world champion, and his wife, Renee Young, still works there. Even so, after differences with the creative team he quit WWE when his contract expired in April 2019, and is certain to be a key player for AEW.
Arguably the best wrestler of the last ten years to not have been wooed by WWE. Omega has racked up classic matches and feuds in numerous organisations based in both America and Japan, and already contested memorable contests with Chris Jericho and Jon Moxley during AEW’s formative months. In January of this year he teamed with Adam Page to nab the AEW tag championship.
Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson (The Young Bucks)
If Omega is this decade’s MVP of independent one-on-one wrestling, the Young Bucks can claim the same honour from a tag perspective. Chikara, Ring Of Honor, Dragon Gate and NJPW have all hosted staggeringly great matches from the pair, and at All Or Nothing they captured their first Mexican title, the AAA World Tag Team Championship, from the Lucha Brothers.
Those initials stand for Maxwell Jacob Friedman - and while they might not carry the same gravitas as HHH or JBL at this point, MJF is at least more upwardly mobile than WWE rival EC3. Aged just 23 and already feuding with main eventer Cody Rhodes, an AEW Championship win by 2021 feels like an attainable goal.
Ever see Canadian TV series The Switch? Then you’ll recognise Rose as lead character Sü, an IT manager forced to rebuild her life after coming out as transgender. She’s the first trans person to sign with a major American wrestling company, and contested AEW’s first women’s championship bout in October 2019 - coming up just short against Riho.
Known as Neville in his 205 Live days, this Geordie lad’s departure from WWE was infamously frosty. In October 2017, Pac walked out ahead of an episode of Raw in which he was due to lose to Enzo Amore – and despite rumours of positive discussions backstage, he’d never be seen in WWE again, eventually departing in August 2018.
Aged just 22, Riho is – incredibly – a thirteen-year veteran of the squared circle. No, you’ve not read that incorrectly: she began working for the Ice Ribbon promotion in her homeland of Japan at the age of nine. After seven years with Gotah Move Pro Wrestling she jumped to the US and joined AEW, becoming its first women’s champion in October 2019.
Spears may not have the name value of Goldust, Jericho or Moxley, but he’s another to have taken exit following the release of WWE 2K19 – where he was known as Tye Dillinger – to sign for its new rival. Shockingly, he turned his back on the fans and established himself as a heel by attacking Cody Rhodes with a chairshot to the head.
As discussed in the Billy Gunn and Jim Ross entries, AEW must lean on famous names from the past to maximise widespread interest in its games - and that means including former WWE, WCW and ECW faves. Taz ticks two of those boxes, and after signing a multi-year deal on the AEW broadcast team should now be considered in strong contention for a playable roster spot.
Formats and release dates for the AEW videogame are still to be released. If you prefer your wrestling McMahon-flavoured, then be sure to head over to our profile of the WWE 2K20 roster.